Our Wedding Weekend Part I - The Bengali Wedding

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First up, this is not a sponsored post. This is my way of recognising all the amazing people and businesses that helped make our wedding so special. As I mentioned in a previous post, we had two weddings, which spanned across a weekend. On Saturday, we had our traditional Hindu Bengali wedding, and on Sunday, we had a rustic garden civil ceremony followed by a reception. Both these weddings took immense amounts of work to organise and it neither would have been possible without the tireless efforts of our friends and family.

When we first started planning the Bengali wedding, we very quickly realised that this event was not just for us, but for my parents. It was their chance to hand over their daughter to her new family, and introduce their new son in law to everyone. This is very different to the Western concept of a wedding, but one that is accepted, and respected, in subcontinental culture. As a result, I quickly realised that things would run a lot smoother if I refrained from constantly voicing my opinions on things, and just run with what my parents wanted. Lucky for me, I have a mother with excellent taste, and I agreed with almost all her decisions!

We decided to hold the Hindu ceremony, followed by a luncheon reception at The International of Brighton. This venue is one of the few in Melbourne that have their own dedicated Indian chef, and for the Indian weddings we have attended there, the food has always been magnificent. The staff at the International were terrific. I think all Indian weddings involve high levels of chaos and we were no exception. We didn’t have our guest lists finalised until the night before, we dropped our bonbonieres off a few hours before the tables were being set up, we changed our booking hours on the last day, infact we were probably the worst clients. But The International of Brighton handled all the craziness that we brought with ease, and always managed to make things work.

A special mention must be made about Chef Raj. Food is an essential element of an Indian wedding, and so we had a specific meeting with him to discuss the menu. We applied a collaborative approach to design a three course menu, plus canapes during the ceremony, and together we came up with dishes that we were really pleased. Chef Raj brought many new and innovative ideas that we hadn’t thought of, things like a tandoori spiced chicken sausage rolls as a canapĂ©, or serving buttermilk alongside the drinks, both of which were big hits with the guests. We also had a new dhal recipe on our menu, dhal bukhara, and this this was a highlight of the meal for both vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

A Hindu wedding takes place under a mandap, a canopy held up by four pillars. The four pillars have various symbolic representations including the four Vedas (sacred Hindu texts), or the parents of the bride and groom, who are integral participants in the marriage.  Our mandap was rented from Wedding Mandaps that services all of Melbourne. Bob from Wedding Mandaps was extremely helpful and extremely reliable. He provided not only the mandap, but a lot of the decorations around the venue. He worked extremely efficiently, having set up everything the night before in only a few hours, so that nothing needed to be done the morning of the wedding. We cannot speak highly enough about Bob, and would definitely recommend him to others.

My wedding sari was chosen by my mother in India. I didn’t even see the sari until she got back, but because I tend to always agree with her taste in Indian attire, I wasn’t too worried, I knew she’d choose well. It was bought from a shop in Kolkata, called Traders' Assembly. It was a red Benarasi silk sari, which is traditional for Bengali brides, with rich gold thread work. It was very heavy, so by the end of the day I was very exhausted carrying it around, but it was gorgeous, so definitely worth it.

Most of my jewellery was passed onto me by my mother and grandmother. This was quite special for me, as much of it was worn by my mother for her wedding. I wore special upper arm ornaments that had a real vintage feel about them, which was expected given that they had been worn for three generations of brides. These are rather indulgent pieces of jewellery, and so it was an honour to be given these for my wedding.

Our photographer for both weddings was Ian Cooray from I.C. Captured. I had seen Ian’s work from other friends’ events and the photos that he had taken captured the mood perfectly. I had also seen him at work, photographing dance concerts for my dance school, and I was impressed by his commitment and professionalism. We were lucky enough to have a pre wedding photo shoot with him included in our package. Whilst we were not very keen on any pre wedding photos, this opportunity proved invaluable as both we and Ian were able to see what kind of styles and poses worked for us, which helped the photo shoots at both the weddings run smoothly. I.C. Captured also had a very quick turnaround time, and only a week after the wedding, we were sent a link to a hundred photos taken across the weekend. We will receive the remainder of the photos in the months to come, but it was very exciting to see snippets of the celebrations so quickly, and also to be able to send them to friends and family living overseas.

As we were both aware, Indian weddings are filled with chaos and craziness, but this is what makes them so much fun. In amidst all the commotion, we still managed to have an amazing time, and we hope all our guests did too.

Photo credits: IC Captured and Shubroto Bhattacharjee


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