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Anar & Neal

Lovebirds Anar Shah and Neal Pancholi faced more challenges before their wedding day than many couples face in a lifetime—but the adversity only strengthened their bond.

The couple exchanged garlands to symbolize acceptance of one another and mutual willingness to proceed with the wedding ceremony.

Neal and Anar met in 2004 while studying at the University of Michigan. Both involved with the school’s Indian American Student Association, they started spending time together with mutual friends, and before long, were inseparable.

After six years of dating that included cross-country moves, medical school, new jobs and Anar tragically losing her father, Neal—who works in business development at Google, and stood by Anar’s side through it all—proposed in Mexico in May 2011. “I remember going to dinner in downtown San Jose del Cabo, and he was so nervous; he went to the men’s room twice during the meal,” Anar explains.

They planned to marry in August 2012, but Neal was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma. Throughout it all, Anar offered her love and support, and in September 2012, her husband-to-be entered remission.

One year later—but eternally stronger—the couple pledged their love in a romantic ceremony at Sonoma’s Kunde Family Estate & Winery. The bride dazzled in red and gold Indian wedding attire by Ritu Kumar (her second dress purchased, after not loving a traditional white gown). “My mother went to Mumbai to see family and had the outfit custom-designed without me ever seeing it. It was exactly what I wanted.”

The reception space was decorated with striking window boxes filled with roses, dahlias and other flowers in shades of deep purple, red and magenta. To commemorate her beloved father, Anar offered guests sparklers and matchbooks as wedding favors. She explains, “My sisters and I used to love going into the yard with sparklers in the summer, and this was a fun way to remember him.”

After a mouthwatering meal of Indian fare, the couple treated their guests to a Funfetti cake and Indian sweets, followed by a lively party where they snapped candids in a photo booth and danced the night away.

After honeymooning at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa, the newlyweds returned to the United States, ready to start their lives in Connecticut, where Anar is a fellow in pediatric cardiology at Yale. Post-fellowship, they plan to return to California, where they lived from 2007 to 2013.

Theirs has been a long journey, but love endured.


Venue Kunde Family Estate & Winery
Planner Shannon Leahy
Invitations Ikon Cards
Cakes Susie Cakes
Bride’s Attire Chania choli by Ritu Kumar
Bride’s Shoes Jimmy Choo
Groom’s Attire Shymal & Bhumika
Catering Amber India
Sitar player Joanna Mack
DJ DJ Quan, bluEDGE Productions
Florist Michael Daigian Designs
Videographer Reel Eyes Media
Honeymoon Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa