Avni and Pavan, Burning Man
In the desert of Nevada, this duo’s wedding was an oasis of love.
“What makes the desert beautiful,’ said the Little Prince, ‘is that somewhere it hides a well…” – Antoine de St- Exupery
The shifting sands and endless horizons of deserts around the world have played a constant in Avni and Pavan’s love story. “Pavan proposed in the desert, we had a civil ceremony at Burning Man in the Nevada Desert, our Indian wedding was hosted in Jaisalmer with Thar Desert as backdrop, and now we live in Dubai,” Avni says as she shares highlights of the wedding at the edgy Burning Man festival in Nevada.
How We Met
“Pavan and I met 8 years ago but didn’t hang out until 2014. He knew I’d done a writing fellowship at a university in the UK and got in touch because, interested in writing himself, he wanted to discuss taking a course. We stayed in touch and when he came to New York that September we made plans to have lunch. That lunch went on the entire afternoon and we haven’t gone a single day without speaking to each other since.
At first, I wasn’t sure how it could work – long distance between Dubai and New York is tough. But we took it seriously and made sure to meet every month.”
“We’d discussed rings so I knew he was thinking about it but in February 2015, only three months into our relationship, when he proposed at a beautiful hotel in the desert outside of Dubai, I was completely shocked!”
“First off, I’m into astrology so I checked out the wedding date across both western and vedic astrologers. We didn’t have any ‘décor’ at the wedding. We didn’t need it; just the backdrop of the bare desert and the camp where we said our vows. In fact the only professional at this wedding was our amazing photographer Rob Venga. My best woman Aranka Israni did my make up in the trailer.”
Wedding Function Wedding
“We knew we wanted to do something unique, memorable and most of all, personal for our legal wedding since we were planning a big fat Indian destination wedding for our families. Burning Man is definitely not your usual wedding venue. In fact, it was my first time there. The first day we got to the playa we rode out on bikes, our faces covered in masks to protect us from the dust and picked a beautiful and serene art installation in the shape of an arbor to get married in front of. Little did we realize the playa gods had other ideas for us!
Cut to the day of the wedding: a dust storm took hold of the playa early in the morning. I looked at Pavan, worried, but he shrugged. The dust storms never last more than a few hours, he said. Eight hours later, he had to eat his word. The dust was blowing and the path to our carefully selected wedding venue was covered in a whiteout. To make matters worse, some of our guests had no way of knowing how else to find us, and our ordained minister was missing in action.
The Burn is a place that imparts special knowledge to those who come – and I think we had to learn to see the beauty in being flexible, releasing expectations and allowing things to unfold. Once we did that, a new plan revealed itself. Our amazing photographer, Rob, suggested that we look at his camp as a venue option. We got ready and with our small entourage bicycled over to find a beautiful red-tented stage. It was perfect. A moment later one of Pavan’s friends shared that he was actually ordained, and would be happy to marry us!
The dust and wind let up for a few moments and we were able to say our vows in relative calm, share a piece of twine with all of those in attendance and involve the goddess of love, Venus, at the wedding.
The groom wore old boots and trousers and a jacket he found at a second-hand store. I wore a dress I bought online (and on sale) from For Love and Lemons, and old Mui Mui Sandals.”
Advice For Couples
“I think it’s important to be the bride that you want to be. If that means being glamorous and over-the-top, then do it. People will tell you that you must wear this or that, or that a bride should be one way or another. We’re lucky that we live in a time where people can express themselves. If I had dressed or behaved in a way that wasn’t me, I would be looking at my pictures and wondering who this person was. That’s the last thing you want.
We discussed what marriage would mean to us as a couple – we even read about it (we’re bookish, what can I say?) I think we accept that life has its ups and downs, and marriage is about weathering the good and the bad together, and about wanting to experience every part of life with each other. For couples who want to get deeper into what this means, we highly recommend reading what Alain de Botton has written about relationships.
Also check out www.thebookoflife.org”
Venue: Burning Man Nevada
Photography: Rob Venga Photography