When it comes to describing a wedding, there really is no one better than the couple saying “I Do” and in the case of this wedding, stunning bride Ava was more than happy to share their colourful & joyous bayside soirée wedding day, in her own words. Captured by KS Creative Photography, Ava tells us about their traditional and beautiful nuptials by starting with, “Our wedding was such an exhilarating, wild, tender, and sweet time for both of us. Ash was born here and I was born in Fiji, so we both have roots extending back to Fiji and India. We had a Hindu wedding which comprised of 4 days of celebrations (so crazy, I know!). While it may seem that cultural weddings remain traditional and don’t usually sway into contemporary celebrations, I think our wedding was every bit about him and me and reflected our love for nature, flowers, colours, family and a good time.”

Ash and I met while we were in high school. The story of how we met is uncanny, but my Mum considered it a ‘sign’ – we attended the Canberra Museum on the same day, without knowing each other at the time. We didn’t talk to each other that day, but I began my search on social media for this mystery boy regardless. We may have had some friends in common online because only a couple of days later I found him on a social media website as a “suggested friend.” How I found him online is bizarre to me! I started talking to him first and being teenagers with a lot in common we talked day and night and eventually got together as a couple. For many people, it would seem like just a teenage romance. But we have just celebrated our 11th year together since dating and it has truly been the best decade (and a bit) of our lives.

Ash and I love nature and the outdoors and Ash has a fondness for the beach. I had always wanted a personal proposal with just Ash and me and that’s exactly what Ash had planned. We celebrated New Year’s Eve with our families the night before, and the next day we made our way to Milk Beach for our picnic. Except for this time, Ash had planned to propose to me and I had no idea! Amid our chit-chat, Ash “pretended” he got a call from his brother and stepped away to speak on the phone. I thought it was weird that he got up and walked away, and so I turned around to ask what he was doing to find him perched down on one knee, holding a beautiful Tiffany ring. It was an immense surprise, with Ash inviting his brother, his brother’s girlfriend, and my sister to take hidden photos of our proposal. Ash is so sweet-natured too – without my knowing, he had met with my mum and godparents for a coffee the week before to let them know he was planning to propose.

Our wedding week began on th 29th of April 2021 with an intimate mehendi (henna) ceremony at my family home. Ash and his groomsmen attended and there was lots of dancing, cake cutting, henna and laughter. The theme for this was boho luxe with a touch of enchanted garden. My Mum and I share a love for flowers and plants, so we styled and set up the flowers and décor for the home events ourselves. We had lots of magnolia and maple leaves (a node to our Autumn wedding), hydrangeas, roses and pampas. My mehendi design was reminiscent of our wedding week – I had daisies, paisleys, lotuses, and lace detailing. Ash got my name written on his palm too. This was the last day I would see him until the wedding day. The next set of rituals are done at the bride and groom’s residences.

On the 30th of April and the 1st of May, Ash and I each had our Haldi (turmeric) ceremony. The turmeric ceremony has a long-held belief of blessing the wedded couple. Turmeric is also really good for the skin and I found my skin was glowing despite the lack of sleep!

My grandfather gifted me gold so I wore this on the wedding day. I also wore pearl and gold bangles gifted to me by Ash’s mum a couple of years ago. The beaded necklace I wore as part of my wedding day jewellery piece was handcrafted in the Southern Highlands and it was a special piece to me.

My bridal outfit was a traditional outfit known as a lehenga (le-hen-ga). It was a large skirt with a short blouse. Traditionally, South Asian brides wear crimson or bright reds, but my lehenga was a deep red, almost maroon – think Penfolds Cabernet Shiraz from 2013.

The bridal dress is arguably the most important and photographed item of the wedding day. I knew I wanted a deep red colour because it matched my skin tone well and I knew I could wear pastel jewellery to contrast the deep tones. My outfit was from a local designer in Sydney Abhishek & Ananya. I wanted to channel regal elegance, and derived inspiration from famous Indian designer Sabysachi.

Ash’s attire was also from the same local designer in Sydney – Abhishek and Ananya. For his outfit, he chose an ivory ensemble. The top half is what’s known as a sherwani and looks like a blazer. Ash wanted something that was elegant, custom and had special detail: our designer had stitched our names onto Ash’s sleeves and stitched a large rose with ‘mum’ written on the stem to remember his late Mum. The rose was a direct representation of Ash’s tattoo, also dedicated to his late Mum.

The few DIY projects on the day included the wedding order of events/program that I made it on Canva and one of my bridesmaids got them printed for me. The wedding sign was not a DIY by me, but my wonderful sister-in-law made a Perspex sign for us. It was perfect!

We had a remembrance table for Ash’s mum. She passed 3 years ago from cancer and loved red roses so we made sure we paid homage to her at our wedding. We printed a picture of her, wrote her favourite saying “to the moon and back” on a moon vase, and made sure it was situated close to our ceremony site.

