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Suite Dreams

Emily Allen

Talk about a fairytale wedding! Shriya Paliwal and Gaurav Mahindra not only live in New York’s fabled Plaza Hotel, but they even got married there.

What is it like living—and getting married—at the Plaza Hotel?

Shriya Paliwal: Pretty amazing! The location is absolutely unbeatable–having Central Park as our backyard is just priceless, especially since we have a dog. Being residents at such an iconic NYC landmark is truly amazing as well, and we are grateful every day.

Gaurav Mahindra: Having been born, raised, and educated in New York, living at the Plaza is completely surreal. It is something I could never have imagined. Shriya, our families, and I weighed the options of a destination wedding or something in NYC. Long story short, who could say no to a spring wedding at the Plaza? Once that was decided, Shriya and her mom took the lead and put together the most memorable time of our lives. 

How did the two of you meet?

SP: We met out Cinco De Mayo in 2009, at a bar in midtown while we were both finishing up our respective degrees at NYU. We locked eyes from opposite sides of the bar throughout the night but neither of us went up to the other person.

GM: I saw Shriya pretty early on in the night, had a few drinks, and finally gained the courage (or lack of) to tell the bouncer not to let her leave as she was walking out. I fnally approached her.

Where did you go for your first date?

SP: We are both huge sushi fans, so we went to a now-closed restaurant called Japonais in Gramercy Park. It was a beautiful space with amazing tapas-style Japanese cuisine and fun drinks.

Where do you work?

SP: I’m an M&A advisor at Ernst & Young.

GM: I’m a dentist with a private practice in Hell’s Kitchen.

How did Gaurav propose?

SP: Gaurav had been planning the proposal for months. On a Friday afternoon last May, I got into a car thinking I was on my way to have dinner with my family at Blue Hill at Stone Barns. I realized we were driving in a different direction from the restaurant. Finally, we ended up pulling up to a gravel entrance to what looked like a large park and I noticed a photographer standing there waiting. At that point I started to feel a rush of emotion, a mixture of confusion, excitement, numbness, and disbelief. 

GM: I proposed at Rockwood Hall, a public space overlooking the Hudson in Tarrytown. I arrived early with the photographer and eagerly set up and awaited Shriya. I proposed at sunset, just the two of us. She said yes! Then we had a meal to remember with both our families at the nearby Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Tell us about the wedding at the Plaza.

SP: I have to give 99 percent of the planning credit to my mom, who worked tirelessly for 11 months to plan the most beautiful and fun set of events we have ever witnessed. We had 400 guests, but one thing everyone kept saying was how intimate and “at home” the wedding felt, which is a testament to all of the love that both of our families showered us with that weekend. Gaurav and I both made it a priority to be in the moment at all times during that weekend and to truly soak in every feeling and emotion we had.

GM: Indian weddings are a marathon. We started the celebrations Thursday, so come Sunday, the day of the actual ceremony and reception, we had a few days of partying and amazing celebrations beforehand. On Sunday, I woke up in the bridal suite at the Mandarin Hotel with the sun shining and an incredible view of Central Park. The day just felt right. I went to the gym, was well rested, calm, and really excited. I got ready, had an amazing photo session with the groomsmen in the famed Oak Room at the Plaza. It really set the mood. Next up was a moment I will never forget—the “first look.” I waited for Shriya in the lobby of the Plaza for about 25 minutes. I was really overwhelmed with emotion knowing my bride would be coming down any minute, knowing I was the luckiest man alive!

How much input did you have in terms of the location, style, invite list, etc.?

SP: We had a lot of input into each area in the beginning when making some of the larger decisions such as venue, date, style, and invite list. The details were taken care of by my mom, who continued to seek out our opinions and thoughts. There is not one thing I would change about it. We also had a dream team of vendors, all of which I would work with again in a heartbeat. They all made us both feel so comfortable, relaxed, loved, and admired throughout the weekend.

Where did you go for your honeymoon?

GM: Shriya and I did what people are calling a “mini-moon.” We chose to do a shorter trip right after the wedding to Turks and Caicos to have a real relaxing week to recharge.

Any advice for newlyweds?

SP: There is definitely something that changes in terms of the meaning behind this next step in a couple’s relationship. Honor the fact that you are married by approaching arguments or fights or disagreements differently. It means showing up to conversations as adults, as opposed to kids that are just dating. 

GM: Be big-picture people and remember how fortunate you are to have found someone who is able to bring out the best in you.

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Salwa Photography