From the 240-year-old heritage Victorian hotel to the bridal lehenga crafted from family heirlooms, this wedding was full of nostalgia!
Steeped in history, the quaint bylanes and streets of Kolkata possess a charm that has inspired the hearts of countless writers over the years. On one such bylane nestled between the city’s iconic New Market and Indian Museum, the heritage Victorian hotel of The Elgin Fairlawn played host to the wedding of WeddingSutra’s very own Features Writer Srishti Kar and Pilot Capt. Rikhit Nilekani, as yet another tale of love came alive in the city of joy.
Srishti shares “When you are in the business of writing about weddings, living and breathing all things weddings day in and day out, the mood board for your own celebration is likely set for a long time. While my journey with Rikhit has just crossed the one-year mark, my vision for the wedding was fixed in my head for years – a simple, intimate celebration that reflects my soul, honors the people I love, and includes my fur baby Hazelnut.”
Srishti first met her beau in December 2022 and the two tied the knot in November 2023. Putting her experience in writing about weddings to good use, Srishti took on the wedding planning herself, from conceptualizing the decor details to designing all her wedding outfits. The Kolkata-based team of Vermilion Diaries was roped in to capture their special moments.
Picking a venue with a personality
A 240-year-old boutique mansion hotel, located in the heart of Kolkata, turned out to be the perfect venue for their cozy festivities of just about 60 guests. Srishti reflects “We wanted a venue that told a story – a property that would lend its personality and beauty to our wedding in the most seamless way. With a history that dates back to 1783, The Elgin Fairlawn gave us just that – a verdant haven nestled in the city’s energy center that transports you to the elegance of a bygone era with its distinctive blend of Victorian architecture, classic British decor, and warm Bengali hospitality.”
How I included my fur baby in my wedding
“As a pet parent, to be able to include your fur baby in the biggest celebration of your life is not just incredible, but also imperative! Being pet-friendly was a big part of why we chose our venue, so Hazelnut could be with us every step of the way.” Her adorable pooch was by her side at every function, sporting silk bows and ruffled bandanas the bride made herself.
DIY Decor for that personal touch!
Srishti shares “With our wedding being a cross-cultural affair, we wanted the celebration to not be heavy on rituals and instead focus on the coming together of our respective families and cultural heritage. We curated the decor of white blooms and green foliage to organically elevate the existing greenery and the base decor palette of the hotel, and we used it as a backdrop for all events to be eco-friendly. The evenings were lit up with twinkling fairy lights, and a touch of red was included with flowers for the wedding ceremony, adding a layer of sanctity. We included banana leaves, tender banana trees, and other local plants in the mandap and the decor as a nod to the region’s flora, as well as for its significance in our Bengali, Marathi, and Kannada traditions. All of the hotel’s original furniture was used as is, including vintage armchairs, sofas, and cabinets, and as a final flourish, we added photographs of both our families to imbibe the feeling of a home wedding, and to honor and include our grandparents who have passed away”.
Making the ceremonies our own
“Skipping a high-octane Sangeet, the festivities were kicked off with a “80s classic glam” themed Bengali “Ashirbaad” ceremony, that perfectly brought out the vintage vibe of the place. We picked the mellow mood of smooth jazz to ease everyone into the retro feel for the night, before kicking things up a notch with old Bollywood melodies that got everyone, from teenagers to uncles and aunties, to the dance floor.”
“The next day began with a sunny Haldi soiree on the hotel balcony that was full of moments of love and laughter, while the wedding, held as per Bengali customs but with a few additions to honor Rikhit’s Marathi and Kannada heritage, was short and sweet. We kept the finale Reception dinner a relaxed affair with delectable fusion fare and a playlist curated with piano renditions of my favorite K-pop band BTS!”
Being a wedding writer, as well as the Co-Founder and the lead designer of a small bespoke fashion brand ‘Parchaaii’, the bride was understandably most stoked about putting together her bridal wardrobe. She shares “I had dreamed of creating my wedding outfits ever since I first started designing in my teens, so finally doing it was an incredibly special experience. Every ensemble was curated to reflect my personality and pieced together with a lot of meaning. Most of my wedding outfits were made under my brand Parchaaii, as were my trousseau pieces and my bridesmaids outfits.”
“To match the retro mood of the Welcome Dinner, I paired a wine-hued handwoven Banarasi saree from Tilfi Banaras with my mother’s wedding jewelry and vintage hair and makeup that was very 80’s. For Haldi, I wore floral jewelry with my Parchaaii kurta set in silk that was inspired by the silhouette and work of Kashmiri Phirans.”
“My pièce de résistance, however, has to be my bridal lehenga! My defining goal was to include pieces given to me by my mother and grandmother, as a tribute to them, and the design took form from there. Skipping out on the traditional choice of a red banarasi saree worn by most Bengali brides, I opted for a rich banarasi lehenga in hues of pink with a massive flair of 20 brocade kalis, including pieces of my mom’s wedding saree. To keep the look monochromatic, I completed it with a hand-stitched net blouse with pearl trimmings, a blush Parsi Gara dupatta, and a net dupatta with zardozi work. Add on my grandmother’s pearl bangles, a bridal “mukut”, and my mane of open natural curls, and I felt ready to channel my inner Bengali “Thakurain”! It was a feeling beyond surreal, and I shared it with my bride squad, namely my mom and my bridesmaids, who wore Parchaaii ensembles in pink to match me.”
For a final outfit change, Srishti swapped out her bridal blouse, jewelry, and dupattas for a long, flowing multicolored jacket by Parchaaii with a flared silhouette and sleeves, over her lehenga. Waist-length curls, stacked bangles, decadent Victorian jewelry, and custom sneakers with the couple’s initials finished off her bohemian-glam look.
The Wedding Makers
Venue: The Elgin Fairlawn
Groom’s Outfits: Manyavar
Bride’s Outfits: Tilfi Banaras (Welcome Dinner), Parchaaii (Haldi, Wedding, Reception)
Shoes: Chal Jooti
Makeup: Rochona Majumdar
Hair: Zoya Sheikh
Photography and Videography: Vermilion Diaries