Ultimately, it was a dating app that featured Sree Arimilli and Sandheep Surendran from San Francisco. But more traditional and spiritual elements also played a role, as well as a little self-help.
Ms. Arimilli went out to dinner with a friend in New York in late 2016. When the conversation turned to their love lives, Ms. Arimilli, an intuitive self-describing guy, shared a hunch she had, of that she felt her fiancé was close. After returning home, she said the same thing to another friend. That friend suggested to Ms. Arimilli that she sign up for a dating app, and she did so on Bumble.
Within two weeks, she was texting with Mr. Surendran, who, geographically speaking at least, had been “close” for years. In fact, they lived within a mile of each other, but had never crossed paths.
While he didn’t usually commit to dinner on a first date (too many awkward nights had taught him), he did this time.
In the bathroom after dinner, he remembered thinking, “I don’t want this night to end.”
“It was unusual compared to other first dates or other relationships, it was more down to earth,” Arimilli said. “It was not like fireworks, rather there was something that attracted me to him. It was so different, and I knew I had to follow it. “
Surendran had the same mindset. Before leaving the restaurant, he asked, “Shall we continue?” And they did, having a few drinks.
The two had a lot in common.
Ms. Arimilli, 55, was born in the southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The youngest of the three children of Madhava and Vasundhara Arimilli, she immigrated with her family to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when she was 3 years old. His father was a geologist and in the United States he worked as a chemist, while his mother was an accountant. Ms. Arimilli graduated from Louisiana State University and, after a first career as an accountant, is now the founder and president of Arimilli Consulting, a San Francisco-based boutique firm that offers executive search services.
Surendran, 43, is the youngest of two children of Chiyyarath V. and Shyamala Surendran, who migrated from Kerala, the southernmost state of India, to Lubbock, Texas, where Mr. Surendran grew up. His father was a structural engineer, while his mother was a cardiac monitoring technician. Mr. Surendran graduated from Rice University and is the founder and principal of San Francisco-based Surya Design, which is dedicated to product development and engineering.
There were many differences in their personalities, but they had both lived in Houston for four years, had spent most of their adult lives in San Francisco, and had started their own small businesses. And they both grew up in immigrant families from South India in smaller cities in the southern United States.
They also spoke of their devotion to their families.
Of course, the age difference came up. Mr. Surendran was used to dating older women; His desire not to have children was a deciding factor for most of the Indian women he met.
“We are in the same place in our lives,” he said.
Ms. Arimilli felt that she should be as open as possible to whatever origins her future husband might be.
They shared their first kiss at the bar. Although that Friday night they made plans to meet on Tuesday, the next day they decided to meet on Sunday. On Tuesday they turned off their dating apps.
Ms. Arimilli had been married once when she was 20 years old. She felt the pressure to marry young, although she said her choice of an inappropriate partner took her on her own. She had done a lot of internal work on herself since then, and now she felt ready.
For Surendran, getting ready was a family affair. On a 2015 trip to India, his parents consulted an astrologer about their unmarried son. He needed sunlight to pass through a sapphire to his skin to remove whatever was preventing him from meeting the right woman, the astrologer prophesied. If he used one, he would meet her in a year.
Since her family caste is goldsmiths, her uncle made her a sapphire ring. Although Mr. Surendran does not normally wear jewelry, nor does he believe in such things, he was surprised that he liked the ring. She started using it in 2016. She met Ms. Arimilli a week and a half before the year was out.
In addition, Mr. Surendran had joined four friends to do the exercises in the book, “Invoking ‘The One:’ 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life” by Katherine Woodward Thomas.
“I think it’s a very inappropriate name for a title, it should be called ‘Gather your things before you are worthy of someone,'” he said, using a word stronger than “things.”
One of the final exercises is to set an intention for when that person manifests. His best friend from college’s wedding was in May in Cancun, Mexico, and Surendran hoped to bring a bride with whom he could envision a future. He invited Ms. Arimilli.
As they moved quickly, it felt organic, like something was dragging them along. “At no point did either of us feel that this was too much, or that the other wanted to run away,” Surendran said.
Both say that while their association has important elements such as laughter and cuteness, it was also a somewhat pragmatic decision. The couple drafted a mission statement for their relationship in premarital counseling, which they will review and revise every year.
“I describe it as a house,” Surendran said. “It is not a new house with fancy appliances, but one with a rock solid foundation that is a great house and needs a little maintenance from time to time. And we have a giant toolbox in the garage to fix whatever comes up. We have been able to solve our problems in such a healthy way that it gives me confidence that we can overcome this. “
“Having someone who loves you this way just allows you to appear in the world more fully,” Arimilli said, noting that she “set up her aspirational relationship GPS” to pinpoint the type of man embodied by Mr. . Surendran. “We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. You can really fly in life when you have that. “
Shenal Arimilli, Ms Arimilli’s sister-in-law, observed that in the time they had been together, their families had overcome their health crises.
“From very early on, Sandheep was asked to help her take care of her family,” said Shenal Arimilli. “Not only does he adore her, but I’ve seen how she hugged her entire family in such a powerful way, and she did the same when her father passed away.”
“There are people who fall in love, but age or culture get in the way,” he added. “They are creating a paradigm shift in how you can love and have a relationship. This is what humanity needs, to break with the rules ”.
In July 2018, Surendran sent himself an email saying, “Plan it out.”
Surendran settled on a ring design and asked his goldsmith uncle in India to do it. In December 2018, at Fairmont San Francisco, he proposed in a private moment after a Christmas dinner with friends on his way to continue the evening at the adjacent Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar.
Shenal Arimilli, ordained by the Church of Universal Life, married the couple at Blame Her Ranch in Ribera, New Mexico, on August 28, with Mr. Surendran’s aunt, Viju Sreenivasan, participating in the ceremony. They planned a weekend of events in Santa Fe, an hour from the ranch.
A flower arch with strands of flowers dangling from it made a stark contrast to the edge of a table in the southwestern desert. There was a light drizzle during the ceremony, then thunder and lightning appeared, and then a rainbow. Hummingbirds circled during the procession and ceremony.
While exchanging garlands of flowers, they skipped some of the more traditional Hindu customs and read their own vows, creating a ceremony that was just like them: a hybrid of East and West.
Shenal Arimilli observed: “Sree and Sandheep have waited patiently for the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. They really let the twists and turns of life bring them together. “
In this day
Where Blame Her Ranch in Ribera, NM
When August 28, 2021
The ceremony Shenal Arimilli led the 78 mostly vaccinated guests in a guided meditation that appealed to the ancestors and asked the guests to imagine the bride and groom living together a life of joy. He also emphasized that everyone present had played an important role in the formation of the bride or groom, or of them as a couple.
The officiant Sree Arimilli met Shenal Arimilli at a party almost 30 years ago. After talking to her for 10 minutes, Sree asked if she could introduce Shenal to her brother, who is now her husband. Since then, he has hoped to return the favor, Shenal Arimilli said. She was “stunned” when asked to officiate, as this is not done at Indian weddings.
The outfit The groom’s father died last April; a robin had been making frequent visits outside her window. The bird became a wedding motif and was embroidered close to his heart on the lining of Mr. Surendran’s dark royal blue jacket, which had gold cashmere embroidery on the lapels and cuffs. Instead of the traditional red and gold garb, Ms. Arimilli’s dress was embroidered in gold on gold. The couple worked with Swati Couture, whose creator designs garments in her Palo Alto, California studio. They are sewn and embroidered in India.