Real Weddings

Niki and Sunny in Belle Mead

Posted on June 22, 2020 by Ariana Baio

We were set up! We were both single and living in New Jersey  when Sunny got my phone number. He texted me without context or even giving me his name at first, and we met up for our first date shortly afterward. I thought he was sweet and funny, and I felt comfortable with him right away. Although we were on opposite ends of the state, we started seeing each other regularly right away, and have been inseparable ever since!Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

It was Memorial Day weekend 2019, and was pretty low-key. We spent the weekend with family and had a barbecue with some friends. The morning of Memorial Day we got breakfast at our local diner. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary to me but later that day, we were doing some chores when suddenly Sunny asked if I wanted to get ice cream. As a rule, I never say no to ice cream. Sunny suggested we take a different route by the pier when walking so that he could “get a picture of the skyline for Instagram” – which was strange, but I didn’t think anything of it. When we got to the end of Pier A in Hoboken, Sunny turned to me and said, “Hey, remember when we missed that proposal here a couple of weeks ago?” and he got down on one knee and said, “Don’t miss this one.” I was so surprised and happy, all I remember is saying “yes” to the man of my dreams! Sunny had arranged for both of our families and our closest friends to be gathered at a nearby restaurant to celebrate. I found out later that he spent weeks planning the day with our friends and families, and it was truly the most perfect proposal I could have ever hoped for.Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

Sunny and I had to postpone our 350+ person, multi-day, Indian wedding in Princeton, NJ due to the pandemic, and it was an extremely emotional process for us. Not only was it a logistical maze to navigate with so many of our guests from out of town and our vendors, but as Sunny is completing his trauma surgery fellowship in Florida, we have been long-distance for the whole year. It was very difficult being apart from each other and having to postpone a celebration that our families had worked so hard on during the year. Finally, about a week before what would have been our wedding day, we decided to just go for it! We wanted to celebrate our love and formalize our commitment to each other, regardless of the circumstances. We decided that, with the limits that were then in place, we could have a small ceremony with just our immediate families and a friend to officiate on our original date. My mom, sister and I quickly got to work – I ordered a dress online, coordinated with our original wedding photographer and bakery, found a local florist who could place an order on such short notice, and my mom started pulling out her crystal and vintage linens from Jaipur, India for our table setting.Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of New Jersey had also waived the 72-hour waiting period for marriage licenses, so we were able to pick ours up the same day Sunny arrived, just two days before the ceremony! The morning of the wedding, we set up the tables and chairs, and our florist brought the whole backyard to life. Sunny and I had a beautiful and intimate “micro wedding” in my parents’ backyard – and we felt so grateful that our families were able to come! His parents and sister even flew from Florida. Although we missed our friends and loved ones dearly, our small ceremony was lovely and we had a great time with just the two families – both sets of parents had coordinated Zoom calls for close family members to witness our ceremony, and we had a wonderful sunset dinner. One of the best parts of our weekend was that the next morning my parents organized a drive-by party for our friends and family who couldn’t join us the day before with over 80 cars. We were blown away by the response, as we had only announced it to them just a few days before! We had guests from all over New Jersey, including friends who drove all the way from Maryland. Many of our friends dressed up as if they were attending our wedding, and decorated their cars with balloons, handmade signs, and confetti! It was such a fun morning and such a beautiful way to celebrate with our loved ones.  We were so touched by the love and support of our family and friends – even though this wasn’t what we had originally planned for, it was a weekend full of love and happiness in these otherwise uncertain times.

Necessity is the mother of invention! Most venues, including our original one, were closed due to local pandemic restrictions, and my parent’s backyard has a large patio that we were planning on using for my henna (one of the pre-wedding events). Since we were limited to just 10 people anyway, we decided it would be best to have it at home. It turned out beautiful and we got very lucky with the weather.Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

We got Indian food takeout as a nod to our original wedding day menu. Our wedding cake ended up being the same cake we would have had at our big wedding, coconut cake with vanilla buttercream, but just the top tier size! I reached out to the bakery that is handling our wedding and they were such a joy to work with. They pulled it together so quickly, including making 85 custom boxes with cupcake versions of our cake on super late notice – I called them the day before to increase the order by about 50% because we were getting such overwhelming responses to the drive-by. And of course, no party would be complete without champagne – we cheered with Dom Perignon.Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

I ordered my gown online from Show Me Your Mumu and it fit me perfectly when it arrived – which was important, because our tailors were closed. My family and I traveled to India earlier in the year to shop for my big wedding, but wearing any of those outfits felt too ornate for our backyard, and I also wanted to save them for our Indian ceremony. The funny thing is, Sunny always said he had always thought his bride would be wearing white but none of my outfits for the wedding were white – I was wondering how to incorporate it into our events. When we made this plan, that was one of the silver linings – I got to wear a white dress!Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

My favorite moment was right after the ceremony, when Sunny and I got in the car to do a short photoshoot with our photographer in downtown Princeton. It was the first time we were alone as husband as wife, and it just felt really special that we decided to make the most of these times and bring some happiness to our families and ourselves.Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

My flower crown! In Indian tradition, the bride typically covers her head during the marriage ceremony, but with my white dress I wasn’t sure how to incorporate that without wearing a veil. I had this idea to do a flower crown and my florist created a perfect one – it was not too big as to overwhelm my face or the scale of the event, but it still made it feel a little special!Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

Honestly, no! The simplicity of our event and the next day’s drive-by made it so that everything was perfect!Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

I hope our wedding will serve as inspiration for other brides who are going through the same heartbreaking decisions due to COVID and how many plans are changing. You can still have a beautiful and meaningful event to commemorate such an important life event.  I wish I could give all COVID brides and their families a big hug!Niki and Sunny In Belle Mead

Honeymoon is TBD! I told Sunny I want to go on a “micro-moon” now too, to commemorate our “micro wedding”!

the details


Orlando, FL (him) | Belle Mead, NJ (her)

Reception Location

Belle Mead


Ajit Singh Photography


Dr. Rahul Sharma (our friend and original groomsman)

Bride’s Gown

Show Me Your Mumu / Mumu Weddings

+ more