The Enthusiasts Guide from “Yes” to “I Do”

Host Leah Longbrake is pulling back the veil to bring you honest advice and creative ideas from those in the wedding industry. From the Engagement to the Honeymoon, get all the details you need from wedding and event experts on how to make it your best day ever!

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Real Couple: Blending of Cultures, Families & The Cleveland Cavaliers

Real Couple: Blending of Cultures, Families & The Cleveland Cavaliers

Real couple Nikita and Carl Manteau share how they celebrated their big day merging Hindu and American traditions, as well as their families. They also discuss how they fell in love working for the Cleveland Cavaliers and incorporated the NBA team throughout their wedding.

Highlights of our discussion: The surprise proposal during a Cavs game, having two ceremonies in one day, a horse, wardrobe changes, Star Wars, deciding the 900 person guest list (500 attended), a second reception in Mumbai for 200 people, and their experience being a part of over 150 weddings.

Get to know Nikita and Carl:

Nikita and Carl met working for the Cleveland Cavaliers and got engaged in 2006 during a Cavs game in front of 22,000 fans. They celebrated their 13th wedding anniversary in 2020, have one daughter named Dhayna, and currently reside in Chicago, Illinois.

Follow the Manteau’s on Instagram- @nikitamanteau @chicarlgo1

This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Executive Producers David Moss, Gerardo Orlando, Production Director Brigid Coyne and Audio Engineers, Sean Rule-Hoffman and Declan Rohrs.

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Leah Longbrake:
Hello, and welcome to Weddings Unveiled. The podcast for your wedding planning process. I'm your host, Leah Longbrake. We know how exciting and stressful planning the big day can be, and we're here to help, providing you with information and advice from industry insiders and those with firsthand experience. On today's episode, we have real couple Nikita and Carl Manteau. They'll share with us how they incorporated their Indian and Western traditions during their two-ceremony, 500-guest affair, and what they've learned from being a part of over 130 weddings. Welcome to the show, Nikita and Carl.

Carl Manteau:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nikita Manteau:
Of course.

Leah Longbrake:
Love story, we have to start with the proposal. Because we can't talk about the wedding until we know what Carl said and did on one knee to get you to say yes.

Nikita Manteau:
There was a little pressure, of 22000 people.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah. Well, so, the backstory. Nikita and I both worked for the Cleveland Cavaliers at the time, so of course we've always seen people that get engaged on the Jumbotron. It's always random fans, but I wanted to do it there because we both worked there, and it meant ... Not only we worked there, but that's how we met, and it meant something to us, so I wanted to tie that together.

Nikita Manteau:
Also, they're a family there. For how many hours you work in the sports world, anyone that knows that it's like other jobs too, but it's many many hours. I felt like that was our family away from our personal family.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
For us to do it there, I think it really just hit the spot of something very close to us. You know that, during that time too, you were there.

Carl Manteau:
Nikita was on the promotions team, so her and her team were the ones out there throwing t-shirts and entertaining fans during timeouts. A few weeks prior, I worked with her boss to set it up that during a timeout, she would be in a section, throwing out fan packs to people. The night of, they told her that hey, some sales reps, of which I was a sales rep, are going to be in that section. Just so the promotion goes well and it looks good on camera, just give some of the bags to those sales reps standing there, just to get it done.

Leah Longbrake:
Nice.

Carl Manteau:
Time came to be, I was standing right next to her, and I'm jumping for joy on the camera, and so she hands me a fan pack. Thankfully we have the whole thing on video. You can see, I take the fan pack and I just chuck it to the side.

Nikita Manteau:
I'm waving at the camera. You know, a fan pack.

Leah Longbrake:
Not knowing what's about to happen.

Carl Manteau:
No, and I got down on one knee, and I opened the ring box, and I honestly didn't even get a chance to ask her. There were thousands of people cheering, and fans were going nuts, and she just put her hands over her mouth and started crying, and gave me a head nod. Then funny thing too on the video is, I didn't take the ring out and give it to her. I just put it back in its box.

Nikita Manteau:
He shut it and then he just hugged me, and I was like, "Okay, I guess we've got to hug it out now."

Carl Manteau:
Yeah. Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
On camera.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, that's great.

Carl Manteau:
The quick side story there, the funny thing, is that the biggest argument we have ever had in the entire history of our relationship was the day before.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh my gosh.

Carl Manteau:
Because she had the, "Where is this relationship going?" Fight with me. I'm like, I know I'm proposing tomorrow, but I can't show my hand, so I had to act the whole way through the argument.

Nikita Manteau:
I don't know if you knew that story, Leah.

Carl Manteau:
I'm like, "No, we're making great progress, I like where we are. Let's just stay in this."

Nikita Manteau:
We were supposed to go look at rings, and I knew the jeweler, and so he was going to do some trial settings with us, and he kept blowing it off. I was more like, where the heck is this guy going with this? I mean, I'm getting to the point now that you won't even make an appointment to go do this. Where here he was doing it all behind my back, little did I know, so he played out a full on argument.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah, and then-

Nikita Manteau:
I was taken off guard when it actually happened.

Carl Manteau:
Then 10 seconds after I proposed, we are on this platform in the arena. Fans are cheering, coming up to us, congratulating us. This strange guy walks up, he goes, "Are you Carl?" I'm like, yeah. He goes, "I'm the jeweler that made your ring."

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh!

