Love: Rachel Sisson and Rohan Sarin

Sept. 4, 2011 in Philadelphia

Posted: November 09, 2011

Hello there

One spring night in 2000, Rachel, then a marketing major at St. Joseph's University, went to a Drexel University party with a friend.

A hippy-dippy song came on the radio, but soon, a cute boy nixed it with a rap CD. "Yeah!" Rachel told Rohan. "This is my kind of music!"

They talked awhile, and both felt the flutter of attraction. Neither acted on it, since both were taken. But they exchanged AOL Instant Messenger screen names, and would chat for hours, mostly about inconsequential things like the burdens of homework or the latest model automobiles.

By September, neither was in a relationship. Rohan, a finance and management information systems major, asked Rachel to hang out one Friday night. There was another Drexel party, and Rohan, then carless, convinced a friend to take him to pick Rachel up. "We had our first kiss that night," Rachel remembers.

Rohan sent another IM the next day: "So, we're together now, right?"

Right!

Rohan knew Rachel was the girl of his dreams shortly after. He offered to take her to dinner. She said she'd rather hit the Philadelphia International Auto Show, then watch football.

Rachel, from Swarthmore, and Rohan, from Voorhees, stayed together through undergrad and grad school - even though she worked in Malvern and earned her MBA at Villanova while he earned his from the University of Maryland. Rohan lived in Maryland during the week, but came to Philadelphia each weekend. After earning their grad degrees, Rachel continued to work at Riverside Consulting Group, where she is a health-care consultant. Rohan is a business-strategy consultant for IBM and is based in Philadelphia.

How does forever sound?

In February 2009, Rohan called Rachel's close friend and coworker, Carrie, who got Rachel's boss to keep her at work late one Friday. Rachel finally arrived at their Phoenixville home to find music playing, roses on the coffee table, and a laptop displaying a slide show of memories from their years together. After the last slide, Rachel turned to Rohan, and found him down on one knee. He fumbled with the ring box, which got stuck in his pocket. He forgot the speech he had planned. But Rohan managed to say the most important things: "I love you. Will you marry me?"

"Shut up!" Rachel responded in happy disbelief. "Shut up!"

"Is that a yes?" Rohan asked. "Yes!" she said.

The next night, Rohan surprised Rachel with a celebratory dinner with her parents, Jeff and Joyce; her grandmother Bernice, who has since passed away; his parents, Tony and Pinky; his brother Amit, and several other family members.

It was so them

The couple chose to have both American and Indian ceremonies and receptions, and that meant three days' worth of events with traditions, music, and food from both cultures.

On Friday, Rachel's hands and feet were decorated with elaborate henna tattoos, and female friends and relatives were adorned with simpler designs, at a mendhi party.

On Saturday, there was a prayer led by the women of Rohan's family, food, and much dancing for the sangeet - an event that symbolized the joining of Rohan's and Rachel's families.

Then Sunday morning, Rohan and Rachel were wed in a simple American ceremony. She walked in to an instrumental version of Train's "Marry Me" and wore a white dress. He wore a black suit, and the officiant spoke of love and the meaning of marriage. Their 175 guests had lunch while the couple had photos taken and prepared for their Hindu ceremony.

Rachel changed into a red lengha and Rohan into his cream-colored achkan. Rohan's family and friends helped him get ready, in a ceremony called the sehra bandi. The women tied beads, which hung over his face, to his turban.

Rohan and his entourage walked to a nearby park, where a white horse, festooned with bright red and gold Indian fabric and roses, waited for him. According to Indian custom, the youngest boy in the family rides the horse with the groom. Family friend Soham filled this role.

Rohan, his horse, and his group followed a drummer who led them, dancing, to the hotel patio, where they were met by the bride's family and friends.

Inside, Rohan's and Rachel's fathers and uncles exchanged flower garlands. Then everyone took their seats in the ballroom and the Hindu ceremony began.

Rohan, 30, and Rachel, 31, also exchanged flower garlands. They had given each other rings in the American ceremony, and the garland exchange felt very similar to Rachel. "It made things feel official," she said.

This was unexpected

Near the end of the Hindu ceremony, Rachel heard a commotion, and immediately feared that something bad was happening. Then she saw a body flying through the air and a burst of laughter as a bridesmaid and a groomsman tussled over Rohan's shoes.

Before the Hindu ceremony, everyone removes their shoes as a sign of respect for God. This has led to a game in which the bridesmaids and groomsmen fight for custody of the groom's shoes. If the women triumph, the groom must pay a ransom to get them back.

The ladies held on to the shoes until the guys won them back in a dancing contest during the reception.

Unforgettable

Rachel spent the night before the ceremonies alone in her bridal suite. Having already gone through two days of events, any nervousness had long since worn off. "I was really at peace, and really excited and happy," she said.

Walking into the reception, Rohan was amazed to hear Eagles announcer Merrill Reese introducing the couple and their wedding party - a prerecorded gift from his new wife. When the bride and groom walked in, family and friends cheered as if the Birds had just won the Super Bowl. "She made a childhood dream come true," he said.

Discretionary spending

A bargain: Confident in their photographer's documentary skills, the couple did without a videographer.

The splurge: The bride wore shimmering, silver Jimmy Choo kitten heels.

The getaway: Two weeks in the Greek islands.


Love: BEHIND THE SCENES

Officiant

American ceremony

Nondenominational officiant Richard Binder, then with Journeys of the Heart, but now working independently.  

Indian ceremony

Vimal and Vinod Raval

Venue

Sheraton Society Hill, Philadelphia

Food

American: Sheraton Society Hill

Indian: Palace of Asia, Lawrenceville

Music

CTO Entertainment, DJ Bizz, Philadelphia; DJ Raj Entertainment, Raj Gandhi, Passaic, N.J.

Photography

CinematicbyDavidM David Mielcarek, Philadelphia

Dress

The Wedding Shoppe, Wayne

Groom's attire

Hugo Boss, Cherry Hill

Indian attire

Brought from India by the groom's parents

Flowers

Elegant Affairs, Shoba Rao, Fairfield, N.J.

Invitations

Ajalon Printing and Design, Santa Rosa, Calif. 

Wedding day coordinator

Anne Gwal, Cherry Hill  

 


Love: DO YOU HAVE THE DATE?

Tell us in a short e-mail – at least six weeks before your ceremony – why we should feature your love story.

Send it to weddings@phillynews.com. Unfortunately, we can't personally respond to all submissions. If your story is chosen, you will be contacted in the weeks before your wedding.

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