East Meets West: A Fusion Destination Wedding on Laguna Beach

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Fatima Izzat

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November 17, 2023

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An Inside Look into Priyanka and Matt’s Laguna Beach Destination Wedding

Groom spinning Indian bride after first look at Laguna Beach

Priyanka is from New Jersey, Matthew is from California, and somewhere along the distance these two crossed paths. Priyanka described their love story to me over the phone during their consultation call months before their big day, but their energy was even better than I could have imagined. This location and this couple were truly a destination wedding photographer’s dream. Although these two have lived together in Los Angeles for quite some time, they had family and friends visiting from all corners of the US to celebrate in the most iconic way for some of the most iconic people.

Between the grand scene of Laguna Beach, and the intimate details including gold and chocolate chip cookies throughout the day– this wedding was truly magical.

Laguna Beach mid-day in November

Her Details

Our time together started after Priyanka was ready, right before their first look. I met with Priyanka for some portraits at Laguna Beach, highlighting the intricate details of her dress and henna and admiring the way her makeup shimmered in the sun. Her henna was incredible, with traditional flowers and paisleys, mixed with some drums to honor her late father, and palm trees looking forward to her forever home in CA. 

The First Look

After our portraits together, I hid Priyanka in a pre-planned spot and secured a spot for Matt as he arrived at Laguna Beach. This ended up being the most private first look I have done yet since these both did it off-site from their ceremony/venue location, and the entire photo/video team felt the emotion as these two laid eyes on each other for the first time on their big day. Everything was coming together.

Laguna Beach Destination Wedding Photos

Of course, the backdrop of these portraits is beautiful, but the vibrant colors in Priyanka and Matt’s wedding-day outfits (and well, these two in general) made the beach look straight out of a Pixar movie. The light, the colors, them… all swoon-worthy. Between Matt’s corny jokes and Priyanka’s contagious smile, these two just could not stop smiling!

Family Portraits at Seven7Seven

After a thoughtful couple’s portrait session by the beach, Priyanka and Matt met up with their friends again (after parting after getting ready together) at the ceremony site– a beautiful mandap (normally an arch) at Seven7Seven only a couple minutes away from where we had their first look. Meeting their friends and family was like completing a puzzle– seeing how different people impacted their story and shaped their lives together (they were set up by a mutual friend, after all), followed by a cute pre-ceremony snack– chocolate chip cookies! 

Couple’s Portraits at Seven7Seven Wedding Venue

The epic Laguna Beach Destination Wedding portraits turned more romantic at this elegant wedding venue. The colors matched beautifully with the reds of the couple’s outfits, and they looked like they were in an intimate villa. We also had a chance to get creative and show off their shoes!

An Epic Baraat for an Epic Destination Wedding

The “baraat” is the groom’s procession with his family to the bride, who is waiting at home or in her suite at the venue. The procession is full of music, dancing, and sometimes even throwing colors or flowers into the air. Matt brought the baraat in an electric purple truck, surrounded by dozens of his and Priyanka’s favorite people, and the DJ guiding the multi-cultural crowd through some South Asian dance moves. The crowd went wild as Priyanka surprised the procession with a dance number with her closest friends– honestly iconic!

Hindu Ceremony

Before Matt was allowed to enter the Seven7Seven venue with his baraat, he had a series of customs to complete with his mother in law, some more challenging (like stomping on a coconut) than others (like eating a sweet, which happened to be the signature chocolate chip cookie). As each bridal party member and groomsmen entered, they were welcomed by the flower-adorned mandap and the smiles of their friends and families in the crowd. Priyanka’s entrance was incredibly regal, with her granddparents support as she walked down the aisle. Matt’s friends were holding an antarpat to separate the bride and groom, and these two experienced a second-first look that was a different kind of sweet, yet just as emotional as the first. 

The time flew by as these two went through the different religious rituals on their big day, with each completed with Priyanka and/or Matt dropping rice into the fire in the middle of the mandap. Their promises were sealed with circulating the fire as a couple, taking the first 7 steps of this new life together, and finally, Matt decorating Priyanka’s head with the sindoor

Cocktail Hour

Priyanka and Matt finished off their ceremony with some final portraits infront of the mandap, and Matt convinced the kids of the wedding to return his shoes for some money! This tradition– called the Jhoota Chupai (hiding the groom’s shoes) is personally one of my favorites, since it incorporates the guests into a game, getting everyone hyped up even before the reception. 

After seeking blessings from the elders, the couple went to get ready for their reception and guests flooded the open area for delicious hors d’oeuvres and enjoyed the 360 camera stand. 

The Reception

This reception really took the cake (or cookie, for this matter!) starting with entertaining entrances by the bridesmaids, groomsmen, and parents of the couple paving way for Priyanka and Matt to enter. Once they did, the party started and the two went straight into their first dance, followed by parent dances that had everyone emotional. But the tears came and went as the floor welcomed some toasts, with people in all corners of the room cracking up and resonating with siblings and friends of the couples. 

The program continued with a cookie-cutting (although this was not a cookie-cutter wedding… see what I did there?) and dance performances, one of which Matt ‘crashed’ which Priyanka was shocked to see! Everyone screamed and hooted for the groom as he performed, and the energy in this room was one that just had to be witnessed! The rest of the night was full of dancing and laughter. I ended my time with Priyanka and Matt with some final night portraits to commemorate the night and all the details that went into it.

Not only for these two but for their friends and family, this Desi-American wedding showed that love truly has no bounds. 

You can view their featured destination wedding gallery here.


Venue: Seven7Seven

Planner: Lady Katy Events

Hair and Makeup: Beauty by Lishma
Henna/Mehendi: Priti Henna Art

Catering: Natraj

DJ: Sodija

Decor: Sonali Flowers

Saree: AsoPalav 

Shoes: NikeWomen

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