photos by ALLY and BOBBY FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY
For Morgan Bralley and Deep Patel, doubling the celebration of their marriage was an easy choice – and a labor of love.
“Today is much more than the joining together of two individuals…it is the joining together of two families, two traditions, two cultures.” Pastor Danny Leonard’s words from Saturday’s wedding ceremony couldn’t have been more true for Morgan and Deep’s Fusion Wedding Weekend.
Family and friends embraced their magical blending of cultures and traditions in a big way on the weekend of May 26-27, 2023 – a true Indian fusion celebration – from attire to cuisine to some amazing dance moves!
On Friday, guests gathered at The Bradford (just outside Raleigh) for the first celebration, the Hindu wedding. Morgan and Deep were married amid a colorful ombre of flowers in pinks, corals and yellows covering the Mandap (the traditional four-pillar altar where the marriage ceremony took place). The reception following was staged in an elegant clear tent outside – the Sangeet Style reception (Indian Dance Night). Bright colored hanging tassel hoops, lovingly made by the bride and her mom, adorned the very busy dance floor!
“We changed things up to make it work for us,” Morgan adds. “Indian weddings are typically very traditional and take place over three to four days. To accommodate our timeframe, we hosted a Baraat (The Groom’s Arrival), Hindu Wedding, then Sangeet Style Reception (which is typically held before the Hindu ceremony) all Friday evening, starting at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, we celebrated our Christian wedding outside under a tent adorned with dreamy lanterns softly lit in the overcast, rainy sky.”
The search for the perfect venue started early on in the wedding planning process. Raleigh is the couple’s home now, and Deep has a large family from out-of-state, so the convenience of a major airport was a bonus for traveling guests. Fortunately, it was also an easy drive for Morgan’s family from Winston-Salem – and both the bride and groom fell in love with the ambiance of The Bradford.
Perhaps the most memorable element of any Indian wedding is the attire – with the bride traditionally wearing a red lehenga. According to The Desi Bride Blog, “Red symbolizes the Hindu deity, Durga, who signifies new beginnings and feminine strength. As astrology is so intimately linked to Hinduism, red is also a symbol for Mars – the planet that oversees marriage!”
“Deep wanted me to wear something more modern,” says Morgan. “I wore a beautiful muted green color with silver, pearl and pale blue detailing in a spring-like floral pattern.”
In her wedding research, Morgan happily discovered “the earthy green tone had long been worn by the country’s royalty as a symbol of life, freshness, harmony and fertility” – so it remained a perfect choice! Morgan found her dresses in NYC, and Deep chose his attire from a local store near Raleigh – a pale gray Sherwani with subtle sparkle and a pale blue shawl to complement the blue detail on Morgan’s dress. Another bonus to the groom’s fit was the white flower buttons to add to the now obvious floral theme for the spring wedding!
“There were so many beautiful flowers on both days, so the floral detail on our outfits fit the theme perfectly!” says Morgan. Her dress for Saturday was also accented with large floral appliqués (ivory lace over a misty mauve color) for a more whimsical look accented with glittery tulle. Deep’s custom tux for Saturday also included a subtle abstract floral print.
To the delight of wedding guests eager to share in the tradition, Morgan assembled a clothing guide for non-Indian attendees, and friends and family stylishly obliged, sporting a beautiful collection of color on Friday night! Both traditional and current Indian music filled the evening, highlighted by several dances: The groom’s cousins performed a special dance, as did the bridesmaids, followed by a choreographed duet by the bride and groom.
“Deep and I met virtually with a dance teacher in India for several months before the wedding,” says Morgan. “Our favorite song of our duet was Raataan Lambiyan, sung in Hindi. We loved the song, and even after seeing the English translation, it brought me to tears with one line: ‘My heart knows this and so do you, that we can’t live without each other.’”
Both Morgan and Deep love live music, and Saturday offered two live musical groups: a string quartet during the Christian ceremony, and a local guitarist and vocalist for the cocktail hour. The glorious menus were an artful combination of both cultures, from traditional vegetarian Gujarati Indian dishes, American pasta and fajita stations on Friday, to both a Southern and Indian buffet on Saturday that featured modern Indian cuisine from Viceroy – a popular restaurant in downtown Durham owned by a family friend. Wedding cake and sweet treats were catered by Morgan’s favorite local bakery, Maddie Cakes in Bermuda Run, to add a touch of home.
“The whole weekend was magical and left us speechless,” reflect Morgan and Deep. “We wanted it to be an experience like no other for our guests and, from the feedback we’ve received, it was! Some details included watercolor guest portrait favors, an ECU specialty cocktail (an ode to where we fell in love), live plant wall for photo opportunities and an audio guest book.”
Both the bride and groom share some of their favorite moments from the weekend. Morgan recalls when Deep’s family rushed the dance floor at the conclusion of their duet showing their appreciation of her heartfelt embrace of their culture. For the groom, of course, a favorite memory is the joy of his arrival on a handsome white horse during the Baraat! Together, they both reflect on their emotional “first look” moments before each event.
While planning a blended wedding can be challenging, Morgan and Deep advise choosing the components of each culture that are most important to you as a couple.
“With fusion weddings, things are rarely traditional, and it’s OK to make it your own!” she adds. “Our mix of traditions was so perfect for us – and everyone else loved it, as well!”
Special shout-out to just a few of their vendors that helped make their vision come to life!
Planning: Whitney with The Gathering Co
Florals: Jenn and Frankie with Once Gathered
Photography By: Ally and Bobby Fine Art Photography
Videography By: Lucky Penny Films