For Gaya and Doug, there was a hint of the romance of Bridgerton to their wedding day. “Our mood board was a hot sunset palette of carnations set against a lush rain-dappled garden party dreamscape, heavily influenced by Bridgerton (which I managed to give a nod to in my vows!)” laughs Gaya. “Us two up the front looking like beautiful brown forest fairies, the ceremony just beaming sunshine and love, rich in colour, rich in life. Lots of earthy terracotta tones, set off by the peach and coral hues of our bridal party and family’s attire. Pops of orange and yellow marigold dangling from the trees around us, all the while surrounded by our nearest and dearest!”
This, was a day, that much like Bridgerton, did not escape the weaving of stories of love, of friendship, of community. With Bhargav Boppa behind the camera, that sunset colour palette and a layer of moody mist, Gaya and Doug also made space to honour both their Tamil and Brazilian heritage. This is a truly unforgettable love story.
While the pair met on Bumble it was Gaya that suggested they meet in real life, she explains “We met on Bumble, 4 years ago. After two weeks of back and forth exchanging of messages, I asked Doug out and we organised to meet in the city to have a Chinese BBQ dinner and a few drinks after. The first time we met, Doug was 45 mins late! Yet I waited patiently, intrigued enough by this person to want to wait that long to meet him. It was worth it.
When he finally arrived, huffed and puffed from running to meet me, I took one look at his big warm smile, and long fluffy lashes, and couldn’t stay annoyed for long. The rest of the night felt like a glass of red wine that I slowly sipped and savoured. We shared stories from our childhood, our hopes and dreams for our future, the change we wanted to create, and it felt like we’d known each other forever.”
The pair were lucky enough to take a two week holiday together to beautiful South India, Kerala, and it was here that Gaya was surprised by Doug asking her to marry him. “Our first overseas trip together was over Easter break in 2019, where we had the luxury of two whole weeks off to explore the gorgeous state of Kerala, South India. We desperately wanted to escape the cold and sought a trip where we could bask in the sun, enjoy fresh food and soak up the culture. Little did I know, that Doug had planned to propose to me on this trip! He had secretly designed my beautiful parti sapphire and diamond ring with Sian from Bert Jewellery.
The night before we were due to leave for India, together with his Mum, he went to visit my parents and let them know of his plans. What a gorgeous man! On our second night, I’d organised for us to go camping in a little village nestled in the hills of Munnar. Surrounded by fireflies, standing on a lookout point one night, Doug thought he’d do it then but decided not to. After camping, we had booked into a really bougie five-star hotel in Munnar again, infinity pool and all, and under the guise of wanting to go seek out the sunset, we wandered the grounds of the hotel one evening.
We got to the rooftop, and I’d asked him to see if someone would take a photo of us with the waning sun in the background. Before I know it, I turn around and see Doug drop one knee, his eyes big and watery, asking me to marry him. I SAID YES! What followed were calls home to our families and besties in the middle of the night Melbourne time, excitedly sharing our news. The next week and a half, we existed in a perfect little bubble of bliss, soaking in all the joy of being happily newly engaged.”
Doug worked with Ashwin Thiyagarajan to create his traditional look. Gaya telling “When we started looking at traditional Brazilian wedding wear for Douglas, we found that there wasn’t really any. Douglas really wanted to wear something sharp and with colour. After scouring the internet again, we found a designer from Chennai, India, who customised a Sherwani suit for him in mint green.
Ashwin from Ashwin Thiyagarajan design was great to work with, and we ended up making a matching suit for Doug’s little brother, and a dress for his mum. Doug looked super dashing and fresh in his mint green suit and crisp white pants, paired with a matching green shawl. It was a unique pairing of colours that we hadn’t seen anywhere before and was so uniquely Doug! For the reception, Doug changed into a dashing navy suit from Peter Jackson. He paired both outfits with a tanned leather pair of loafers.”
