East Meets West
Tina & Rajiv
This couple combined their backgrounds for a colorful and meaningful wedding day celebration.
By Mimi Pinette
Photography by Kim Chapman Photography
When Tina Holt and Rajiv Shankar were introduced to each other in February 2011, at Portland Museum of Art’s winter gala, they immediately hit it off. Soon after, they began to spend all of their free time together, and realized how well suited they were for each other.
Once the couple got engaged in October of that year, they started planning their multicultural Maine wedding. Tina was raised in Ellsworth and Rajiv in Calcutta, West Bengal, India. They threw a colorful Indian wedding, complete with saris, henna tattoos, and a horse, at French’s Point in Stockton Springs.
“We have both lived in Maine a long time and love it—the people, the seashore, the seasons, and the life we live here,” Tina says. “We wanted to share all of that with others in celebrating our marriage.”
Tina and Rajiv made their Maine wedding a multi-day event, holding a rehearsal dinner for their family on Thursday. On Friday, their family and friends took part in a traditional Maine contra dance at the Belfast Shrine club. “We served Mediterranean food, danced to tunes played by Frigate, and closed the night singing folk songs together as a group,” Tina says.
The couple integrated elements from their backgrounds and made their mutual passions—music, dancing, friends, and family—the most important aspects of their wedding day. “Our attire was Indian-inspired clothing for the wedding party and many of the guests,” Tina says. “We had a henna party for the women and, during the reception, played traditional Indian music.
Tina and Rajiv worked with the team at French’s Point to carry out surprises for each other on their big day. Tina surprised Rajiv by arranging a Baraat—the groom’s wedding processional. Typical of weddings held in Northern India and Pakistan, a Baraat is when the groom travels to the wedding venue on a horse, accompanied by his family members. Rajiv rode through the grounds of French’s Point on a horse named Nugget, who was bedecked with the customary red and gold finery. The people who accompany the groom are called baraatis, and they surround him with singing and dancing. “He rode in, surrounded by love, dancing friends, and music,” Tina says.
Rajiv surprised Tina by arranging two bagpipers to play a traditional Scottish tune called “Mari’s Wedding” as a processional. Their guests sang modified lyrics as Tina was ushered down the aisle by her mother. “These were both delightful and amazing ways we created a special day for each other and our guests,” Tina says.
The Unitarian-inspired ceremony was filled with music and readings performed by their friends. Rajiv’s beloved German shepherd, Heidi, a rescue dog, was included in the ceremony. She carried the rings, which were tied to her collar, down the aisle, and sat happily at the couple’s feet while they exchanged vows.
After the ceremony the entire group gathered to eat dinner, share toasts, and watch Tina and Rajiv perform a Bollywood dance and a tango on the dance floor. Their guests even got into the mix, performing a flash-mob Bollywood dance themselves!
The entire party danced the night away to the swing/gypsy jazz strains of Brian Killough’s Hot Club Ensemble.
“I’m so glad that we were able to have our community of friends and family celebrate love and connection outdoors in Maine with such beauty and love and creative expression,” Tina says.
In Tina's Words
We asked the bride more about their special day. Here’s what Tina says . . .
I wish . . . Rajiv’s parents had been able to be there.
One of my favorite moments was . . . seeing Rajiv on the horse being feted coming around the property.
I really liked . . . being able to pull in elements of our personal, family, and spiritual traditions in fun and meaningful ways.
My advice to other brides is . . . to keep breathing, thing about all and who you love most, and enjoy the chance to make this moment happen.
Maine Vendors
Photographer: Kim Chapman Photography
Ceremony & Reception: French’s Point, Stockton Springs
Officiant: Rev. Mark Worth from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Castine
Rehearsal Dinner Caterer: Mediterranean Grill, Freeport
Reception Caterer: French’s Point, Stockton Springs
Cake: Sweet Sensations, Rockport
Engagement Ring: Cross Jewelers, Portland
Salon: Kathy Feyler at Dish Hair Salon, Belfast
Henna Art: The Eye of Henna, Westbrook
Makeup Artist: Cynthia Clayton at From This Day Forward, Rockland
Invitations: The Paper Patch, Portland
Ceremony Music: Valerie Green, Cape Elizabeth
Reception Music: Bryan Killough’s Hot Club, Portland
Horse Costuming & Handling: Joy Baker, Searsport
Bagpipers: Maine St. Andrew’s Pipes and Drums, Ellsworth