2017-11-23 / Personalities

Mary Grace Cravens, Abhishek Thopiah Haritha united in marriage October 14 in Birmingham

Drs. Abhi and Maggie Haritha Drs. Abhi and Maggie Haritha Dr. Mary Grace Cravens of Washington and Dr. Abhishek Thopiah Haritha of Pelham, Alabama, were united in marriage in a service of worship on Saturday, October 14. The double-ring wedding ceremony was officiated by Dr. Keith Ray of Clemson, S.C., at five o’clock in the evening at First United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

The bride, “Maggie,” is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. David Cravens of Washington.

The bridegroom, “Abhi,” is the son of Drs. Ramasastry and Chandra Haritha of Pelham.

Guests were welcomed into the church through doors marked by simple wreaths of smilax accented with koko loko and hot cocoa roses. In the Narthex, a coordinating arrangement was placed on the antique guestbook table in memory of beloved family. A hand-painted watercolor of the church, done by the bride, was printed at the top of programs given to guests by Kate Norris, Claire Norris, and Macie Weir of Augusta. A beautifully framed and illuminated piece of calligraphy, gifted to the couple by Angela Welch, detailing the holy union was displayed on an easel at the entrance to the sanctuary.

The historic church dates back to l891. The focal points of the sanctuary were the two massive stained glass rose windows.

Prior to the ceremony, the couple partook of Holy Communion offered by Dr. Ray in the sanctuary of the church.

Mrs. Cathy Shelton of Birmingham presented a collection of classical and sacred organ music during the prelude. The mothers of the bride and bridegroom processed to Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring. At five o’clock sharp, bells chimed the beginning of the service and soloist Jane Ellis of Ringgold sang Pie Jesus accapella as the call to worship.

The processional of the wedding party was Canon in D and the bride entered the sanctuary on the arm of her father to Be Thou My Vision, her favorite hymn. During the ceremony Rev Keith Ray read 1 Corinthians 13 and Ms. Ellis sang The Lord’s Prayer.

Dr. Amit Bharara of Chicago, brother-in-law of the bridegroom, served as best man. Attendants of the bridegroom were James David Partridge of Clemson, S. C., Melanie Thopiah of Chicago, Illinois, and Dr. Archie Rajendar of Boston, Massachusetts, cousins of the bridegroom, Dr. Chris McAtee of Shreveport, Louisiana, Dr. Justin Chuang of South Burlington, Vermont, and Dr. Michael Woodall of Detroit, Michigan.

Jennifer Cravens Partridge of Clemson, sister of the bride, served as matron of honor. Bridesmaids were Dr. Josna Haritha Bharara of Chicago, sister of bridegroom, Keaton Lloyd of Birmingham, Amy Ingham of Nashville, Lori Braaten of Chicago, Dr. Kelley Norris of Augusta, Jordan Teague of Greenville, S.C., and Shelley Coskery of Birmingham.

The matron of honor wore a floor-length gown of cabernet, bobbinet tulle with a shirred bodice and portrait neckline. Bridesmaids wore complimenting floor-length gowns of cabernet tulle, rose quartz tulle, or pomegranate chiffon. Each bridesmaid carried a hand-tied bouquet of astilbe in deep red and blush, adorned with coordinating, flowing silk ribbons.

The bride, given in marriage by her parents, was radiant on the arm of her father. She wore a stunning gown designed and handmade at Heidi Elnora’s atelier in Birmingham, Alabama. The gown featured an illusion bodice atop a sweetheart neckline, a lace skirt overlaid with layers of organza and bobbinet tulle creating a gorgeous ballgown silhouette, and finished with French lace appliqués sewn on by hand. The bride finished her wedding day look with a clean edge cathedral-length veil complete with a breathtaking blusher, and diamond stud earrings, a gift of the bridegroom’s parents.

The bridal bouquet was a sprawling, hand-tied design of crimson, peppermint, and café ole dahlias, hot cocoa and koko loko roses, astilbe, smilax, and other assorted greenery.

After the bridal couple was presented for marriage, the couple paused for a photo with the entire congregation.

The joyous recessional was to Widor’s Toccata.

For her daughter’s wedding, Mrs. Cravens wore a floor-length ensemble of navy organza overlaid with organza. The A-line skirt featured an embroidered hemline and was complemented by a fitted jacket, with matching embroidery.

The bridegroom’s mother, Dr. Haritha, wore a hand woven, gold embroidered peach traditional sari. Her gold necklaces, bracelets, and earrings complimented her attire.

