For a person who believes in fairy tales and happily-ever-afters, my wedding was definitely a dream come true. It was as if everything just fell in place in spite of having only three months to plan it. Being a wedding planner, I have mentally run-through every single permutation and combination with colors, costs, themes, photographs, music, dance, clothes, designers, Oh! You name it and I had a reference. So that definitely helped in planning the wedding. And as Srikanth is rather easy-going, he just left everything to me and took care of the surprises and the honeymoon (Most definitely the best part of the wedding).
We had just three months after our engagement, so pulling off a fancy wedding was probably possible because of both the amazing families and highly cooperative friends. Srikanth is a Chartered Accountant and an animal activist who is a lot into Blue Cross. Dance and bikes are what keeps him going. He co-founded the Loyola dream team along with his friend and has won a lot of awards for the same. I am a Bharatnatyam dancer by passion and a VJ-Executive Producer-Wedding Planner (Swagatham, The Wedding Company) by profession. Coming from a family of dancers and musicians, I took my arts very seriously. I love cooking as much as I love shopping and being the first grand-daughter, I am used to getting pampered by my big-fat-joint family.
We both have way too many friends who are our world and birthday surprises and travel adventures are part and parcel of our high energy life. Ours was a pretty filmy love story. Srikanth and I met during a dance competition in Hindu NXG Campus Jive’09 while we were at College. We were rival teams from MOP and Loyola, while love struck us. Our common friend Sneha was raving about him to me and me to him.
This was right after the semi finals. I didn’t take it too seriously, but I came to know later that evidently he did. We had the finals after a week and during the rehearsals and the green room times, we used to always have an eye-contact! It was like those chick flicks or high school excitement! But we just knew that there was something though we really didn’t converse much. Right after his performance, he came down to the green room, called me amidst all my friends and said:
“Madurya, I am a big fan of yours! I wanted to tell you this after my performance. This was for you. I hope you liked it!”
And gave his trademark smirk and walked by. One can imagine how my reaction would have been! I was obviously stunned and was blushing like I had a hanger in my mouth.
Later, my friend wanted his number because she thought he was cute. So I got it from another friend of mine and instead of giving it to her, I started chatting with him. We got to talking & the unusually usual phase of love kick-started there on. We used to text through the day and talk through the night that whole week. By the end of the week, while we were leaving from dinner at my friends place, as he didn’t want me to leave that soon, he stopped my scooter, got on the middle of the road and became all tamil-Shah Rukh Khan and started his filmy proposal, followed by the sweetest texts ever. It was too much of an impulse that we told our parents immediately while we were still at college. To our utter surprise, they weren’t shocked one bit. It was like destiny as my younger brother was his junior at school, my mom knew his mom, and my dad had been booking his dad’s guest house for his clients. To top it all off, we had a lot of mutual friends and along with them we all used to play cricket together near my house while we were way younger. So, convincing them wasn’t an issue at all.
Thanks to hundreds of mutual friends and both the chilled out families, we got engaged in September 2014 after knowing each other for 5 years. The engagement was a Mallu themed one at Mahamudra organised by Srikanth and his family. Incidentally, we got engaged on the same day we started dating. More than us, our families and friends were rejoicing about our wedding.
As I didn’t have much time to shop, I bought most of my wedding trousseau in Chennai itself. Contrary to beliefs, there are a lot of options here. All my wedding sarees were specially weaved by Nalli, Hayagrivas and my Mother-in-laws weaver. So I planned it out in such a way that I have a mix of heavy Silk sarees, lighter Kanchivaram sarees, Jute Silk and some Soft Silk.
I wore a red heavy Kanchivaram for the Oonjal from Nalli, just the way my grand mom wanted; a short color peacock shades Kanchevaram from Hayagrivas which had the typical annam and chakram; a lotus tri-color for the engagement entry from Nalli and a Simha color Madisar with Meenakshi green border for the muhurtham. This one was specially made in Mysore.
I chose soft silk for both Vratham and Nalangu, from my mother-in-laws' weaver. One more detail that enhanced the Silk sarees is the special kunjalams done at the end of the pallu of each and every saree, from Mysore.
All the sarees we got for the relatives were from KRS Mysore. Kids’ clothes were from Kay and Kurtas/shirts for relatives and friends were from Mayur Suitings.
The turquoise and sea green lehenga is from Mokshaa, exactly the combination I had in mind. However, I modified the blouse and got a new one done in baby pink.
I got my baby pink gown from Rangoli. I anyway intended to wear it only once and wanted that specific color and cut which would make me feel like a Disney princess.
