Our series, Featured Weddings brings you wonderful moments from weddings held at the finest venues across different cities. Here, we share the story of Sona and Olivier’s romance and wedding celebrations at the 16th-century Renaissance castle, Chateau de Tilly in French city Charters.
Sona is a lawyer who hails from Tamil Nadu, and Olivier, who is French, works as a project manager. They met three years ago after getting acquainted on the dating website How About we (www.howaboutwe.com) which has an interesting concept - people can post a date idea there and if it clicks with someone else; they can set up a meeting and take it up from there.
Sona and Olivier are both avid travelers and wanted to visit Peru. Olivier wanted to propose to Sona on Machu Picchu and was able to do so, making it a memorable event in an exotic location.
The wedding took place in a regal, 16th-century Renaissance castle called Chateau de Tilly, which serves as a country-style guesthouse nowadays. It is situated in Chartres, a city in the Normandy region of France. Since Olivier is French, he wanted to have a fusion wedding that blended French and Indian cultures.
Olivier shares that they had around a year to plan the wedding after the proposal in Peru. The couple did not hire a wedding planner, and Olivier managed all the logistics with some help from his mom who stays in France.
Around 120 guests were expected from seven countries, and that is why Olivier chose Normandy as it is not too far from the airport and Paris.
Olivier shares, "We had decided early on that we wanted to achieve a fusion between French and Indian cultures. We also want to honor each other’s tastes in the process as well. Sona is a Brahmin and so the wedding was planned according to South Indian rituals which tend to be more religious. Our reception was a blend of Indo-French style and the decor was all about French elegance. Our primary colors were wine maroon, burgundy, dark blue, golden and gray." Their wedding celebrations included three main events - the mehendi, wedding, and reception.
The Mehendi ceremony was held on a Friday evening and was intended to be an icebreaker for guests and loved ones. "We did not wear anything extraordinary for this event on purpose to make sure our guests also feel casual and carefree. The ladies enjoyed getting henna applied on their hands and feet in a variety of colors and designs, while the other guests enjoyed some outdoor games and French liquor tasting," recalls Olivier.
Sona wore a blue knee-length dress from Ted Baker and paired it with Stuart Weitzman heels and a Kenneth Cole clutch. The groom wore slacks with a button-down shirt to go with the casual vibe of the event.
The wedding was conducted according to Hindu religious rites the following morning. The dress code for this Saturday morning event was Indian or garden party attire. The essence of the wedding was to celebrate the coming together of two cultures in a spirit of openness and acceptance.
Sona wore a traditional maroon and gold South Indian saree bought in Chennai by her brother and traditional jewelry from GRT Jewellers, also in Chennai. Olivier donned a white sherwani and reddish maroon trousers which were purchased from Nazraana in Edison, New Jersey. Several family members and friends from both sides of the family wore Indian outfits, many of which were purchased from Saree Bazaar in New Jersey. The bright ensembles and accents added color and festive cheer to the proceedings.
The specially customized mandap for the outdoor ceremony included green drapes strung across the 'roof' and the color matched the base cover also. The mandap was decorated with coconuts, floral bouquets, and lanterns. The entrance to the mandap was styled like a wooden Indian temple door.
The reception on Saturday evening after the wedding had more of a French influence with some Indian flair - again establishing the fusion theme of the wedding.
Olivier wore a three-piece purple suit from Suit Supply, and his necktie and pocket square were from Ermenegildo Zegna, while Sona wore a fusion gown which she got customized at Nazranaa. This white gown included beads, a stole and detailed gold threadwork embroidery work that is more reminiscent of an Indian Lehenga, thereby achieving the essence of fusion she was aiming for. She paired the gown with Jimmy Choo heels and bag, and beautiful bling from India.
Advice for Couples to Wed
Olivier has some important tips for couples getting married in a foreign location. "If you are getting married abroad, hire a wedding planner early on rather than wait until the end. Their local knowledge and will be invaluable and they really are able to take a lot more off your plate. Also for those who do not speak the local language, a wedding planner can assist with that to ensure vendors are meeting the requirements. Also, take at least a few days off before the wedding to attend to last-minute items and then a few days after the wedding even if the honeymoon is delayed - that will give you some time to get much-needed rest, de-stress and relax!"
"Our wedding vendors were found through recommendations. Our photographer Radhika Pandit was referred to us by a friend who had attended another wedding she had photographed and had loved the pictures. Our henna/makeup artist was recommended by a friend who used the henna artist for her own wedding, and our hair-dresser came through our henna/makeup artist. Our florist and caterer were recommended by our venue hosts. For the Hindu priest, we contacted the local temple in Paris and made arrangements. Nazraana and Saree Bazaar came recommended from family friends for our outfits. The only vendors that we had to search for were our DJ, venue, and the wedding coordinator. Everyone was wonderful to us and was a pleasure to work with," notes Olivier.
Olivier and Sona were surprised when the DJ belted out a live number which ended up being their first dance song during the reception. And when they jived to a Bollywood number along with members of the wedding party, the guests were also surprised, delighted and thoroughly entertained.
Photos Courtesy - Radhika Pandit, Serendipitous Smiles