This Adorable Couple Found Their Happily Ever After Beyond Cultural Barriers | Sneha Donthireddy & James May

By TGB Desk / On June 30th, 2017

“It was a beautiful spring afternoon and we were in a small café that’s close to the Corfe Castle, England. We ordered Tea and some cakes to go with it. As we waited for the tea to arrive, we both got engrossed in a deep discussion (read debate) about movies. There was a moment of silence as the tea arrived.

And just as I was about to sip the tea, James said ‘Sneha, do you want to do this with me for the rest of your life…having tea, picking fights over silly movies, travelling and be with me?’ It was so James, nothing dramatic! I couldn’t find words to say to him and was just speechless for a moment.

‘Absolutely yes,’ I said quickly ‘I would love to do this forever!’ “smiles Sneha, locks her eyes with his and says “I felt it was just perfect. What better place than the beautiful English Countryside to get proposed?! And that too for a hard-core Jane Austen fan!” giggles the new bride. And adds “On a serious note, I can’t imagine my life without James. I sometimes feel that he loves and understands me better than myself! I always knew he is the right person. Right from Day one!”

“On second thoughts, I think I fell in love with the New York City first and then James!” she says and pokes him with her elbow. The humour is back again!
She proceeds to tell us their love story. And boy, its beautiful and refreshingly candid!

Our Love Story
“One Spring (Well, Spring is my lucky season, you see) afternoon in New York, we met at a small dumplings restaurant accidentally. I was doing my Masters at the time and my best friend’s nieces were visiting us from India. They were in the city for the first time and so we wanted to show them the ‘City that never sleeps’. After the city tour, all of us ended up in a small restaurant that we love a lot and it was quite empty. Obviously it would be! It was just 3 PM – a bit too soon for dinner. There was just one guy who was quietly having his meal.

We plopped ourselves down at the table next to his and talked and laughed loudly oblivious to our surroundings. James (back then I didn’t know his name of course) looked at us, obviously disturbed by all the noise we were making, and smiled politely,” Sneha laughs. “I was disturbed, yes, but was not annoyed. I was amused rather than irritated. In fact, I was enjoying your conversation a lot and was finding ways to join in” grins James. They struck a conversation and talked about everything under the sun.

“And then I remember wanting to go to a German restaurant from a long time and so I enquired if he knows of any good German restaurant around. And do you know what he said? ‘Yes, I do. But I need your number for that! I want to go (with you) as well’ I was completely shocked and the one question that kept popping up in my mind was ‘Did he just ask me out for a date?’ I was totally flustered. We had just met!” chuckles Sneha.

“But go we did. We went out for dinner after a couple of weeks of first meeting. He took me to a Spanish restaurant and not a German one” she points a finger accusingly at James, “Obviously there was no German restaurant around. Was there?!” snickers Sneha. “Of course, there was no German restaurant! But how else do I get your phone number?” he says with a smile.

She smiles back and says “Both of us were super nervous as it was first time for us to see someone from a different culture. But we slowly started conversing and time just flew by. After our first date, I realised that we share similar views, despite coming from diverse cultures. As we walked out of the restaurant, it started raining heavily and we had to part our ways. The first date led to another, and then another and we kept meeting again and again! It was magical! We were in Love!!!” As she speaks, her eyes shine like the winter moon in the pond!

“I was really nervous, when I told my parents about my decision to get married to James. To my surprise, my parents turned out to be pretty open minded. They were okay with me getting married to a person from a different culture. But they were really anxious about the success of the marriage as there were huge cultural differences between us.

Finally, they realised that the success of the marriage depends on the loyalty, mutual unwavering trust and respect for each other’s culture. Even today, I am a staunch Telugu girl who likes to decorate her hands with mehendi, glass bangles and wear jasmine gajra in hair. And he is a typical English guy who is passionate about shepherd pies and tea. But we are just two people madly in love with each other!” beams the new bride.

Wedding Saree Shopping
“I followed a lot of fashion blogs on Instagram as I had to manage shopping while being in US. I am a huge fan of lush Banarasi weaves with intricate floral motifs and have always envisioned myself in a gorgeous Banarasi wedding saree. Since it’s a Spring (It had to be Spring, right?) Wedding, I wanted something in Yellow or Orange. I wanted a simple and elegant saree to go with the heavy wedding jewellery. One fine day, I found a brilliant Orange saree (of my dreams) on an online store – Raw Mango .

I made a call to the shop, my heart racing with excitement! I was overjoyed when they informed me that it was still available. As the saree is in bright Orange colour, I wanted to mute it down a bit and so decided to opt for a Gold hued blouse. My mom designed the embroidery with lots of flowers and butterflies keeping the ‘Spring’ theme in mind. It was efficiently executed by Rumor boutique. I bought all my wedding sarees from Raw Mango. I really love all the designs by Sanjay Garg. He gives contemporary twist to traditional weaves. I find his creations trendy yet vintage!

