The Bride Wore Sabyasachi Couture for Her Intimate Wedding Weekend in Napa Valley

The night that Jasmine Kaleka and Todd von Ammon met, they were both on ill-fated dates. The mismatched pairs collided in New York City’s East Village, and they ended the night serendipitously as a quartet. Jasmine—who is currently completing her postdoctoral fellowship in clinical psychology at Yale University—and Todd—the director of Von Ammon Co., a contemporary art gallery in Washington, D.C.—found themselves drawn to each other and were eventually engrossed in conversation. Not long after, they fell in love. 

When it came time for the proposal, Todd arranged for a chef and a soloist on cello to accompany him when he surprised Jasmine with dinner at home. After they had a meal made up of all of Jasmine’s favorite dishes, a car whisked them away to Pier 26, where they boarded a sailboat and Todd popped the question as they passed by the Statue of Liberty.

Their wedding was originally planned for mid-May at the Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox, Massachusetts, but because of the pandemic, they postponed. They still managed to get legally married on May 10, 2020, exchanging vows and rings barefoot in the living room of their home in Washington, D.C.

Nearly a year later, Jasmine and Todd were finally able to commemorate their nuptials with family and a few close friends, all of whom were vaccinated. Todd’s family home in Napa Valley, which was designed by New York–based architect Robert A.M. Stern, served as the ideal setting for the wedding weekend as the couple’s two families shared their respective traditions—Punjabi Indian and German—over the course of two nights.

The wedding itself was planned by Todd’s mom, Sara Lemke-von Ammon, and kicked off on Friday evening with a night full of Indian traditions and food. Both Jasmine’s and Todd’s siblings contributed their own flourishes, from decor to booking live entertainment to organizing a hookah bar by the outdoor fireplace.

For the Indian wedding festivities, Jasmine and Todd wanted to incorporate the ceremonies and customs that resonated with them most over the years. This included the Milni ceremony and Shagun. “Milni is derived from a Sanskrit expression, which, when translated into English, means ‘coming together,’” explains Jasmine. “While this Punjabi tradition has evolved over the centuries, it has always represented the unification of two families.” 

During the Milni ceremony, which was conducted by Todd and Jasmine’s friend Molly Tarlov, garlands of flowers were exchanged between the families of the bride and groom, symbolizing a joining together and the formation of a new singular family. “After not seeing family or friends for more than a year [due to the pandemic], this ceremony of coming together felt particularly meaningful and emotional,” says Jasmine. “Finally being able to commemorate our marriage with our family and friends bestowing their Shagun, or blessings, allowed us to feel the support of those we love most.” 

It was important to Jasmine that her clothing choices reflected her Indian heritage throughout the wedding weekend. “Sabyasachi Couture was an intuitive decision for my Indian wedding lehenga, as the designs capture elements of Indian design that are most beautiful to me, such as the elegance of Indian miniatures and the ornateness of Rajasthani architecture,” the bride explains. “I chose to wear red because, after a year of such profound uncertainty, I felt drawn to the familiarity of tradition and the empowerment that can be derived from wearing such a bold color.”

For beauty, Jasmine went for a smoky eye on Friday night. Her hair was in loose curls adorned with a maang tikka on her forehead—a piece of jewelry that symbolizes the seat of the mystic “third eye” according to ancient Indian philosophy and mythology. She layered this piece with other Indian fine jewelry that her family had been both collecting and safeguarding for decades in anticipation of her wedding.

With the overall event design, the couple wanted to evoke the vibrant color palette and ambience of a traditional Indian wedding, but tailored to an intimate dinner with family and friends. Round tables on the back patio were dressed with orange linens and flower arrangements. Garlands of marigolds and brass bells handmade by Todd’s mother and sister hung above each table, while mid-century Bollywood music played in the background.

The wedding, which took place on Saturday, April 16, was always meant to be a small, intimate affair, and Jasmine and Todd envisioned it as an event that would hark back to their early courtship in Manhattan and their life downtown. “Despite the familiar setting and family dogs winding through the groups of mingling guests, the dress code was decidedly formal and the food and beverages were inspired by our favorite restaurants in New York and Paris,” says Jasmine. 

Given that this was a cross-cultural wedding, Jasmine wanted to ensure that everything from the decor to the clothing reflected the marriage of her and Todd’s cultural backgrounds. Because of this, she decided to work with Ashi Studio for her wedding gown. “The intricacy of [Mohammed Ashi’s] designs as well as the embroidery and beading work felt reminiscent of the Indian garments I grew up admiring,” she says. “These details coupled with the classic white color and cut of the gown allowed for a seamless integration between Eastern and Western bridal design. I was also immediately moved by how his designs feel akin to artwork and appreciated how this tied Todd’s passion into my clothing choice.” 

The ceremony took place in Todd’s family’s backyard in Oakville, California, in the late afternoon after the sun had disappeared behind the mountains. A lifelong family friend of the Von Ammons, Fred Edwards, officiated. Jasmine and Todd eschewed wedding parties and instead each invited only a couple of close friends. 

Todd walked in to a string quartet’s rendition of “This Must Be the Place” by the Talking Heads; Jasmine walked to “Hoppípola” by Sigur Rós. Each was accompanied by their mother and father. The couple read their own vows before exchanging rings. They walked out to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys as their friends and family showered them with rice from little boxes placed on each seat.

After the ceremony, the couple and their guests sat down for a meal together at one long table decorated with taper candles and overflowing flower arrangements. Todd had composed a playlist of songs that he and Jasmine have loved over the years. Throughout Saturday night, favorite songs by New Order, Joy Division, the Psychedelic Furs, and the Stone Roses mingled with conversation. While the guests had dinner, a dance floor was assembled in the backyard, and everyone headed outside to dance under the stars after the cake was cut. 

For this portion of the party, Jasmine wanted to wear something that she could run around in. She also wanted to maintain the connection that she had established to Eastern design throughout the weekend. “When I found the Naeem Khan Gatsby dress with its ornateness and beads, I knew I needed not look any further!” she says.

Because they were able to legally marry and exchange their rings almost a year before their celebration—albeit without witnesses—Jasmine and Todd had been husband and wife for a while when they were finally able to celebrate safely with their friends and families. “We weren’t prepared for how meaningful and emotional it would be to exchange vows again, but among all the people whom we love,” says Jasmine. “It was an essential milestone in our relationship and worth the wait!” 

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