Makeup artist Marie Lou Makeup gets a special shout out from Gaya who tells “Valerie from Marie Lou Makeup, is a definite standout. I first came across her on Instagram, as ‘Melbourne’s Inclusive Make up Artist’. I loved what she stood for, in terms of wanting to create looks for WOC in particular that made them feel special and catered to their specific needs. My wedding party was made up of many gorgeous women with different skin types and complexions, and I wanted someone who would listen and give them what they were after.
Valerie did exactly that. Her artistry is unparalleled. I even changed my mind about my look on the day of the wedding, and she accommodated without flinching and exceeded all my expectations about how it would turn out. The makeup stayed on right till the end of the night, having withstood rain, sweat and tears! Valerie’s energy on the day too was so good to be around!”
Gaya adored the time she spent getting ready with her favourite people. “My favourite detail of the day, was definitely gathering with our families and the wedding party at the big house we were getting ready at before we headed off to the venue. The energy in the air was palpable. We were together with all our favourite people and we couldn’t wait to get married. ”
Gaya wore a stunning gold and peach lehenga by Shyamal and Bhumika for the day. She explains “I am a proud Tamil woman and knew I wanted to marry Douglas in traditional wear. However as I’d worn a saree at my engagement party, and thought my wedding ceremony outfit should be a bit more glitzy and glam, I opted to wear a lehenga. Lehengas are a three-piece outfit consisting of a blouse, skirt and dupatta or shawl.
I spent quite a few months searching for the perfect fit online. Because of lockdown, basically, every wedding-related purchase was conducted online. After scouring many amazing Indian designers, I came across the Shyamal and Bhumika design house. They make exquisite, custom-made, hand-stitched pieces which immediately caught my eye and I knew very quickly that they’d be making my wedding outfit. I decided on my outfit as it was in this stunning shade of pink which I’d never seen before, with big flowers of orange and coral stitched into the skirt, offset by a sage green dupatta. It was magical. I could envision how I could accessorise the outfit and build my wedding party’s outfit around mine.
After a few online consultations with them via video call, my outfit arrived in Melbourne! I had to take it into Miss Bella Bridal in Belgrave, Melbourne for a few alterations so that it fits like a glove! I got my jewellery online from Paisley Pop Shop in Jammu and Kashmir, which creates meticulously handcrafted wedding jewellery. I chose to keep it simple by picking a gold plated choker necklace and jhumka set. My bangles were handpicked and sent to me by my aunty from Singapore, in gorgeous pastel hues of mint green and baby pink. For my reception, I changed into an ivory dress that I found at Sheike. It was all the right amounts of classy, elegant and sexy! I felt a million bucks in it! I paired both my outfits with a muted gold heel that I found on Charles & Keith.”
The pair chose to meet before the wedding for a first look, with Bhargav Boppa, a decision they continue to be thrilled with. “When we first started looking for a photographer, his Instagram portfolio jumped out at us. We loved the simplicity, the candidness and the profound emotions and stories he was able to capture through the lens. There was lots of movement and fluidity in his shots.
We were able to book him in for our wedding, and even got him to shoot our engagement party! Bhargav is easy to work with, provides great direction for those who don’t feel super comfortable in front of the camera. We have photos from some of the most special moments of our lives captured by him which we will treasure for a long time to come. The first looks I did with my family and the girls, and well as a second one with Douglas will forever be etched in my memory. The sheer joy, love and excitement in the air was so overwhelming!”
“My favourite part of wedding planning was actually working through figuring out the vibe and the feeling we wanted ourselves to experience on the day of, and also the experience we would create for our guests. Weddings are highly emotional, and I knew very early on that the small details wouldn’t matter so much. Everything from selecting the music for our ceremony playlist, to the song we’d walk down the aisle to, and back down on, those were the sorts of details we focused on.”
The weather magically held off for these two. “The whole week of our wedding, including the day before and the day of, it was forecast to rain. Rain in the Dandenong Ranges is no joke either. It gets really cold, and really misty, and we weren’t confident that the rain would let up. Right up to the afternoon of the wedding it was pouring buckets, and Doug and I kept looking over at each other and the rain outside, wondering what we were going to do. However, as fate would have it, the rain eased just in time for our group photos before we left for the wedding venue.
