Palaces, deserts and royalty, Rajasthan is a beautiful place to host weddings. Especially Jaisalmer, a city where I planned my first few weddings and a place that gave me my most-loved, award-winning wedding experiences. That’s why when I got a call from Sheetal to tell me she was planning her wedding in Jaisalmer, I was both excited and scared. It’s always exciting to work in Jaisalmer, the city feels like home. But I was apprehensive about creating another unique experience at the same venue, yet again. To be honest, it can be very challenging but that’s the charm isn’t it? Creating newer experiences using local ideas.
Sheetal and Nirav were special from the very start, a couple who were so tuned in to what they wanted and were willing to give me a free hand to achieve it. Sheetal, the bride is knowledgeable and well-informed, someone who knows her mind. Armed with a background in fashion and a Pinterest-worthy closet (one day maybe, I will get her to share images of it!), her attention to detail will beat mine any day. Nirav on the other hand, is the most chilled-out groom I have ever met. They were so different from each other and yet so connected.
I often write about couples and forget to mention their families. Excuse me if I sound cheesy, but this wedding was the coming together of some of the most beautiful people I have ever met. From the first day, Sheetal’s parents, brother and sister-in-law (Anisha- who you will hear about later!), felt like family.
The wedding began with a Sangeet and that’s unique because the usual rulebook works with a specific chronology of events. Somehow, welcome lunches, cocktails, Mehendi evenings and a host of other functions are preferred over a groove-all-night-long Sangeet. But having that party on Day One is a sign that things will be fast-paced and exciting. No, this wasn’t a slow build-up of sorts, this was an energy-filled beginning to a beautiful love story.
Day two was the Mehendi, a chilled out afternoon that continued at the dunes where guests enjoyed the sunset and came back to a chilled-out dinner.
When planning a destination wedding, balance is key. Your guests should not feel rushed with one hectic event after another, neither should it be so slow that they get bored. The most important thing is that everyone needs time to chill, chat and take in the experience. Sheetal and Nirav’s wedding was all that and more!
Sangeet: Modern Mughals
Sheetal’s only brief for this day was that she wanted it to be glamorous. As for her outfits, she wore a mirror-work lehenga and wanted lots of shimmer for the evening to compliment her look. That’s how two things I love the most came together to make this evening special: lots of sequins + Ikat fabric.
The lehenga was my Pinterest board this time around. The colour palette moved from muted gold to fresh greens to purple table covers. Inspired by the patterns at the Jaislamer fort, I created cut-out jaalis with candles in between them, they became the backdrop for the bar and the stage.
The bar was entirely covered with small pieces of mirror mosaic to match her dress. The ceilings of the lounges were draped with chiffon and finished with flowers made to resemble Wisteria. Dinner tables came with purple ikat table covers filled with lush purple flowers. The outdoor Sangeet had beautiful lighting with retro bulbs used to create an installation that swayed prettily in the evening breeze. I also made sure we had a piece de resistance at the Sangeet, a tree made of bulbs to stand up as a centrepiece, a conversation-starter. By the end of the night, it was instagram-worthy and served as a backdrop for every photo-op.
Mehendi: Of Earthy Vibes and Desert Songs
If the Sangeet was all about evening glamour, then the Mehendi next day was a contrast, it was lush, vibrant and beautiful. The inspiration was the oasis in the middle of the desert, a place where one find the elixir of life, water. It is also a place where plants thrive, animals prosper and people rejoice. As for Sheetal, the opulence of the oasis appealed to her, it was grand and flamboyant. And so we had afternoon lunch under the tents next to the oasis with lots of vintage desert elements like charpoys, kilim rugs and colourful lanterns.
The colours of the afternoon were simple - muddy olives, sandstone yellows, dirty mustards and laid-back cactus greens. I also used prints that were inspired by the birds and flowers commonly found in palace gardens. The lawns were dotted with block-print tents, low seating and hand-embroidered cushions. A marketplace was set up like a grand souk with parrot readers and bangle-makers, the puppet show was an added attraction.
The centrepieces were a mix of flowers and fruits that guests could pick on and eat. Most often at Mehendis, the men feel left out. It is indeed a woman’s ceremony but hey, it’s a destination wedding and that means entertainment was for everyone. So, to keep up with those standards, we got the boys a maalishwala, lots of kite-flying and a person who made them block-printed pocket squares.
The day came to an end with lots of dancing, live stalls serving mouth-watering Indian fare and fun drinks to suit the mood of the day.
Stay Tuned For Part Two Of Nirav & Sheetal’s Lush Desert Wedding.