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The dark clouds lifted, the rain stopped, and suddenly a double rainbow ringed the sky in France's chГўteau country. "Oh my gosh! It's a sign of something wonderful!" Katrina Markoff told her boyfriend, Jason Sher, not knowing that he had planned to propose during their French vacation and had a ring tucked in his pocket. A short time later, Jason got down on one knee and gave Katrina a ring with seven different-colored sapphires-the hues of the twin rainbows-circling an emerald-cut diamond. Each of the sapphires represents the color of one of the seven ancient Hindu chakras, spiritual and energy centers in the body and a central focus of yoga philosophy. "I'm a pretty bohemian type of girl," says Katrina. "I really love yoga and the chakras, and I introduced them to Jason."
At the couple's nuptials on September 17, 2005, in Fort Wayne, IN, Katrina and Jason presented the chakras-not to mention many other spiritual ingredients-to 350 wedding guests. The ceremony at the bride's family home and the reception at a nearby horse farm (orchestrated by Los Angeles event planner Clifford Miller of TFS Studio) was a panoply of brilliant colors; performance art by a Chicago group, the Redmoon Theater; cultural influences from Katrina's Macedonian heritage and Jason's Jewish background; plus other international touches. In this eclectic mix, the culinary constant was chocolate, lacing every hors d'oeuvre and running richly through the desserts (Katrina owns Vosges Haut-Chocolat; Jason is its director of operations).
The exotic event began with a magical mystery tour from the driveway of Katrina's family home through a wooded path to the ceremony site. Guests were invited to stop at seven different ritual sites, each emblazoned in one of the seven colors of the chakras: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet, the signature hue of Vosges chocolate. At the final violet station, guests gathered for a multicultural ceremony. Overhead, brilliant moonlight bathed the couple. "I picked our wedding date based on the full moon," explains Katrina. "I am very connected to the lunar cycle."
Glowing on all fronts, the guests then rode trolleys to the farm, Covington Manor, for what Katrina calls a "gypsy garden soiree." The hors d'oeuvres, all created by the bride, included white-chocolate cups filled with coconut milk and steamed lobster atop white-chocolate corn cakes. For the feast, guests dined on grilled baby octopus, Lebanese beef-kefta kebabs, and Moroccan couscous baked in traditional tagines. The desserts included a seven-layer red velvet cake with white-chocolate cream-cheese filling. The festivities were equally intriguing, ranging from a Macedonian pig dance to a bread jig. At the end of the night, the couple slipped off to a sari-covered tent in the backyard of the house. There, they spent their wedding night on a bed of feathers and coyote pelts. On their pillows? Truffles, of course-exotic ones.
Vera Wang, verawang.com
Linda Campisano Millinery, lindacampisano.com
Clifford Miller of TFS Studio, tfsstudio.com
Redmoon Theater, redmoon.org
Ellison, ellison.com, and Bazzill Basics Paper, bazzillbasics.com
Vosges Haut-Chocolat, vosgeschocolate.com
Soho Letterpress, soholetterpress.com
Raj Tents, rajtents.com
Taste America Catering, tasteamerica.net
Violet: The seventh "crown" chakra links the individual with the divine; the canopy was the perfect decor element for a wedding ceremony in a clearing in the woods. "It was an ethereal moment I'll never forget," says Katrina.
The bride wore a Vera Wang gown and a headdress of peacock feathers from Linda Campisano Millinery of Chicago.
Flower girls Tatiana, the bride's niece, and Dolce, a friend's daughter, sprinkled feathers before the bride walked down a path with her brother to meet Jason at the chuppah. "It made me smile to see them. I'm a little nervous in crowds," says Katrina.
Indigo: For chakra number six, which is linked to intuition and extrasensory perception, Katrina and Jason asked their wedding guests to toss pebbles into tall glass bottles filled with indigo-colored water and make a special wish for the couple's future happiness.
Green: Devotion, love and compassion are the attributes of this chakra. Redmoon Theater set up many little altars, lit by candles, with memorabilia from the couple's relationship. "I don't know who that bride and groom is," jokes Katrina.
Blue: Indian sitar players set the mood for this chakra, which is all about self-expression and communication. The cards emblazoned with bluebirds on the tree suggested the power of voice and sound. "We thought about having real birds, but I don't like the idea of cages," says the bride.
The same passion for feathers that inspired the bride's headdress translated into unique escort cards family and friends plucked from the branches of a tree en route to the reception. Card stock from Bazzill Basics Paper. Die-cut escort cards from Ellison.
Mineral water and purple boxes of Vosges truffles and other goodies from the company made sweet welcome gifts for wedding guests.
Colorful bedouin-style tents by RajTents.com shaded harvest tables adorned with truffles and covered with saris used as tablecloths. The bride herself designed the menus, which featured full moons in an Indian mehndi-inspired design. Stationery by Soho Letterpress.
Orange: Kumquats and bells marked the orange chakra, the center of creativity. "Sometimes love is bittersweet," says Katrina, who believes that kumquats, with their acidic center and sweet rind, perfectly symbolize romance and all its vicissitudes.
Yellow: Garlands of marigolds and little bags filled with fried plantain chips and Vosges' coconut-and-chocolate pastilles were the offering at this third stop on the journey. The yellow chakra symbolizes individuality and the freedom to be oneself.
Red: This first chakra is meant to bring health, prosperity and security-all vital to a happy future. It also represents the survival instinct, and what better sustenance for guests than some cinnamon truffles flavored with ancho chilies?
Spiced lamb, part of the meal catered by Executive Chef Jim Boardman of Taste America Catering, was served in a traditional Moroccan tagine and presented family-style. "I want to go to Morocco someday," says Katrina. "The first thing Jason ever served me was Moroccan mint tea."
The bride herself made the "Love Goddess Cakes," as she calls the groom's mini confections of dark-chocolate ganache spiced with ancho and chipotle chilies and layered between cream-soaked chocolate cake. "They tasted like his kiss," she says of her creations.