Sanjay Stefan Malhotra Weds Alexandra Jane Shepherd

The groom’s father Jawahar Malhotra (right) and Stefan’s brother Jeremy and his wife Kathryn with the newlyweds (on left) and his cousin Meena Murphy, husband Dan and kids Shashi Nila and Shiva.

The groom’s father Jawahar Malhotra (right) and Stefan’s brother Jeremy and his wife Kathryn with the newlyweds (on left) and his cousin Meena Murphy, husband Dan and kids Shashi Nila and Shiva.

By Jawahar Malhotra

FINGASK CASTLE, SCOTLAND: You never know when you might finally meet a person whom you may have had a chance encounter with. After they actually met seven years later, Stefan Malhotra and Alexandra Shepherd realized that they had been in the same chemistry class in their undergraduate days at the University of Texas in Austin in 2003. But, as Stefan poked a pun at it, there was no chemistry between them then!

That changed in 2009 when they were both in the same graduate program at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston and Alexandra – or Alex as she more commonly goes by – caught Stefan’s eye. At first, he recalls being a little intimidated by the professional student that Alex was, going around town with her adorable dog Bailey in her little Nissan. They would meet at gatherings and parties and Stefan remembers being at each of them. He never let on that he was getting fond of her, until he confided in Alex’s twin sister Katie, who didn’t keep the secret too long.

The Shepherd family with the bride and groom.

The Shepherd family with the bride and groom.

Soon a first date followed and sometime later they moved in together. Almost a year ago, in February 2017, Stefan proposed to Alex on the top of the Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend National Park in Texas. The two then started planning their wedding and settled on a locale near Dundee in Scotland where Alex’s family is originally from. They had visited Fingask Castle in Rait, 30 minutes northwest of the city and fell in love with the setting and the venue for a reception on the grounds. It helped that Alex’s mother Frances lives in Dundee and could oversee some of the arrangements and the couple made a few trips to Dundee to meet with the wedding planners.

The two were finally married in Fingask Castle on Saturday, March 10, 2018 with Jane Bechtel, a Celebrant from the Humanist Society of Scotland officiating over a non-religious, secular ceremony that reflected how Stefan and Alex view life. As Bechtel explained during the ceremony, Humanists are guided by reason, inspired by compassion and informed by the experience of Life. Bechtel remembered dear members of the families who had passed away before and Stefan’s dear grandmother mamaji who had to cancel at the last minute due to health problems and her eldest son Dr. Jayant Malhotra of Chicago who stayed behind to be with her; Alex’s sister Rebecca recited a poem and Stefan’s brother Jeremy read a poem in French and then translated it into English. The couple then recited the vows that they had written.

The newlyweds with the French side of Stefan’s family with grandmother Edith Giacchetti and mother Dr. Claudine Giacchetti to his left.

The newlyweds with the French side of Stefan’s family with grandmother Edith Giacchetti and mother Dr. Claudine Giacchetti to his left.

The couple drank a dram from a two-handed silver Quaich, a Scottish wedding tradition for good luck; while two figurines of Ganesh, the Hindu God of Good Luck looked down on them from the mantelpiece. They went through an abbreviated Hindu Vivah ceremony, lighting diyas at the table where they sat and signed the formal marriage certificates required by Scottish law. After the wedding, they spent a week-long honeymoon in Iceland.

Sanjay Stefan Malhotra was born and raised in Houston and is a Health Safety and Environment engineer with EDP Renewables, a Portuguese company involved in windfarm energy production. He received his Bachelors in Biology from the University of Texas in Austin in 2005 and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in 2011. He is the son of Jawahar Malhotra, a consulting engineer and Publisher of Indo American News and Dr. Claudine Giacchetti, a Professor of French Literature at the University of Houston, Main campus. His younger brother Jeremy was married in Washington DC last October 2017.

Stefan Malhotra and Alexandra Shepherd before their wedding in Fingask Castle, Scotland

Stefan Malhotra and Alexandra Shepherd before their wedding in Fingask Castle, Scotland

Alexandra Jane Moncrieff Shepherd was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas and is a dentist working in a group practice in Houston. She also received her Bachelors in Biology from the University of Texas in Austin in 2005 and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston in 2012, from where she also received her DDS in 2015. She is the daughter of Dr. Alexander “Sandy” Shepherd, an internist, of San Antonio and Frances Shepherd of Dundee. She has four other sisters, two who live in the UK, one in Washington DC and another in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

After the wedding, the reception was held in a pavilion on the grounds of the castle where the appetizers and dinner was a fusion of Indian – samosas, lamb chops, butter chicken masala and naan – and Scottish fare – rare broiled lamb, haggis pakoras and green spinach, among other dishes. A Highlander bagpiper performed before the reception. The wedding guests – 30 members of the French family flew in from France, a contingent from Texas and the US and the Scottish clan and friends – danced the night away to the live Scottish band Callanish whose performers – singer Aimee, Maeve on fiddle, Ben on drums, John on bass guitar, Ali on guitar and voice – were excellent in the list of pop songs and Celtic music they delivered.

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