Elegant South Indian & Sri Lankan Wedding
Abirami & Dilshan
Our favorite moments of the wedding...
Our favorite moment was when we first saw each other at the Hindu wedding, we could not stop grinning at each other. We were completely oblivious to all the other wedding commotion happening around us.
We had the most fun...
We had epic levels of fun during our first dance. We had choreographed a special number to the song You Give Me Something by Jamiroquai, which incorporated plenty of twirls to show off my layered lehenga skirt. It was such an upbeat way to open up the dance floor for the evening.
I cried when...
I was overcome with emotion during my Reception speech as I looked around the room at our family and closest friends. We were grateful beyond measure to have so many loved ones celebrating our love with us.
My wedding style was...
Modern and elegant, staying true to key traditional elements.
It was most important to me that...
Making sure that our personality as a couple was reflected in our wedding events. We wanted to keep things simple, fun and above all, we wanted our loved ones to relax and enjoy the celebrations.
Most valuable advice for future Brides?
Make decisions together and back each other. with Indian weddings, it’s not unusual to find yourself in a position where you feel like you need to balance everyone’s views on how things should be. Make sure you prioritize own vision as a couple, above all else.
Take it all in. Your wedding day will fly by in the blink of an eye. Make sure you have meditative moments to revel in the energy, the love and the fun of your wedding day.
Look at the bigger picture. There will be things that go wrong, despite all the meticulous planning. On your wedding day, just breathe and let these little issues pass. After all, the day is only as fun as you make it!
Communicate your vision with confidence. Don’t be shy to articulate your wish list with suppliers, they’ve seen it all before and can provide valuable advice. Where possible, meet with your suppliers in person. Putting a face to a name will help with all your subsequent dealings.
About The Couple
How we met
We both met in our graduate year at Deloitte, our first meeting could not have been more unromantic. Despite us having very contrasting personalities, we became good friends over the year. It took a long time for us to admit our feelings, despite our closest friends subconsciously pushing us towards each other. Our friendship evolved into love, and as they say, ‘the rest is history’.
When I knew he was the one
We both knew that we had a good thing quite early on into our relationship. We were good friends before we started dating, which made us comfortable around each other, whether it be acting the fool, debating those serious topics, or laughing out loud at a good dad joke.
Marriage to us means
This line from RM Drake beautifully captures what love means to us: “Love is a touch of magic and a handful of dreams”. To us, marriage celebrates this love for a lifetime.
During the year leading up to our engagement, Dilshan had moved to Melbourne for work. At that time, we had both met each other’s parents and we were starting to discuss the prospect of sharing our lives together. Our six year anniversary came and went. We had a romantic dinner reflecting back on our relationship. A mid-dinner call from my father to Dilshan's phone did arouse my sneaky suspicions, but at the end of the evening, there was still no proposal, nor a ring.
A couple of weeks later, my girlfriends wanted to organise a catch up at my apartment, but little did I know that Dilshan was orchestrating this ‘catch-up’ behind the scenes. Friday night came, and the girls played their roles well, routinely texting me saying they were on the way. When the doorbell rang, I buzzed the girls up and was busy doing some last minute frantic cleaning. I was mid-way through unloading my dishwasher and in bursts Dilshan, who had secretly flown in from Melbourne that afternoon!
I was in such a state of shock that I didn’t even register the fact that he was down on one knee, holding in his hand the most beautiful diamond ring, set in a rose gold band (exactly like the one I had dropped so many hints about). When it all finally sunk in, of course, the answer was yes! I did love that he was successfully able to outwit my cluey and suspicious nature. He told me to pack an overnight bag and whisked me away to a romantic dinner at Flying Fish Jones Bay Wharf, which boasted magnificent views of Sydney harbor.
13 months seems like ample time to plan a wedding, but time literally flies. We enjoyed our post-engagement bliss for one month before locking in a venue. We had attended many friends’ weddings and had a fair idea about Sydney wedding venues. The only challenge was trying to coordinate auspicious dates with our pundit and the availability of our preferred venues. As a result of the to and fro, and because we wanted to celebrate both my South Indian Hindu background and Dilshan's Sri Lankan Buddhist faith, we ended up having our Hindu wedding on a Sunday and our Buddhist wedding on the following Friday. A Friday Reception worked out well in hindsight as a nice gate-opener to the weekend. Securing suppliers for Sundays and Fridays is generally a lot easier than Saturdays. The gap between the two events worked well in terms of planning unique elements for each event.
We prioritized all the major wedding decisions using a checklist we found online. We retained all the key decision making on the major wedding items - venues, outfits, photography, and décor, whilst delegating smaller tasks to family and friends. Tasks we delegated include transport, place cards, wedding favors, wishing well setup and pre-wedding events. We left all the ceremonial ritual aspects to our parents. As a couple, we made final decisions on smaller tasks as necessary.
INVITATIONS: We ordered all of our wedding stationery from Giant Invitations. I was obsessed with laser cut details at the time, and they have so many beautiful designs we could choose from. I was even able to send them an image of Ganesh, which they imprinted with ease.