I bought a Payal Singhal lehenga for my Mehendi. I think her designs are simple yet very dramatic with flared skirts and muted blouses.

I am a huge fan of Maniratnam movies. Well, who isn’t? Do you remember Manisha Koirala’s white lehenga from one of his movies Bombay? That’s my all time favourite lehenga! However, I have never intended to buy a similar one. In fact, I was all set to buy an evening gown for my rehearsal dinner.

But one day as I was casually browsing an online shopping website I came across a beautiful white lehenga by Pariah By Pranami. She is a designer from Assam and I have always loved North Eastern textiles and patterns. In a split second, I decided to go for this white lehenga as it would be a refreshing change to wear a lehenga for rehearsal dinner.” recalls Sneha.

Jewellery Shopping
She says “I always wanted to adorn myself in temple jewellery as any traditional South Indian bride would. But I came across designs by Ankit Khallur in Vogue magazine. His designs were incredible and so I immediately got in touch with him. He was very friendly and gave me many valuable suggestions about the head piece and choker. I opted for jewellery with Swarovski crystals set against a green background.

It complemented my Orange wedding saree so well. Banarasi weaves and Swarovski crystals have rendered unique touch to my wedding day look. Coming across Ankit was such a happy accident!” beams the bride.
“For the rest of the events, I just picked out the jewelry as I came across them on various online shops or fashion blogs. One thing I knew was, I didn’t want statement jewelry and wanted the jewelry to complement my clothing. I really fell in love with Anjali Jain Jewelry that I wore for Mehendi and Rehearsal dinner. Similarly, Earrings by Raabta by Rahul which I wore for reception was a refreshing take on jhumkas. Bold yet elegant!” 

Funny Moments
“James’ family is from England and for most of them this is their first Indian wedding. So James’ parents readied themselves by watching scores of Bollywood movies. And when they arrived in India, they were a little disappointed to know that there wouldn’t be any dancing in South Indian weddings. But their biggest disappointment came when they learned that the groom wouldn’t be arriving seated on an elephant. Yes, an Elephant!! They joked about how James made them watch wrong kind of movies!” she cracks-up laughing!

And adds “Explaining countless South Indian rituals was quite overwhelming for both the families. Oh, and by the way, have to tell you what happened during the wedding. Looking at all the English people, our over enthusiastic priest has started translating all the wedding mantras in English for the sake of the guests. The real meaning got lost in the translation and we all had a good laugh! It was fun!!”

Close-To-Heart Moment

“In any Telugu wedding, a bride is accompanied by her maternal uncle(s) to the wedding altar. But I insisted that my dad should accompany me. I have always been daddy’s little girl and it only felt right that he be given the opportunity to walk me to the mantap. Initially he protested citing traditions and customs but relented when he understood how much it meant to me! So, I took the last walk as a bride-to-be with my dad and the entire family!” says visibly overwhelmed bride.

Special Moments
“My parents couldn’t attend my Civil wedding at Sharon Mills, Michigan. It was an intimate ceremony with few close friends, James’ parents and my brother. As we read our wedding vows to each other, my brother just broke down. My little brother was so overwhelmed that he had tears in his eyes.

It was such a sweet and unforgettable moment. James’ vows were sincere, touching and hilarious. He listed out all the things we wanted to do together – travel, build a house with an interior garden, go on walks on the English countryside, start farming in India and finally settle down in Bali post-retirement. And then he mentioned that he is one lucky man to have found a perfect partner-in-crime who loves to indulge in everything he does. Indian wedding was special and fun but to me, our Civil wedding will remain favourite!” she says matter-of-factly.

Wedding Photography
“Well, what can I say about Photriya? If you ask me to rate them on a scale of Ten, I would give them an Eleven! No, Really! I was completely blown away when I saw our wedding album. They captured every single beautiful moment in our wedding.

It’s impossible to select a favourite pic, but if you insist, I really love this picture where James was taking a peek through the “Addu-thera” during Terasella ceremony. If you ask me, every single picture can be framed and admired as art!” As she says this her eyes sparkle with child like glee. 

Wedding Day Makeup & Hairstyle

Suman did a wonderful job! She is super talented and very professional. She makes you feel totally comfortable which makes it easy to work with her. I looked into the mirror and couldn’t stop looking into it. I looked like myself, just a better version” she blushes and insists “I can’t recommend her highly enough! Book her now and you will be glad you did!” 

Ah, such a glorious wedding!

Thank you Sneha and James for sharing your special day with us.

Congratulations on your wedding! May your life be filled with lights of Diwali and joy of Christmas!!

Stay Happy!!!

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