We coordinated all of Srikanth’s outfits after we locked on mine. His Bandgala was from Daniel Hecktar and his Reception Tuxedo was from Blackberry. Veshtis were from Nalli and his shirts were from Van Heusen. Linen chinese collar shirts, raw silk Kurtas and pyjama sets were from Manyavar and Lagan. I also ordered around 25 sarees from Mysore for my bridesmaids which they wore for my engagement. They also held the traditional Kerela style thalam which my closest Mallu friends organized. For the footwear, I wore the shimmery Jimmy Choo that Srikanth bought me, for the reception while I chose gold-bronze wedges from Inc 5 for the Sangeet as they are very comfortable to dance. Srikanth does not use leather, so he got his non-leather shoes specially ordered and delivered from Ethik, Bangalore. For the Sangeet, I wore Amrapali Chandbali style earrings and a Rajasthani Kundan Gold long necklace which is almost 200 years old, to go with the lehenga. For the Reception Gown, I wore my stylish diamond set.
For the wedding and the other functions, I wore only pure gold or Ruby or emerald sets, according to each saree and importance of the function, which was collected over the years from Lalitha Jewellery, Prince Jewellery and Mehta Jewellery. My in-laws gifted me some rare antique jewellery from Khazana.
For the Oonjal and Muhurtham, the head-set and rakkodi were heirloom pieces which are very close to my heart, as it is my great-grand mothers’. The oddiyanam, vanki and the sangeet diamond netthi chutti were from VBJ, they were heirloom pieces too. For my dance performance during the wedding, I wore original temple jewellery.
Also about your designer, mehendi artist, Decorator, caterer, make up person and photographer & videographer. I locked on 3 looks that I wanted for the wedding. The traditional events will be South Indian Tam-Bram, the reception will be fully English and the Sangeet will be North Indian. For the Engagement and Vratham I went for subtle yet contemporary natural looks. So we worked out both our clothing and make-up according to that. As my mom designs and has her own set of tailors, she took care of all my blouses. The embroidery was picked out so tastefully and done by my house-help’s daughter and son-in-law for us. It was a very sweet gesture.
We had an all day mehendi at home which was arranged by my mom’s Rakhi brother. They brought mehendi from Rajhastan and did a fabulous wedding ritual story on my hands with the pallak, phera etc. But it took over 8 hours as it was very intricate. We have our family caterer who we vouch for. Chellappa mama took care of the food, tambulam and sweets. He is one of the best in his field for decades and knows what exactly we want. From choosing the menu to coordinating with the Vadyar (Priest), he just made our job easier.
We luckily got Ragavendra Kalyana Mandapam in such short notice and they helped us out with the decor too. I designed the decor and Durai anna executed it. We stuck to the malli flowers for the muhurtham, retaining the beautiful intricate mandap. For the reception, We had a beautiful Mural painting which was done by my Mother in law and her teacher as part of our main backdrop. For make up it was Raju anna and Somashekar anna, hair was by Venkat anna and saree tying by Mumtaz. They are so experienced and it shows in their work.
If you have close friends and well-wishers as your wedding vendors, things get so much more easier. Chella uncle did our traditional photos and videos. He also did our live webcast which was so useful for all our relatives who couldn’t make it for the wedding. Sridhar did my candid photos. Both of them made us feel at ease and it was so much fun.
One ultra-special workload we took up was the lipdub. Srikanth’s cousin Gayatri came up with this idea of a lipdub as we both are dancers and have energetic friends and an enthusiastic family. These days we don’t really watch the full wedding or reception video. So the lip dub candid video was like a compilation of the whole wedding in a song. We planned it out in such a way that most of our family members and friends are covered in the video and the rest was candid.
That was shot by another friend Juhi. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geoXfyON9B4 My Dj was Zen. He is one of the best in his field and a close friend of mine. He rocked his way through the sangeet.We also had a Veena kacheri during the reception by Veena Parthasarathy uncle. He is a very close family friend and he played for my mom's wedding too. So this was very special. Mokshaa has beautiful designer replicas and gorgeous sarees. Rangoli is known for its bombay style fashion and affordable wedding gowns. Nalli and Hayagrivas are pioneers in Silk. Lagan has lovely linen shirts, while Manyawar has amazing suits for men.
The planning stage was mere teamwork; my parents, grand-parents & aunts took care of most of it. I had around 8 people with me at all times; 5 of my closest friends, my brother Aashish, my dance teacher Gayatri akka, my aunt, my sisters and brothers. They took care of my packing, being there with me through the wedding, feeding me in-between events, taking care of jewellery, my attires for each event, co-ordinating with my vendors and literally everything. This made my job a lot easier.
The September engagement was planned by Srikanth’s side at Mahamudra and was mallu themed with healthy food specially picked out by my mother in law Nirmala Ramesh. She transferred the whole place into a typical traditional Palaghat house. Even my bridemaids dresses up in kerela cotton sarees. I wore a pink saree from a private weaver along with emerald gold jewellery from VBJ and Srikanth wore a Purple linen shirt and grey pants from Raymond.
