Real Weddings – How Love Won – Planning An Indian Wedding In the UAE For 250 People During A Pandemic!
Like all great Indian epics, you’ve got to have a little drama. Luckily for Aanchal Kulchandani & Roshan Galani, their love story was one of triumph when 3x winners of the WOW Awards Asia 2020, Vivaah Weddings, navigated their vibrant Indian wedding through the throws of the pandemic and rapidly changing policy. For this issue of Real Weddings, we find out how often, the real magic to weddings in the UAE happens behind the scenes as wedding planner Arun Bablani takes us on a journey of six celebrations + 250 guests with one hell of a twist at DoubleTree Hilton, Al Marjan Island in Ras Al Khaimah.
An Indian Wedding of Epic Proportions
For all the critics out there – the movies are right! People do celebrate love, even during a raging pandemic! Vivaah Weddings planned the proof and witnessed a beautiful communion as love won!
A couple so in love, that even a global pandemic couldn’t deter them from professing their adoration for each other in front of 250 family and friends. The wedding hashtag was in place, #AaRo, a fun and funky fusion of their names, Aanchal & Roshan and the fun didn’t stop with the hashtag. Every wedding is unique and a 250 people wedding during a pandemic might be a little more so. Planning for Aanchal and Roshan’s big day started 6 months prior and as soon as they decided on their dates, they got Vivaah Weddings on board as their planners.
Our first step was deciding on the perfect location for their celebrations. After multiple site visits to hotels, they decided on the gorgeous DoubleTree by Hilton, Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah. With over 50 per cent of their guest-list flying in from India, the families wanted to give them an experience of Arabia so they decided to host the Sangeet celebrations at a desert camp in Ras Al Khaimah with food curated by the amazing Foodlink, while the rest of the events were to be hosted within the many venues of Ras Al Khaimah’s DoubleTree by Hilton.
And after multiple weekly and sometimes bi-weekly sit-downs and site visits planning and going over every last detail; with multiple food tastings, décor discussions, make-up trials, everything was finally locked in and paid for and their dream was set to come alive!
How to Turn a Wedding Guest List of 10 into 250 in Just 48 Hours
But! Just 3 days before the celebrations, with all the family and friends flying in from all over the world, RAK Emergency, Crisis and Disaster management team announced a reduction of the number of attendees at social events and weddings to just 10 people to contain the spread of COVID – 19!
Panic ensued… Calls of concern buzzed back and forth between the family, to the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority and with vendors. To say it was absolute chaos feels like an understatement. But after meeting with the heads of Tourism Departments and hotels, we managed to secure approvals for the wedding! With a few logistical twists; only venues inside the hotel were permitted and all guests/vendors had to be COVID tested!
Can you imagine organizing PCR COVID tests for 250 guests + 150 vendors last minute – neither could we prior to this, yet the Vivaah Weddings team worked tirelessly and succeeded in getting the tests done and reports submitted in under 2 days!
And it was all worth it when the #AaRo celebrations finally started!
The Show(s) Must Go On
Sweet serendipity – What better day to begin wedding celebrations, than Valentines Day! Aanchal Kulchandani & Roshan Galani’s kicked off with an intimate dinner with the immediate family to the backdrop of the Arabian Gulf, lit by gorgeous string lights and soft extravagant drapes in luxurious shades of red. This Valentines themed dinner had roses handed out to all the ladies to accent their beautiful attire with customized drink pins on glasses of the names of the attendees – because it really is sometimes just about the little things. This romantic and memorable setting was the best way to set the mood for the upcoming grand celebrations.
An outdoorsy event that brought all the fun of an Indian Mela (Indian Carnival) to the celebration, the Mehendi afternoon featured food trucks adorned in traditional Indian prints and colours. The funky photo backdrop with a vintage scooter, umbrella backdrop & instant prints was the highlight of the event. There were also henna artists, a Tarot Card reader, a funtakshri by The Wedding Anchor – Junaid, Kulfi Stations, Quirky sayings and generous giveaways, it couldn’t get more Indian than this entertaining Mehendi celebration!
But the buzz of the day was the exhilarating entry of the bride and groom and their friends, who burst into the event using colour bombs grabbing everyone’s attention, making for some excellent photographs and even better memories!
The Mehendi afternoon was followed by a starry night themed Sangeet evening which proved that even things last minute can be achieved with style; with a little help from Foodlink’s exceptional catering, beautifully lit cabanas and a split-screen for a surprise coupe entry.
The evening started with a romantic exchange of rings ceremony, followed by performances by the friends and family in true Sangeet tradition. Music by the amazing DJ Lemon kept the crowd jumping with drinks customized especially for the couple, we couldn’t have asked for a more spectacular Sangeet.
And finally, the Pheras!
After 6 months of planning and a few days of COVID induced panic, we are finally here!
The unboxing of every Indian bride’s dream – The Sabyasachi Lehenga!
Aanchal chose to go the traditional route with a gorgeous statement Sabyasachi lehenga in bright red and heavy Indian jewellery looking every bit the elegant Indian bride!
The Pheras were set to a fading sun on a gold mandap overlooking the Arabian Sea; serene and elegant was the tone of the evening with mantras playing in the background. The moment of the Jaimala exchange was done with a flower petal blast and captured like a dream sequence from a Bollywood Movie.
Married and wow!
The reception dinner was an elegant affair set in hues of gold and blush; with gold canopies over dining areas and the amazing soulful voice of a live singer filling the area.
The After Party
Fun, fun and well, more fun – A fitting end to the wedding celebrations, the after-party consisted of a final farewell as our couple entered through a tunnel with their friends holding sparklers headed straight to the dance floor, dancing their way into their happily ever after.
**Side note: Kudos to the friends and family for doing their bit to keep the wedding safe! Reminders were called out by the Emcee and DJ reminding people to have their masks on and social distance but more often than not, the guests were doing it unannounced!
If there is a motto that we at Vivaah Weddings believe and strive for, it is to build lasting relationships. For #AaRo to happen, we had to lean on our relationships with several people from heads of RAKTDA, to the Cluster General Manager of Hilton and the support of the ground staff for maintaining the levels of service and hygiene. It was a team effort and not just the team of Vivaah Weddings!
The Little Pink Book
Wedding Planned & Managed: Vivaah Wedding / Venue: DoubleTree Hilton, Al Marjan Island, Ras Al Khaimah (UAE) / Emcee: Junaid, The Wedding Anchor / Disc Jockey: DJ Lemon / Photography: Imprint Studios / Artist Management: La Cle / Percussionist: Walter Scalzone / Catering: Foodlink Catering / Mehendi Artist: Vandana Makar
Wow! what a roller coaster of emotions it must have been and we can’t help but feel as if we’ve just missed out on attending the wedding of the year. This pandemic has taken a lot from our lives and it’s truly amazing to see how we overcome adversity in the most creative of ways. Well done Vivaah Weddings who no doubt are set to win a few more awards for this year too.
If you need help in planning a wedding in the UAE during the pandemic, please reach out to the Bride Club ME team who are always happy to advise. We’ve saved many the heartache of cancelling their dream pivoting between venues and vendors to adjust to last-minute changes and new wedding policy in the UAE.