PHOTO & VIDEO: We secured photography and videography services with Splendid Photos & Video. We really thought outside the box in relation to booking wedding professionals (ie. not just Indian suppliers). Splendid sat down with us prior to our wedding days in order to understand the nuances of our respective cultural ceremonies. We were also given a reasonable quote for bundling both photo and video services across two full event days. They were professional and creative and gave us plenty of direction on the day.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Hair and makeup are important to lock in early. I had my heart set on Gather and Stitch Beauty, after hearing so many positive reviews from my close friends. The G&S team was a pleasure to work with. Not only were they fun, they made us all look wow, and were instrumental in keeping me cool, calm and collected on the big day.
With about four days of leave, I had just enough time to do some wedding shopping in Chennai, since my family had good local knowledge of stores, tailors, and jewelers in the city.
During my three shopping days, I prioritized clothing over accessories, as I already had quite the collection of temple jewelry from Sukra Jewellers and GRT Jewellers, being a Bharatanatyam dancer. I also had plenty of antique gold and kundan pieces I had accumulated over the years from markets and stores in India.
Ideally, I would have loved to have swung by Mumbai to pick out Reception outfits. However, without the time, I took to Instagram and discovered Carma, an India-based online store, which curates bridal outfits and accessories from a range of Indian designers. Upon my initial inquiry, they assigned me a dedicated sales assistant via WhatsApp. They were extremely professional and went above and beyond to help me source the perfect outfit for my reception by liaising with designers and communicating customization requirements.
Some designers were more flexible than others. I had a difficult time finding a pure white saree for the Buddhist ceremony. I had my heart set on a Sabyasachi saree but they were unwilling to customize the colors of their designs. I then discovered Shyamal & Bhumika. I just loved their signature antique gold floral embroidery work. All their designs are fully customizable in terms of color and style. I liaised with them via WhatsApp and FaceTime to customize my pieces.
I was very lucky, as the fitting was perfect for all the items I ordered online. I had a tailor in Sydney take my measurements correctly before passing them on to the designers via WhatsApp.
TIP: I did have one touch-and-go situation with Shyamal & Bhumika when their definition of ivory was closer to gold than white, which is different to what we know to be ivory here in Australia. I luckily caught onto this before confirming the final order. To keep things simple, I told them to simply customize the saree to white, rather than get into the complications of shades of white.
Wedding events took place at the beginning of September 2016 in Sydney, followed by an overseas Reception in Colombo, Sri Lanka in December:
- Mehendi Lunch - Saturday PM, Private Residence, Sydney, 60 guests.
- Hindu Wedding - Sunday AM, Miramare Gardens, Sydney, 300 guests.
- Poruwa Ceremony - Friday PM, Sergeants Mess, Sydney 200 guests.
- Wedding Reception- Friday PM, Sergeants Mess, Sydney 200 guests.
- Overseas Reception Soiree - Dec, The Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo, 120 guests.
THEME: Boho Garden Party.
VENUE: My family lives in Canberra so in order to accommodate our international guests here in Sydney, we rented a rockin’ holiday home at North Curl Curl via Stayz, just a stone’s throw away from the beach. The garden at the home provided a beautiful canvas to channel all things Boheme.
DECOR: We did all the styling on our own. I bought silk florals and cascading greens from Spotlight; outdoor furniture and cushions from Ikea and used some playful decor found around the house to create a relaxed outdoor environment for the girls. The sun was shining bright but it was still a chilly September day so we created a warm outdoor cocoon using a king size quilt.
FOOD & DRINKS: I wanted my guests to enjoy a hearty South Indian lunch so Taj Caterers was able to set up an outdoor kitchen serving hot crispy dosas fresh off the stove! Our guests kept going back for more and more, just like we wanted.
ABI'S OUTFIT: Beige cropped anarkali with antique gold floral embroidery by Shyamal & Bhumika.
South Indian Wedding
THEME: Modern, elegant with traditional Indian elements.
VENUE: Both Dilshan and I are the eldest siblings and the first to get married in our respective families, so we needed to find a venue that could accommodate a large number of guests. We also wanted to find a venue where our guests could enjoy indoor and outdoor spaces. The gardens at Miramare Gardens are just divine. We opted for an indoor ceremony, as we were concerned about the unpredictable weather in Spring. After the conclusion of the ceremony, our guests moved to the outdoor area to enjoy the gardens.
FOOD & DRINK: Surjit’s Indian Restaurant did a great job with all the catering. Our wedding ceremony had a small intermission of 30 minutes while I was changing into my bridal saree. This allowed our guests to move to the foyer area to stretch their legs and socialize. Guests were served innovative Indian cocktail-style entrees with a twist, thanks to Rasan from Surjits. After the ceremony, lunch was in the usual buffet format but Surjits worked collaboratively with us to select a balanced menu.
HIGHLIGHTS: When Dilshan tied the thaali around my neck, the energy of that moment was unforgettable. So many significant things were happening in tandem, the priest chanting vedic mantras, our loved ones showering flowers on us, and the Carnatic music reaching a crescendo. It beautifully captured the vibrant essence and ritual symbolism of a Hindu wedding.
