It was love at first sight when Anna and Sharda visited The Liberty House in their hometown of Jersey City, N.J. “We were originally drawn to the Morris Museum because it was a unique space and would be more unusual for the wedding. But eventually we saw and fell in love with Liberty House. We love where we live, and having our wedding in Jersey City felt right. Plus, you can’t beat the view that Liberty House has to offer!” explains Sharda of their decision. The location rests on a unique waterfront, with sprawling gardens and an unobstructed view of the Manhattan skyline.
Both women exude simple elegance, so their engagement rings effortlessly illustrate their personality. “Anna is very simple and low-key. I chose a really classic diamond solitaire for the engagement ring,” says Sharda. For Sharda, Anna purchased a matching engagement ring, but with small diamonds accenting each side. They have matching wedding bands that are embellished with glistening diamonds all around.
Beginning the dress hunt, the brides-to-be headed into New York City to Kleinfeld Bridal
, one of the city’s most popular bridal salons and host of TLC’s Say Yes to the Dress!
. “We weren’t really expecting to buy our dresses at Kleinfeld mostly because we assumed everything would cost more than we had budgeted. We gave it a shot just for the experience. We were so convinced that we were window shopping that we didn’t even think about the fact that the other person would also be seeing the dresses we were trying on,” says Anna. “Boy, did we luck our with the sample sale selection! Within the normal appointment time for one person, we got two dresses.”
Their beloved dog Shilo walked down the aisle as their ring bearer. “We love him so much and couldn’t leave him out of our big day!” exclaims Sharda. The brides dressed him in a tiny tux, and attached a small pillow tied with a turquoise ribbon.
Both brides were escorted down the aisle with their song of choice playing in the background. “Every bride wants to be able to choose the music they march to. I really wanted Canon in D but Sharda didn’t,” explains Anna. “We figured there are two brides, so why not two song choices? We each got to have our special moments.”
The brides exchanged vows with Lady Liberty looking on in the venue’s gardens, conducted by Debra Viola of Ceremonies from the Heart, which included a sand ceremony, poetry reading by Sharda’s cousin, vows and a ring exchange. Two garden urns flanked the end of the aisle, and each contained a single tall bamboo-like branch dipped in eclectic turquoise paint, covered with flowering Bougainvillea blooms for a stunning effect.
To honor the memory of Anna’s father, who sadly passed away a month prior to the wedding, Anna and her mom lit a candle together during the ceremony. Where her father would have sat, a photograph and a single rose rested on the seat.
Guests were then escorted into the banquet room where the brides’ bright and lively color scheme of turquoise and coral continued with a medley of elements topping off each table. Crystal vases were filled with a stunning display of swirled calla lilies and Mokara orchids and topped with candles. “Our floral choice was the one area where we gave the vendor quite a bit of leeway. We told them we wanted some uniqueness and some drama,” says Sharda of their florist, Celadon and Celery, a favorite floral house in the tri-state area that focuses on textural designs in refreshing color combos.
During cocktail hour, guests nibbled on fresh veggies, fruits and a variety of cheeses and meats. They began their sit-down meal with a fresh field green salad with nut-crusted goat cheese medallion, delicately dressed with berry vinaigrette. For an entrée, a grilled New York strip steak with Portobello mushroom bruschetta, cabernet whipped potato with Roquefort blue, and a pan-seared Chilean sea bass with cremini mushrooms, peas, pearl onion and pancetta-roasted new potato deliciously boasted the menu.
Each of their 110 guests received a box of four chocolates from Jacques Torres Chocolate
, whose deliciously smooth confections have earned him the nickname the Willy Wonka of New York.
For the wedding cake, they tapped into another TLC (and Jersey) icon—Carlo’s Bakery, home of the Cake Boss. Three white square tiers were accented with a solid light rose stripe and vibrant orchids cascading down the side. Two of the tiers were red velvet cake stuffed with cream cheese filling, and the third was mocha with a decadent chocolate ganache center.
To everyone’s surprise, an unexpected guest showed up—Buddy Valastro. The Cake Boss himself stopped by the reception to celebrate and give the lovebirds his well wishes.
The Cake Boss wasn’t the only surprise guest of the evening. The brides enlisted in a professional group of drag queens to help get the guests into the party spirit with their own dance routine of Single Ladies
“Our guests kept raving about the fun they had at our wedding. We were so happy to hear that because we really wanted to keep everyone entertained,” says Anna.
After weeks of dance lessons, Anna and Sharda expertly glided to You and Me by Dave Mathews Band for their first dance as wife-and-wife. “I cannot dance even if my life depended on it so I insisted on lessons. I wasn’t about to fall and look stupid during our first dance!” laughs Sharda.
Excitement (and competition) rose as guests readied to catch the brides’ bouquets. Anna tossed her medley of coral and tangerine long-stemmed tulips and calla lilies while Sharda threw her boisterous bouquet of callas and orchids, both wrapped in a festive turquoise satin ribbon.
After hours of celebrating, the evening ended with a bang—literally. The brides were shocked to see fireworks lighting up against the skyline, a moment that Sharda will remember forever. “The surprise fireworks against the New York City skyline is pretty tough to beat,” she says.
After the wedding, the newlyweds jetted off to Maui, Hawaii, where they stayed in the LGBT-friendly Four Seasons. “We are spoiled for life! They staff was amazing and never treated us any differently. They all reacted with happiness when we said we were on our honeymoon,” exclaims Sharda.
“We had a hard time choosing where to honeymoon. There are lots of wonderful places to go but one of our priorities was to go someplace where we would feel comfortable being open about the fact that we were on our honeymoon. We didn’t want to feel the need to tone down our happiness. We couldn’t have made a better decision with the Four Seasons in Maui,” adds Anna.