“Someone somewhere is made for you’… we’ve all heard this saying at some point in our lives,” says Nidhi, her voice laced with romance. “Like every girl, I too was dreaming about my ‘someone’ and was wondering where and when I would meet him someday. And one fine day, in the winter of 2011 I met my future husband far away from my motherland India. Like me, he too had moved to the US, and here we were neighbors living a few minutes away.”
In the first meeting itself both of them felt the ‘connect’. Says Nidhi: “The fact that we were neighbors spiced up our love story. I was pursuing my M.S from University of Hartford in Connecticut and Abhinav was working as a Software engineer at Tata Consultancy Services in East Hartford. After realizing we share much in common we spent more time getting to know each other, well before we tied the knot in India on January 20, 2014.”
Long Distance Wedding Planning
Nidhi says that she always dreamed of having a Palace wedding and was on cloud nine when her dreams started to come true. “All thanks to my hero, my first love and my best friend– my father! Indeed, it is very difficult to plan a big event in India if you’re based abroad, but thanks to so much help from my family and friends, everything turned into a reality”, she says. “Abhinav and I never wanted a very intimate or fusion wedding—we love traditional Indian weddings complete with all our community rituals and culture, and all of it happened thanks to everyone’s beliefs in its significance.”
Biggest Challenge: Although Nidhi’s native is Ranchi, her family has been residing in Vadodara for more than a decade. And Abhinav is from the land of Nawabs, Lucknow. “Planning a long distance wedding is tough, but things get more difficult when the two families in India are living in different cities”, quips Nidhi. In their case, time management, location preference and coordination were the biggest challenge.
Two Cities: Managing guests flying down from across the globe and from various parts of India was a task in itself. “We have friends and family everywhere and we wanted to have our ceremonies in Gujarat and in Lucknow too. Since I love the Vivanta by Taj in Lucknow, we decided to do all the main functions there. We hosted our pre-wedding functions including the engagement in Vadodara and four days later we flew in to Lucknow for the wedding celebrations.”
The Palace Wedding at Taj, Lucknow
The one venue which mesmerized Nidhi was The Vivanta by Taj at Gomti Nagar, which she states, is no less than a magnificent Palace, with a space and setting she always visualized for her dream wedding. “And fortunately for us, we managed to get a booking during the peak wedding season, in January. I know many brides who would prefer to get married in the evenings or at sunset but I am a big fan of late night North Indian weddings and our wedding continued well into the night. I love it when family members stay awake for the ceremonies singing songs and teasing each other. And who can forget the ‘Jootachupai’ (hiding shoes) rasam by my sisters- it was too much fun.”
On the eve of the wedding, the Baratis came with the Dhol, Shehnai and Fatake, and this was followed by the Jaimal, Dinner and the Pheras. “I was watching the fireworks from my room, eagerly waiting to see Abhinav. Finally, my bridesmaids came to my room and I was escorted to my Doli. Yes- Doli! Like I said, I love rich, traditional elements and my entrance in a Doli donning a very traditional red lehenga, made it just the way I wanted it to me. My friends later informed me that this was truly one of the most beautiful ‘bride’s entry’ they had seen and I was happiest to hear that!”
In search of the Perfect Lehenga
Talking about wedding lehengas, Nidhi says that she tried searching for Lehengas online but found it difficult to make a decision without trying it on first. “Thereafter, I started emailing photographs to my sister a month before the wedding when I hit panic mode! And the search continued at home for the perfect ‘red’ wedding lehenga and the yellow saree for the Saptapadi.”
Long distance wedding planning, she reiterates, is a challenge because one does not have the luxury of overseeing every detail and one has to rely on the internet and on family. After rejecting more than 10 lehenga patterns, Nidhi finally picked a pattern around two weeks before the wedding. “It had gold zari work all over it, making it very heavy but it was so beautiful that it made bearing the extra weight worth it. Like I said, things are different when you look online, or on video chat but when you actually try it on, you get the real feel,” says Nidhi. She advises brides-to-be to keep looking and trying till they find the perfect outfit. “It’s your big day so don’t compromise. You can adjust in some other areas of the functions but not on the outfit,” she says.
The second main outfit for the evening- the Saptapadisar. “It’s our tradition to wear a yellow color sari during the Pheras. At night, when I had to sit for the seven vows, dressed in a beautiful yellow silk sari and laden with gold and my mom’s nathani (nose ring), I felt truly blessed. Yellow is my favorite color, and, keeping my preference in mind, my mother (who is a designer) specially designed a yellow sari for my Haldi Rasam. Wearing my mother’s nose ring and the sari she designed made me feel more connected to her,” says Nidhi, looking back on the celebrations.
Perfect Pictures, Perfect Makeup, Perfect Wedding Planning
Just like how it’s important to find the perfect wedding dress, it is equally important to find the perfect photographer, says Nidhi who is thankful to Mumbai based Rajesh Dembla of ‘Camera Crew’ for freezing the most beautiful moments of her life and making her one happy bride. “Rajesh Dembla, you are extremely talented. Cheers to Camera Crew!” she shouts out.
Besides the professionals who captured the wedding ceremonies, one of Nidhi’s dearest friends, Rahul Orra, also a photographer,quietly captured some magical moments. “Rahul is a generous genius, who believes in the concept of ‘pay by heart,’ which goes to show how beautiful and respectful he is towards his art. Thank you Orra Photography for secretly capturing my moments and making me look so pretty,” says an emotional Nidhi.
“Last but not least, I would not have looked so beautiful had it not been for Makeup Artists Rupesh and Nilam. The Mumbai based duo did a great job and I am thankful to them for making it all the way to Lucknow,” says Nidhi who is so impressed by their work that she’s already pre-booked the duo for her sister’s wedding.
Nidhi shares her tips and advice for recently engaged couples:
Plan in advance- If you are based abroad and the wedding is in India, keep some cushion time to deal with the delays or last minute changes. So if possible, plan atleast 10-11 months before.
One of my very close friends, Jeetu said to me when I got engaged, ‘Focus on the marriage and not on the wedding. You will panic, and there may be times when things will not turn out the way you want it to be but don’t stress about not getting it right always. Think of the big picture and the joys of starting your new journey with your loved ones. You are planning to grow old together, you are going to have babies together, and most importantly you are going to foster this love throughout your life. So don’t sweat the small stuff.
For our blog post series, ‘Long Distance Wedding’ we’re featuring couples living abroad who planned a wedding in their hometown in India. We want to hear your story, how you shortlisted venues and your experience with the wedding planner (if you hired one) and other vendors. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org wit
Name of Bride and Groom
Where you’re based or where you were based when planning the Wedding
Where (venue + city) you got married and when (date)
Photos Courtesy- Camera Crew