The making of a Dreamy and Timeless Wedding- In Conversation with Chhaya Momaya
Chhaya Momaya, Mumbai’s leading Social Influencer along with her businessman husband Nirmal Momaya recently hosted their film-maker son Dheer’s marriage at the Taj Lands End and The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai. Dheer Momaya, a close friend of Akash and Shloka Ambani wed Daria Gaikalova who hails from Ukraine. Daria came to India to teach theater at Scindia School Gwalior and later at the Whistling Woods Academy, now the couple run Jugaad Motion Pictures. Their traditional wedding followed by a power-packed reception wowed Mumbai society and is being touted as one of the most timeless weddings Mumbai has recently seen. We spoke to Chhaya Momaya, known for her impeccable tastes and elegant soirees, on how she went about planning the three-day affair along with the Wedding Planners ENJAY Events.
Daria & Dheer Momaya
Chhaya Momaya, Mukesh & Nita Ambani
Left: Akash and Shloka Ambani; Right: Isha Ambani Piramal and Dheer Momaya
What is the one thing you were sure you wanted when it was time to plan your own son’s wedding?
We just wanted to have a great time because weddings are all about celebrating relationships. We wanted it to be very welcoming and enjoyable for everyone. So, our personal energy had to come out in all the functions.
Left: B K Goenka, Daria Momaya, Dipali Goenka, Chhaya Momaya; Right: Priyanka Chopra
What was the brief to you from the bride and groom?
They wanted it to be a fun wedding and bring a bit of their own personality and cultural roots into the wedding as it’s all about them. We didn’t have stringent timelines for each event as we wanted the flexibility to allow the fun to take precedence over formalities. We had planned 2 hours for the baraat but it went on for four hours, and we were happy to go with the flow and didn’t rush into the pheras. We wanted to have a great time with our guests and we did.
Left: Bride Daria; Right: Armaan Jain & Chhaya Momaya
Chhaya Momaya & Jim Sarbh
Left: Bride Daria, Varuna and Dipak Jani and Ishita Jani; Right: Stefania Brandimarte, Isabella Muratori, Lama Albabtain (From Kuwait Royal Family) and Monica da Monte (Milan’s top most architect)
What was your brief to the Chefs of Taj Lands End and The Taj Mahal Palace Mumbai?
The menu prepared by the chefs at Taj Lands End called ‘Maharaj at the Taj’ was entirely vegetarian and reminded one of ‘ghar ka khana’. In order to present our culture through food, we picked cuisines from over five different regions. We had Marwari, Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Kerala and Andhra along with Ukrainian dishes. We had about 150 different specialties from dal baati choorma, thalipeeth to chaat from Banaras, makkhan and bajra roti from Kutch and Ukrainian soup.
Chhaya Momaya, Daria and Dheer Momaya, Shloka Ambani, Nita Ambani, Mamtha Dalal
Left: Anant Ambani, Anupama & Vidhu Vinod Chopra; Right: Chhaya Momaya & Kangana Ranaut
Nina Kothari, Dipti Salgaocar, Kokilaben Ambani, Shloka Ambani and Bijal Meswani
Manisha and Dabboo Ratnani with family
For the post-wedding reception at The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, we wanted a very global spread with vegetarian cuisines including Mexican, Mediterranean, and Italian. The desserts were displayed on antique sideboards as it was all about presentation and sophisticated serving. The seating was inspired by Jamanvars and Western countries with guests sitting in rows facing each other to allow for conversations over a meal.
When the guests walked in, I wanted them to feel as if they were the first to have their dinner. We made sure there were no used glasses or tableware lying around. I had requested for three attendants per table, so the guests didn’t have to leave the table for anything. We had two large bars, so there was no waiting time to get a drink. The entire idea was to keep it expansive, so there are no queues with people waiting for their drinks and food. Every seat had a menu, so the guests knew what they wanted to eat and where to get it. For the table, we chose to go with silverware, all bought and polished by us. All the attendants were dressed in beautiful sherwanis, safa, and gloves, custom-made by the Taj hotel. We used Chanel no.5 as the signature fragrance for the wedding.
Daria and Dheer Momaya
Daria and Liudmyla Shylina
Nirmal and Chhaya Momaya
Tell us one anecdote that made the celebrations extra special.
