by Pete Mazzaccaro (with narrative provided by Sanjiv Jain)
Passersby of Sanjiv Jain’s East Willow Grove Avenue home in Wyndmoor couldn’t help wondering just what sort of remarkable celebration was happening on Aug. 10. Guests were filtering in and out of the property dressed in colorful, traditional Indian clothes, Bollywood music and a Dholi (Indian drummer).
There were people dancing in front of a man on a horse all dressed up in exotic fancy attire with a turban and flowers in front of his face. A large, colorful awning draped with beautiful fabric towered above the driveway entrance.
The event, it turns out, was that of Jain’s wedding to Becky Larson, 53, originally a Southern Belle from North Carolina, who has been living in the Greater Philadelphia area for more than 20 years. The couple met in December 2014 while attending a vacation course offered by the Wisdom Division of Landmark Worldwide in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
“Sanjiv was so handsome and charming and everyone loved him so after the second time he asked me out, I said yes,” Becky said. “It is the best decision I’ve ever made, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Jain, 53, originally born in India, but raised in Seattle, Washington, said once Becky was embraced by his parents Pawan and Saroj Jain, she was quickly accepted by the rest of his family, including his daughters, Jasmine, 16, and Simran, 14. Then, while attending a friend’s wedding in Isla Mujeres, Cancun, in January 2016, he proposed.
“I had already talked to my parents and my daughter’s and they all coached me on how I should propose” Jain said. “Since it was the same friends that had introduced us to the idea of dating each other while in Puerta Vallarta the year prior, it seemed perfect that I should propose to Becky while attending their wedding in Isla.”
Remembering the evening on the beach, Larson smiled.
“He got down on one knee and proposed,” she recalled. “It was so romantic.”
“It was our job to take this romantic vision into reality” said Robert Pollard of Breakfast Boutique Chestnut Hill. “We don’t really do catering any more, but we love Sanjiv and Becky, so my wife, Desiree, and I said we’ll make this come to life.”
The Pollards transformed the entire property into a beautiful creation of multiple ceremonies that flowed together seamlessly.
“There are things that have me feel like I’m married and there are different things that have Sanjiv feel that we’re married,” Larson said. “Both were honored and it all came together perfectly.”
The first was the American wedding with hundreds of chairs placed in a half circle orchestra style. Jain escorted his parents down the aisle. After seating them, he touched their feet, a traditional custom of asking for blessings from your elders. Larson and Jain’s daughters then laid the walkway with thousands of white rose petals that Simran had picked. The bride wore a navy blue gown showered with crystals custom made just for her.
The weather was perfect and a beautiful. A kiss was exchanged, and they were declared husband and wife.
The Indian wedding began with Jain dressed in a custom made Indian “shervani,” riding in on a colorfully decorated white horse. He was led in Punjabi tradition by an Indian drummer, or “dholi,” while guests danced down the driveway – a “mandip,” a holy Indian square space, that had been created under a large tent in the backyard. The bride was escorted by four girlfriends in a royal fashion under a canopy covered in lace and flowers. Becky wore a handmade “langha” that was purplish grey with a tremendous amount of intricate handwork and jewels.
The couple performed the seven rounds ,”sath pher,” around the holy fire, which is a traditional way to marry in Indian culture. At the conclusion, Saroj, introduced them to everyone as husband and wife. Then, “elders” were asked to gather so the couple could bow down and touch their feet to seek their blessings for a long and happy life.
The festivities continued into the late night with dancing under the tent. Hundreds of people attended this beautiful, colorful, fun-filled event where we got to enjoy a multicultural east meets west wedding in our own community.