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When UK based Benita got engaged to her long-time boyfriend Rahul there were two things she was clear she wanted- a Western civil ceremony and a traditional Hindu wedding where guests could fully understand the significance of the wedding rituals.Since the couple wanted to be fully engaged in the prayers and not just the parties, they asked Mahraj Washdev from Singapore to conduct the wedding, explaining every step of the way in English.

Benita explains,"Wedding planning can never be a stress-free affair. Even if you have an excellent wedding planner and lot of family to help, there will always be stress a few weeks before the wedding. Like all to-be-weds me and Rahul experienced the same, but then we promised each other that on the days of the celebration we will have the best time of our lives-- so from July 4th till 7th, we didn't sweat the small stuff and enjoyed every moment, all the pujas and every party!"

As an NRI bride, Benita shopped in Mumbai for her wedding and trousseau outfits. Her recommendations for other NRI brides include Shantanu & Nikhil's store for elegant gowns and designers Sureena Mirchandani, Priya Chhabria and Salita Nanda for Indian and Indo-Western wear. For bangles and mang tikkas she recommends Sia in Santacruz where they customise accessories to your taste.

Benita and Rahul had a long engagement period, which gave them time to research various wedding destinations. Rahul's Hong Kong based uncle highly recommended the Shangri-La Mactan in Cebu, a venue with so many different indoor and outdoor settings in one spectacular space. With excellent hospitality at the resort and affiliated wedding planner Stanz Catalan who had coordinated nine Indian weddings before theirs, the decision was taken quickly that this would be the perfect wedding venue. Benita and Rahul made a 24 hour trip to Cebu after everything was finalised. "We basically got a feel of the venues, the flow of the events, and gave our recommendations to the resort after the food tastings," says Rahul. "The resort staffs were extremely hospitable. Our families, and I'm sure most guests,were amazed with their attentiveness always."

After the hectic four day celebrations, Benita and Rahul proceeded to Boracay for a short vacation where they stayed at Shangri-La's Boracay Resort, a luxurious and secluded hideaway. Rahul says, "We travelled quite a bit before our wedding and we knew we would be tired afterwards, so I looked for an escape close to Cebu. The Shangri-La in Boracay worked just perfect."

The Wedding Celebrations
(4th to 7th July)
Day 1- Carnival themed party at Cowrie Cove

Day 2- Ghari and Mehendi at the Rosal ballroom & Sangeet at the Marquee

Day 3- Civil Wedding at Ocean Pavilion & Pool Party at the Ocean Wing Pool

Day 4- Wedding Ceremony at Ocean Terraces & Reception at the Marquee

The Wedding Makers
Wedding Planner- Stanz Catalan (Cebu)
Wedding Coordinator- Rani Moriani (Hong Kong)
Entertainment Manager - Ankur Sagar (Mumbai)
Artiste Manager- Rahul Idnani (Hong Kong)
Artistes- Jonita and Aakash Gandhi, Arjun,Renu Gidumal, Manasi Scott, Ramji Gulati, Raghav Sachar, Paris House Addicts, DJ Kilogram
Choreographers- Swapniel Desai and Dhanraj Panchal (Mumbai)
MC- Kubra Sait (Mumbai)
Bride's Hair & Makeup- Team Ojas Rajani (Mumbai) and Gary Son (Cebu)
Photography & Cinematography- Picture Perfect India (Mumbai)

About Shangri-La, Cebu
Tucked in lush tropical landscape and with a crystalline coastline, Shangri-La's Mactan Resort and Spa, Cebu, is a short 20-minute drive to the Mactan Cebu International airport and is the ideal setting for any memorable celebration. With an abundance of scenic spots, a 350-meter beach cove with white powdery sand, an azure blue sea and opulent banquet facilities, the 530 room Shangri-La Mactan Resort is now popular for big Indian weddings.

Also read weddingsutra.com/blog/index.php/2014/07/11/its-more-fun-in-cebu-why-this-was-an-amazing-destination-wedding

Photos Courtesy- Picture Perfect India

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