Vintage Bengali Fusion Garden Wedding

Samantha & Heinz

Snapshot

A vibrant Bengali Haldi ceremony, colorful block printed sarees, letter lights for some glamour, mehndi inspired cookies, a stunning Sabyasachi vintage bride and a romantic garden ceremony with a chic beachside reception filled with lots of DIY details. Ahh, I can’t get enough of Samantha and Heinz’s gorgeous Melbourne wedding! Their wedding celebrates its Eastern and Western cultural backgrounds with a personalized touch. It’s one of the most thoughtful, creative and sophisticated Indian weddings we have come across recently and we are honored to share the details on The Crimson Bride.

With the Gaye Holud and Mehndi celebrating Sam’s Bengali heritage, Samantha and Heinz’s couple brought a Western contemporary flair to their Wedding Ceremony and Reception events. Sam chose exquisite ivory-colored Sabyasachi saree for their romantic vintage-inspired Wedding Ceremony, held amongst the tranquil of Victoria Gardens. The celebrations continued at a chic Reception by the beach at Encore St. Kilda.

About The Couple

How did we meet?

I went on a dream trip to study a post-graduate program in Urban Studies at the prestigious Columbia University in New York and then later in Paris. Little did I know, the adventure would see me meeting the man of my dreams who would change her life forever. I met Heinz during one of my studio presentations and we kept bumping into each other until it was time to call it and finally go on a date already!

We ended up on a date of a lifetime at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He was a Fine Arts major, so we talked for hours on end about art, cities, and design and our love for New York City. Needless to say, we had a lot in common and the date lasted about 8 hours! After a couple of months of dating long-distance, he flew to Paris and surprised me on Valentines’ Day. From then on I knew that what we had was very special and he was someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

How we are as a couple?

Despite our very common interests both professionally and personally, we are quite different in personality. Heinz is the dreamer, but I think I keep him grounded. He is goofy and silly and brings out the more playful side in me. He is really sporty and outdoorsy and I’m well…let’s just say that I’m trying ‘new things’ all the time. We are both quite creative, impulsive and spontaneous and on a whim will travel and get away or do something to surprise each other which makes things fun and interesting!

How he proposed?

After I returned home from her year abroad, Heinz moved all the way down to Melbourne to be with me. Not long after, he planned a thoughtful surprise proposal at Sam’s favorite neighborhood park, Victoria Gardens in Prahran. The parks are where my sister and I played growing up and I grew quite fond of as it’s a real sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of Chapel Street. I had no idea it was going to happen, I thought we were going on a picnic with friends and as we arrived at the ‘spot’ I saw flowers and luminaries and picnic rug set up, and I still didn’t realize that it was all for me!

He gave me a hand-illustrated book of our story, with pictures of all the places we had been to, and it ended with a drawing of my ring with the last line of a poem that he wrote me when I left New York which is very special to me..’Despite the places we may roam, I am yours and you are my home’.

He had it inscribed inside my ring. Of course, I said ‘yes’ and then my sister and her friends suddenly jumped out of the bushes screaming with excitement as they had gone there earlier and set up the ‘spot’. It was really funny and memorable!

The Details

Wedding Vision

We wanted our wedding celebrations to be a unique blend of cultures and rituals, celebrating my Bengali heritage with a contemporary Western flair that respected both of our families and histories.

Our vision for the wedding was to make it unique and represent both of them. We both have very different tastes and styles and on top of that, a fusion of cultures, nationalities, and religions made it even more challenging and exciting. Heinz has an Italian/German background and grew up Roman Catholic in Ohio, USA. I grew up in Melbourne in a Muslim family so we had a Bengali, Aussie-American, Italian-German Muslim Roman Catholic wedding to plan!

I love colour and lots of it. Heinz is more clean, simple and minimal. The fact that we were having a number of events, meant that we could nail down ‘themes’ for each and create a story around them individually.”

