“It was quite the planning adventure,” says bride Gauri Namkung of her May wedding to Jeremy Namkung at his parents’ home in Sebastopol. Gauri, an education researcher, and Jeremy, a music executive and rapper, met way back in 2009 at a teacher training program in Oakland, where they now live, and both taught at public schools there for several years.
But it was Sonoma where they felt they could pull off the wedding they’d always hoped for. After Jeremy proposed quietly in their Oakland apartment in February 2020 (“Just no big public proposals, please,” joked Gauri at the time), they tabled wedding planning as the unknowns of the pandemic took shape. “But after a while, we just decided that instead of waiting for that big wedding sometime in the future, we really just wanted to be married,” Gauri explains. They felt a smaller celebration at the rural home in Sebastopol where Jeremy grew up would fit the moment. “It just honestly felt like a different world up there, this place filled with rolling hills and trees—so beautiful,” says Gauri.
The couple mapped out a daylong event with a traditional three-hour Hindu ceremony in the morning, led by Gauri’s father, a priest, followed by a vegetarian lunch catered by a well-known South Bay chef originally from the Indian state of Maharashtra, where Gauri’s family has roots.
After a break to regroup and switch up some of the decor, the couple returned for a second, Western-style ceremony led by Jeremy’s brother. An evening wedding meal of Japanese noodles and sushi, also vegetarian in keeping with Marathi tradition, was served in individual wooden bento boxes.
Throughout the day, there were drinks and casual to-go snacks from a cocktail trailer parked at one end of the outdoor garden. “We created these smaller environments, special seating arrangements like little pods, which worked out well,” explains Gauri. “And then right before the wedding, most of the guests could be vaccinated. So those who felt comfortable could talk and move from pod to pod.”
To pull off a multicultural celebration that felt so deeply joyful in uncertain times felt like a victory for the couple. Jeremy, who is half Korean and half Canadian, enjoyed the process of researching and planning the Hindu ceremony and wearing the traditional kurta. “It was fun, and also very meaningful, for us to sit down together with Gauri’s parents and have them guide us through the rituals,” says Jeremy.
During the first ceremony, there was a quiet moment when the couple stood facing each other, surrounded by their guests, as a symbolic curtain was held up between them. “That was one of the times I could take a pause,” says Gauri. “And in that moment, I looked around and realized, ‘Oh my gosh, these are our people.’ I’ll never forget that.”
Planner: Samar Hattar, Blissful Events
Photographer: Aly Tovar Photography
Floral design: Angella Floral Design
Marathi cuisine: Vishnuji Ki Rasoi
Bento boxes: Ume Japanese Bistro
Cocktails: Wayfarer Mobile Bar Co.
Hair and makeup: The Powder Room
Bride’s Western dress: BHLDN
Rentals: Bright Event Rentals
Staff: GM Event Services
Sound system: Grapevine Party Rentals