When Punit Shah and Carla Porta wed in Sarasota last November, the Tampa couple combined two cultures 10,000 miles apart. Shah, whose parents were born in India, and Porta, whose family came here from Nicaragua, spent a year and a half planning the grand, two-day event, which included two receptions, a formal Catholic ceremony, and, most spectacularly, a traditional Indian affair for 450 family and guests at the Crosley Mansion. It began with baraat, an Indian wedding tradition: Escorted by his family, the groom arrives on a white horse. Lotus blossoms everywhere symbolized that “God was with us,” says Shah.
Shah, a real estate developer, and Porta, a hospitality consultant, were dressed like Indian royalty, in clothing custom-made for the couple during a month-long trip to India. The Hindu priest performing the ritual had also been present at the wedding of Shah’s parents. “That was very special,” Shah says. The rope, tied to both Shah and Porta at the moment they were officially wed, represented their new bond.
Henna tattoos—“for women to get decorated and have fun,” says Shah—were, as they always are, a part of the wedding festivities. The evening culminated in a lavish terrace reception, modeled after the traditional Indian celebration that occurs when the two families meet for the first time. Decorative peacock feathers, imported from India, inspired the larger-than-life paisley lighting designs by Sarasota’s Bay Stage Lighting. For the dancing, New York City DJ Guarav spun a fusion of modern, Indian and Latin tunes, while guests enjoyed freshly prepared Indian fare and desserts created by an on-site pastry chef. When the reception ended around midnight, Shah and Porta escorted friends to Ceviche for a private, rooftop after-party that continued until 3 a.m.