Carl Manteau:
He's like, "I knew your name and I knew you worked for the Cavs. I had no idea you'd be doing it at a game, and I had no idea I would be sitting three rows in front of where it happened."

Leah Longbrake:
That's crazy!

Nikita Manteau:
Perfection, yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
I'm like, good job!

Leah Longbrake:
What are the chances?

Carl Manteau:
We got a picture with that guy. I'm like, thanks, man. You did a good job.

Leah Longbrake:
And it's on the video. What a memory.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
That was the coolest thing, was just capturing that. It was a lot getting the ring leading up to that point, but I remember I was like, "Where's my family in the stands?" And he's like, I forgot to request tickets.

Carl Manteau:
I forgot to get them tickets to the game that I was going to-

Nikita Manteau:
So no one was there.

Carl Manteau:
Had a lot on my mind.

Nikita Manteau:
But you know, at the end of the day, everyone around us ... The players, like that night we went out and celebrated, and we saw them out and about, and they congratulated us. Because we were faces that were around there for a while, when we'd been on the floor working, and he's after the game working around the players. Like we said, it's a family. Even to have, from high end to low end, to an usher, to somebody. Everyone was so engaged with our time together and meeting, and it was just something special because there was a couple of years under our belts by that point, that we were working.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Okay, and I've got one more little side story related to the proposal. We've moved around, and we've been married 13 years, coming up here in a couple of weeks. Just a couple of months ago, we were living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nowhere near Cleveland, Ohio. And Nikita and her friends have a Cleveland Browns backers' club in Milwaukee.

Leah Longbrake:
Good girl.

Nikita Manteau:
I help run that, yeah.

Carl Manteau:
She helps run it. Well, we're watching a Browns game, and this guy was in town visiting on business.

Nikita Manteau:
From Cleveland, so they drop in, if they're there.

Carl Manteau:
He just looked it up online and saw this club, so he showed up to watch the game. And halfway through the game, complete stranger goes, "Okay, this is going to sound really weird, but did the two of you get engaged on the Jumbotron at a Cavs game, I don't know, like 10 years ago?"

Nikita Manteau:
10 years ago. I'm like ...

Carl Manteau:
I'm like, "Yeah."

Nikita Manteau:
Carl, listen, this is crazy.

Leah Longbrake:
What are the chances?

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah, and he remembered us.

Carl Manteau:
He remembered us. He was like, "I was a season ticket holder back then, and I remember seeing you guys around, so that one stuck out to me because I was like, oh, two employees actually got engaged, that's kind of cool."

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
That's awesome.

Nikita Manteau:
It was funny, how he remembered. He's also a six foot four American guy, and I'm a five foot two Hindu Indian girl, so it's like ... You don't see those as often. All of a sudden it came together to him, and it was like, how random is this? But then it just shows how small the world is, and degrees of separation people are around you.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
That's so great. Now, you just mentioned that Carl is a tall white guy from Milwaukee, and you're this little Indian girl.

Carl Manteau:
Yes.

Nikita Manteau:
Yes.

Leah Longbrake:
We're going to talk about how you merged your cultural heritage and background in a second, but since we're on the Cavs topic still, tell us how you incorporated the Cavs into your wedding. Because it wasn't just the proposal, you went all the way through.

Nikita Manteau:
No, I guess what we could do is how we met was that way, so we really wanted to be very traditional on the Indian side, which I'm sure we'll talk about. But then we also wanted to bring in a fun side to the whole wedding, and that's how we kind of ... He had reached out to Dan Gilbert and said, hey, we're-

Carl Manteau:
He was the owner of the Cavs.

Nikita Manteau:
Who was the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers and just said, "Hey, we'd like to incorporate some visual stuff, the print and things like that." He let us use any marketing thing that we needed, and we basically put together a tip-off program, so if you go to a basketball game, it has a bio on each player, and the head coach and things. Everything written down, but we broke that down to, the referees were the officiants, the head coaches were our parents, we were the captains.

Leah Longbrake:
Aw.

Nikita Manteau:
My niece was the cheerleader, my nephews were the ball boys and the water boys. It was cool, because we pulled it all together to make it just feel like a wedding program, but it still had all our bridal party in there, with their bios and everything.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Then we also did ...

Carl Manteau:
Other elements, all the table numbers were Cavaliers jerseys with the table number on it.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, very cool.

Nikita Manteau:
Then everybody got a game ticket that was on their plate, and instead of actually getting a favor, we made a huge donation to the American Cancer Society. It looked like an actual game ticket you got, and it just said on there that we were donating to the American Cancer Society.

Leah Longbrake:
That's a wonderful idea.

Nikita Manteau:
Then Ahmaad, who is the announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers, he announced us in a starting lineup. Then we had a very big wedding, but we had about 500 rally towels. When we were announced in a starting lineup, it had our wedding logo on it, and we all had 500 ...

Carl Manteau:
Yeah, the head graphic guy for the Cavaliers, who had designed the Cavaliers playoff logo, he designed a wedding logo for us.

Nikita Manteau:
A wedding logo.

Leah Longbrake:
Very cool.

Carl Manteau:
We had rally towels made, so everyone is waving these white towels.

Nikita Manteau:
It felt like a game night, you know?

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah!

Nikita Manteau:
We started traditional, and then we had our fun part.

Carl Manteau:
This was the era of LeBron, so people were doing the chalk toss.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, yes.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah. We carried the theme all the way through, and yeah, it was awesome.

