Mailys and Berlin, Assisi Farms and Training Centre, Kanyakumari
From cupcakes to a handmade ring, Mailys and Berlin's loved ones pitched in many aspects toward this DIY wedding.
The African proverb will tell you that it takes a village to raise a child. However, Mailys and Berlin who met in Africa can sure vouch that planning a wedding is no different. With every detail at their nuptials being a contribution from their nearest and dearest, their big day turned out to be a DIY ceremony in the truest sense. This dreamy affair was captured by WeddingSutra Favorite – Neha John Photography, and the bride tells us their story.
How They Met
“Berlin and I met in Nigeria, Africa, in 2016. I had studied architecture, and as part of my internship, I was involved in a project to design the subterranean fit out of a university in Nigeria. There were several volunteers from around the world on our team, and Berlin, who is a civil engineer and runs his family company, Dharmaraj & Sons Construction, was one of them. The trip lasted about ten days, and we began our long-distance relationship from the moment we said goodbye in the hotel lobby in Lagos, Nigeria. After my internship ended, I flew to Australia to pursue my Master’s degree. Berlin had attempted to visit me there, but his visa was denied twice, so, at the start of 2017, I flew to India to visit him. Soon after, we began planning our wedding in Australia but Berlin’s visa was denied for the third time, so we had to cancel those plans, and after graduating in December of 2017, we began preparing for a monsoon wedding in India and the rest is now history!”
“Berlin proposed to me on our last day in Nigeria. I didn’t officially say yes, but agreed to stay in touch and over the next two years, our relationship blossomed. There was never a grand proposal like you see these days, but we always knew we wanted to marry each other.”
“I knew what I was looking for, and we didn’t want to spend a lot of money on the venue. A church member happened to mention Assisi Farms and Training Centre after we hadn’t found the kind of space we wanted despite spending an entire week driving from one place to another. During the drive up to the farms, we were captivated by the surrounding beauty as well as the peace, quiet and calming nature of the location itself. What sealed the deal for us was that the money they would earn from this event would go towards a good cause as they run a rehabilitation center for women who are struggling with mental illness.”
“We wanted our talented and loving family to be involved in our wedding which would make everything more special. My father made Berlin’s ring by hand along with the piñata that we opted for instead of a wedding cake with the help of my younger sister, brother, and his girlfriend. I designed and made all of the wedding invitations and ceremony programs myself, and Berlin and I planned the ceremony together. Our church friends and family made all of the food for the afternoon tea and the reception dinner. My mother and her sister, who had flown in from France, along with one of my uncles and his wife made over 100 cupcakes. My younger sister painted some signs for me, and along with my brother’s girlfriend, she took care of my hair and makeup. She also arranged the flowers with the help of other family members. Berlin’s dad, with the help of his brother and a few good friends, cut down some trees on the morning of the wedding to build an arbor, and they all worked tirelessly to set up all the lights and items for the ceremony and reception. As part of the decorations, Berlin and I had collected misshapen, broken and discarded mud pots that were made locally. We knew of a discard pile near his home, so we’d always go and visit once in a while to pick up some nicer ones. They were placed around the venue; some with flowers in them, and others with tea light candles. It was so important to me that we had someone who’s photography we loved, who was invested in the day and excited about working with us capture our wedding. We had initially approached Neha John Photography, but she was booked so we selected another photographer. When the Kerala floods happened in the weeks leading up to our wedding, our photographer was unable to make it, so we frantically approached Neha again only a week before our wedding. Incredibly, her gig had been canceled, and she was available! I think it turned out perfectly and I wouldn’t have it any other way! She was so much fun to work with and brought such life and excitement to the day despite not feeling well.”
“Our wedding day itself was beautiful and perfect, where we felt a sense of calm assurance. After all, what we had been through, it was just such a relief to get married finally. Many things didn’t go according to the plan, but I truly believe that it was better than what we planned. My day began at 6 am, and after accompanying my younger sister to pick some flowers, I snuck away to do something so important to me. My older sister, her husband, and three children were unable to come for the wedding, so I had been trying to think of a special way that I could include them in my day and keep them close to me. I ended up writing their names, one on each finger, with henna on my left hand – that way; they were with me all day. My wedding dress was designed and made by a good friend of Berlin’s and now mine too. For Berlin’s outfit, it was important to me that he looked like himself. I didn’t want him wearing a full suit, unless that was his desire, because he doesn’t usually wear suits. We opted for a more casual look of a simple white shirt and navy trousers, bought at Pothys.”
“The reception was laid back and just as special, with games, music, singing and poem reading. After the ceremony, everyone retired to the upper courtyard where tea and snacks were served, and games were played. Instead of having a traditional wedding cake, we had a pinata that looked like a wedding cake that was filled with candy, which was a great option for all of the kids. We didn’t have a typical bride and groom exit, so one of my fondest memories is actually when Berlin and I got into one car along with Neha and three of our good friends from the US and drove to their hotel. Berlin drove with Neha in the front, and rest of us sat in the back laughing, talking and eating leftover cupcakes throughout the way.”
The Wedding Makers
Venue: Assisi Farms and Training Centre, Kanyakumari
Bride’s Outfits: Ayoklar
Groom’s Outfits: Pothys
Makeup Artist: Katya Baerg and Tina Hong
Photography: Neha John Photography