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Our series, 'Featured Weddings' brings you wonderful moments from weddings held at the finest venues across different cities. Here, bride Shauna tells us all about how she met her soul mate and their wedding celebrations at the 475 year old heritage property, Samode Palace, Jaipur.

How we met
Shauna Mei moved to the US from her hometown in Beijing when she was only 8 years old. The MIT grad and former Goldman Sachs analyst founded AHAlife.com. The site, an aggregator of uber luxury products and artisans/designers/inventors, retails everything from haute-couture lipstick to an island off New York for $22.8 million.

Three years ago, Shauna realized she needed an engineer for her burgeoning technology fueled company and brought in a promising young engineer called Sachin Devand. Devand is from Jaipur, India and what started out as a casual ‘get to know each other’ dinner for two would-be colleagues grew into a professional and personal partnership.

Shauna says, “There was a strong parallel between our story and the story of Aladdin and Jasmine, a story I’ve always loved. I dreamed of a wedding just like theirs – the groom comes in on an elephant with an entourage of horses while the princess waits for him in the palace. The entire wedding experience was a first for all our friends and family from China and America and it was like a dream come true… for all of us.”

Wedding Venue and Functions
The bride says they chose Jaipur “because it’s Sachin’s hometown and so many of our friends from around the world wanted to visit India with us. We chose Samode Palace because it has incredible history and the place felt intimate and romantic, tucked away as it is in the hills of Jaipur, away from the main city. We had our closest friends and family at the wedding.”

Inspired by the arts, music and aesthetic evolution festival, Burning Man, Shauna and Sachin planned a five day extravaganza that was centred around Hindu traditions of wedding and celebration over six different ceremonies.

As part of the glitterati themselves, the couples’ close friends and wedding guests included Russian chanteuse, Katya Lee, make-up wizard and television star Carmindy Bowyer, celebrity style guru Jason Campbell, actress turned food writer Suzanne Pirret and the host of CBS’ #StyleScouting podcast, Alia Ahmed-Yahia.

Guests were introduced to Indian culture (including a private tour of the Taj Mahal) and had a treat thrown in – as the bride changed into one more beautiful outfit after another befitting her enviable reputation as a lifestyle and luxury curator. Whether it was the Matthew Williamson dress she wore to the pool party or the Vivienne Tam, traditional Chinese bridal outfit for the reception or the Manish Malhotra, the clothes maketh the woman.

Day 1 - Mehendi and Welcome Party/ Cocktails
"We had a mehendi ceremony indoors which was very casual," Shauna remembers. "Everyone came, had their henna done and then went back to get ready for the cocktail party.” In a nod to Indian tradition, Shauna wore a saffron anarkali and floral jewellery to the mehendi. Sachin chose from the same palette with an understated coral kurta and matching churidaar.

That evening, the couple hosted a cocktail party by the pool at the edge of the palace. Shauna floored the crowd in a gold fishtail gown heavy with silk embroidery and a gorgeous flounce skimming her ankles. She showed her skill at minimalist glamour with a delicate pearl multi-string maang tikka and diamond kadaas. Sachin complimented her in a multi-hued blue silk bandhgala and gold churidaar.

Day 2 – Haldi and Wedding
The second day started with ‘find the ring’ ritual and progressed towards the haldi ceremony. The couple looked straight out of the ‘Lean On’ music video – a futuristic distillation of urban Indian kitsch. Shauna wore a gold-tasselled bralette, a Rajasthani folk print wrap skirt, her hair in a loose braid. Sachin also represented the Rajashtani motifs with his jacket and maroon dhoti.

The wedding that same evening was no less than a western musical festival elevated with Indian traditions; drums and horns and dancing, the vibe was totally Coachella, the landscape, gorgeously, unmistakably exotic Rajasthan. Shauna waited at a window in the palace watching her groom arrive on an elephant in a glorious, regal Indian baraat. She wore a beautiful traditional red lehenga with simple gold nathani and bangles. Sachin complemented her perfectly in his gold sherwani and red turban.

The evening ended with an emotional thank-you speech and a beautiful dinner at the "Sheesh Mahal" in the palace.

Day 3 – Holi and Reception
Though the wedding was after Holi, Shauna and Sachin organized a glorious ‘replay’ with a Holika bonfire and an endless supply of colour and water for their friends to smear and chase and fall over laughing with.

Shauna nods, “We organized a Holi celebration for our friends and family to enjoy at Samode Bagh, about two kilometres away from Samode Palace.” The pictures speak for themselves. The abandon and joy was evident. Shauna’s outfit was a sexy boho amalgam - a custom-made tassel bralette by Matthew Williamson studded with spikes, beads and shells. She teamed it with sheer black pants over her enviable figure and accessorized with stacked bangles, hippy style beaded strings around her neck and a pair of reflective sunglasses.

The celebrations concluded with a private tour of that magnificent monument to love, the Taj Mahal.

Later that evening the couple hosted a reception. The bride took everyone’s breath away when she arrived wearing the traditional Qipao by designer Vivienne Tam in hues of maroon piqued with heavy embroidery. She brought incredible ethnic chic with her gorgeous Mongolian headgear. Sachin was dapper in his blue silk sherwani with embroidered paisley and tassels.

The party ended with a rocking performance by the Russian singer Katya Lee and a dance to close what was a truly spectacular series of ‘nights to remember’.

The Wedding Makers
Wedding Planning- Yes Media
Makeup- My friend and celebrity makeup artist Carmindy (most known for her role on show What Not to Wear) did my makeup.

Photos Courtesy- The Royal Affair

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