Nikita Manteau:
[inaudible 00:12:03], so that was an NBA ...

Leah Longbrake:
You had a mascot and a scream team too, right?

Nikita Manteau:
What's that?

Leah Longbrake:
Was the mascot and the scream team also involved?

Carl Manteau:
Moondog was not able to make it, no.

Nikita Manteau:
He couldn't make it. Because then the scream team I think had tryouts that day.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
See, the scream team remember. But that's why some people came later and earlier, and Ahmaad came at a certain time. But it was the only wedding that I think, because we both have worked in sports and I used to work for the Indians too, every professional mascot was invited to our wedding. Not all could make it, but it was funny that we had the Indians, the Browns, Chomps, and Slider, and the Cleveland Cavalier. It's just funny how all the mascots were invited.

Leah Longbrake:
That's so great. Now let's talk about your Indian heritage and background. What are some of the traditions? For people that may not be familiar. I know some things, but I still haven't learned everything that's involved with it, so tell us something that you incorporated.

Nikita Manteau:
Well, I'm Hindu. So besides just the Indian culture, the Hindu culture does vary some things that are different than other parts of the Indian cultures of different breakdowns of different dialect and different Indian cultures.

Carl Manteau:
There are so many different types of wedding ceremonies across Indian.

Nikita Manteau:
There are so many, yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Just like there is across America.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
You can go to a wedding in India, and it could be a four to six hour long ceremony. Then there's a ceremony where they do at the bride's house, and then they do a ceremony at the groom's house. Basically, there could be ...

Carl Manteau:
Five days long.

Nikita Manteau:
Five days long of ceremonies. Well, we needed to abbreviate it into the Cliff Notes of this. Because you try to take advantage of a long weekend, and you have friends coming in from out of town, and family probably coming from other countries, and India, people are coming. We tried to consolidate everything into one day, and it was a 16 hour long day that started with so much going on. But we tried to do a couple of things that kind of carry some tradition, where the groom meets up with the bride's family in the beginning, and he came in on a white horse. His family came dancing in a procession, and my family was at the doorway, and they kind of do a blessing and greet him, to welcome them to the family.

Nikita Manteau:
My mom will be there waiting to greet him, and his parents are behind him and family, and I'm still hidden at this point, but my family is behind my mother, and they do a blessing to welcome him. Then after he goes in and gets situated, they do a small ceremony up there, but then I got carried in on a chariot. My four cousins had a little chariot, and carried me in, and then brought me up to the front stage. Instead of exchanging rings, we believe in exchanging garlands, which is a very special thing that ...

Carl Manteau:
It was fresh flowers. This thing weighed like 20 pounds on my neck.

Nikita Manteau:
They soak them in water, so I had a cut on my neck, so ...

Leah Longbrake:
Really?

Carl Manteau:
The string is just digging into my neck the whole ceremony, but it was beautiful.

Leah Longbrake:
It looks beautiful in the pictures.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah, it was beautiful.

Nikita Manteau:
They're still dry and hanging in my house. [inaudible 00:14:57] but yeah. Those things are there, and then we do a thing where we light a fire, in the Hindu culture, and you walk around the fire four times. Three times the bride will lead the groom around, and then the fourth time the groom will lead. That you can explain, if you want. That's kind of welcoming and the switching over of ...

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, what's the ...

Carl Manteau:
It just shows that we're both capable of leadership, and we're in the relationship together. We can both take the lead at any point.

Leah Longbrake:
That's a great tradition.

Nikita Manteau:
But I'm coming from my parents and all this, where he is now kind of coming in as the male who is caring for me. I'm leaving my parents and stepping in that door. Then there's another ceremony we do, where there's little piles of a certain betel nut and rice, and we touch our toes at the same time to each pile. Basically each time it's a vow, and we do seven of those. That's something that's also very much in the Hindu culture, because each thing, they'll say ... We had an American Indian priest, so it was really cool, because he would do it in the Sanskrit, the old Indian language, and then he would explain it in English. It was really nice that all our guests got a way to really experience and understand what was going on.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, that's great.

Carl Manteau:
But each of these seven vows had a different meaning, but they all culminated meaning lifelong devotion to one another.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah. Of course, he would make us repeat what he was saying in Sanskrit. I have no idea what he's saying, but it was beautiful, and at one point her dad just looks over to me during the ceremony and is like, "Do you have any idea what's going on?" I'm like, "No, I don't." He's like, "Neither do we, it's okay."

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah, because the-

Leah Longbrake:
Did you start with the Hindu ceremony, or did you start with the more Westernized, with you in the white dress? Because you did both, correct?

Carl Manteau:
Yeah, we ...

Nikita Manteau:
We did both in the same day.

Carl Manteau:
We decided, we knew that night was going to devolve, if you will, so let's do the proper respectful Hindu ceremony in the morning, and then we went into a nondenominational American vows ceremony, and then the Cavaliers theme kicked in and the dancing and celebration went on.

Nikita Manteau:
Reception. But it was one of those things where it's like, an Indian bride takes about two hours plus to get ready.

Leah Longbrake:
Can you tell us a little bit about that process, though?

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah. The sari is eight yards of material that it takes to wrap, and they put two on you on your wedding day, kind of for symbolism and stuff like that. I mean, just getting wrapped up in that and getting 800 pins in, somebody has to know what they're doing, not just a traditional way of putting it on but a wedding bride. By the time they do that, as well as you get henna done the day before, two days before, which is that design they do on the hand that shows up in color.

