Rustic Sri Lankan Outdoor Wedding

Puba & Devin

Snapshot

Make yourself some warm tea as you settle in to indulge in this adorable vintage-themed Sri Lankan wedding. Puba and Dev tied the knot with a traditional Kandyan ceremony among the rustic surrounds of Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne. Abbotsford Convent is not a typical venue for a South Asian wedding, but the beautiful heritage buildings and the surrounding gardens perfectly complement Puba and Dev’s vintage look and style. We love seeing weddings where couples and brides aren’t afraid to try something different and stay true to their personal style with their celebrations.

Let’s kick things off with this super cute pre-wedding shoot of the couple and the bridal party. There are so many things to love about this – the gorgeous rustic farm location, the bride’s elegant traditional Kandyan outfit and the pop of fluoro-purple in the bridal party outfits!  And of course, you can count on Shevan J Photography to capture some breathtaking images of the celebrations.

About The Couple

How did we meet?

We met through a mutual friend – one of Devin’s groomsmen – Amal. We’d seen each other a few times previously through other mutual friends, but had never spoken. It was only at a Sinhala music concert that Amal made us sit next to one another and we got talking from there. Amal finds an opportunity to take credit for the introduction – it’s not something he’s going to let us forget.

How he proposed?

Devin proposed on a regular weeknight after work. He wanted to have dinner in the city, I reluctantly said yes even though I wanted to go home because it was cold and I didn’t want to walk around. After dinner at Federation Square, he suggested we walk to the car through Birrarung Marr. Along the way, we sat on a park bench for a while talking and when it was time to go, he got down on one knee and proposed. The park bench wasn’t any park bench by the way; it was the one we had sat on while talking for hours on our first date.

The Details

Wedding Planning

PLANNING: From the time Devin proposed, we got married in just under a year. We wanted to move to London for a few years so the sooner we got married, the sooner we could go. So along with the stresses of wedding planning, we also had the chaos of packing up our lives and moving to London weeks after our wedding.

VENUE: Both events were held at Abbotsford Convent. I knew the type of venue I needed to achieve the overall vintage feel. I wanted something rustic, like a barn or an old building; something historical (and luckily Devin did too). We were restricted by size as our parents already had a huge guest list.

When we first visited the Abbotsford Convent, I loved it. I loved the gardens surrounding the venue, the exposed rafters in the Rosina room, the timber floors, the tiffany chairs and most of all, the courtyard where we had our ceremony. It was a space that could provide an outdoor ceremony while still feeling intimate being closed off from the rest of the gardens.

SHOPPING: We went to Sri Lanka o buy my saree, bridesmaids sarees, jewelry for myself and the girls, and suits for the boys. As I was only there for 2 weeks, I was worried that I wouldn’t find what I wanted in time or have enough time for tailoring of saree jackets. In the end, I bought my wedding saree, homecoming red saree and all the fabric for the bridesmaids on my first day in Sri Lanka. The tailor was local and she did a fabulous job making all the saree jackets and also putting together all the Kandyan sarees in time for me to take them home to Melbourne. I also bought all the jewelry from Kandy and Devin had suits tailored in Colombo.

INVITATIONS: The invitations were somewhat done by us. I designed them and we had them letterpressed in Sri Lanka. We kept them simple – the invitation, RSVP and direction cards tied up with a bit of twine.

Pre-Wedding Shoot

Before the Wedding, we had a lovely photoshoot at a private farm in the countryside Victoria.

I had an image in my mind of what I wanted the photo locations to look like. The only problem was that I didn’t know where to find them. I didn’t want a typical wedding photo locations. I knew I wanted a farm, a rustic feel. There were weekends where I just drove around the outer suburbs looking for stunning farm backdrops.

One caught my eye and after driving past it many times, we decided to leave a note in the letterbox (hopeful, but not really expecting to hear back). We were so surprised and thrilled when the lady from the farm called and said she would love us to make use of her property.

Our photographer Shev from Shevan J Photography was amazing and was able to capture some incredible shots for us.

Wedding Ceremony & Reception

The Wedding Ceremony was followed by a Reception, held on Saturday evening in April 2014. Traditionally Sri Lankan weddings have a second event which is known as the Homecoming where the bride wears a red saree. However, we really didn’t want to organize two events and decided to have one big day of celebrations. The ceremony was held in the evening not just because the lighting was going to be magical but it would save our guests killing time in between the Ceremony and Reception.

The hour-long ceremony was held in the Courtyard at Abbotsford Convent. As we had a traditional Buddhist ceremony, we had the traditional dancing with drumming led by a local dance troupe (recommended by Mangala Weddings). Their dancing was exceptional and they were such a pleasure to deal with. They arrived at the venue 3 hours before the ceremony was due to start and were completely organized.  We loved it – the atmosphere it created and hearing about how thrilled our guests were to witness it.