We had all the traditional Brahmin events along with Mehendi, Sangeet & Reception. Planning for the sangeet was one of the most tiring and exhausting things to do, specially when you are a dancer yourself. We had a week long session with all the family and friends visiting at different times, with loads of food doing the rounds each day, loud music, happy dances and so on. Srikanth and I, along with my aunt and some close friends, came up with a story of our childhood times and executed it with the help of all the dancers. Srikanth and I came up with an impromptu performance on the day of the mehendi. We performed ‘Forever’ by Chris Brown for the sangeet, the song which Srikanth proposed to me with. Couple of my friends, who are all choreographers, pitched in to help me out with the choreography and editing of medleys.
We had an all day Mehendi at home. My mom set up the terrace with food-sangeet practice on one side and mehendi on the other. My mom’s rakhi brother made the Mehendi arrangements and my school friends coordinated it. Kavya, from Ahaava, is a very close friend of mine. She bakes one of the best cakes ever. She made a beautiful purple wedding cake and my girlfriends did a small wedding dance along with her for me as a surprise. My dance friends dropped in with another cake too. My college friends, however, went one step further. They weren’t able to be there for my engagement and proposal so they gifted me a diamond ring and made Srikanth give it to me again.
Brides always have fancy entries at weddings. So we thought, why not pamper the groom a little bit? Thus, the South Indian Maplai-Azhappu turned into a typical North Indian wedding set up. We had a 2 hour Baaraat which was organized by Srikanth’s cousins. They all were so enthusiastic and were dancing all the way to Raghavendra from the temple.
Srikanth came in an open Auto, which was specially done up by his elder brother Siddharth and his friends. They recorded and edited full-on kuthu songs and were jumping along the whole way. I joined Srikanth at the entrance and we did a small gig before we entered the mantap. As a surprise for me, Srikanth had planned & performed for Christina Perry’s “thousand years” song for our Sangeet along with his Loyola Dream Team. It was a mix of a video he made for me, continued by his performance along with his team. That was the most unexpected & loveliest surprise ever. This moved everyone at the sangeet in tears of joy, except me as I was just spellbound, so excited and immeasurably happy.
And during our special candle light dinner at Maldives, They played the same song. Amidst the stars, the sea, the scented candles, the great food and the beach, I had tears in my eyes remembering all the memories we have had all these years together. The next surprise was my Bharathanatyam team, who weren’t able to make it for the sangeet. They made a video and danced for my favourite songs. They brought in all my antics, the fun we all shared, the programs we travelled together and it was almost like a summary of my dance career with them. My aunts and uncles are very close to me and they sweetly made a compilation of my childhood photos as a small video surprise too. My In-laws love my classical dance and have a flair for arts. So they definitely wanted me to perform bharathanatyam during the wedding. For their happiness and for all the other relatives who had flown down for the wedding, I performed for around half-hour right after the engagement. Watching my new parents beam was a pleasant sight to the eyes.
Please share the difficulties you had during wedding shopping, if any. The only difficulty was that I fell ill. I caught a viral fever and was not able to do any of the arrangements for over a month. But all my family and friends stepped up and made sure that everything was back on track. One tends to tan a lot and get stressed out during the wedding preparation time. Food might also be of major concern, due to erratic timings. Dance was my major physical activity so that took care of my workout. I followed Ayurveda meticulously for 3 months before the wedding. It might get a little tricky to cook that cautiously but I loved doing it. I steamed every week and used a homemade face pack of Orange juice + Besan + honey. This is one face pack to swear by as it helps sun-tan removal and gives you a glowing skin instantly. I also had half a cup carrot juice and lime juice with honey on empty stomach alternatively.
With the help of Mayur Travels, Chennai, we booked an awesome package at Lux Maldives. It was his dream location & resort too as he always wanted to try fly boarding. I have always been pretty dreamy & he has been a complete superman in making my dreams come true. So he secretly booked an over-water bunglow with a hammock amidst the clear turquoise blue waters, just the way I wanted. We did all the water sports including Scuba diving, Water scooter, Fly boarding & snorkeling. We also took the Sunset cruise which was very romantic. And whenever we had some time, we could just snorkel in the house reef or do canoeing. Food was out of the world, they even took special care of us as we were vegetarians.Each day there would be something special at the resort like star gazing with the telescope where we got to see Jupiter, the movie night by the beach, dj night, spa treatments, wine making classes, etc. It was a very relaxed yet fun-filled Itinerary. Food, the sea, the ambience, the beach, their service; everything was top notch.
The proposal was the most memorable. We both love surprises and try to do something memorable for each-other’s birthdays and anniversaries. So just 2 days before our formal engagement, Srikanth told me that he wanted to take me to see a rig. As his company deals with oil-rigging, I didn’t really think it would be something else. A group of our friends and the two of us went there to find out that to my utter surprise it was a private yacht.
It was just friends, conversations, pizza, the sea and a very posh chilling scene. While we were all at the deck, right in the middle of the sea, with a slight drizzle and our closest friends nearby, Srikanth got down on one knee and proposed to me with a solitaire.It was by far the most romantic and sweetest moment of my life as it was totally unexpected. I obviously was super-surprised and said a beaming ‘Yes’.