Carl Manteau:
Your feet were done too, your legs.

Nikita Manteau:
My feet, your legs up, and your arms are done. You do all that, and you have two women putting on jewelry, bracelets all the way up. It takes two hours plus to get ready when you're doing everything, and I think I got up, my alarm went off at 3:30 in the morning, and 5:00 AM started hair and makeup, because our ceremony was from 10:00 to 12:00, I think.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh my gosh.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Then in between that, I guess I was most bummed because you feel so beautiful as an Indian bride.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, you looked gorgeous.

Nikita Manteau:
You're decked out in jewelry, and it's jewelry that looks like-

Carl Manteau:
Vibrant colors.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah, we don't wear black really at weddings, just because we believe, it's kind of a dull color to bring things down. We always wear color. You usually don't wear black, because it's a little bit of a bad luck thing. You'll notice, besides men wearing suits, it's very vibrant and bright colors, if you ever see pictures of an Indian wedding. You pull all this together, it's like, I just wish I could have been longer in the Indian outfit. But I was like, "We've got to go, we're on a tight schedule."

Nikita Manteau:
After I'm done, I'm like, oh, we took a few pictures and then, "All right, American dress, you've got to go take the photos in the limo bus, and then you're going to meet everybody back." It goes, it goes, it goes.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
It's just the symbolism and beauty, and just vibrant, and jewelry that's been passed on. It's just a very-

Leah Longbrake:
Is that part of the tradition, though? In Hindu ...

Nikita Manteau:
It is, because a lot of things, when you get married you get sets of jewelry sometimes in the Indian culture. Not so much a toaster or a blender. You're not registering for that.

Leah Longbrake:
It's a great gift to get.

Nikita Manteau:
Exactly! But a lot of the family members join in together and get you ... All the aunts will get you a nice necklace and bracelet and earring, or they got him a watch.

Carl Manteau:
One tradition I really think is cool, and I don't know if it's Hindu Indian, I don't know what it is. But once you get your wedding sari, you then wear that same sari to all family weddings. Her mom, her sisters, they were all wearing their wedding saris at our wedding. You get more than one use out of an outfit, but it is beautiful to see. It's usually the same color, but they'll all have different designs. You kind of feel like wow, who's part of the family, and why are they here?

Leah Longbrake:
Wow.

Nikita Manteau:
Ours is a different ... Yeah. Different prints are, that's from our culture, or even subculture of our Hindu culture. They wear a certain print type of sari. It's almost a red dotted tie-dye, almost it looks like that. It looks like beads almost, but it's that, and then the border is a little bit different. But all the women in my family that are kind of close, any time you go to another close Indian wedding, you kind of wear your same wedding sari as the close family members.

Leah Longbrake:
That's a very cool tradition.

Nikita Manteau:
Just the feel of my sisters, my mom still has hers. I've been able to wear it to a couple of cousins' weddings, and when do you ever get to wear your wedding dress again, you know what I mean?

Leah Longbrake:
Right.

Nikita Manteau:
Unless you renew vows or something. You get use out of it, which is good. That's a really cool special thing that you get to do carry on.

Leah Longbrake:
When you slipped out of the sari in the white traditional Americanized wedding dress, what was that experience like for you?

Carl Manteau:
Fast.

Nikita Manteau:
It was quick, but Carl was very open, and not very religious, so he was fine not even doing a vows ceremony. But being born and raised in America, I've become very Americanized. It's a culture that I'm very proud to be an American, and I'm proud to be a part of something really special, and how you ceremony as not so much a Christian or a Catholic ceremony, but the part that really warmed me was in an Indian ceremony, it's not like the dad walks you down the aisle and gives you away. I've always wanted to have that walk with my dad down the aisle. That was something, kind of like how probably American girls grow up saying, "I want my dad to walk me down the aisle and give me away."

Nikita Manteau:
He was like, "We can just do the Hindu ceremony." I'm like, "I am wanting my dad to walk me down the aisle. I don't care if I get a $10 dress." It was at the hall we had it at, the hall holds 800 to 1000 people, and it was one of the longest walks. I was like ... That was something-

Leah Longbrake:
He soak up every moment?

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
It was something, one of the most emotion and special moments to me, because through the whole wedding thing, I wanted my Indian ceremony so bad, but I wanted my dad to give me away. That was something I will truly, truly remember.

Carl Manteau:
But the transition was fast, because we finished the Hindu ceremony, and the priest went 45 minutes longer than we had asked him to go, so we were already behind.

Nikita Manteau:
Indian standard time, they always go long.

Carl Manteau:
In between the two ceremonies we took our pictures. So Nikita quick ran into the bathroom, got changed into her white dress. They had me stand outside the bathroom so we could do the reveal and I got to see her.

Nikita Manteau:
Like, hey!

Carl Manteau:
Hey, here's your white dress. Great, get on the bus.

Nikita Manteau:
Get on the bus.

Carl Manteau:
Let's go.

Nikita Manteau:
We had to go for photos.

Carl Manteau:
We actually drove to Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers play, and we took pictures ... The Cavaliers court wasn't down during the summer, but their practice court was there, so we took pictures on the practice court. We took pictures in their offices. Just to bring it home to us.

Nikita Manteau:
They have a huge staircase in the office, Leah, if you remember, with all the jerseys, so our bridal party and we were down in the center.

