Contemporary Cross-Continental Indian Wedding
Deenal & Rikesh
My favorite moment of the wedding... and his...
My favorite moment of the wedding was the morning of the wedding. I had a bit of a stressful night before, but when I woke up the next morning I just felt very calm and so ready for the big day. I also loved the traditions of the Hindu wedding like the placing of the garlands, the pheras and the seven steps, they were just so special.
Rikesh’s favorite moment was when the sheet of fabric held by my cousins dropped down after I had arrived at the mandap and we got to see each other for the first time that day. For fun I gave him a little wink, since we couldn’t quite speak to each other then it was the only way I could communicate.
We both also loved doing our post-shoot with Nisha Ravji. We were lucky enough to have Nisha at our wedding in NZ as well as a post-shoot in London to capture the best of both worlds. One of our absolute highlights was to do a post-wedding shoot at Tate Britain. This was such an incredible experience, first of all to have the museum all to ourselves, and secondly to get dressed up in our wedding outfits and celebrate our marriage amongst some of the most amazing and rare pieces of art in the world. It made it even more special as we're both graphic designers and visiting art galleries is one of our most favorite things to do together.
I had the most fun...
Shopping in India! I had my two sisters, who live in the States, meet me in Mumbai and we made the most of our time there visiting all the different wedding stores. It was stressful at times but we remembered to have fun throughout. I know for sure I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them there, and it made that experience so much more memorable for me. That part was probably Rikesh’s least favorite part of the wedding, and thankfully he only had to endure a day of that.
I cried when...
I actually surprised myself by not crying much at all. With the weeks leading up to the big day and I would tear up just thinking about the ‘vidai’, but when it came to the actual day, I was just so happy and full of energy that tears didn’t seem right. I did cry though at Auckland Airport when all the wedding festivities were over and the time had come to leave for London again.
My wedding style was...
Relaxed, down to earth and family orientated.
It was most important to me that...
Everyone who was part of our celebrations was going to have a good time. That meant good food, music, venue and most importantly the right people who were genuinely happy to be there.
For our honeymoon we...
We went to Tulum in Mexico which was a real treat enjoying the beautiful beaches and surroundings. We also went to Havana which was incredible!
Most valuable advice for future Brides?
I know this gets said a lot, but remember to enjoy the process. It’s really easy to get overwhelmed with everything that there is to organize, but remember to stay calm and treasure that time as you’ll never get it back.
About The Couple
How we met...
We actually met on Tinder. I’d just moved to London, didn’t know anyone and thought to myself "I have nothing to lose so why not put myself out there." It was definitely the best decision I made as we met not long after.
Our first date...
We met in Oxford Circus on our first date, I was still new to London so Rikesh made all the calls. It didn’t quite go as Rikesh had planned as the rooftop cocktail bar he was meant to take me to was closed. He had to think quick on his feet so we ended up at a slightly seedy bar around the corner. Despite that, we really hit it off and had so much to talk about, that when Rikesh asked if I was keen to get a bite to eat, I happily agreed. We went to Ping Pong which is a dumpling house. I love dumplings so he got a big tick for that.
When I knew he was the one...
I probably didn’t realize it at the time, but I actually had a really good indication on our first date. We knew very early on that we had the same interests, even down to sharing things like favorite graphic designers and film directors. I just knew that we understood each other like no one else could.
For my 30th birthday, Rikesh took me to India as I’d never been before and was dying to go. It was such an amazing trip in itself, but of course turned out to be even more special when he proposed. His original plan, which I found out later, was to propose whilst we were on a sunset camel ride in the desert in Jaisalmer Rajasthan, but because of bad weather the activity was canceled. He ended up proposing whilst it was pouring with rain outside and we were staying at the beautiful Suryagarh hotel.
Marriage to us means...
It means being each other’s number one fans, having respect for each other always and being there no matter what life throws at you.
LOCATION: Rikesh and I had the dilemma of having both our families spread out at opposite ends of the world. It was so important to us that all our loved ones were present, as well as wanting to have our wedding take place in our hometowns, that we decided to split our events across the UK and NZ. We had our civil ceremony in the UK then our Hindu wedding in NZ six months later. This was also the first time Rikesh was going to that part of the world and meet my family. Not only were the events so different but the change in locations added to the excitement and felt personal.
