Jaime + Rahul
You could say that the January marriage of Indian-born Rahul Rathore and Michigan native Jaime Sears was written in the stars. As Rahul's Hindu tradition dictates, the wedding date was set not by the couple, who met at Columbia University, but by an astrologer.
A week before the prescribed day, Jaime's American family and friends flew in to shop for saris and tour the sites. "My mother cried at the Taj Mahal," Jaime says. Then, the New York City science teacher, her hedge fund manager fiancé, and their clans traveled to Rahul's hometown of Jaipur.
The celebrations began with a day of separate ceremonies for the bride and groom. The next morning, Rahul rode an elephant in a procession through town to the Rambagh Palace hotel. There, he joined Jaime, clad in a red lehenga (the color signifies fertility), and her family under a mandap. "That was my favorite moment. I'd never seen Rahul in Indian clothes," the bride says. After a two-hour ceremony, guests watched Rajasthani dancers before retiring to the palace lawn. "Everyone lay in the sun and ate delicious Indian food," Jaime says. That night there was dinner, more dancing, and merriment, including a game in which the newlyweds grab for various items in a water-filled bowl. "Whoever gets the most will be the leader in the marriage," Jaime says. "He let me win, of course."
Maggie + Stephen
Harbour Island, Bahamas
When Maggie Edwards took a trip to Harbour Island with her girlfriends, she was instantly smitten with its understated charm and pink-sand beaches. Six years later, this merchandising director at The New Yorker and her fiancé, Stephen Kennedy, also a publishing executive, were looking for an alternative to what she calls "the pomp and circumstance of a 400-person wedding," and she remembered the Bahamian island's no-shoes-required atmosphere.
The 110 guests stayed at a selection of the area's casually chic hotels, which Maggie used to stage the four-day affair. Thursday evening kicked off with cocktails and a steel drum band at the Dunmore Beach Club. Friday night, the wedding party gathered for a rehearsal dinner at the Landing, a colonial-era hotel, as the rest of the guests had a low-key barbecue at the Coral Sands. On the day of the wedding, the bridal party lunched at Sip Sip, while Stephen and the groomsmen went bonefishing in the flats.
The couple were married at the 18th-century St. John's Anglican Church, where they were serenaded by a gospel choir. After the ceremony, a children's Junkanoo band led the party through the streets to the Rock House hotel. New York City wedding stylist Michelle Rago had decked out the interior courtyard with Chinese paper lanterns, flowers, and, for a beachy touch, all sorts of native seashells. After the formal dinner of filet mignon and lobster tails, local DJ Daddy D took the stage, and "the evening went from elegant to island-caliber party," Maggie says. The guests even kicked off their shoes.