Serendipitously swiping right into love may encapsulate the dating landscape for many in 21st-century India, but it certainly wasnât the case for Ahmedabad-based interior designer, founder of multi-disciplinary firm V-Kreate Design and JP ISCON Group heiress, Vidhi Kotak. She found her soulmate in a more conventional wayâthrough arranged marriage. âWe got introduced by common family friends on August 13, 2018. Our first meeting was very positive, we landed up speaking for about two hours,â recalls Kotak of her initial encounter with now-husband Shanil Bhayani, a valedictorian from Drexel University, Philadelphia, and the current vice president and future successor of Sudeep Pharma Pvt Ltd. The meeting paved the path for a second date, âWe met again four days after our first catch-up and decided to be together. Our parents and families couldnât believe it because we decided to spend our lives together only after the second meeting,â she reveals.
In October 2018, the couple sealed the deal with a gol dhana functionâthe roka equivalent ceremony in the Gujarati community. âAlthough our gol dhana was done, Shanil still put in a lot of effort to propose to me. Despite being an arranged set-up, he took to me to Andermatt village in Switzerland under the guise of my birthday celebration to pop the question. I had no idea where he had planned to take me until the time we landed in Zurich. It was all a surprise,â Kotak says about her surreal proposal story. âWe stayed at The Chedi ski resortâitâs the most beautiful property I have come across. On November 11, Shanil organised an exclusive, private lunch on top of the peak for us. He told me, âItâs a small setup for your birthday lunch’ since my birthday was the following day. From there, he whisked me off to another spot with a gorgeous view and proposed to me.â
On their return to India, Kotak reciprocated in the sweetest way. âAfter we got back, Shanil left for Sri Lanka to attend a friendâs wedding, I not only surprised him by going there, but also proposed to him by the beach,â she reminisces.
The engagement in Udaipur
January 6, 2019, officially kickstarted the wedding celebrations with an engagement ceremony, preceded by a welcome lunch. The sprawling Taj Aravali Resort & Spa, Udaipur, was picked as the couple’s venue, given that they both wanted a beach wedding in April. âIt was the perfect choiceâitâs a new property, easily accessible from Gujarat, and most importantly, exuded a heritage, royal setting for this function,â says Kotak. Mumbai-based wedding planners Tamarind Global were chosen to help arrange everything.
The bride embraced the casual vibe of the welcome lunch with a short white dress byÂ Gauri & Nainika, butÂ pulled out the stops for the main ceremony with a custom-made Manish Malhotra outfit, paired with a diamond necklace from Baroda-based Narayan Jewellers. The groom picked a Raghavendra Rathore bandhgala, encrusted with uncut diamond buttons from the same jewellery house as his bride.
The destination wedding in Turkey
The second week of April took the wedding party to the Turkish resort city of Antalya, also known as the Turquoise Coast for its blue waters. The Maxx Royal Kemer Resort, Antalya, was chosen as the wedding venue, which would accommodate the bride and groom’s 680 guests, incidentally marking thefive-star hotel’s first-ever big Indian wedding.
The welcome lunch and sundowner party
The first event, a welcome lunch, was held on April 16. Bearing in mind the Turkish vibe of the wedding, traditional entertainment was skipped in favour of a local band from Istanbul. The bride-to-be chose a kurta by Aikeyah for this event, while the groom picked aÂ Tarun Tahiliani kurta.
The same evening saw a rustic-themed sundowner at the hotelâs private beach. The space was dotted with earthy hues and botanical accents, while the low tables and seatings, beach hats and dream catchers added to the warm aesthetic. The French trio Paris House Addict, known for their electronic house music, along with DJ AJ (Arjun Shah), kept guests on their toes, as did a special fire show which took place in the ocean.
The evening called for a party-ready number, so Kotak opted for a strapless tulle Gauri & Nainika gown featuring 3D flowers with crystal work. Diamond earrings and bracelets by Ahmedabad-based Occasions Fine Jewellery complemented her look.
The haldi and mehandi
The couple’s outdoor haldi took place among lush pine trees and peacock-shaped floral installations.
âSimple and subtle was how I kept my look for the morning functions,â said Kotak, who wore a yellow sariÂ byÂ Arpita Mehta for the celebration, before changing into a yellow Anamika Khanna lehenga for her mehandi later. This ethnic ensemble came adorned with intricate floral motifs in pastel hues. She styled it with a polki set featuring emerald beads. Bhayani, on the other hand, chose a beige kurta with a pink sherwani-style bandhgalaÂ by Raghavendra Rathore.
Taking cues from the beautiful wedding destination was the Turkish-themed sangeet, held the same evening. From Sufi whirling by Turkish Dervishes and local dance performances to musical performances by Mika Singh and DJ Chetas, this one had all the ingredients for a fun-filled, larger-than-life event. And the coupleâs entry was announced with LED drummers as well.
The bride picked an ivory pearl-encrusted Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla lehengaÂ with a mermaid-style skirt and ruffled dupatta, and Bhayani complemented her in a black custom Shantanu & Nikhil bandhgala.
The pool party
The couple’s sangeet celebration was followed by a relaxed pool party the next morning, on April 18. Some of the highlights were performances by synchronised swimmers and pool acrobatics. Kotak wore a flowy gown by Cult Gaia, while Bhayani picked a casual Dior shirt and shorts.
The wedding ceremony
The main wedding set-up brought together calming pastels shades, tall candle bars and mirror-top tables, with the sweeping vistas for company. A traditional mandap was given a modern, deconstructed update for the same.
To match the picture-perfect venue, the bride swapped the traditional red lehenga for a powder pink number by couturier Faraz Manan. She rounded off the romantic lehenga and a scalloped dupatta with a statement polki set, a nath and maang tikka. The groom picked another custom Tarun Tahiliani outfit, a lighter shade from the same colour palette, to match with the bride. The ruby and diamond buttons and kalgi in his outfit were from Narayan Jewellers. Scroll ahead to take a look at Vidhi Kotakâs wedding album.
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