Berkelie & Harsh
Berkelie and Harsh met through a mutual passion, ballroom dancing. When Berkelie joined the UNC ballroom team her freshman year, Harsh was already competing with the NC State team. He became the dance partner of her team captain the next year and this placed the couple more directly in each other’s lives. Two competitions and a Halloween party later, they finally made their first date and have been together ever since.
“It was not love at first sight. Our very first meeting was at a Christmas social dance. I was a new dancer and Harsh was much more advanced. When he asked me to dance, and led me through new steps, I was terrified of embarrassing myself. I think I had him convinced I was rather standoffish by the end of the dance through my silence of concentration. At that point, it would be nearly a year before we actually started dating,” remembered Berkelie.
Harsh proposed on Valentine’s Day 2013 on top of a mountain in India. The couple was visiting his family in Pune and they had all taken a weekend trip together. Because February 14th is also Harsh’s father’s birthday, everyone had convinced Berkelie that they needed to dress up and go out to celebrate. At sunset, Harsh dragged Berkelie out alone, much to her suspicion, to the back gardens. He led her to a small table decorated with balloons, and presented her with three roses to represent each year they had been together. He knelt and asked her to marry him. Little did Berkelie know, both of Harsh’s brothers were hiding in the bushes videoing and taking pictures.
“We didn’t plan to just have a wedding day, but a wedding week!” said Berkelie. “On Wednesday, we had a traditional Hindu ceremony at the Temple Hall of the Hindu Society of North Carolina in our own town of Morrisville. We wanted to incorporate aspects of both of our cultures into our wedding experience and decided that having both an Indian and Western ceremony would be a way to do this. It was very different from a standard Western wedding, layered with ritual, tradition and meaning. We incorporated a bit of this into our Saturday ceremony by using the same stole (scarf) we were literally tied together with in our Hindu wedding to bind us for our handfasting.”
Berkelie and Harsh planned for a formal, Art Deco themed reception at The Empire Room. As ballroom dancers, they love all things glitzy and glamorous. Their colors (black, white and gold) created a clean and opulent color palette that was enhanced with blue up lighting, purple flowers in the bridesmaids’ bouquets, and peacock feather boutonnieres for the groomsmen.
Dinner, catered by Painted Plate, was another mash up of cultures, with Western fare, Indian dishes and some dishes that were inspired by both.
“Everyone always tells you that your wedding day will fly by, but it’s difficult to understand exactly what they mean until you experience it. We agreed beforehand that we would be traditional and not see each other before the ceremony. It is one of the most memorable parts of the night for both of us, the first look at each other down the aisle.
“My grandfather gave me away at this ceremony, since both my parents had done so at our Indian wedding. Harsh and I created an eclectic bunch of traditions for our ceremony: traditional vows, a few readings, a sand ceremony and a handfasting.
“My favorite part of the day was during our portrait session with the photographers. After we had done the big group shots with family and wedding party, it was down to just Harsh and I and the photographer and videographer. Despite the fact that we were on camera, it was our first few moments alone, together as a married couple. It was elating, and not hard to produce the emotions our watchers wanted to capture. Ariana and Brian from Silver Feather Studios were absolutely brilliant to work with. They coached us into excellent photos and produced breathtaking videos from both our engagement and weddings.
“Our reception afterwards was full of dancing. Though we did a traditional slow dance for our first ‘first dance’, we later did a Rumba that better suited us. Many of our guests were also ballroom dancers, so we had our DJ teach some basic steps during cocktail hour so everyone would feel comfortable getting up and dancing. We also tried to get everyone involved through an anniversary dance, where the couple that had been married the longest would be the last on the floor. This ended up being my maternal grandparents,” said Berkelie.
When the evening came to a close, Berkelie and Harsh left the venue highlighted by sparklers. The Best Man drove them back to their hotel to sleep before an early flight out to their honeymoon in the beautiful Riviera Maya!