PLANNING: We decided to do all the planning ourselves with the help of various family members. We had enough skill sets and talent within our families that we knew we could pull off organizing a wedding without any external help. The best part was the initial thinking in the beginning when I could let my creativity run wild coming up with mood boards and themes. As the process went on, the reality of things like budgets and dealing with suppliers came into the picture, and things got a bit trickier, but to me, it was all part of the process.
SHOPPING: Most of my shopping was done in Mumbai at various shops over six days. It wasn’t a lot of time so we had to be really efficient and decisive at the same time, which luckily worked out for me as I was really happy with everything I found. It helped that I knew what my style preference was and knew exactly which stores to go to.
The Civil Ceremony was held in June 2015 in London followed by a Hindu Wedding and Reception six months later at the end of November 2015 in New Zealand:
- Civil Ceremony - Saturday AM, The Mercure Milton Keynes, Milton Keynes, UK, 100 guests.
- Hindu Wedding - Saturday AM, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Auckland, NZ, 200 guests.
- Reception - Sunday PM, I Village Indian Kitchen & Bar, Auckland, NZ, 100 guests.
- Post-Wedding Photoshoot - Tate Britain, London, UK.
INVITATIONS: Rikesh and I are both graphics designers by profession so we designed our own wedding invitations.
PHOTOGRAPHY & CINEMATOGRAPHY: We used a combination of photographers and cinematographers to cover our cross-continental wedding. For the Civil Ceremony, we worked with Andrew Cheung of ZC Images and Rohit Gautam of Sai Digital. For the Hindu Wedding & Reception, we worked with Nisha Ravji for Photography and Perspectives Photo + Cinema for cinematography. The Post-Wedding shoot was by Nisha Ravji.
We had a relaxed daytime event for the civil wedding at The Mercure Milton Keynes. The Ceremony was meant to be outdoors, unfortunately, we had to change plans at the last minute as it had been raining. Despite that, it was a really special day and I remember my cheeks being sore from all the smiling. The ceremony ended up being indoors, followed by drinks and canapes at the bar. After that, there was a sit-down lunch in the marquee.
THEME & DECOR: The decor for this event had a botanical feel to it. It was a summer event surrounded by greenery so I wanted to bring that fresh and flowery theme to the day. We went for a white marquee with flowers hanging from the ceiling. The tables all had an eclectic range of vases as centerpieces with a mix of colorful flowers. All decor was organized by the venue and MyShaadi. Our cake by Jamie Bakes Cakes was similarly decorated with fresh flowers. Coincidentally, a lot of the guests showed up in flowery dresses which added to the theme brilliantly.
DEENAL'S OUTFIT: For this event, I knew I wanted to go with something Indian yet elegant and contemporary to suit the event. Whilst in India I came across the perfect outfit at Kalki in Mumbai. It was an ivory lehenga with intricate embroidered beads and pearls in the same color.
JEWELRY: Magic Mirror, Mumbai
SHOES: Kurt Geiger.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Tricia D'Costa Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist. I went for a fresh dewy look with a dark berry lip color and side bun with gypsophila in it.
RIKESH'S OUTFIT: Rikesh wore a dark navy three-piece suit with a beige polka dot tie and dusty pink pocket square, all from Topman.
This was held at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Auckland, as we wanted to embrace and celebrate our Hindu wedding traditionally. The ceremony began at 2pm followed by snacks and a late lunch. It was a pretty colorful event, full of lots of intimate moments such as seeing other the first time on the mandap, the pheras, and walking the seven steps were just some of my favorite moments. Music was provided by Soul Entertainment.
DECOR: Even though this was set inside a large hall in the temple, I still wanted to create an intimate feeling to the room. For this, I decided to not have the wedding on the stage that was there, as that felt like it separated us from guests. Instead, we blocked off the stage with white curtains and had a four-post mandap on a platform, which was decorated only with fabric drapes, a chandelier in the middle, and flowers tied onto the posts. We had a color theme of pink, orange, red and gold which determined the colors used for the mandap. I also wanted to have lots of flower petals which was used along the aisle and on the mandap. Decor was by La Lumiere and florals by Blossom Wedding Flowers.