Wedding Planning

We had just over a year to plan their wedding celebrations which was plenty of time to plan everything ranging from all the little details to last-minute things that popped up on the day. There was a lot of love and care put into sharing our personal story and narrative through each of the individual events.

We are very passionate about details. Almost fanatical! We tapped into our creative sides and indulged in gorgeous little DIY details we included as part of the wedding celebrations. Having the time to just be inspired and create a personal narrative together was wonderful. We didn’t feel rushed at all until the time came to get the invitations out! It was a hugely collaborative effort between Heinz and me, and my family and friends. I was so blessed to have a creative and talented network around me which allowed me to delegate and outsource a lot.

I think having things like Pinterest, and wedding blogs also helped a lot too because you get to really understand the full breadth of wedding planning and event management and what makes a great event, and also be aware of all the things that can go wrong.

Wedding Events

We decided on an Autumn wedding in April. The Easter long weekend was perfect for our 3-day wedding celebrations:

1. Gaye Holud (Bengali Haldi / Sangeet) – Thursday PM, Functions on Chapel.
2: Mehendi – Friday PM, Sam’s Parents’ Home.
3: Wedding Ceremony – Saturday AM, Victoria Gardens.
4. Wedding Reception – Saturday PM, Encore St Kilda.

Gaye Holud Overview

For the Gaye Holud, I wanted it to be a real celebration of my Bangladeshi heritage and culture and tried to keep it as authentic as possible with all the rituals, décor, outfits, entertainment, music and food, sweets and offerings to be front and center. It was important for me and my family to make Heinz’s family feel like they were experiencing first-hand Bangladeshi culture without having to be in Bangladesh and I think we succeeded in doing that!

Venue for the Gaye Holud was relatively easy – we thought a nice town hall setting would be suitable, and we were fortunate enough to have Functions on Chapel available on the day. It was so cool seeing women in sarees and men in kurtas walking around Chapel Street in the midst of young people going out for Easter weekend.

We had Aji Events play Indian music at the event and the food was catered by Dhaka Restaurant. It was a dizzying array of colour, excitement, food, and entertainment that totally represented to me the essence of Bangladeshi wedding.

Gaye Holud Decor & Unique Details

1. THEME: Being a ‘gaye holud’ the key color is turmeric yellow and marigold so that had to be part of the color palette. I decided to go with those colors and added pinks, golds, and green.

2. DECOR & UNIQUE DETAILS: The color theme informed the look and feel for the rest. Most of the decoration was DIY but the mandap set up in the hall was set up by Royal Events. Some of my favorite details from the Gaye Holud included:

3. Bridesmaids Sarees: “I had all the sarees for my family and friends designed by me and custom block printed in Bangladesh. I went for something more modern instead of traditional and had chevrons and geometric shapes printed on them. I then reused some of the blouse pieces and made decorative bunting hang around the venue!

4. Giant Letter Lights: We loved the look of carnival marquee style letter lights at a couple of events we saw in the past and managed to find a local supplier in Williamstown called Letter Lights and had our initials H & S at the event which we used at both our Gaye Holud and Wedding Reception. It added a real wow factor to both the events.

5. Indian Street Food Stand: We had a popular Indian street food snack called ‘Jhaal Muri’ (Spicy puffed rice with fresh coriander, lime, and onion) stand at the event, and had traditional hand-painted street food signs that you may find down the streets in Kolkata and India, and served them in traditional paper cones which had our initials custom printed on them for a personal touch.

Chai Stall: We sourced a lovely couple who run the Original Chai Co and serve authentic chai complete with clay cups and samosas to compliment our Bengali sweets and Jhaal Muri stand. They were a real highlight of the event.

Mehendi Overview

The Mehendi was pretty easy, I had a team of cousins and friends come in and decorate my parent’s house with sarees and flower garlands and it was just an explosion of color in the house.

