Glamorous Contemporary Royal Indian Wedding

Neha & Ashneel

Snapshot

My most favorite moment of the wedding…

The Hindu Ceremony. Our pandit made it enjoyable for us and our guests with his light-hearted humor. Add to that, the fact that Ashneel and I were embarking on a highly anticipated new chapter at that moment in the presence of our loved ones.

I had the most fun…

Each day was exactly what I had hoped for and more.

My wedding style was…

Modern, elegant and glamorous.

It was most important to me that…

Our wedding reflected who we are individually and as a couple. We were adamant that we did not want to have a traditional wedding, as that is not who we are. Also, I knew I wanted two things for the wedding day. Plenty of lush florals and grand chandeliers.

My advice for future brides…

  1. Enjoy the moment because it is never going to come back.
  2. Don’t get carried away by your inner perfectionist. Look at the bigger picture; something will always go wrong as things will be out of your control, so let it go.
  3. Accept the fact that you can’t please everyone. As long as you both are happy, that’s all that matters. People will always pick on the little things.
  4. Finish the ‘to do’ list. Don’t leave things to the last minute.

About The Couple

How we met

Ashneel and I are high school sweethearts in a way. Although we met in high school, we didn’t start dating then. I moved to Australia for a period and we lost touch. It wasn’t until I moved back to New Zealand when I was 18 and we suddently bumped into each other at Auckland University of Technology. We exchanged numbers and haven’t looked back since. It’s been fourteen years and here we are.

How we are as a couple

It’s almost as though I am married to myself as we are exactly the same as people. We love the same cuisines, movies, music and share a similiar zest for life. We love being together and spending time with another. Ashneel is my best friend and soulmate. Nobody knows me better than he does. Life is easy with him by my side.

How he proposed

Ashneel was over at my place the night before the proposal. As we were spending some time together, he suddenly said he had to leave. When I asked him why, he said he had to go home and clean, which I found quite strange as it was 10 o’clock in the evening. Too late to be cleaning in my books! I asked what was going on and he kept evading the question and wouldn’t answer me properly and so we ended up having a small silly argument.

The next day, I was rather angry with him while he kept sending me messages to make it up to me. He asked me if I wanted to go out for dinner and I hastily agreed, still angry from the night before but wanting to see him. Once we got to dinner, Ashneel kept acting rather strange. He was fidgety and clowning around. After dinner, Ashneel said he wanted to check out a new rooftop bar that I had never heard of before, as one of his friends was DJ’ing.

As we made our way there, I had a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. We made our way up the stairs and through a small door that went through to the top. It was pitch dark and really windy and although I heard music playing, it definitely didn’t sound like a DJ. As we walked around the corner, I saw the place decorated with fairy lights, rugs, and cushions with candles surrounding and a bottle of champagne.

Ashneel got down on one knee and popped the question. Rather than getting emotional and tearing up, I used my best profanities and told him I wished he had told me what was happening as I would have dressed up a little more! I was then surprised by my sister and friends who joined us afterward to celebrate.

The engagement ring

Ashneel had my sister pick up the ring from India before the proposal, which made sense why she kept asking me what kind of ring I hoped for. I recall sending her some images I had found on Instagram as I was looking for inspiration but never would have thought Ashneel would go and get something similar designed. The ring is a 2.3-carat square cut cushion diamond.

What marriage means to us

Marriage to us means strong communication and commitment. It’s a lifetime of happiness where we are to support and be there for one another.

The Details

Wedding Planning

VENUES: Once got engaged and started working out dates and logistics, we only had two sets of dates to choose from within a four-month span. As many of our friends were also getting married in the upcoming year, most dates had already been blocked. If we wanted all of our friends and family to be able to attend and also be able to go to our friends’ weddings, we knew we made to make it happen quickly. We were able to successfully plan our wedding in four months as I wasn’t fussy and knew exactly l what I wanted. With that being said, however, everything I did have in mind and on my wish list wasn’t available.  As most people start planning their wedding and making bookings one year in advance, every possible venue that made our desired list of options had been booked. Finally, there was availability for our preferred date for our Hindu Ceremony at The Langham Auckland and it was exactly what I had hoped for.

We didn’t use a planner and I found that this worked best for me. A wedding is about being able to express your personality and nobody knows you better than you know yourself. Planning the entire wedding myself not only allowed me to explore options that I was comfortable with, but also express who I am as a person. The Langham provided me with a coordinator in the lead up to the wedding. I provided him with all the contact details of my wedding professionals and he liaised with them for the weeks beforehand and coordinated with them on the day.