Leah Longbrake:
Very cool, yes.

Carl Manteau:
Then we took pictures down on Lake Erie, at a place where we both lived in an apartment building on the shore, so we took some quick photos there. Hopped in the car and got back to the hall for the second ceremony.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh my gosh.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah, and when we got to the second ceremony, people were showing up for cocktail hour. So we did a receiving line during the cocktail hour before we started the vow ceremony, so people kind of got to see us beforehand. Or no, we actually went right into the vow ceremony, I'm sorry.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Then right after the vow ceremony was cocktail hour, and people got to get drinks and mingle while they did a receiving line. All our friends, it was so funny, because we initially had a 900-person guest list. Because I like talking to people, and 73 were Carl's. But it ended up being about 500 plus, I think.

Carl Manteau:
About 500 people showed.

Nikita Manteau:
They showed up.

Leah Longbrake:
Wow.

Nikita Manteau:
All of our friends that we saw on a regular basis, they're like, "Congrats, we'll just talk to you later. We're not going to get in the line." I'm like, yeah, don't worry, don't worry. Let's keep it going. Literally right when things wrapped up from the receiving line, Ahmaad was already starting to announce things, because we were behind by like 10 minutes, but we were still pretty good. I ran in the back, I had a cousin back there bustle me with one hook, and then they announced us in starting lineup and we came in and ...

Carl Manteau:
And had fun.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah. He does have a fun Star Wars side of himself.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah, we'll get to that.

Nikita Manteau:
They made a fun light saber tunnel for him.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, very cool. Star Wars fans love that.

Nikita Manteau:
Han Solo and Princess Leia were on the top of our wedding cake, yes. Those are the two things that ...

Leah Longbrake:
What was the top of your wedding cake?

Carl Manteau:
I still had my original action figures from 1977 of Han Solo and Princess Leia, so I glued their hands together and that was our wedding topper.

Nikita Manteau:
He's like, "This is all I want. This and my horse." I'm like, all right.

Leah Longbrake:
So great.

Carl Manteau:
I got my horse, I got my Star Wars, she got everything else. The secret of a good marriage.

Leah Longbrake:
Please tell me you have that on display at home.

Carl Manteau:
No, it's in a box somewhere. We have a ton of stuff from our wedding on display, don't worry.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
When you keep moving.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, that's true. You're on your third or fourth move now, right? Since the wedding?

Carl Manteau:
Yeah. Our 15th.

Nikita Manteau:
15th, yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, jeez.

Nikita Manteau:
We moved 15 times in ...

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, I can see why it's still in a box right now. I have to ask, though, because I know when I got married, the most stressful thing to me ... And still is, even though the wedding's been over a year, I still have anxiety over the guest list. Because we didn't want to have a huge wedding, but we also had to watch a budget.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
It was with us, 100 people.

Carl Manteau:
Hmm. Watching a budget. What's that like, dear?

Leah Longbrake:
With us it was 100 people. You made it to 900 invitees. How did you narrow it down to that?

Carl Manteau:
That was just the first list. She had backup lists-

Nikita Manteau:
No, no no. 900 people was A, B, C, and D.

Carl Manteau:
Okay.

Leah Longbrake:
How did you narrow it down?

Nikita Manteau:
If I can say, and I do wedding planning on the side for fun, just for people I know. But honestly, that I feel is the most stressful situation. Because I think, you've really got to sit down and think, who are people that you care about, that are there for you, that you feel like have shed light on you guys, that it's somebody that you want there? But at the same time, that's really hard, because life does change and pull you in different directions. With us both working for the Cavaliers, it was kind of like, well he was in a totally sales side of things, where I was more game operations side.

Nikita Manteau:
That kind of included the whole flipping office. I got to the point where I knew people knew us, and didn't ... I just felt like, I just kind of sent, we're just inviting them all because I feel like then people will know who would want to come and who didn't.

Carl Manteau:
I told her, we have a budget for maybe 200. I said-

Nikita Manteau:
I was like, well, then you add in all the Indian relatives, that's 250.

Carl Manteau:
I'm like, I'm willing to go into debt a little bit, and then she just kind of kept it hidden from me as to how many invites actually went out.

Nikita Manteau:
But we got them printed in India way cheaper, so it's like, we kind of saved a little.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Saved a plate or two.

Leah Longbrake:
Smart, Nikita.

Nikita Manteau:
I know. Printing in India is way cheaper.

Leah Longbrake:
Just bring up every way you found a way to make it cheaper.

Nikita Manteau:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah, shop in India.

Carl Manteau:
Oh lots of ways, yeah. We did our own centerpieces, we made our own table signs. I created the ...

Nikita Manteau:
Program.

Carl Manteau:
Program. Everywhere we could save money, because with a guest list that big, it was getting super expensive. We did ...

Nikita Manteau:
My sisters also got married at the same place, so my dad's like, "Can I get a third daughter discount here, because this is the third one?"

Carl Manteau:
I'm going to play on a stereotype, I apologize, but we just did rail house liquor for everybody. But her Indian friends drink Johnny Walker Black.

Nikita Manteau:
From New York City.

Carl Manteau:
Johnny Walker Black, like it's water. We knew if we had Johnny Walker Black on open bar, we would be run out of house and home.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh yeah.

Carl Manteau:
We bought bottles, and just had the bottles delivered to their tables, and said, enjoy that.