We basically re-used a lot of the décor from the Gaye Holud and added a bit of henna theme, with custom made henna iced biscuits by Wedding Cakes of Melbourne and candles to celebrate the detail and art of henna.

Ceremony Overview

We had a Western-style civil ceremony for our wedding. We pretty much knew that Victoria Gardens, where Heinz had proposed was going to be the perfect location. It had special meaning for both of us and was local, convenient and really intimate and beautiful.

We both have very different music styles, but have a love for Motown in common! To walk down the aisle Heinz chose Banjolin Song by Mumford and Sons and I chose Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. These were performed live by Acoustic Ceremony.

Ceremony Decor & Unique Details

THEME: After lots of Pinteresting and reading wedding blogs I got overwhelmed! So Heinz and I sat down and realized with our garden wedding we had a lovely natural setting to work with. Rather than competing with it, we wanted to complement and enrich it. From that, a rustic, vintage and whimsical garden theme emerged which was executed beautifully by our florists and stylists Flower Jar and by my friend Ching Ching Lee who styled our drink station. My wedding saree was also very vintage Bollywood inspired, with antique zardozi and applique work so the vintage look really complimented the overall theme.

DECOR & UNIQUE DETAILS: Some of my favorite details from the Ceremony included-

  • Invitations & stationery: We designed all our invitations and wedding stationery, including all graphic design, trims, etc. Heinz designed an infographic about how we met, our story, and a little bit about our guests. We had them on the back of ceremony programs and menus at the reception.
  • Florals: Our florist Flower Jar did an amazing job of making our rustic, vintage and whimsical autumn garden theme come to life. At the ceremony, we wanted something more subdued yet romantic.
  • Wedding arch: Our florist created a beautiful silver birch arch with ferns and vintage colored roses cascading down, the pews had henna decorated mason jars with bright colored seasonal blooms. It was magical.
  • Rustic signage: We also had wooden signs pointing guests to ‘Ceremony This Way’ and ‘Drinks That Way’. Flower Jar also created a lovely chalkboard sign welcoming guests to our wedding which had the line from the poem Heinz wrote to me.
  • Drink station: My friends prepared and styled a beautiful drink and lolly station at the ceremony for the guests, with mason jars, striped straws, and beautiful lanterns hanging from the trees. It was a perfect added detail and allowed for our guests to mingle while we had our location photos taken.

Reception Overview

We chose Encore St Kilda at the St. Kilda Sea Baths because we really wanted to showcase something iconically Melbourne to all the international family and guests coming from all over the globe. Many of them were traveling to Australia for the first time and we thought somewhere by the beach would be ideal. After we discovered Encore and the Moorish architecture of the St Kilda Sea Baths, we thought it had to be there. The venue inside was quite contemporary and edgy and it had amazing views of the beach and the city so it was perfect for us.

The Reception evening was filled with heartfelt speeches and lots of dancing. We did our first dance to That’s How Strong My Love Is by Otis Redding which was sung live by our band’s singer Francisco Tavares.

Reception Decor & Unique Details

THEME: We continued our vintage garden wedding theme at our reception later that evening.

DECOR & UNIQUE DETAILS: My favorite details included:

  • Table settings: Our florist Flower Jar did an amazing job of making our whimsical autumn garden theme come to life – there were brightly colored autumn leaves, moss on the tables, silver birch branches and logs, golden and silver mercury glass tea lights and bright explosions of all my favorite flowers in hundreds of jam jars and vases scattered throughout the tables. It was phenomenal!
  • Wishing well and Guest Book: I ordered a custom made recycled wooden crate from Etsy for our ‘wishing well’ and a personalized guestbook to go with our garden rustic theme. They worked out really well.
  • Cake: I have to talk about our wedding cake. The cake was made by my aunt Rezina and she made a double tiered Red Velvet cake with buttercream icing and covered it in flowers and moss and itlooked like out of a fairytale, it was so beautiful. I ended up getting a cute cake topper from Etsy as the finishing touch.
  • Wedding favors: We handmade over 300 pouches of Indian masala chai that we packed and wrapped with help from my cousins! The chai really represented what we both love about my Bengali culture, as we both love a good masala chai and we designed little swing tags and put recipes on the back and added a little biscotti to celebrate Heinz’s Italian heritage.

