LOS ALTOS -- The lovely bride wore white. The groom, who couldn't stop smiling, was dashing.

The horse looked great, too.

"This is just a wonderful ceremony," Anupam Pathak said before climbing aboard a magnificent white mare that would transport him to the love of his life in a festive procession at the Los Altos History Museum. "It represents a fusion of both of our families."

Sunday's marriage between Pathak and Theresa Bruketta also was unique. June is the heart of the busy wedding season, but what made their union newsworthy is that it required the approval of the Los Altos City Council. Well, at least when it came to their request to have a horse be part of their ceremony.

The happy couple wanted the wedding to be a symbolic combination of Western and Indian cultures in a way that captures the spirit of multicultural Silicon Valley.

In India, the groom customarily rides in a baraat, or wedding procession, to greet the bride's family. But there was a problem: Los Altos has an ordinance that prohibits the riding or leading of large animals on city streets or public property.

It was left to Police Chief Tuck Younis to be the bearer of bad news: the municipal code said the horse was a no-no.

"My job is to apply the law, so I don't get to pick and choose how we follow the code," Younis said. "But fortunately, I knew that the council could make an exception. I knew this is a very important part of their culture, and they really wanted a horse to be part of their ceremony."


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Pathak's parents, Saroj and Jagdish, wrote to the council, explaining how they have lived in the Los Altos area for 30 years, raising three children, and that the community had helped shape their family.

Anupam is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose work includes founding a company that uses technology to improve the quality of life for people suffering from tremors, like the kind resulting from Parkinson's disease.

In February, Pathak and Bruketta, a Concord native who is the director of student services at International Technological University, appeared before the council to make their case with a PowerPoint presentation.

Impressed, the council approved the request with a unanimous vote. Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins, however, did quip that she was thankful that they hadn't asked permission to use an elephant -- another Indian tradition.

So while there are 52 couples getting married this year at the history museum -- providing a vital revenue stream for a facility that opened in 2001 -- this wedding stood out.

"We've been calling it 'the one with the horse,' " said Laura Bajuk, the museum's executive director. "We're so excited because this is really who we are. We're a diverse community with a strong influx of people from elsewhere, and we value what they bring."

On Sunday, Dora, the sweet-natured mare, took center stage. Dora is the ultimate wedding crasher. She already has been part of 20 ceremonies this year in other Northern California towns that aren't as picky about equine transportation.

"She's such a docile horse, and she loves people and the music," said Leilani Gibbons, owner of the Vintage Carriage Company. "These ceremonies are such fun, and she's the perfect horse for them."

Wearing ornate blankets and a mask of red, gold and silver, Dora stood patiently as Pathak climbed aboard, dressed in traditional garb. He was joined by a little boy, 6-year-old Shalin Taksali, who later doubled as the ring-bearer.

Then, to the joyous beat of two drummers, members of the procession danced their way from a nearby parking lot to the museum. In the middle was Pathak, with Vintage Carriage employee Sara Braden carefully holding Dora's reins and Gibbons using a tall umbrella to provide shade from the blazing afternoon sun.

Once Dora had delivered Pathak to Bruketta's family, the mare's job was done. A few minutes later, Bruketta would make her grand entrance, descending down stairs for the ceremony, which was held in the museum courtyard.

"There are so many, many different cultures here," Pathak said. "That's what makes this such a special place. There's such a respect here for all of them, and this is an example of that."

Follow Mark Emmons at Twitter.com/markedwinemmons.