The new Indian wedding

Weddings enter a new space and take on a more personal tangent

December 02, 2015 05:10 pm | Updated 07:42 pm IST - Bengaluru

INTO THE SUNSET A vineyard, the hills for a backdrop, and wedding vows… Photo: Nithin Venkatesh

INTO THE SUNSET A vineyard, the hills for a backdrop, and wedding vows… Photo: Nithin Venkatesh

Each year the wedding season springs surprises, with the big fat Indian wedding taking on various avatars, and constantly morphing shape. “My wedding, my way” is how most people tackle this milestone in their life. Some choose to keep it simple and tie the knot at a temple.

Some love to go all out and party into the wee hours of the morning with friends.

Some like it extremely personal with a small gathering and handmade goodies to go. Some see it as an extension of their lifestyle and their beliefs.

Themed weddings are all the rage — be it a jungle wedding or a Bollywood bash. Pre-wedding cocktail evenings, sangeet and dance nights, destination beachside bachelorettes, pre-wedding candid photo-shoots in city hotspots, creating save-the-date sites and cards and photo-books, eco-friendly giftables — the possibilities are as endless as your imagination.

To each his own, and no judgements made, MetroPlus revisits five such fun weddings with the brides.

Minimal-waste vegan wedding

Sowmya Reddy & Abhishek Raje

If there was a wedding which was the talk of town in Bengaluru the past week, it was minister Ramalinga Reddy’s daughter Sowmya Reddy’s, to Abhishek Raje. The couple has set the bar high in having a responsible ceremony, with minimal waste and having a vegan menu for about 18,000 guests at the Bengaluru reception!

Both Sowmya and Abhishek are vegans and activists; Sowmya runs one of the city’s popular vegan restaurants Paradigm Shift. The couple first had a simple temple wedding at the Madurai Menakshi Temple for immediate family, wanting to keep it simple.

“Waste is a big crisis in our country and we really need to take responsibility for the waste we generate. We’ve seen the extravagance and waste at traditional weddings where you blow up so much money for one day. I’ve always lived my life the way I’ve wanted. We knew we’re not getting married for someone else, but, for ourselves. I wanted a wedding that would have a lighter impact on the planet,” says Sowmya, two days after her wedding.

At the reception, artificial flowers were used for decorations. Guests were requested not to gift bouquets. Neither did the bride or groom wear silk, leather, or any animal products (Sowmya uses cruelty-free cosmetics too), and guests were requested to do so too. Invitation cards were printed on recycled paper. Instead of the traditional tamboola given as a return-gift, plant saplings were gifted in newspaper bags made by the differently-abled. A team of 150 waste-pickers, coordinated by NGO Hasiru Dala, segregated all the waste generated at the venue. Organic waste was sent for composting to a bio gas plant and recyclables handed over to the recycling industry.

Her family and friends worked extensively with the caterers trying to ensure that disposables were reduced to a minimum; thermocol and plastic were cut down. Vegan dishes like raw jackfruit biryani, mockmeat, and vegan desserts like khubani ka meeta with dairy-free cream, jalebi, vegan pastries, and vegan Mysore pak were on the menu.

Theme: Runaway Wedding

Naadia Mirza Daaga & Abhishek Daga

What happens when an event/wedding planner herself gets married? She is sure to go all the way to make the most-est of it and give it her best shot. That is what happened to Naadia of Dotted-i. “I do quirky weddings and for my wedding the theme was ‘Runaway Suitcase Weddings’. We had invited 50 couples, and we had a Mad Hatter-themed cocktail party, in keeping with the movie theme. The brunch invite was sent out on a spatula…” says Naadia.

“I’m a Muslim and my husband is Marwari and I think we created WW-4 when we decided to marry. But we wanted an intimate wedding.”

Her mum had said she won’t get the family jewels if she married outside the community so Naadi laughs and says “I didn’t want my guests to wear jewellery either, so the Mad Hatter theme was perfect!”

