If your Wednesday needs a celebration of joy, of friendship, then let Vandna and Shiva’s Haldi and Mehndi ceremonies, be your beacon. COVID-19 really shook up how weddings unfolded, and for Vandna and Shiva, it means that instead of family, they celebrated their nuptials, with the support of their best friends. Says Vandna “Since our families could not fly to Australia due to covid restrictions our friends had performed different rituals for us which are usually performed by certain family members i.e. Groom’s welcoming ceremony, Kanyadaan (giving away the bride), Knot tie for the couple before the Fera starts…”

Set at a private country home (you know we had to include this one in The Home Issue) and captured by the talented Shevan J Photography this is a wedding that is literally packed to the brim with colour, with tradition and with mateship.

Flower wise, the couple worked Wild in Love to decorate the day. Says the bride “We had gone with pastel flowers (white and blush pink) to match with the floral thread work on my lehenga. Although mostly they were used for showering during the Fera ceremony.”

We figured that although the home Vandna and Shiva chose for their big day, wasn’t technically theirs, it still classified for an at-home wedding! Says the bride “We had booked a private property located just outside Daylesford town on 5 acres of woodland. Since it was going to be a DIY wedding we stayed with our close friends for 5 days. The venue was perfect as it had a separate courtyard which was used for our Haldi and Mehndi ceremonies.  It also had two houses, (in our culture, separate houses are needed for the bride and groom as the traditional wedding is organised at the bride’s house and the groom comes with the Baraat). Two houses were also used for both of our separate entry to the ceremonial structure on the wedding day.”

You might have guessed DIY and handmade elements were the shining stars of this day. “The entire wedding was DIY, planned by us and my best friend Neeti Uniyal who made this happen (like our backdrop arch and fairy lights for this ceremony. All decorated by us the day we arrived at the venue..) Some of these projects are so close to my heart – even my best friend had this old school bike which she bought for no reason years ago and never used it. She sanded and coloured it yellow/gold.”

Shiva chose the traditional dress for the day, explains Vandna “Shiva is from the southern part of India (State of Karnataka) so he wore the traditional outfit. His outfit really complimented mine because it was plain white with a Shalle (Scarf) which matched my Lehenga.”

Want to know all about Vandna’s beautiful green lehenga? “My dress colour was forest green with pastel handwork (mainly thread and beads). The thought behind this was our forest wedding and I am from the state of Gujarat (India) where the traditional bridal wear is a mix of green, white and red colours.

My wedding dress was made in my home town Surat (India). We technically live and breathe textile. My family owns a textile business and one of my childhood memories of it is how I and my siblings used to hide behind these massive rolls of fabric! I decided that I want to have it made in Surat rather than buying it from an established boutique, especially in times like these where the small business are struggling. My sister and I worked with a small business with a team of 5 to 10 workers who completed the work in a month and a half. The hardest part was getting the right colour shade since you cannot really work it out through video calls or photos. The entire process was very exciting and stressful, and the handwork is impeccable. I also wore Nike sneakers rather than wearing heels to be the most comfortable and of course so I don’t fall over wearing this 10kilos lehenga.” And there was even a sentimental family touch. “I wore traditional silver anklets for the bride is supposed to wear during the ceremonies. This was given by my mother.”

These two have no regrets over their choice of photographer. “Shev was just the most patient photographer I have met,” tells Vandna. “He really has done an amazing job capturing all candid moments.”

Two ceremonies meant these two got to choose two different vibes, says Vandna “For Haldi ceremony, we had gone for a more festive vibe with lots of Holi colours. Our Menehdi was more chic styled décor with lots of fairy lights with very chill/cozy vibe where our friends could enjoy Indian street food, music and dance.”

The bride walked down the aisle with her closest girlfriends by her side.

In honour of the guests who couldn’t be there in person, Shiva and Vandna hosted a live Zoom conference for everyone to tune in.

“We had a colourful large pompom entrance hanging was handmade by my sister in India. It’s a tradition to have entrance hanging in a wedding house.”

There was even more DIY come the wedding day, says Vandna. “Our Ceremonial structure was built by two of our closest friends at the venue. We had gone for a rustic theme, so we made some chips and burns to make it look old. We decorated it with pampas and eucalyptus stems found on the property. The Rustic entry doors were built from scratch and painted to give that old country barn look. We made a little bar area where most of the crowd was during the ceremony. It was made out of pallets, which we also used for seating for guests instead of chairs. The Rustic entry doors were my fav.”

The couple chose Kathiyavadi Krunch to cater the celebration, the bride noting “Food was the highlight of the day. We had gone for a traditional Gujarati menu and had our caterer come and make live Indian street food for this evening. The food was to die for.”

And although we may end the story here, the party had only just begun, says  Vandna. “All the girls had surprised us with Bollywood dance performance at the after-party, it was all so perfect, it was done near the lake just before the sunset.” And the first dance? “Shiva and I did a little dance we choreographed on ‘Mehendi Laga ke Rakhna’ from a Bollywood movie DDLJ.”

A big congratulations to you both Vandna and Shiva! Thank you for sharing your wedding day story with us. Thanks also go to Shevan J Photography for today’s beautiful wedding!