Ami and Nitin, Alwar
The couple read their self-written vows to each other as their guests showered them with rose petals from above in their intimate ritual-free heritage fort wedding.
Featured in Netflix India’s original series The Big Day, Ami Pandya and Nitin Zacharias’s story is one of love and equality, and their intimate fort wedding was a beautiful celebration of their journey from friends to business partners and now life partners. Breathtaking shots captured by WeddingSutra Favorite – Shreya Sen Photography give us a vivid glimpse of their surreal events.
How they met
The bride shares, “Nitin and I met in 2010 in Mumbai while preparing for the GMAT. It was a prank that started our interaction, which soon blossomed into a close friendship. In time, we became business partners, and flew to the US to fulfill our respective career aspirations. Throughout the decade, across continents, states and cities, we were there for each other in a million little ways without ever having to formalize our love in words.”
Being an empowered modern woman, Ami took things into her own hands and initiated the marriage conversation with Nitin and her parents. “We had been together for a long time, and our parents knew each other socially, but no one was taking the first step. As a woman of today, I didn’t want to wait for others to make this decision, so I started the marriage conversation with my mom and Nitin myself, much to their surprise”, she laughs “However, there was a little surprise in store for me! The night before the wedding festivities began in Rajasthan, Nitin took me for a walk and went down on his knee in front of my family and close friends. He said he had always wanted to ask me to be his forever in the presence of our loved ones. Standing there, in the midst of a rustic tunnel of leaves and branches, it was a breathtaking moment far better than I could have ever imagined”.
The couple decided to host two weddings in their respective native states of Kerala and Rajasthan, to honor both of their cultures, and for the Rajasthani nuptials, they chose Tijara Fort Palace in Alwar by the Neemrana Group for an authentic fort experience. The bride shares, “Nestled on a secluded hilltop of Tijara, with 360-degree views of lush green fields, the decadent fort with a raw, unpretentious allure provided the setting I envisioned for my wedding.” The 2 day affair with 150 guests was designed by Ātisuto Events, and brought to life by Shaadi Back Home.
The task of capturing their precious moments was entrusted to Shreya Sen Photography. The bride shares, “To me, photography is such an integral part of the wedding. I did a lot of research, which finally ended when I came across Shreya. Her ‘less is more’ motto, editorial portrait photography style, her contributions to the world outside work, and her simplicity completely resonated with me. I was looking for utter dependability and Shreya and her team delivered some outstanding work. Also, given her personality she was a darling to work with. She understood the likes and comfort of me, my family and my husband very well and adapted with a lot of flexibility. I cannot recommend her enough.”
The couple believe that true commitment is the most important ingredient of a successful marriage, and wanted to keep their celebrations fun, focused on creating memories with loved ones, without getting overwhelmed by the rituals. Hence they convinced their parents to hold ritual-free wedding celebrations. The other aspect that was very important to the couple was use of local and handmade elements for their decor, as well as avoiding animal cruelty and they worked extensively with their vendors to ensure the same is followed through.
To celebrate the bride’s love for a European summer soiree, the Mehendi ceremony was decked with bougainvillea galore. The textures of soft velvets and hay thread against delicate blue porcelain were the perfect complement for the vibrant pink blooms. The bride and groom wore pastel shades of pink(for groom) and blue(for bride) to match the vibe. The dress code for the guests was pastel hues. A talented teenage sister-duo (Sangbida and Mrinali Roy) that Ami found on Instagram entertained everyone with their acoustic medleys of Indian and International music. It was also coincidentally their first stage performance together.
The statement Sangeet décor was inspired by the raw architecture of the fort palace, rustic abandoned forest vibe and the climax of the first movie the couple had watched together. The dance area had a simple backdrop of fort arches decorated with open bulbs, gold-painted palm leaves and dried flowers. The seating was a mix of wooden chairs and benches in a semi-amphitheater style. Center-pieces and seat accents with fake feathers, pampas grass and candles added to the rustic vibe. Moose cutouts on the table arrangements represented the couple’s common favorite animal and fabric signage that had their favorite quotes in the corner.
Drawing inspiration from the vibrant hues and the jubilant spirit of Holi, the couple swapped out a traditional Haldi for a Holi party instead for their wedding guests to celebrate and enjoy. The décor of white linen and flowers in grey and white pots were given a pop of brightness with colors. The dress code was kept all white, while colorful signage and the couple’s vivid outfits added a dash of color. Dhol and Bollywood DJ music had everyone grooving.
The bride shares, “Given the backdrop of the heritage fort and my love for roses and candles, we incorporated a rose tinted vintage vibe for our intimate vows.” A hundred flickering candles and roses in thin cylindrical vases and votives made up the runway to the wedding pavilion, which was adorned with roses, lotuses and vintage candelabras. The bride wore a stunning emerald velvet lehenga, while the groom donned an elegant ivory ensemble. The couple read their vows to each other with their siblings by their side, whilst their loved ones witnessed the moment from the balconies above, showering rose petals.
The wedding theme was extended for the Reception dinner in another area, while tall rouge lighting chandeliers added a rustic ‘haveli’ vibe. A lineup of talented local folk singers, dancers and fire artists filled the air with their soulful beats, while the guests relished scrumptious, authentic Rajasthani fare. The night ended with soulful renditions of Bollywood retro and romantic songs by Himanshu Kohli.
Advice for couples
“It’s important to prioritize the things that are important and get them out of the way well ahead of time, because there will be a lot that won’t be in your control. Don’t get disheartened if you and your fiancée don’t share the same excitement for everything during planning. Distribute the work amongst yourselves as per what is of interest to each one. Most importantly, don’t get swayed by the internet, or everyone’s opinion on how to do anything. There is no right way, and it isn’t a competition. You will regret it if you waste your time worrying, and not have any fun.”
The Wedding Makers
Venue: Tijara Fort Palace, Alwar, Rajasthan
Décor: Ātisuto Events
Production: Shaadi Back Home
Groom’s Outfits: Kunal Rawal (Pre-Wedding Dinner, Mehendi), Hugo Boss (Sangeet), Bohame (Holi), Shantanu & Nikhil (Wedding, Reception)
Bride’s Outfits: Sabyasachi Mukherjee (Pre-wedding Dinner), Anjul Bhandari (Mehendi), Allison Webb (Sangeet), Raw Mango (Holi), Shyamal & Bhumika (Wedding), Kresha Bajaj (Reception)
Shoes: Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Ave Los Angeles
Jewelry: Aurus Jewels, Messika Paris, Tyaani Jewelry, Manubhai Jewellers
Makeup: Arti Nayar
Hair: Gohar Shaikh
Invites: Itchha Talreja Designs
Logistics and Entertainment: A V Star Entertainment
Singers: Sangbida and Mrunalini Roy (Mehendi), Himanshu Kohli (Reception)
Photography: Shreya Sen Photography
Videography: Slice of Life Pictures