Leah Longbrake:
It's yours.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
We're [crosstalk 00:27:35].

Leah Longbrake:
Have fun.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
But even then, we had two different caterers. We had the hall caterer, which is more like an Americanized meal, and then we had an Indian restaurant cater.

Nikita Manteau:
Also.

Carl Manteau:
That was amazing to me, because I grew up in the most white, sheltered, non-diverse community in the world. For my family, a lot of them it was their first time ever eating Indian food, and I loved it. Watching them interact with her relatives and asking, "What is that? What does it taste like?"

Nikita Manteau:
Even on our invite, you know how people would say, "Oh, are you going to go American, or are you going to do vegetarian or whatever?" Ours was, do you want American, because it was a buffet style, so do you want American, do you want Indian, or do you want both? Because there was a table we made that kind of had the tikka masala and the potatoes, the basic. But then we put some basic Indian dishes on there, because a lot of our American friends wanted to try. You don't want to have a buffet, wedding planning wise, where everyone is like, "Oh, I want to just try a little Indian food," and then your Indian food is gone.

Leah Longbrake:
Right.

Nikita Manteau:
You have to think of those numbers in the coordinating of that stuff.

Carl Manteau:
I loved it, because that was the way that blends the culture. When we started the wedding reception, we did a couple of traditional Indian dances. One of them is, you get two sticks, and it's kind of like a choreographed line dance with these sticks, and we handed them out to everybody.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, cool.

Carl Manteau:
To see my mom, who I've never seen her dance, let alone ... She wore a sari that day, and she embraced it, and to see them out there dancing and having such a wonderful time, it was beautiful. I loved it.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
Did the families, both of your families, did it seem like they were open to the blending of the cultures from the get-go with the wedding planning, or was it kind of like baby steps for some?

Nikita Manteau:
I'd say just on my experience, very much so. I have two older sisters that both married American gentlemen, that my dad and mom brought us up in this country. As what we believe is, we were brought to this country because it's a melting pot, and my dad came here for a dream and a vision. He's always been very supportive. He did not care what nationality, culture, anything of heritage that anybody came from. My dad's like, I just want to know one day that you're in good hands, that you're taken care of and you're loved for.

Nikita Manteau:
He's been very open, and then having both my sisters marry American guys, it was kind of like-

Carl Manteau:
White guys.

Nikita Manteau:
Yes.

Carl Manteau:
There's Indian Americans too, you know.

Nikita Manteau:
Okay, okay.

Carl Manteau:
White guys, they married white guys.

Nikita Manteau:
Oh yeah. He's from Wisconsin, I've got Belgian and Welsh right here. But it was one of those things that they very much just ... They were just beyond ecstatic, and I never felt that issue, and his parents were very much open to it, and embraced it.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah. They embraced all of it with open arms, it was great.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah, and so when you look at that thing, I have friends and family that are from cultural of Indian things, that are in America, that their parents are like, "No, you have to, you have to." My dad is like, there were three Indians that were living in that side of town where we grew up and at the time. You've got to find your happiness. Life is too short, and you've got to follow your heart. At the end of the day, you just want to be taken care of and given a great future together.

Carl Manteau:
Leading up to the ceremony, I candidly asked her father, I'm like, "Is there any hesitation? Because she is your last daughter to get married, and the last hope to quote-unquote marry another Indian guy." He straight up told me, "Carl, all I've ever wanted is for my daughters to find happiness, and you make her happy."

Leah Longbrake:
Aw.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
It was beautiful.

Leah Longbrake:
That is beautiful.

Nikita Manteau:
My parents will tell you any time you talk to them that they've been blessed with wonderful families that me and my sisters have married, as well as the in-laws. It's been a very blessing thing to have, that just how far it grows on all three, me and my sisters. We've had great families we've married into.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
You had mentioned to me prior to this interview that you have collectively, at least in the 17 years you've been together, have been a part of at least 130 weddings, and that's probably a low number technically. Especially with all the weddings that Nikita has helped plan and been a part of.

Nikita Manteau:
At least.

Carl Manteau:
That's conservative.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Yes.

Leah Longbrake:
This could be a whole other episode, but just to kind of break it down. What is the biggest piece of advice and the biggest takeaway you've learned from being a part of all of these different weddings?

Nikita Manteau:
I feel, one thing I tell every bride and groom I even work with, you put many hours, time, effort and planning so many details for your day. To the flower, to the centerpiece, to these songs played at this time.

Carl Manteau:
The napkins, whatever, yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Napkins, and this has to be at the bar because I want this centerpiece at this location, and this here. At the end of the day I always tell any bride I talk to, you've done all you can, now today's your day just to kind of flush it out, because it's going to go off fine no matter what, and if not there's people there to help you through your day.

Nikita Manteau:
But one thing I tell every bride and groom, when they get married I said, your day is going to go quick. I say, the best advice I can tell you is at some point of the evening, when the reception is going on, the dancing and everyone is there. Grab your husband, have a bridesmaid on watch that no one says bye to you at that time. Just have 10 minutes or 15 minutes where you two can just ask each other, how is your day going? How is it going?

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Take that moment to look around and see all the centerpieces, and the table settings, and all that stuff. The buffet, the food, the desserts. All that stuff, just take a moment to take it in where no one can bother you, and just look over the whole room. The most important thing is, the event that people show up to that care about you the most is your wedding. Birthday parties come and go, things like that. But a wedding is something so special that, look at everyone that's on that dance floor or sitting at a table. Those are the people that love you the most.

