How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
This may sound cliché, but our story was one of fate.
I was born and brought up in England but found myself moving to Perth, Western Australia in search of new experiences, and it was here that Shil and I met for the first time; but, it was actually on a trip back home to England, visiting family and friends, that I first heard of Shil.
Shil happened to be in England at the same time visiting his sister, and it turned out his brother-in-law was our mutual common ground - you know, through friends of friends, the usual 1 degree of separation between Indians! It was through this connection one night that one of my best friends, Meenakshi, met Shil and their conversation naturally led to Perth, and me living there. My friend (the romantic matchmaker) then hounded Shil with my details, contact number and demanded he contact me. I later caught up with my friend and she tried to do the same to me - talking to me about this guy she met from Perth but that she had already taken the liberty of giving him my number anyway!
Back in Perth, a month or so later, I heard from Shil, and after much deliberation, we eventually met – it was a friendly encounter but non-eventful! We, however, stayed in touch, became friends and I guess naturally started spending more time together. I believe the moment I realized he was “the one” was when my brother came to visit me and, although Shil and I were just friends at the time, he took a real interest in meeting my brother and spending time with him. That’s when it really clicked for us and we officially started ‘dating’!
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
Not only were Shil and I living in one of the most isolated cities in the world, but our families were also spread across the globe. My family was in England and Shil’s parents in Mombasa, Kenya.
It was getting to Christmas time and both our families wanted to spend time with us, but not only that, mine wanted to meet Shil and his wanted to meet me. Shil already had plans to head to Kenya and invited me along, but my family also wanted to see me and meet Shil, and so we decided to squeeze in a trip to both!
We headed to England first where, unknown to me at the time, Shil confronted my Dad to ask for my hand in marriage! With his mind made up of proposing to me, he had the plans set and ready for once we got to Kenya. Having arrived in Mombasa, and met with his family, we then had one night booked at this beautiful resort, which I didn’t think much of at the time. Here we set sail on their famous ‘dhow’ ride for an evening on the river - eating and dancing the night away; after we headed to the in-house casino where I became engrossed in playing roulette and didn’t want to leave – Shil however complained of stomach pains and feeling sick so we decided to head back to our room. It was all still very unbeknown to me that something was going on as we walked back and into our room… firstly I spotted a lovely bouquet of fresh flowers sitting on the coffee table and then noticed some candles flickering on the balcony; as I stepped out, there was a trail of rose petals leading up to a daybed, which was also covered in rose petals, and perched next to it was an ice bucket holding my favorite bottle of champagne! You would think that the picture was now perfectly painted, and it was obvious what was coming next, but no, not to me – I just sat down on the daybed and expressed how romantic it all was! It was then, at that moment, when Shil got down on his knee, presented me with a ring and, well the rest gets a bit blurry, but after some tears and realizing this is actually happening, I obviously said “yes!”
Tell us how you went about planning your wedding, and your overall experience with the Venues, Hair & Makeup, Outfits, Decor Theme, and all of the other important details.
I simply wanted something outside of the hustle and bustle of London; a quaint countryside venue, but this proved to be quite difficult at the start. It needed to be somewhere that could cater for not just Indian food, but also the usual Indian wedding guest numbers (and although we wanted to keep it small and intimate, we still had 250 guests!), plus it needed to be close to Kent, my family home. After many unsuccessful phone calls, viewings by my parents and far too much ‘googling,’ I finally came across the Bannatyne Spa Hotel in Hastings, East Sussex (on the border of Kent) – it was perfectly nestled away from the main roads and surrounded by some beautiful gardens; on calling them up with our requirements, and as soon as they said they could meet our arrangements, I was on the phone pronto to my parents back in England for them to get a viewing asap! Despite not having hosted an Indian wedding at their venue before, the team was amazing to work with and they assisted to our every need. What worked well was that we had the whole hotel exclusively booked out for our family and friends for the entire wedding weekend, and considering there were many guests traveling from across the UK and abroad, it made the entire experience entertaining and truly complete.
I wanted a regal, traditional, rustic and antique theme; the colors of choice were navy, antique gold, magnolia and deep purple/red hues which contrasted well together; I wanted simple yet classy, with the sense of old India, and the team at Dream Occasions turned my thoughts and imagination into reality. I met with them only twice before the big day – once at the venue and then at their studios, and prior to that it was a couple of Facetime sessions from Australia; however, in what I thought would not be enough time, it was plenty for them to work their magic!