The Mehendi and Hindu Ceremony were planned by me, while my husband and his family planned the Reception, which was held at The Wharf.

Wedding Shopping

I didn’t really know what I wanted for my bridal outfits as I always thought I would wear something of my own. I’m a designer myself and played with the idea of designing my bridal lehenga but then realized that it would be more practical to make the trip to India. I went to Mumbai with my sister for twenty days, wherein we only visited two designers – Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi. I tried on multiple outfits at each store but didn’t like anything. I felt that Sabysachi was more my style and so I contacted the Calcutta store to send through a few sample pieces I had come across online. I knew by this stage that I would most likely get both my bridal lehenga and reception outfit from here.

They sent the lehengas to Mumbai within three days and I made from selections from there. Each lehenga is made to your size, however, Sabyasachi doesn’t customize bridal lehengas and only a few of their pieces are able to be customized to your choice. While my bridal lehenga didn’t have any changes, I customized my blouse for my reception look to give it more of a modern edge.

During my trip, I also took charge of organizing Ashneel’s outfits. I designed three pieces for him myself and had them custom made in India. I went well equipped with all his measurements in writing to ensure that it was the best fit. I made a second six-day trip to Mumbai for my own final bridal fittings to ensure it fits perfectly.

Wedding Events

We held our events over a span of three days. While the Mehendi event was at home, we opted for stylish venues in Auckland for the Hindu Ceremony & Reception.

  1. Mehendi – Thursday, PM, My Home, 40 guests.
  2. Hindu Ceremony & Sangeet – Friday, PM, The Langham Auckland, 190 guests. The Hindu Ceremony was followed by a Sangeet dinner party.
  3. Wedding Reception – Saturday, PM, The Wharf, 140 guests.

Mehendi Overview & Decor

The mehndi was held in the backyard of my home. The venue that I had scoped initially was unfortunately and unsurprisingly unavailable at such short notice. Things, however, turned out for the better as the function itself was quite small with only forty guests and our home proved to provide the most intimate setting.

THEME & DECOR: We didn’t plan the function with a set theme in mind. We hired a Moroccan tent from Raj Tents to be set up outside and as we started deciding what ornaments to hire to decorate the setting, we resulted in a Moroccan theme by default. Using lanterns and tealights hired by Raj Tents, we adorned the backyard to set the mood.

Mehendi Looks

NEHA’S OUTFIT: To match the theme and don a look that would be a stark difference between my elegant and glam wedding and reception looks, I went with an edgy, ethnic boho lehenga. The high waisted skirt, a Rajvir Rathore creation, had a digital print that I fell in love with. I paired this with a long sleeve, a black crop top that I designed myself.

HAIR & MAKEUP: I did my own hair for the Mehendi and left it out in loose voluminous waves. My makeup was done by Melinda Patel Makeup Artist.

ASHNEEL’S OUTFIT: Ashneel wore a cream kurta pajama with pistachio and gold-colored printed vest that I designed and had made while on my shopping trip to India.

Hindu Ceremony Overview

Our Hindu Wedding Ceremony was held at The Langham Auckland. Shaneel and I knew that we wanted to have a royal, regal theme with a contemporary twist for our wedding. It was important for us that the ceremony we reflected who we are, both individually and as a couple. This is why we decided against being too traditional in our approach. Shaneel and I aren’t traditional ourselves and therefore did not want to do things the tried and tested way, especially when it came to our ceremony.

We had a short, quick yet meaningful ceremony. It was the most enjoyable moment for me as the pandit was fabulous. He was so laid back and made it fun for us by indulging in humor in between the rituals. He also translated the scriptures for the benefit of our non-Indian guests, as we wanted them to feel involved in the ceremony and understand the significance of each element.

Post the ceremony, we had a small interval where drinks and canapes were served. To mix things up, the evening then continued with our Sangeet. My close friends and family performed dances to some classic Bollywood songs, followed by a performance by myself and Shaneel to ‘London Thumakda’ and our cake cutting. We spent the entire night dancing away to a mix of our favorite songs by DJ Areeb.

Hindu Ceremony Decor

There were two things that I was adamant about when it came to our wedding decor. All I wanted was beautiful, lush florals and royal, elegant chandeliers. I partnered with Blush Flowers and La Lumiere to design the perfect mandap for our Hindu Ceremony. We came up with a design encompassing a forest-like, floral mandap immersed in lush greenery with burgundy wine and blush pink floral accents that were flown in from Columbia. Inside the mandap, we placed three stunning chandeliers that were ordered from Hong Kong. This took an entire two days to construct.