Our officiant, Prabhati of Mangala Weddings was brilliant and she received praise from many of our guests. Traditionally the Buddhist ceremony (Poruwa ceremony) is conducted by a male elder. However, we had heard great things about Prabhati and she turned out to be a distant relative. She conducted the ceremony in Sinhala, English, and the traditional language Pali. As some of our guests did not understand Sinhala, it was great for them to feel part of the ceremony with the English translation/explanation. Even Sinhalese guests spoke of how they now had a deeper understanding of the ceremony following her step-by-step explanation of each element. We highly recommend her.

The Ceremony was followed by a Reception in the Rosina room adjacent to the courtyard. We were able to sneak in a photoshoot around the venue while the guests enjoyed pre-drinks and canapes. Food and drinks were catered at the venue recommended company Bursaria Fine Foods. Our cake was a tower of profiterole by Eiffel Tower Cakes.

HIGHLIGHTS: The most memorable moment for me was standing on the altar facing Devin as I heard his vows for the first time. It was an emotional moment and you forget that there are hundreds of people around you; at that moment it’s just you and him. Devin said that watching me walk into the courtyard being led by the traditional dance troupe was the most memorable moment for him.

Decor & Unique Details

I’ve always loved the vintage feel and I thought it was going to be difficult with a traditional wedding. I think we were able to achieve a good balance by incorporating traditional aspects into an overall vintage feel.The venue was perfect to achieve this; I didn’t need to add much.
I knew I wanted hanging floral installations. The wonderfully talented guys at Botanics were able to create exactly what I wanted.  The alter was also a difficult decision. The traditional alters are just that – traditional. Lots of gold and burgundy. We decided we wanted a rustic arch covered with flowers. Again, the guys at Botanics did such a great job of the altar.

I like to think I’m creative so we had a lot of DIY elements to our decor. I really had to stop taking on too much myself! Some of my favourite details included:

  • Stationery: I made the bunting, the table decorations, menus and name cards.
  • Table decor: Two rolls of hessian from Spotlight turned into our table runners. I collected jars for months and purchased tree truck slices to add to the vintage feel. Many weeknights and weekends were spent decorating the jars with twine and lace.
  • Table flowers: Two days before the wedding, I filled my car with flowers from the local florist and spent the day arranging them into each vase. The day before the wedding we were lucky to have access to the venue to set up the rooms just as we had envisaged.
  • Altar and ceiling floral installations: Arranged by Botanics of Melbourne. These guys were amazing!
  • Favours: Boxes of Sri Lankan sweets. We purchased the boxes in Sri Lanka and the sweets were home made & wrapped by our family.
  • Transport: I never wanted a traditional wedding car. My first choice was a kombi van, which (after some research) was not going to be practical (or cheap!). As our venue was surrounded by gardens, we couldn’t get a vehicle close to the building anyway. My next thought was a Vespa, but somehow we ended up with a bicycle being our wedding ‘car’ – which turned out to be my favorite. And I love some of our photos with that bike. We purchased the blue bike (our something blue) second-hand off Ebay and dressed it up with a basket and I painted a ‘Just Married’ sign to attach to the back. With some flowers in the basket and some cans on string following us, it was the perfect vintage going away vehicle.

Wedding Looks

PUBA’S OUTFIT: I wanted to look simple and elegant. I always knew I wanted to wear a Kandyan saree as a bride, however, I didn’t want to be adorned with heavy gold jewellery. I chose a simple off white saree without too much bling from Saree Mandir in Colombo.

JEWELLERY: Most of it was purchased from Haleem Jewellers in Kandy. After trying on my jewellery a few times, I didn’t like the headpiece and a few of the necklaces as there was too much chunky gold. So I made my own pearl headpiece and a few pearl necklaces. It simplified the look and I was very happy with the result (as was Devin!).

HAIR & MAKEUP: I had my hair tied up in a neat bun by Teresa at Forever Beautiful Hair & Beauty and natural makeup by Zara Jones.

DEVIN’S OUTFIT: Black suit custom made by Hercules Tailors in Colombo.

BRIDESMAIDS LOOK: I bought the fabric separately and had the blouse jackets and the sarees custom made in Kandy. As I didn’t like the bridesmaid jewelry that I had purchased, I decided to make them myself – the necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and headpiece. I became a regular at the local bead shop.

GROOMSMEN LOOK Suits custom made by Mano Custom Tailors and Designers in Colombo.

Tips For Brides

1. Don’t let the traditional aspects of the wedding get in the way of achieving your overall feel for the wedding – you can do both.

2. Extend the Reception for an extra hour if it’s a tradition for the couple to go around to each table to greet the guests. Managing your time with greeting each table is important; otherwise, your night is over before you get around to each one.

3. Get personal recommendations for the wedding professionals of traditional services. If possible, go along and witness them in action to ensure they are suitable for your wedding (we did this for our traditional dancers)

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