Nikita Manteau:
To see a grandparent that's there witnessing it, anything like that. I say, just don't hesitate, because the day goes so quick. Take 10 minutes and just talk to your spouse that day from a distance, and just look over the room and ask how your day is going. Because it goes in a flash and then you're like, I didn't even look at my centerpiece. And I was like, yeah, we fought about that three times. Those are the things. I say, it's so quick, there's so much special in your day. Really a lot of brides have told me, "Wow, we did that." It's like, you've got to connect with them one moment without somebody or a girl being around you, or a groomsman. It was cool.

Carl Manteau:
I would say leading up to the wedding, like anything organization. Nikita was the master of having different checklists. Where are we at in the planning process, and checking things off as we go along. Then keeping each other in check, because it does get stressful. For us for example, that was the year the Cleveland Cavaliers went to the finals. Normally your season ends in April, well the Cavs season did not end until mid-June, we got married in July. All that planning time we thought we were going to get, we didn't get.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
We were up until midnight every night the month leading up to it, but we would just check in on each other. How are you doing? What do you need me to do? You take a break, I've got this.

Nikita Manteau:
Because I was still living at home with my parents. We weren't living together, because I have Indian parents, and we don't really leave the house until you're ready to. I was 29 years old, still living at home, and he lived on his own. You've just got to come together, but at the same time, I have friends that ... It's like you're fighting, and you're this. Look at the main reason you're coming together to do this. Stress is going to be there. That's with anything you're planning big. But talk to each other, communicate, don't just raise your voice. Just bring up the issues, or how are you doing? What is stressing you out right now? He would ask me, I would tell him, he would tell me what's bothering him.

Nikita Manteau:
You've got to reset again, you know?

Carl Manteau:
And hey guys, get involved, all right?

Nikita Manteau:
Yes.

Leah Longbrake:
Yes.

Carl Manteau:
This is your day too, and it frustrates a lot out of me when I hear, "Oh no, she's taking care of everything, I've just got to show up that day."

Leah Longbrake:
No.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah, "And I got the cooler for the limo bus." No. That's your best man's job.

Leah Longbrake:
Right.

Carl Manteau:
No, it's supposed to be a partnership, a union, a relationship. This is your day too. Play a part.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah. And you have your bridal party for a good reason. What we always do when we go to weddings, we make sure, we find out what the bride and groom are drinking. The entire night, you put down your drink 800 times. Our job is always to make sure their hands are never empty. They always have a drink.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, great idea.

Nikita Manteau:
So if it's a white wine and the bride puts it down to take a picture, I just walk by and I'm like, "Here you go." Keep walking, he'll pass the groom, here's your groom, keep talking.

Leah Longbrake:
That's such a great point.

Nikita Manteau:
You've just got to ... yeah. The bridal party is [crosstalk 00:36:01]

Carl Manteau:
Yeah, we'll give it to the bridal party too. Especially on the guy's side, let's be honest. You've got the best man, he gives a speech. None of the other guys do anything.

Nikita Manteau:
Except play golf with you the day before.

Carl Manteau:
They rent their suits, they stand there, they don't do anything. Nominate two or three of them to-

Nikita Manteau:
Or they load up the limo bus, that's it.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
They put ice out.

Carl Manteau:
We used to call it, the term we always used, they're your drink-getters for the night.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Because yeah, set your drink down, take a picture with your aunt, with your uncle, and then you never get back to it. Put them to work.

Nikita Manteau:
We just walk by. We're in a trance. We're like, "Here you go," and then we keep walking. They're just like, "Thank you." You just do that. It turns into a lot, and with our own, [inaudible 00:36:42] our Indian culture, we really believe in feeding and taking care of everybody. The night before, my biggest stresses on our wedding was not so much the wedding day, but the day before we had a catered event for all the people coming in from out of town. It was like a 250-person catered event at a hall.

Carl Manteau:
The day before our 500-person wedding.

Nikita Manteau:
The day before.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, gosh.

Nikita Manteau:
People are just coming in from the airport, before they went to the hotel. It's like here, just come, eat dinner, and then you can go to your hotel. Then the day after, before they go back to the airport, we went to my sister's house, and they catered and they did these Indian curries and all that. There was a catering company that came out. That was about 150 people.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
That was the biggest stress leading up to the wedding, I think was planning, how many people are going to be there the day before, and the menu the day after.

Leah Longbrake:
It goes beyond just one day.

Nikita Manteau:
In the Indian culture ... Yeah, we feed you, that's a thing.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
But Indian culture can go very long, but we kind of made it special.

Carl Manteau:
It was about 10 of her relatives that came from India. Some of them had never been to America, so they came for months.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah.

Carl Manteau:
A month after the wedding, they were still here. So every day for a month after we got married, we had to go to her parents' house and entertain the relatives.

Nikita Manteau:
For dinner.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh wow.

Carl Manteau:
We didn't get to quote, "start" our real marriage for a while. But I loved every second of it.

Nikita Manteau:
They lived with us like a month and a half, two months before the wedding at my parents' house.

Leah Longbrake:
Oh, gosh.

Carl Manteau:
That added stress too, but I loved it.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah, it's all good stress, but yeah.

Carl Manteau:
Love her family.

Nikita Manteau:
It's just one of those things that it's like, you're still entertaining all these people.

