Sejal Sheth and Matt Kleinhenz knew each other as coworkers and friends for ten years before they finally decided give dating a shot in March of 2015.
“Right away we knew we were going to be serious,” Matt says. “We were very honest about it.”
A few months later, Sejal’s mother’s 65th birthday celebration in Vegas turned out to be the perfect opportunity for Matt to surprise Sejal with a proposal. After a brunch at The Venetian with Sejal’s family, the couple decided to take a scenic gondola ride.
“The whole time we’re on the gondola, she’s talking about the ceiling and the dealers and I’m trying to prepare my speech,” Matt says. “Finally I go to get down on my knee, and I’m just towering over her. She said ‘yes,’ and the crowd that had been watching started cheering and clapping.”
The four-day wedding extravaganza started on a Thursday night, when the women in Sejal and Matt’s families came together to get henna done on their hands, an Indian tradition that can take up to ten hours.
“The henna dyes your hands, so when you take the ink off, your hands get really red and the depth of red is supposed to prove how much your husband loves you,” Sejal says. “It was by far the darkest red.”
Although Matt had only been to one other Indian wedding, he and his family prepared by researching the traditions and watching videos of other ceremonies.
“Throughout the planning process, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect,” Matt says. “I think my family was whole-heartedly understanding, and everybody embraced it.”
On Friday morning, Sejal’s family held a mandap mahurat, a religious ceremony in preparation to give the bride away. Matt and Sejal were then joined by about 250 friends and family members Friday night for an evening of dinner and dancing, followed on Saturday by a wedding procession for the groom, called a baarat, in downtown Kansas City.
“The welcoming of the groom is a big parade,” Matt says. “I was up there on a white 25-year-old Appaloosa, which happened to be the mascot of Florida State, my alma mater.”
Saturday’s four-hour ceremony at The Little Theatre began with Matt being welcomed at the altar by Sejal’s parents before a white sheet was held in front of him as the bride entered. The couple followed the events of a traditional Indian wedding, with the priest speaking in Sanskrit, with one exception.
“One thing we did differently from Indian weddings was write our own vows in English,” Sejal says.
The ceremony was followed by a reception at The Brass on Baltimore, where more than 300 guests witnessed a choreographed dance performed by Matt’s nieces and nephews and Sejal’s cousins’ children.
“That was one of the coolest components of the wedding,” Sejal says. “It just emulated how our families broke down any cultural barriers.”
A customary Indian dinner followed more modern appetizers, and a mix of reggae, jazz, pop, and Indian music kept the dance floor occupied until the end of the night.
“We both have been to a million weddings, but there was something about seeing our families come together that was just exactly what we wanted,” Sejal says of the end result.
“Everything fell into place, and it just worked out great,” Matt says. “It was perfect.”
WHO DID WHAT
Ceremony site: The Little Theatre
Reception site: The Brass on Baltimore
Caterer: Olive Events Catering
Photographer: Atley Marks
Videographer: Shawn Gormley Films
Cake: Olive Events Catering
Flowers: Blue Bouquet
Rentals: All Seasons and Ultrapom
Decor: Kiran Decorations
Horse: Belt Ranch
Transportation: Pech Limo