The delicate mist clinging to us, with the giant treetops in the background ended up providing the most stunning photos. Once we got to the venue too, our friends shared with us that as soon as we were to exchange our vows, the gloomy clouds parted to reveal the blue underneath, and the sun shone down on the ceremony grounds. What a gorgeous thing!”
Wedding party attire? It was a mix of Anisha Shetty lehengas and Topshop terracotta suits. “We had a big wedding party. It consisted of my two sisters, my three best friends, and five of Doug’s best friends. For the girls, I found them lehengas from Indian designer Anisha Shetty. Her designs are simple and modern, and there was something for everyone. My sisters wore matching peach coloured lehengas with different blouse styles, and simple rose-gold and mint green jewellery, while my best friends wore gorgeous peach coloured lehengas in a jacquard print, and off the shoulder top, paired with embellished emerald green and ruby red jewellery. The boys wore terracotta-coloured suits that we found on Topshop, paired with a white shirt, black tie and black shoes.”
Gaya and Doug were married in the Dandenongs at Lyrebird Falls. Says Gaya “We knew very early on that we wanted to get married in the middle of a rainforest surrounded by trees and greenery. But we also didn’t want to have to travel too far or have to self-cater and organise every minute detail at the venue. When we came across Lyrebird Falls, which was the second and last venue we went to visit, we knew we’d struck gold.
The journey down the winding roads of the Dandenong Ranges, to pulling up into the carpark of the venue and seeing these ancient ashwood trees tower above us, to then walking into the lush garden where the ceremony would be held, and for a moment feeling like it was just us alone, was all we needed to decide on where we were going to get married. The impeccable customer service on offer by the Lyrebird team was the icing on top of the cake for us in sealing the deal. We loved that we could customise the reception area in any way we wanted because of the minimalism of the space. There were also beautiful pockets for photos and guests to hang out in strewn across the venue which also appealed to us. The menu was full of gorgeous, high-quality meals which we knew our guests would enjoy too!”
Gaya walked down the aisle by herself, she explains “I chose not to have anyone walk me down. I didn’t want to be ‘given away’ by anyone as it seems to be such an antiquated, and sexist tradition to me. Instead, I proudly walked down the aisle following the lead of my parents, my sisters, and my best friends, and my husband-to-be.
Doug and I walked down to ‘Lightning’ by Mortimer. A beautiful reggae song. The first time we heard it together, we held each other’s hands, our grip tightening with each verse of the song, and by the end, we looked at each other with big teary eyes and said ‘this is it’. The lyrics and sentiment of the song really spoke to us, and in a way almost told the story of our relationship and how we want to be in our union. I still can’t listen to it without tearing up haha! The song was the perfect soundtrack to the claps and cheers that accompanied our wedding party down to the ceremony.”
Florium Creations created bright and beautiful floral arrangements of carnations, Gaya noting “I’ve always loved the simplicity of carnations. It was a bonus that they came in an array of colours for us to play with. Working with Tam from Florium Creations was really fun and easy. She was accommodating to my ideas and brought to life the most beautiful flower curtains for our ceremony and bouquets just bursting with colour for myself and my wedding party.
Tam suggested we pair the carnations with baby’s breath and plush roses in my bouquet. The flower curtain was hand strung by Tam, and was over 30m long and delicately draped the gazebo providing the most beautiful backdrop for our ceremony. My jaw dropped when I first caught sight of the gazebo and as I prepared to walk down the aisle!”
Gaya and Doug were married by Kim McClelland of Dear Henri “Our ceremony was precious and intimate. We worked very closely with Kim from Dear Henri who guided us through every step of the way with heart. We wanted our ceremony to really tell our story and to pay homage to our love and our community who had gathered to celebrate our union.