We chose Madhu’s as we had a great experience with them for my sister’s wedding and you’re guaranteed that Madhu’s will deliver with mouth-watering, exceptional cuisine. I feel that having good, high-quality food for your guests is a key part of not just your wedding day, but any celebration!
Hair and Make-up:
Again, from my sister’s experience, I decided to work with Gini Bhogal, and it was a real pleasure. I am not a make-up person at all, but Gini was so calm and composed when I went to visit her for my trial, she put me at ease and I knew I could trust her on the day.
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
The outfits were probably the most distressing part of the whole process. Being in Perth there are very limited Indian stores, let alone haute couture Indian bridal boutiques! I did come across some old Auntyji-style Punjabi suits though…
I knew I wanted a Lengha and traditional bridal red/shades of red for the Hindu ceremony. That was all I knew - now all I needed to do was to find it; people say that you’ll know it when you see it, and that’s what happened to me. I had no luck online, but that was my only choice being in Perth; however, as luck would have it, I was back in England for our engagement party and managed to squeeze in some essential wedding shopping in London - that’s when I spotted ‘The Outfit.’ It was distinct; it was different; it had the most beautiful embroidery – unlike anything I had seen anywhere else, and I had seen plenty by this point! The choli was of a deep-red colored fabric, which was so delicately and intricately decorated with pearls and beads on the neckline, the back, and the sleeves, and the Lengha contrasted magnificently with its golden-embroidered flowers on a blood-red soft cotton fabric.
My reception outfit was a whole other story. It was a nightmare to sort out and deal with the retailer – I had a look, an image, pictures of designs and styles for an evening cocktail gown, but liaising with the ‘team’ was an ordeal, especially as I was living in Perth, the retailer was in London and the designer in India! In the end I didn’t quite get what I wanted, but with only a week or so to go before the big day, and with a million and one other things to do, I just had to go with it; luckily, as my fabulous hair and make-up stylist said, all I need is big hair, perfect make-up and a piece of statement jewelry – and she was right!
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
The food tasting! I am a complete food fanatic and tasting the exquisite dishes prepared by the marvelous Madhu’s team was not just delectable, but a real treat as I had always wanted to experience the life of a food critic – even if it was just for a day!
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
I’m a bit of an old soul and I love live music, especially jazz, blues, and soul genres, so hiring a saxophonist was truly special. We picked two great tracks and the saxophonist coordinated with them well.
Our grand entrance brought an exhilarating and exciting start to the night – everyone was on their feet dancing, clapping, cheering as my husband and I danced our way in – it was a remarkable moment!
Then there was our first dance. There were no particular or practiced dance moves, but it felt smooth and sophisticated as we were both just so in the moment, and then Shil embarrasses me with a looong kiss… that led to more cheers, but also some awkward comments... (so embarrassing)!
It’s amazing what the power of music can do to the atmosphere and the ambiance - making those moments so memorable.
Throughout the day there were a number of negotiations going on between the ladies and the groomsmen, but they weren’t giving anything away and Shil was being completely stubborn. It all, however, came to a head at the Vidai when we were stopped in our tracks as my ladies banded together, marched in front of our car and prevented us from leaving if the groomsmen didn't hand over some cash – eventually, and luckily, they did cough up and the whole ordeal was extremely entertaining to watch!
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
My make-up and hairstylist, Gini Bhogal, was an absolute legend – I had no jewelry whatsoever for my reception outfit, and not liking the outfit itself didn’t help either. Luckily however Gini, on the morning of the wedding day (!), saved the night by sourcing some stunning jewelry for me to wear from the beautiful ‘Mara and Elle’ collection. The ensemble worked wonders and I am so grateful that it all came together in the end.
A big thank you to all those who kept me sane and supported us – you know who you are! And a special mention to our families for their assistance in making it all happen, and to my friend Diana – she was my late-night ‘distress’ helpline and ran around performing last-minute errands for me across Australia to England, thank you!
Get back to us and see all the joy and laughter that surrounded Rutchi and Shil during their wedding reception!