As a lawyer, I am naturally inclined to pay attention to the minute details. I came up with our wedding hashtag as well: #tothechandandback which is an interesting play on words because Ash’s mum used to say “love you to the moon and back” and it was also a phrase that meant something cute to both of us. So I substituted the English word “moon” for the Sanskrit word for moon which is “chand.” Chand is also Ash’s surname so it really came full circle.

An integral part of a Hindu wedding ceremony is the mandap – this most closely resembles a chuppah (a 4-post wooden arbour with a covering under which the couple is married). I wanted an organic, earthy feel so we went with a wooden mandap with deep reds, blush pinks, ivory, cream and green flowers, and foliage. We were so lucky to have our florist’s husband build our mandap for us too!

We got married on the 2nd of May 2021. It was at Doltone House at Jones Bay Wharf, and our ceremony was set up on the gantry with picturesque views of Sydney Harbour. Our venue was an important choice – I thought it would be special to mesh a bit of Ash’s love for the water and my love for flowers to create our wedding day. I knew I wanted a daytime ceremony which is a little uncommon for Hindu weddings. But this was something I was set on!

Our ceremony and reception venues were the same. Usually, for Indian weddings, there is another day for a reception, but we chose to do it all in one day. This was partly because of COVID and partly because we had such a great venue that we didn’t want to waste the wonderful spaces we had booked.

Our ceremony was a Hindu ceremony. As with the whole wedding day, we wanted the ceremony to feel warm, connected, and organic. It’s different to say an Anglo-Saxon wedding ceremony where there are readings from the Bible by some guests – we had readings from the priests from the Holy Book and exchanged jai-mala’s (flower garlands) when I walked down the aisle to the mandap. The jai-mala is considered auspicious and symbolises the start of our journey together as a married couple.

I had cellist Antonio Aguilar play “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding as I walked down the aisle. This was perfect and something I had always wanted at our wedding.

Out of all the gorgeous images by KS Creative Photography from our wedding day, the candid shots are probably my favourite. They capture our laughter, our love, and our story in such an untouched and unfiltered way.

Our wedding was styled around what I like to describe as whimsical romance. I love flowers, I love plants and I love nature. It was only fitting that our big non-negotiable was the ambiance, style, and flowers for our wedding. We chose a wonderful florist in Surry Hills – Eden and Bell – and Sophie (the owner) was also very good at styling, so we had our florist and stylist all in one. Sophie was a gem at understanding what we wanted and the atmosphere we were trying to create. She was one of the few vendors who met with us to discuss our ideas, thoughts, and (mostly) my Pinterest boards. We decided on fresh flowers for our ceremony and reception segments and went for a combination of roses, hydrangeas, dahlias, baby’s breath, and lots of green foliage. The fresh flowers were complimented with a grand chandelier and lots of candles to set the mood. We had large black candelabras and florals for the guests’ tables and a full floral runner with pillar candles for the bridal table. The flowers were a great reflection of us as a couple – we love nature and plants, so it was only fitting our wedding echoed our style. Ash and I wanted to create an atmosphere of warmth to reflect our relationship and our love for the years behind us and the years before us. We wanted our guests to feel connected to our story.

Our flowers were such a joy to look at and be seated under. They smelt and they looked amazing. All our vendors were really accommodating and helpful. We particularly loved our florist and stylist Sophie. She took such a keen interest in our cultural wedding and she created such a dreamy atmosphere for our big day.

One of my favourite details from the whole day was that our florist set up a flower station at the end of the night and our guests got to take home the wonderful flowers from the day. It made me so happy!

Other fantastic elements of the day were the amazing Latin dance performers – Dance With Me Sydney – organised for the reception by my brother in law, and sharing our first meal together as husband and wife.

A wedding day is the most important day of your life, so it is important to have people there who matter to you and those who will multiply your happiness. There is sometimes a lot of pressure for things to be perfect and not go wrong. My advice is to soak in the day as much as you can because trust me when I say it goes in a flash! Don’t be too hard on yourself either – if plan A doesn’t work, there’s always Plan B and more often than not, no one will notice if something is missing, or if something didn’t happen the way you envisioned. Try to include small and subtle details that are important to you both – it doesn’t matter if anyone else notices it’s something you can look back on and remember fondly. Remember that the day is about the beginning of a marriage – nurture that thought and delve in how exciting, tender and organic that is.

I must confess that I miss wedding planning! It was a little trying at times, however, it’s the only opportunity you get to plan the biggest day of your life and you get to do it how you and your partner want. I loved designing our wedding programs and I loved how we had a lot of subtle details that reflected our style, our hobbies, our interests and our story.

Thank you Ava & Ash for sharing such a spectacular wedding with us, and to KS Creative Photography for sharing their gorgeous images.