Ceremony & Reception Look

SAM’S OUTFIT: I always knew I wasn’t going to be the bride would wear the traditional red saree, it just wasn’t me. I also knew I didn’t want to wear a white dress either, but I definitely liked the idea of wearing a white saree. I absolutely love detail, embroidery and appliqué work in Indian textiles, so in my mind I knew I had to have something that celebrated the amazing artistry and handwork of artisans.

I did a quick internet search of bridal couture by Sabyasachi my favorite designer and saw that his last collection ‘Opium’ was absolutely exquisite and exactly the style I wanted. There was no information on the internet about the collection so I ended up emailing the boutique to see if they had the piece I was interested in. They said they had only one available in store but couldn’t hold it for me unless I paid for it in full!

There was no way I was going to do that without actually seeing it in real life, but a few weeks later on the day I arrived in Kolkata I went to the Sabyasachi boutique, and there it was hanging on the rack. It was perfect, even more, exquisite and beautiful in real life. It was reminiscent of Mughal times coupled with the 1920s flapper era, a mix of regal and old school vintage Bollywood. Needless to say, that was the easiest bridal shopping ever! My sister and mum ended up buying their outfits from there too.

JEWELLERY: Jewellery was a whole another thing, it was extremely overwhelming and stressful! I didn’t want to wear a lot of gold, so I started my jewellery search only looking at stone sets. We ended up just going to a couple of stores, and after seeing about 50 sets, I chose a Kundan stone set from Nemichand Bhemwala and had to bargain hard with the salesmen. My tip would be to have your Bangla/Hindi up to scratch before you go. Oh and have a calculator handy.

HAIR & MAKEUP: I never wear my hair up, and despite really wanting to have it down, I ended up going with the advice of my friends and hairstylist at Sadler Hair and went for an ‘up-do’ simply because of the fact that I was going to have all this head jewellery like a maang tikka and chaap and my hair needed to be pulled back. I did a trial a few weeks before and it was too low and made the back of my neck really itchy so I would highly recommend doing a trial before the big day! I ended up going for a higher simple and chic ‘chignon’. My makeup was done by Freshta Sahak from Beauti Bar – we kept it minimalist and natural to complement my outfit.

BOUQUET: We had florist Dragonfly Flowers & Designs create lush bouquets for my bridesmaids and I.

HEINZ’S OUTFIT: A custom made blue tailored suit by Moonstar Tailors in Bangladesh. Buttonhole florals by Dragonfly Flowers & Designs

BRIDESMAIDS: My sister and sister-in-law wore Sabyasachi outfits as well.

GROOMSMEN: They wore their own suits.

Wedding Planning Tips

1. Have a clear vision, color palette, and theme and commit to doing your research. Use wedding blogs, Pinterest, go to the Indian shops and get copies of Vogue India or Harpers Bazaar! Everything will fall into place after that.

2. Find as many local suppliers in your area. Read local Indian newspapers, magazines and talk to your friends in the community about hidden resources like caterers, blouse makers, decorators, florists. They are out there, you just have to look!

3. When bridal outfit shopping, definitely have an idea of what style or designer you want beforehand, especially color, fabric, embroidery, cut, etc. There are millions of varieties and you could spend days before you find something you like. Have a list of designers you like handy and pictures of their different styles. A lot of the boutiques along Park Street in Kolkata have lovely saree boutiques, but they also try to knock off all the big designers so you have to be careful.

Use Etsy! Just because you are having an Indian/Bengali wedding doesn’t mean you can’t get handmade and customized details. You just have to know where to look and take the time to research

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