We love a wedding where drama happens here at Polka Dot Bride. No, we don’t mean your run of the mill family drama (nobody likes that!) We’re talking about dancing down the aisles, grand ceremonies rich with age-old traditions, outfits that speak of different cultures and the honouring of family history.

These two chose a grand, traditional Indian ceremony in one of Melbourne’s old-dames-of-a-building before they feasted with guests on a decadent feast (by the crew at Fred and Ginger Catering) and danced the night away. It was a beautiful blend of culture, of tradition and of love for the couple. Shevan J Photography joined the tribe on the day to capture it all.

Rachael and Sandeep’s eyes first locked on the dance floor on the other side of the world on tour! “I first noticed Sandeep that night on the dance floor when his outrageous dance moves caught my attention, but Sandeep claims he ‘first’ had eyes for me as soon as I stepped on the bus,”  remembers Rachael. “After a few inseparable days together soaking in the sights and sounds of Buenos Aires, we parted ways, unsure of when we would next meet (Sandeep is from Melbourne and I am from Sydney). Despite this seemingly frivolous and fun-loving beginning, we knew we had found something very special.”

And special it was because the pair found a way to be together. Their love story blossomed and grew and then Sandeep dropped to one knee as they celebrated their four year anniversary. In Rachael’s words, “We were celebrating our anniversary at Bannisters in Mollymook on the New South Wales’ coast, where Sandeep had planned a relaxing weekend away under the guise of our four year anniversary. He pulled out all the stops but insisted it was just for the anniversary – from a beach picnic, a massage, a room upgrade to the delivery of roses – I certainly had my suspicions.

As we got ready for dinner, he played our favourite song, ‘Coming Home’ by Leon Bridges, and got down on one knee. He had the biggest smile I’ve ever seen and just blurted it out – the answer was a big ‘yes’ of course.”

Rachael and Sandeep set the tone for their traditional day with stationery pieces from Minted. Rachael telling, “Invitations were important to us as I think they set the tone for the day ahead and build anticipation. We ordered our invites online via Minted and it was super convenient and they looked brilliant. We also printed our menus and place cards via Minted and it all turned out well.”

The groom and groomsmen chose classic Indian wedding dress, in shades of gold, cherry and midnight blue.

The bride found her traditional gold sari on a trip to India. She explains, “Sandeep is from Pune, India and we knew we would have a Hindu wedding ceremony so I wanted to wear a sari when I said ‘I do’. We flew over to Pune for a family wedding the year before and visited a number of sari stores. It was quite different to wedding shopping in Australia – sipping chai as you have the saris draped over you – and I had Sandeep’s whole family with me as they spoke Marathi which was essential for finding the right thing. What I had in mind wasn’t a typical Marathi bridal sari as it was cream embroidered lace with a gold border. It actually came with a peach blouse so I had a gold beaded blouse custom-made in India and then finished in Australia.”

Rachael and her bridesmaids chose Miss Aimmey to style their hair and makeup for the day. “Our makeup artist Aimmey was also fab and she did a brilliant job while we ate brekkie and got wrapped in our saris.”

Rachael added special heirloom pieces to finish her look, sharing, “I wore a beautiful bluebird brooch from my grandmother and a gold Gucci watch from my other grandmother. I also had a handkerchief from my great grandmother with a four leaf clover on it for good luck which has been passed down through generations.”

Rachael’s bridesmaids also wore traditional saris in midnight blue with gold; the deep tones contrasting with the bright colours of the floral arrangements styled by Flower Jar. Rachael noting, “We worked with Rhiannon to create a bold and textured style with a rich palette inspired by warm
Indian tones – purple, pinks, magentas, reds etc. It was the middle of winter so we used varieties of seasonal blooms and a touch of berries.”

Rachael and Sandeep chose the grand 333 Collins St for their ceremony, the bride telling, “We had approx 300 guests so were limited by the number of venues that would actually fit our guests and had the atmosphere we wanted. We looked at a handful of places in Melbourne CBD and settled on 333 Collins Street which has an impressive dome ceiling – it’s incredibly beautiful.”

The couple chose a traditional Indian ceremony but added their own western twists, explains the bride. “Our ceremony was a sort of hybrid Hindu-western affair. It started with the baraat a procession of dancing and drums where the groom is led to the marriage venue. My family did paja to welcome Sandeep and his family and then Sandeep took his spot under the mandap before I walked down the aisle with my mum (after my bridesmaids). The tradition goes that the groom does not see the bride so Sandeep was standing behind a sheet that was held up by my brother and his brother. Once the sheet was dropped, we exchanged garlands and I joined him in the mandap. The ceremony was approx 60 minutes so there were lots of various components but the main part was taking the ‘seven steps’. We then exchanged vows which we had written and got to have our ‘kiss the bride’ moment.”

Rachael was accompanied down the aisle by her mother to Etta Jame’s ‘At Last’.

The ceremony was officiated by Pandit Sri Ram Sivan, Rachael says, “Choosing a celebrant was really important to us as we wanted to ensure our guests could follow the ceremony and knew what was happening. Pandit Rami Sheven injected lots of humour and charisma which we loved.”

Of their photographer, Rachael raves, “We worked with Shevan J who is a legend. He has done a number of Indian weddings so he knew what to expect and when those special moments would be. It was a long day but he was really chilled and easy to work with and of course, took beautiful photos. Always good when you can have a laugh while in the midst of it!”

A grand reception was set at the spectacular The Substation, Newport. “It’s a unique, multipurpose gallery and performance space with big, beautiful windows and high ceilings. It has a dramatic feel to it including bold red drapes – there was just something very New York about it that we loved,” tells Rachael.

Rachael and Sandeep chose Burch & Purchese to create their decadent tower of desserts to act as their “wedding cake”.

Peppereve Calligraphy created custom calligraphy pieces for the day. “We worked with Peppereve Calligraphy to design our seating chart, welcome sign, bar sign and wishing well sign which I really loved. Our seating chart featured black lantern tiles with gold calligraphy so was a bit of a feature piece – it worked in so well with the overall theme.”

Rachael and Sandeep changed into a Rachel Gilbert, white, beaded gown and classic black tuxedo from MJ Bale for their reception. Rachael sharing, “I always envisioned wearing a white dress at my reception so I also purchased a 1930’s style beaded gown from Rachel Gilbert. It was the second dress I tried on! I felt like I was in party mode as soon as I put it on.”

With a large guest list, making sure the food was amazing was a huge priority for these two. The couple choose Fred and Ginger Catering to cater their big day, the team going above and beyond says the bride. “We absolutely adore food and wine so it was a super important component of our wedding and Fred and Ginger Catering absolutely nailed it with a delicious wintry menu. They were super easy going and just ‘got it’ – our guests kept saying how awesome the spread was. My favourite part of the meal was our welcome cocktail which was a blood orange margarita – divine.  They also organised all of our furniture hire, which made it really easy for as we were planning our wedding from interstate.”

The reception was filled to the brim with dancing, but it kicked off with a very special first dance, says Rachael. “We did our first dance to Leon Bridges ‘Coming Home’. We both love his music and it was playing when Sandeep proposed so will always be our song.”

Congratulations to our newlyweds! A big thank you for sharing your day with us.

Thank you also to the fine folk at Shevan J Photography and  Fred and Ginger Catering for sharing today’s wedding extravaganza.