Not everything was smooth sailing when it came to our floral arrangements. The professional I had contacted initially and started working with pulled out 60 days before the wedding. Luckily I came across Blush Flowers who were incredible and did an amazing job at bringing my vision to life. They specially flew in flowers from Columbia to match the look and feel I was going for.

The hall was also scattered with chandeliers that we hung from the ceiling. As I always knew what I wanted when it came to our wedding decor, the ability to have chandeliers hanging from the ceiling was a major factor when it came to choosing our venue. The staff at The Langham Auckland were very flexible and allowed us to have our dream setup.

As the mandap was beautiful and extravagant and the hall was laced with stunning chandeliers, we didn’t need to do much else. We had table seating for the ceremony and kept our centerpieces simple with gold candelabras and rose petals. I designed the table numbers and name cards myself.

Hindu Ceremony Looks

NEHA’S OUTFIT: For my wedding day, I wore a pastel pink floral Sabyasachi lehenga. Staying true to our contemporary, royal theme I opted not to drape a second dupatta over my head as a veil as most brides traditionally do.

HAIR & MAKEUP: I had the wonderful Melinda Patel Makeup Artist do my hair and makeup. I went for a minimalist look, with a wispy, voluminous updo to add the extra touch of royalty. I had a dewy look, with dark, smokey eyes and a nude lip.

JEWELLERY / ACCESSORIES: To add a pop of color, I wore an emerald diamond set that I purchased from Dhanraj Jewellers in Mumbai.

ASHNEEL’S OUTFIT: I designed Ashneel’s sherwani myself and had it made in India. He wore a crisp white sherwani with gold zardozi accents on the color and cuffs of his sleeve. This was paired with a black stole with heavy gold embroidery to complete his royal look. The white sherwani complimented the pastel hues of my lehenga beautifully.

SHOES: I purchased Ashneel’s shoes from a boutique in Mumbai.

Wedding Reception Overview & Decor

The final event was our Wedding Reception, which we held the following evening at The Wharf, an event space in Auckland that sits right on the city harbourside. This was a more intimate function with a smaller crowd than in comparison to the Hindu Ceremony. We had drinks and canapes served on arrival, followed by speeches by our close friends. Our master of ceremonies was quite entertaining as he interacted with the crowd and asked them questions about Ashneel and I.

We concluded the evening with our cake cutting followed by our first dance. The cake wasn’t exactly what we had ordered. The cake was meant to be light green with white florals, however, it still looked okay in the end. DJ Areeb then opened the dancefloor and we all celebrated what was a perfect evening.

THEME & DECOR: A true lover of the elegance that chandeliers exude, the evening had a strong component of this gorgeous ornament. Chandeliers provided by La Lumiere were a focal feature of the reception, as we had chandeliers placed all around the venue. We wanted to go for a chic, modern feel and kept things minimal with a crisp white base for our decor with lush greenery by Blush Flowers and fairy lights to embellish the space.

Wedding Reception Looks

NEHA’S OUTFIT: I wore a modern white Sabyasachi lehenga with red zardosi floral embroidery for the evening. Wanting to go for a modern, glamorous look, I had the blouse customized to my preference. The lehenga also came with a dupatta but I chose not to wear it.

HAIR & MAKEUP: Melinda Patel Makeup Artist gave me a wispy, voluminous blowdry and completed the look with a dark, smokey eye and a nude lip. It was perfect for the contemporary glam look.

JEWELLERY / ACCESORIES: I wore big statement earrings that I ordered from an online boutique.

ASHNEEL’S OUTFIT: I designed my husband’s suit and had it made in India. The wine-colored suit complimented by lehenga and the theme for the evening.

Other Unique Details

PHOTOGRAPHY & CINEMATOGRAPHY: We met Bhavnesh Soni, the Director of One By Infinity, at a bridal show and absolutely loved his work. His style of photography was exactly what we were looking for. His team also captured our wedding on film and beautifully so. We were delighted with what they were able to capture.

INVITATIONS & STATIONERY: While most people have their wedding invitations done while on their shopping trip in India, I chose an alternative path. Being a creative myself, I designed our wedding invites and stationery, including table numbers, and had only the printing done in Mumbai. To match our wedding theme and decor, the invitations had a floral motif and were simple and elegant in its design.

BRIDAL ENTRANCE & FIRST DANCE: I made my entrance on Dil Shagna Da and Shaneel and I did our first dance at the Wedding Reception to ‘100 Years’ by Christina Perri.

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