Leah Longbrake:
I have to ask, how long after the wedding did you go to Mumbai and do your second reception?

Nikita Manteau:
We got married July of '07, and we went January of '08. Because he gets a break that time with basketball, because they're on the West Coast road trip for about a week and a half, and then we combined that with just ... It's better rates that time of year, it's after the holidays, so not a lot of families are going.

Carl Manteau:
Better weather, too.

Nikita Manteau:
It's a little cooler temperature. We went the January of 2008.

Leah Longbrake:
Then you just did a traditional Hindu wedding there, for other family members?

Nikita Manteau:
We didn't do any wedding, I just told them, we have just a dinner at ... Just with immediate family, at just the country club that's there. We're just doing a small little family dinner. That was, he's like, "Well how many?" I'm like, "Well it's just family. It's just immediate, we can't even invite friends in India." It's like 200 people, but it was just [crosstalk 00:39:00]

Leah Longbrake:
200 people.

Carl Manteau:
200 people came to that, yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah. Immediate family, so it was like ...

Leah Longbrake:
Immediate family. That's so great.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah.

Leah Longbrake:
Final question. Well, not even question. Final piece of advice. For our couples listening that are having their own intercultural, interfaith ... What's your biggest advice to them about blending of families, when you have two different cultures or religious backgrounds?

Nikita Manteau:
Yeah. One thing that I can say that we've really done with my brother and law and the families, is we've invited them over to show them what the ceremony entails. Explain it to them. I've gone to some weddings where it's a mixed culture, and it's really sad, because everyone on ... Even different Indian cultures merging, and they're like, "I don't know what goes on in the ceremony, I really didn't know." It's the sibling of the groom getting married, or the bride getting married.

Nikita Manteau:
I'm like, you want to share that, so then ... It was great, because our families could tell their family and friends really what's going on, even though we have a program that explained everything. Just educate your family, because you want this merge to be special. Find that time to get together. We took his dad to an Indian restaurant for the first time.

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah.

Nikita Manteau:
Let them experience a little bit, but also like what we were telling you today about some of the cultural things. That's stuff that they've never heard of, and so how can you ... Some people are for it, some people are not in the family. But all you can do is show who you are as a human being, and why the person you care about that you're related to is marrying this person? Share the cultural side of, they're supporting each of you on it, but let them get to know you. Because it makes that day much more beautiful when the families are both backing you up. Even if they don't know what's going on, it's a really cool thing to see them come together.

Carl Manteau:
That's my take too. I mean, love is love, right? Love doesn't care where you're from, it doesn't care what your religion is, or your ethnicity. There's a reason you found each other, and you want to spend your time with each other. If you can share that with your families and get them to understand why, and as long as they can be open, because ... It means everything. It could change your life in ways you never thought imaginable.

Nikita Manteau:
Or you'll do things you'll never ... Like to him, to walk the Taj Mahal, you know what I mean?

Leah Longbrake:
Yeah, absolutely.

Nikita Manteau:
Did he ever think that growing up in Wisconsin, he would ever have that ... It's like, stuff like that you just never know.

Carl Manteau:
Yeah. And I think if you approach it like that, all the fact that it's different cultures, that all goes away really quickly, and you get back to just being human beings that enjoy each other's company.

Nikita Manteau:
I'll add in one more thing, because I've dealt with weddings where the parents aren't supportive of the cultures that are merging. It's not saying you don't want to respect your parents, or to respect your families. This is my own opinion. But I just really feel like, life is short, and there's a time where you have to live with that person every day, day out. Like I said, in time the whole cultural side thing, it's big in the wedding time, but it goes to where you live your own lives.

Nikita Manteau:
I just tell people, because I know some people that have broken off relationships just because they decide, "Oh, I don't want to deal with my parents because they're just not for it." But at the end of the day, life is short, and sadly our parents aren't going to live forever, but you have to be happy every day of your life. That's why my dad is like, I just need to know that you're in good hands when I pass. You are going to be taken care of, and that's what I need to know and see to have my blessing over whatever.

Nikita Manteau:
For some people, I know parents that have come around later, but not leading up to it. Just go in that day knowing, you've done everything you can to try to pull the families together, and sometimes not everyone will be on board. But you go through and you share that day with that person, because that's the one you're spending the rest of your life with.

Leah Longbrake:
Absolutely.

Carl Manteau:
Well said.

Nikita Manteau:
That I think is something to remember, because sadly that is the case sometimes. It's not always respected in the beginning. But a lot of people have come around and then realized, oh, this is something really cool.

Leah Longbrake:
Well, thank you so much, Nikita and Carl. That was such great advice, and so fun hearing your story and sharing all of your experiences, it's been such a pleasure to have you.

Nikita Manteau:
Oh, thank you, it's been fun, I know!

Carl Manteau:
Thank you for having us. Any time.

Nikita Manteau:
It's great to have you as a friend, and I know you've really walked the walk with us, this whole journey. I'm glad you even reached out to us, because if anybody, I would love to share this with you, you know.

Leah Longbrake:
I love you guys.

Carl Manteau:
Love you too. Thank you, Leah.

Nikita Manteau:
We love you too, Leah. Thank you so much.

Leah Longbrake:
Thanks for listening to Weddings Unveiled. Make sure you subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast app, so you never miss an episode. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to Brigid Coyne and audio engineer Sean Rule-Hoffman. Don't forget to enjoy the journey.

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