Both mothers carried simple handtied nosegays of astilbe and roses.

The wedding was directed by Mrs. Taylor Justice of Birmingham.


The Haven, a restored industrial building from 1924, was the site of the wedding reception for the Doctors Haritha, and hosted by the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Cravens, following the ceremony.

Floral arrangements of crimson and café ole dahlias and garden roses on columned pedestals stood at the entrance to the pre-reception area where guests enjoyed a variety of beverages and passed hors d’oeuvres of sweet potato beignets with bourbon cream cheese, smoked salmon with dill cream, and vegetable samosas.

Guests were then welcomed through floor to ceiling ivory draping into the ballroom, which featured exposed brick walls, floor to ceiling windows, and exposed trusses. The focal point of the reception was a lounge area of chesterfield sofas, linen settees, and green velvet slipper chairs leading guests to a black and white checkered dance floor. Smilax suspended from the ceiling and adorned with koko loko roses and trailing astilbe, framed the dance floor. Café lights were strung through the entire ballroom.

Guest tables were draped with floor-length cranberry linens and topped with assortments of taper candles in hurricane glasses, votives, and arrangements of dahlias, roses, ranunculus, greenery, and pomegranates.

Guests dined from beautifully appointed stations including a charcuterie display of domestic and imported cheeses, cured meats, Conecha sausages, and fruits, a macaroni and cheese bar with Alabama chicken and white BBQ sauce, complete with Southern fixin’s, a variety of delicious authentic Indian dishes, street tacos of grilled shrimp and pulled pork, and grilled corn with cotija cheese. Each station’s calligraphed menus were designed by the bride’s mother and were displayed in gold frames.

The cake, designed by the bride, was a tiered confection of strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate layers, iced with vanilla buttercream and asymmetrical brushed gold accents with fresh roses. The cake table was covered in ivory linen with a beautifully embroidered ivory tulle cloth overlay. The cake was served with a gold cake knife and server, gifted to the bride by close friend Keaton Lloyd.

The bridegroom chose his favorite dessert, tiramisu, which was served on assorted levels of silver trays.

Indaglow of Atlanta played for the guests’ enjoyment throughout the reception. The bride and bridegroom danced their first dance to Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” The bride and her father danced to Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” The bridegroom and his mother choreographed a heartwarming dance to Phil Collins’s “You’ll Be In My Heart.” The bridesmaids and cousins of the groom performed traditional Indian dances as part of the entertainment. A traditional Indian drummer joined the dance floor later in the evening adding to the lively atmosphere.

After tossing the bouquet and garter, few more dances, and enjoying a late night snack of McDonald’s apple pies and coffee, guests were invited to line the walkway with sparklers for the couple’s departure in a midnight teal 1940 Buick Sedan.

After a honeymoon to San Francisco, the couple is at home in Shreveport, Louisiana.

Rehearsal Dinner/Sangeet

Drs. Ramasastry and Chandra Haritha entertained the wedding party, family, and friends at a rehearsal dinner honoring the prospective bride and bridegroom at the historic Tutwiler Hotel in downtown Birmingham.

Guests were welcomed to an incredible, traditional Indian experience, complete with a Baraat, a lively parade of dancing and music, traditional ceremony, and a Sangeet, a pre-wedding party much like a rehearsal dinner, complete with a feast and dancing.

The ceremony hall was beautifully decorated with floor to ceiling drapery in shades of pink, orange, and gold, further adorned with garlands of fresh flowers, and white chair covers with gold tiebacks. The scent of fresh jasmine hung in the air. Tables during the Sangeet dinner were covered with ivory linen cloths and centered with generous arrangements of white hydrangeas, violet roses, white snapdragons, fresh jasmine, greenery, and votive candles. The prospective wedding couple was given seats of honor on a white chaise overseeing the dance floor.

During a meal of traditional Indian dishes, including chicken tikka masala and a variety of vegetables, guests were entertained with lively choreographed dances by the groomsmen, cousins, and friends of the bridegroom.

Ladies in attendance were gifted bangles enclosed in handmade bags.

The bride-elect wore a gorgeous, custom red gown with gold floral print and gold embroidery on an illusion neckline from Studio East6 of Chicago. Her look was finished with gold jewelry and an embroidered blush tulle chunni, an Indian scarf worn draped like a sash. Her ensemble was gifted by the bridegroom’s family.

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