We kicked off with an acknowledgement of country which was important for Doug and me both. We chose to go with an unplugged ceremony too as we wanted everyone to be present. Kim suggested we include an ‘asking of friends and family’ into the ceremony to receive their collective blessing, and it was the best! Our people erupted into cheers and immediately put me and Doug at ease, even though the nerves were creeping up on us – stage fright was real! It was also important for us that we took a moment to introduce the stunning bunch who were up there alongside us. It was a really cute moment as we had written a short sentence describing who they were and what they meant to us, and none of our wedding party expected that. It gave our guests a chance to get to know them a little too. Following that, we got our friend Monica, who was part of the wedding party and who had flown all the way from Dubai and braved two weeks in hotel quarantine to read a quote by Louis de Bernières “Love Is A Temporary Madness”.
It was really moving, after which, we moved on to Kim sharing our story, which brought on lots of big belly laughs, and giggles from the guests. I loved that our ceremony was joyous and fun, and we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. Doug’s vows literally knocked me off my feet! He had written this beautiful spoken word style poem/vows for me and I didn’t even know how and where he came up with it. But it made me realise that there’s still so much for us to learn and love about each other!”
Doug’s favourite memories? “My most vivid memory from our wedding was looking at Gaya as she came down the aisle, taking her in, and enjoying her little smiles as she read out her vows.”
Advice to you from Gaya herself? “Don’t sweat the small things, and definitely don’t sweat when things don’t work out. At the end of the day, they’re just details. The big picture is that you’re coming together and you’re committing to spending the rest of your lives together! Nothing else can take away from the joy of that realisation!
Definitely make a budget from the beginning and identify your three non-negotiables from the get-go. It really helps decision making much easier as you embark on locking vendors in. Just have fun with it – this is ultimately the biggest party of your life! So go wild!”
Gaya made much of the decor herself, including the seating chart for the sit-down reception. “I DIYed our signs and all of our stationery including our invitations. For starters, we commissioned one of our favourite photos of us to be turned into a watercolour painting to go on the front of our invitations. Vanessa Bong from Vess Illustration created the cutest piece of work for us, which we then got printed off at Minuteman Printing.
For the rest of the stationery (seating chart, name cards) we bought a pre-made template that we could further customise colours and font for and again printed them off ourselves. For our welcome sign, I repurposed a very large photo frame that I had and painted it in terracotta and fixed the sign to the back of it to display at the entrance. The yellow and orange marigolds that were dangling off the trees at the ceremony, were sent down to us by my aunty from Singapore.”
Gaya and Doug took dance lessons with The Secret Garden Of Dance to nail their first dance. Gaya remembers “You know that cute phase when you start dating someone and you send each other your fav songs? Well the first song Doug ever sent me was “Sorri, Sou Rei” by Natiruts. Over the years, this song’s been the background track to many of our adventures. It was a no brainer that we’d take our first steps on the dance floor as newlyweds to this song too!
I remember my youngest sister, a seasoned salsa dancer, saying to us ‘I can’t have you be up there dancing sloppily, I’m going to find you somewhere to take some classes’. We obliged, and a couple of weeks later found ourselves in a studio in Camberwell and were greeted by the wonderful Caroline. She took the time to understand the essence of who we were as a couple, made sure we nailed the basics before launching us into full-blown choreography and very patiently answered all my questions.
Every Monday evening for six weeks, we left the studio with the biggest smiles of satisfaction etched on our faces at having nailed a portion of our routine, our confidence soaring, and our energy levels at an all-time high. After work most evenings we’d clear our living room floor and practice till we’d crumble into sweaty heaps on the floor hahaha. IT WAS BLOODY EPIC showing off our moves to all our people at our reception, the few mistakes we made glossed over with laughter. We’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.”
Prime Entertainment kept the dance floor full. “We loved dancing the night away to the banger after banger on the dancefloor. Shout out to Brent from Prime Entertainment!!!”
Gaya and Doug worked with cinematographer Iconic Pictures to capture this beautiful film of the day.
Gaya and Doug, thank you SO much for sharing your incredible wedding day stories. What an honour! Thank you also goes to Bhargav Boppa for sharing today’s beautiful images.