A beautifully blended wedding day at Starmount Forest Country Club

Weddings are best when they are unique and esoteric to the individual couple. Nothing defines the word "blended" more accurately than this wedding. Nathaniel and Maria Sowa's wedding was seamless in every aspect. The couple's ceremony was a melting pot of mixed cultures; the groom's side brought Polish tradition to the ceremony, while the bride and her respective family added Indian tradition to the day. Beautiful seasonal colors such as navy, olive green and a calming taupe came together to truly make this day a work of art inside and out. Take a look at some of the stunning photos from @Yasmin Leonard. 

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How did you two meet?

"Nate and Maria met in medical school. They were first introduced by their mutual friends. Both friends thought that they would be 'soul mates'."

Was it love at first sight?

"On that first meeting, Nate was quiet and Maria figured he 'wasn't my type,' Little did they know that 6 months later they would meet again while on a rotation together in the hospital. As they spent more time together, Nate felt more comfortable and Maria started to change her mind about him. At the end of this rotation together, Maria invited Nate to come to a party she was throwing that weekend. Unfortunately, Nate had plans, but he later emailed her (yes, emailed her) to ask her out for dinner. She agreed and they met at Mediterranean Deli on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill. They had a wonderful dinner, but after it was done, Maria could sense that Nate didn't want the night to end and she suggested dessert at Yogurt Pump and a stroll around campus. Nate was relieved, and they finally parted ways after a great first date."

How did you two get engaged?

"While it wasn't a complete surprise that Nate was going to ask Maria to marry him, he did a pretty good job of keeping the details hidden. On the big day, Nate arranged a special 30th birthday celebration for Maria. He only told her that she needed to be in Chapel Hill at a certain time. He invited all of her closest friends to the dinner, although unfortunately many could not come. Nate then made sure that Maria's brother was in town from New York to celebrate with them, and he enlisted his help in getting flowers for the engagement. Maria arrived to Nate's apartment, and she was surprised and thrilled to see her brother there. While she showered and changed for the party, Maria's brother helped Nate arrange a table outside on Nate's patio with the flowers and 10 picture frames covered in white cloth. They then arranged Maria's former a cappella singing group, "The MedUNCedoos" outside around the table. When Maria came downstairs, Nate asked if she wanted to see her birthday surprise. When he opened the blinds to the patio, she saw the table and her friends in the singing group. As they went outside, the MedUNCedoos started singing Sara Bareilles' song "I Choose You." Nate then led Maria around the table, revealing the pictures, which represented 9 different reasons that he loves her. The 10th frame was empty, representing the future they are going to make together. Nate then got down on one knee and popped the question. She said yes!! They then celebrated at Kipos Greek Taverna with dinner and many of their closest friends. It was a wonderful night!"

Tell us more about your wedding day....

"Their wedding day was everything Nate and Maria imagined it would be - their loved ones together having so much fun. Also as imagined, it flew by. They did take the time to realize some of the details. Maria's day started with her bridesmaids and hair/makeup artists, getting ready in her suite. Her mom and soon-to-be mother-in-law came to get their hair done as well. Meanwhile, Nate had a very relaxed morning with his brother and cousin (two of his groomsmen) watching ESPN and taking a fraction of the time to get ready. During the ceremony, the Deacon gave a wonderful homily and Maria's relative, a Catholic priest who flew in from India for the occasion, was able to perform traditions from the state in India where her parents are from (Kerala). Their photographer and friends did such a great job getting all of the pictures of their large families that Maria and Nate wanted after the wedding. Their charter bus took them to Starmount for the reception and the rest of the night was full of great food, speeches, and tons of dancing, which was exactly what they wanted. They were amazed to realize later on that the dance floor had been lively for 4 full hours! They were even lifted up in their chairs by their brawnier loved ones. Their family and friends saw them off with a sparkler exit."

Did your wedding day have a particular theme?

"We did not select any particular theme. We were mainly aiming to have a great time and because our respective families have Indian and Polish traditions, we decided to spend some time on these traditions, including a polka and a ceremonial Indian blessing between families."

What was the most unique element of your wedding day? 

Although we had a mostly traditional Catholic wedding, we did also include some Kerala traditions during wedding and reception. And we did the Manthrakodi and Minnu ceremony - Nate draped a folded sari (in this context, the "Manthrakodi" or "blessed new clothes") over Maria's head, symbolizing that he will always provide for her. He then tied the "Minnu," a small gold cross-shaped pendant strung on threads from the Manthrakodi, around her neck so that the pendant sat close to her heart, symbolizing that they are tied together for life.

Were there any other traditions incorporated into the reception? 

"The groom's father gave a rosary to the bride, placing it over her head and around her neck. In this way, he and the groom's mother invited her into their family. The parents of bride and groom embraced and then each pair (bride and groom, bride's parents, groom's parents) lit wicks around a traditional Kerala oil lamp, known as the Nilavilakku, symbolizing the asking for and giving of blessings for the auspicious start of this new life and joyous wedding reception celebration."

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Was TriadWeddings helpful to you? 

"Yes- I used TriadWeddings throughout the process to get ideas on what I wanted our wedding day to look like. The pictures were an excellent source of inspiration."

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Vendors:

Ceremony Location:  Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church

Reception Location: Starmount Country Club

Wedding Coordinator: (From the church) Jenny Montgomery; (From the Reception) Emily Frazier

Photographer: Yasmin Leonard Photography

Bridal Gown: David's Bridal

Invitations: DIY

Cake: Shannon Matthews

Catering: Starmount Country Club

Flowers: Boutineers made by Plants and Answers Florist

Hair/Makeup Services: Courtney Knox and Hannah Hill

Music/Entertainment: Mario with K2Productions

Transportation: First Student Charter Bus