DEENAL'S OUTFIT: I wanted something colorful but I didn’t want to just go for red. I pretty much found my outfit on my first day shopping in Mumbai at Roopkala. What I loved the most was the mix of colors and the type of antique gold and silver embroidery.
JEWELRY & ACCESSORIES: Magic Mirror, Mumbai. I went with a kundan set for my jewelry as well as a side jhumar.
SHOES: Kurt Geiger.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Bridal Beauty by Dipal Solanki. I had my hair up for this and had my veil tucked in at the bottom as I wanted to have more of a subtle approach to this.
RIKESH'S OUTFIT: Rikesh wore a light gold kurta with white embroidery, but he added color with his kurta pants and dupatta by having them a bright blue to match the blue on my outfit. It was purchased from Millionaire Bombay.
SHOES & ACCESSORIES: Millionaire Bombay.
BRIDAL PARTY: My bridal party consisted of my sisters who wore matching lehengas with a blue and pink color theme. I also had three flower girls whose outfits we got made to look like saris. They were all gold, but they had three different colored blouses that went with my color theme.
The Reception was held at I Village Indian Kitchen & Bar, an indoor/outdoor space in Victoria Market, Auckland. We wanted this event to be informal but fun so everyone could just wind down, let their hair loose and have a good time. The event started with mingling with guests while canapes were served, followed by some speeches, dinner, then lots of dancing.
The speeches were definitely a highlight, especially by my sisters which made me laugh and cry at the same time. Another moment that sticks out was our first dance to one of our all time favorite songs, Chet Faker’s version of No Diggity. I loved how soon after everyone joined us on the dance floor with music by DJ Gabroo and didn’t leave until the night was over.
DECOR: For this event, we decided the exposed brick, hanging lights, flower water bowls and rustic Indian feel of the existing decor of the restaurant was exactly the type of look we wanted to go for, so we got lucky as there wasn’t much to do as far as decoration went. We simply added some bouquets on the tables.
DEENAL'S OUTFIT: For this event, I went with a dusty pink lehenga saree with antique gold embroidery from Queens Emporium, Mumbai.
JEWELRY: Magic Mirror, Mumbai. I kept my jewelry simple with pearls.
SHOES: Kurt Geiger.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Bridal Beauty by Dipal Solanki. I let my hair down with wavy curls put to a side.
RIKESH'S LOOK: Rikesh wore a slim blue suit from Topman with an added pink pocket square to match my saree.
Tips for Brides-to-Be
WHAT I WOULD DIFFERENT: Apart from not having it rain at our civil ceremony which was meant to be outdoors, I wouldn’t change too much. One thing I wish I did do differently was paying closer attention to every detail of my outfits. I hadn’t decided how I wanted my dupatta on the wedding until on the day, if I had thought about it beforehand I probably would’ve styled it differently. Also, I wasn’t 100% happy with my blouse fitting for my reception outfit and wish I had done something about it rather than putting up with it.
- Be organized. You might think you have ages to organize the details but time catches up to you really fast. Keep a detailed spreadsheet of exactly what is happening and when so that it's clear in your mind as to what the event itinerary is.
- Delegate. Always make sure at least one or two people know what is happening throughout your events. On the day itself you the last thing you want to be doing is chasing suppliers or worrying if the cake has been delivered, so you need to appoint the right people that can take responsibilities off you so you can enjoy the day stress-free.
- Smile, you’re on camera! You probably will be doing this anyway, but make sure you have a smiling face on at all times. You never know when the photographer is going to click so be prepared for any situation.
- Enjoy the moment. Leading up to the day you’ve done everything you can to make it what you want it to be, so remember to be present and enjoy it for yourself.
- Remember to be grateful. It’s an easy to become a bridezilla and make everything about you. Try and remember the bigger picture and be grateful for what this celebration is about.