South Indian Wedding Decor
Irene from VIP Decorating did all the styling in the ballroom. She was able to bring to life my vision of reflecting elements of the gardens indoors, with florals and greens decking the top of the mandap structure and delicate crimson drapes edged with vines. The ceremony section of the ballroom was set up in a theater style with chairs facing the mandap.
In the dining space, we opted for long rows of dining tables, which looked nicer than round tables in the large space. The centerpieces provided by the venue were very eclectic with fresh white florals in mismatched glass vases, dispersed along the tables in a non-orderly fashion. Irene also added tea lights and vines in between the vases to add touches of the garden theme to the dining area.
South Indian Wedding Look
ABI'S OUTFIT: I bought both my kanchipuram silk sarees from Sundari Silks, which is a popular boutique saree store in Chennai. Their designs are unique and elegant. They have plenty of silk weaves in deep jewel tone hues, which were my favorite. I chose two sarees in deep tones of purple and a more traditional, crimson - noyh with pure gold zari thread work. I didn’t want anything over the top since less is always more.
SHOES: Shimmery gold pumps from Nine West.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Gather and Stitch Beauty.
DILSHAN’S OUTFIT: Cream brocade sherwani with maroon velvet embroidery details, along with a matching chunni, turban and chappals, all from Manyavar.
BRIDAL PARTY: Our bridal party comprised of some of our closest friends and we wanted to make sure they were also dressed to the nines. For the Hindu wedding, I gifted my bridesmaids with more traditional Mysore crepe silk sarees from Nalli Silks. I loved the teal green with contrast maroon zari borders and saree blouses, which tied-in with the shade of my bridal saree.
Sri Lankan Wedding & Reception
THEME: Modern and elegant with vintage touches.
VENUE: We chose Sergeants Mess as we had been to a couple of weddings there and we both fell in love with the elegance of the venue. Sergeants Mess is one of Sydney’s most coveted wedding venues, boasting incredible views of Chowder Bay. Our guests were able to move between the indoor and outdoor spaces with ease, and that’s the sort of relaxed vibe we wanted to create for the evening. The team at Sergeant’s Mess were incredibly professional, we didn’t have to worry about a thing on the day, they ran everything like clockwork.
HIGHLIGHTS: The Poruwa ceremony was set against the beautiful backdrop of Chowder Bay. Dilshan’s family set up the Poruwa structure beautifully, in the traditional style. Elegant Kandyan dancers and drummers led the bride and groom processions to the Poruwa. After the ceremony, Dilshan and I lit the traditional oil lamp as a couple and released doves over the water. The Ceremony as followed by Reception at the venue.
Our entrance was to Happy by Pharrell Williams, which set a really upbeat tone to the evening. For our first dance, we chose the song You Give Me Something by Jamiroquai. We wanted to open the dance floor with something fun and unique to celebrate how we are as a couple. Our getaway song was Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay, poetically sending us off into the star-filled night sky.
Sri Lanakan Wedding & Reception Decor
DECOR: Drosia from Flowers by Drosia dressed up our venue with white florals and cascading greens. For the bridal table, we opted for a lush floral hedge. For the centerpieces, we wanted that touch of vintage, choosing golden candelabras with cascading florals down the stems. Drosia also created an entrance feature for us with florals and vintage candleholders. The decor was perfect and not overdone, letting the elegance of the venue shine through.
SOUND & LIGHTING: Music and lighting tech for the evening was provided by Systematic Solutions. Jana has an extensive music library and was able to switch seamlessly between chart-toppers, old school, Bollywood, and baila to cater to all our guests. We were able to consult prior to the event to make sure songs we wanted on the list were included and musical cues were set for key moments. A good DJ sets the vibe for the entire evening and we couldn’t have been happier to have the professional services of Systematic Solutions.
CAKE: We ordered our wedding cake from Paintbrush Patisserie. We wanted something elegant to tie in with the venue and decor. Our cake was a three-tier vintage beauty with embossed florals with a single statement sugar peony on top. In terms of flavors, we chose coconut with white chocolate icing. She has an extensive range of flavors to choose from and can make cakes in any design you like.
Sri Lankan Wedding & Reception Look
ABI'S OUTFIT: For the Poruwa Ceremony, I wore a beautiful customized white net saree with rose gold floral embroidered borders by Shyamal & Bhumika. The final touch was the white lace blouse I had custom made by Gather and Stitch Couture, which paired perfectly with the white saree.
For the Reception, I fell in love with a modern layered lace lehenga skirt with floral thread work in a beautiful shade of scarlet red by Ridhima Bhasin at Carma. I paired this with a Shyamal & Bhumika raw silk blouse with antique gold floral patta work.
SHOES: Open-toe nude pumps by Nine West.
HAIR & MAKEUP: Gather and Stitch Beauty.
BRIDAL PARTY: The bridesmaids wore purple chiffon sarees edged with pearl borders, together with gold brocade blouses. These were sourced online from Vogue Loving via Instagram. The owner is based in Gujarat and can liaise with local tailors to customize sarees in a variety of designs, fabrics, and colors.
The boys looked very dapper in tailored navy blue suits from Myer. The red silk ties and pocket squares were also sourced from Myer.