HTX Wonderful Weddings 2014
Stunning Destination Wedding

More than a tropical dream: This stunning Houston destination wedding combines two worlds

Michael Pena and Vaidehi Godhania selected the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands for their wedding on Memorial Day weekend. 

The festivities combined elements of his native New Orleans and her family's connection to India, plus a few Caribbean notes.

They invited 75 family members, some of whom came from as far as India, and close friends for the two-day festivities that began with a Saturday night party featuring a Caribbean band and a fusion of New Orleans and Caribbean food.

Vaidehi's maid of honor, Bhavna, meticulously places each tiny bindi on the bride's forehead as part of the traditional Indian wedding ceremony.

The bride displays the traditional mehndi, the henna painting that adorns both the hands and feet of Indian brides.

Dressed in her stunningly adorned green and gold wedding gown and veil, Vaidehi receives sage advice from her 6-year-old niece, Samara.

Guests were invited to take a break during the 90-minute wedding ceremony for a breath of fresh air and a splendid view of the Caribbean on the hotel terrace. 

The bride notes that during the ceremony, guests were served mango smoothies and plantains.

Vaidehi pauses for a moment of reflection during her preparations for the ceremony held on Sunday afternoon. 

The bride's father, Laxman Godhania, escorts her to the wedding ceremony in an elegant private room at the Ritz-Carlton. While Indian tradition holds that the bride is supposed to look solemn at the thought of leaving her family, Vaidehi could not contain her joy on this day.

Michael and his parents, Jamie Pena of New Orleans and Charles Pena of Houston, joined the bride's parents, Geeta and Laxman Godhania of Enid, Okla., in the first part of the ceremony involving only the groom.

The newlyweds offer thanks to family, friends and the priest who traveled all the way from Oklahoma City to conduct the ceremony.

Following the ceremony the newlyweds headed out for a brief romp in the beautiful Caribbean waters.

Mike works for a Chicago-based hedge fund and Vaidehi recently left her public relations job to work on a novel about a girl growing up in India in the 1900s.

Vaidehi says that the hair ornaments and veil that she wore for the ceremony were very heavy as well as uncomfortable. So as soon as the ceremony was over, she let her hair down.

The reception featured dancing and dinner, an Indian-Caribbean fusion, created by a Ritz-Carlton chef flown in from Dallas just for the wedding.

During the reception, Mikes' groomsmen serenaded the newlyweds with K-Ci & JoJo's "All My Life."

As is tradition with wedding planner JoAnn Woodward's weddings, the evening ended with a petal toss. 

To follow up with extended friends, the couple held a second reception for 400 in Oklahoma City.

Schwartz & Woodward wedding planners ensured that every detail was in order including the place cards personalized with clever messages or photos of each guest.