The pithi (haldi) ceremony left everyone in splits as my daughter-in-law, instead of getting the actual haldi, accidentally got Vicco Turmeric cream. While this was going, there was an Italian guest who kept dipping his crackers in haldi and kept wondering why the Indian food was tasting so bad. They eventually had their pithi with Vicco Turmeric, and it worked out pretty well plus there were no stains anywhere.
For the mehndi ceremony, we began with the Mahalaxmi Mantra, sung by my friend to which the bride entered to sit on the gaddi. Another dear friend’s daughter, a fabulous kathak dancer, performed for us.
Describe to us a beautiful moment from one of the functions, a moment that was truly special and which leaves you happy and heartened every day.
I got a daughter and that’ll be my best memory which will stay with me forever. Everything will fade, but when somebody comes into your life, they are there forever. I had people coming up to me, asking me how I felt now that I’d become a mother-in-law. I told them I feel like a mother again, and that is exactly what I wanted.
Who did you work with for managing the events?
Decor and Design
For the decor and design, I chose the very talented Wedding Decorator Nazneen Gamadia of Classic Concepts. I have worked with her for the past 20 years and she always knows and understands what I want. We wanted the wedding theme to be inspired by our native place ‘Kutch’. It had to be colorful, bright with a lot a mirror-work to add a flavor of the desert destination in the decor. Between the bride and the groom, they decided they wanted a logo called Squaliphant (Squirrel + Elephant) to be put out everywhere. We didn’t want flowers wasted so we worked with lights instead. The Indian floral touch was there, but the venue was glammed up with lights and fabrics.
For the reception, we had six trees put up, and each tree had about 2500 pictures of our many memories with different friends. While the event was going on, the guests went over to check out their pictures. We had also created a rainforest using all greens with the sofas covered in moss. On the dining table, we wanted a touch of Ukraine, so we used Ukrainian eggs as centerpieces.
Bride Daria makes a grand entry
Abhijeet Kaji, Akash Ambani, Dheer Momaya, Karl Billimoria, Utkarsh Jain and Tarun Khodnani
Groom Dheer rocking his baraat
Left: Nita Ambani, Chhaya Momaya, Shloka Ambani, Nirmal Momaya, Anand Piramal; Right: Chhaya & Nirmal Momaya
Isha Ambani – Piramal ties the gathbandhan for Daria and Dheer Momaya
Right: Parthip Thyagarajan, Varuna and Dipak Jani, Malti Jain
Left: Aparshakti Khurana and Dheer Momaya; Right: Chhaya Momaya, Shekhar & Chhaya Ravjiani, Daria and Dheer Momaya
Left: Chhaya Momaya & Praful Patel; Right: Huma & Asad Latif
Left: Rahul Khanna and Kavita Khanna; Right: Rohit Bal
Left: Jackie Shroff; Right: Lillete Dubey
Hospitality and Event Management
Any wedding feels incomplete if the logistics are not looked into, so our family favorites ENJAY events stepped in as we wanted our guests to be addressed with a lot of love and warmth. From airport pickups to managing every guest’s needs, they took care of everything so beautifully.
We worked with Sameer Tanna for entertainment because of his impressive portfolio of work with Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Kutchi singers were flown down from the desert to welcome the bride. We had the musicians from Ukraine who brought in the bride with the bread breaking ceremony. The bride’s uncle and aunt played the piano and sang a song in their language. We had Maharashtrian ‘Lavani’ and ‘Puneri’ dancers to bring out the eclectic side of Indian culture. Sameer Tanna created a wonderful vibe for the wedding rituals with singers performing when the pheras were taking place.
Our Sangeet performances were choreographed by Mumbai’s favorite wedding choreographer Rajendra Masterji. For the reception, we had Ukrainian musicians who performed beautifully.
The Wedding Makers
Venues: Taj Lands End, The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai
Wedding Planner: ENJAY Events
Decor: Nazneen Gamadia, Classic Concepts
Entertainment: Sameer Tanna
Groom’s Outfits: Raghavendra Rathore, Rohit Bal
Bride’s Outfits: Rohit Bal, Jade Couture by Monica and Karishma
Jewellery: Varuna D Jani
Photography: Epic Stories