They booked two resorts near the airport. “Guests had to hunt for their key, just like Alice in Wonderland, in an obstacle course before they could check in. The whole wedding was about having a fun experience,” says a breathless Naadia. She went all out to plan the details — with a party till 4 a.m., she was expecting hangovers at the Arya Samaj wedding the next day, so guests were woken up with a room service of warm muffins and tea, and then offered naariyal paani! After the vintage themed lunch, every guest walked away with a quaint little trunk. “The whole thing became crazy when superstar Rajinikanth happened to be on site at one of the resorts and it was like ‘God himself is here to bless us’!”

Destination wedding: Vineyard vows

Tanya Lewis & Siddarth Selvaraj

Tanya and Siddarth didn’t want a traditional wedding. When they were thinking “outside the box” and visiting hotels, nothing really appealed to them. A friend then suggested a vineyard — just a little outside Bengaluru, but far enough from the crowded city. “Frankly neither of us is religious. And I wanted the wedding to be more about us, rather than about inviting 500 people our parents knew. Once we visited the vineyard, we couldn’t say no. Acres and acres of vines, a little stage, and hills for a backdrop — nothing could top that!”

The 230 guests were treated to a simple ceremony just before sunset, and a reception with live music and dancing later. “We wanted to keep things natural and personal — so the decoration was largely a lot of lights. My mum made candles for the centrepieces. My cousin, a chef, was the wedding caterer.” Just before the ceremony began and the guests descended upon them, Tanya and Siddarth managed a quiet personal photoshoot “without anyone looking at us”. “It was at that moment when you see each other afresh, after you are all dressed up for the big day.”

Creating a ‘Save the Date’

Anusha Phukan & Arpan Peter

Your friend from across the seas is getting married and you have just received an official confirmation so that you can plug your leave application with the boss. That’s what an official “save-the-date” does. It’s a heads-up — a pre-invitation mail/site that officially announces your wedding date and lets guests know that they will be invited to the celebration, what’s in store, the ceremonies and venues involved, and a clear intimation to prep them.

Anusha and Arpan did a half-day photoshoot with Anusha’s friend and popular Bengaluru photographer Bhushan Bagadia for their save-the-date. “I have a dog Boomer, and he’s the biggest part of our lives. He’s the ring bearer at my wedding and will walk down the aisle with me,” says Anusha, a day before their church wedding in Bengaluru. Arpan came up with the idea, and Anusha says she couldn’t have asked for anything better. They did a soccer-themed shoot with Boomer too! “We wanted to create a save the date instead of a couple shoot. Also, we wanted to share it with family and friends,” she explains.

“Bhushan captures a lot of emotions in his pictures. There is a story behind every shoot. It’s not random posing. Moreover, he’s Boomer’s foster father and that comfort level was upmost in my mind… you have to know the photographer and he has to know your comfort level, and how long he can stretch me, for something like this. We have beautiful shots of Arpan and my shadow with Boomer holding the ‘save the date’ banner.”

Bachelorette in Malaysia

Nidhi Bungale Gupta (& Abhishek Gupta)

Nidhi and her close friends from school and college — some of whom she’s known for over 15 years — had been planning a trip together for ages. “I knew it would finally happen before one of us gets married, and that’s how it all started.” Finally five of them got together and planned a bachelorette spread across five days that had to include a beach, some sightseeing, some shopping, and of course, loads of fun.

“I am a Kannadiga and Abhishek is Punjabi, and we were going to have this whole set of double ceremonies and events usually held across both our communities including sangeet, baraat, the devara samaradhane… I wanted to go away with the girls first and come back in time to get rid of my tan,” laughs Nidhi.

“Bangkok was what we had booked but due to political instability we had to cancel out and Malaysia it was — we were in Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi. Right from when I stepped into the Bengaluru Airport, my friends made me so special, greeting me with bachelorette cupcakes. They made me wear a sash that said ‘Bride To Be’ all the way to Malaysia! By the end of the flight everyone on board knew I was getting married. I thought I would be embarrassed, but I wasn’t. Everyone made me feel so special.” Her friends continued to surprise her with an evening at the infinity pool at the resort in Langkawi filled with glow-lamps. “They had also brought along these cards on which they had written out ‘dares’ for me to execute. You can’t do such things in your hometown; it somehow becomes very creepy. I had to dance in front of an entire restaurant!” The memories of the “Big Bang Bachelorette” are now captured on a fridge magnet.

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