Ari Nigam, a Brooklyn-born lawyer with Indian roots, and Diane Barrasso, a legal services consultant from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, were seeking both Hindu and Christian blessings and a wedding to celebrate their two cultures. Their May 14, 2011, wedding at the Stone House at Stirling Ridge in Warren started with a traditional Hindu ceremony. The bride, wearing henna and a sari, waited at the mandap altar, as Ari in his sherwani suit arrived to meet her, accompanied by a sitar and drums. Guests sipped cocktails afterward, while the couple changed into a wedding gown and dark suit for their Christian wedding outside. Then it was the bride’s turn to proceed down a garden path, with a string trio and songbirds supplying the soundtrack. “Our two ceremonies gave us a spiritual double bond,” Diane says. “We hosted a destination wedding minus the travel.”
Such a complex agenda required extra time, a versatile venue—plus a talent for coordinating disparate elements into a harmonious whole, starting with the colors. Diane wore traditional bridal red for the Hindu ceremony and ivory for the Lutheran one. Stationery, table linens and abundant floral arrangements added vibrant orange and turquoise hues, spiked with fuchsia, to the ceremonies and reception. The music was mixed also, with Bhangra dancers entertaining guests and a deejay spinning Top 40 hits, peppered with Bollywood tunes. Both Indian and American cuisine was served, and as guests departed, they were treated to splits of champagne wrapped with crystal elephants, Indian symbols of good luck.
Diane found everything she needed—from sari shops to henna artists—on Oak Tree Road in Edison and Iselin. She enlisted a wedding planner to carry out her vision and handle day-of logistics, allowing her to relax and enjoy. “An interfaith wedding can be a powerful shared experience,” Diane says. “The secret sauce is fully embracing one another’s faith.” Following a honeymoon in Italy, the couple now resides in Westfield.