This month, we’re all about ceremonies (it is The Ceremony Issue after all), and this gorgeous wedding is overflowing with them! Jada and Shivesh held pre-wedding celebrations with their immediate families at an AirBnB property in Fitzroy, which included Sangeet, Tilak, Haldi and Mehndi ceremonies. Oh, and live jazz and all the dancing. They then headed to ISKON Temple in Albert Park for their wedding ceremony, followed by dinner at Crown Melbourne. There to photograph the festivities (and help guide the couple through their ceremonies!) was the talented Bhargav Boppa.

So how did Jada and Shivesh meet? They first knew of each other in their first year at medical school in 2008. However, they hung out in different groups and were a part of a 350+ cohort of medical students, so never got the chance to get to know each other back then. “In fact, I may have found Shivesh’s music taste of questionable quality,” says Jada. “And as I wasn’t afraid to share my opinion, he may have found me to be a touch too domineering for his liking!”

As fate would have it, some seven years later they bumped into each other at a mutual friend’s party and struck up a conversation, which got the ball rolling. A few months later, they were coincidentally rotated into the same surgical unit where they worked together for three weeks. At the end of the last day, Shivesh asked Jada to meet him for coffee.

This first date took place at a cafe in Hawthorn. As the cafe was drawing to a close around 4pm, the couple didn’t want the day to end yet. They decided to go for a walk and get some ice cream. They were hoping to find a park to sit and eat at, but instead ended up sitting on a bench in a beautiful little garden by a church…

Four years later, in October 2019, Shivesh planned a trip for them to Tuscany, to follow on from a work conference Jada had in Athens. “He took me by complete surprise when he got down on one knee while I was admiring the best view of Florence and the Duomo I had ever seen as we sat outside the Basilica of San Miniato of Monte,” shares Jada. “I was born in Italy, so finding myself in a beautiful church garden again – this time on the other side of the world, in my country of birth – with the man of my dreams was truly very special to me.”

The couple’s pre-wedding celebrations, which included Sangeet, Haldi and Mehndi ceremonies, where held at a private Fitzroy residence in July 2021.

Shivesh also took part in a Tilak ceremony. This is where the bride’s father offers gifts to the groom and welcomes him to the family.

Having a jazz band for their pre-wedding festivities was one of the highlights of the day.

Capturing all the stunning moments was photographer Bhargav Boppa. “Our photographer and his team seamlessly took these brilliant photos without being intrusive at all,” says Jada. “Additionally, because of his wealth of experience he was able to guide us through some of the ceremonies as none of us had much of an idea about what we were doing!”

Jada took part in a Mehndi ceremony, where henna art applied to the bride’s hands and feet, thought to ease the pre-wedding anxiety by its cooling effect.

Jada and Shivesh made sure their dogs – Leo and Archie – were there for (almost) all of the celebrations!

The couple held a Haldi ceremony, where turmeric paste is applied to the bride and groom. This is symbolic of purifying and cleansing, and gives a natural glow to the skin.

Being surrounded by their immediate families in person, and their extended families and friends via livestream, was incredibly special for Jada and Shivesh.

Jada’s gold jewellery was passed down by her mum, who received it at the time of her wedding over 30 years ago.

For their wedding ceremony, Jada wore a red bridal lehenga designed by a couturier and handcrafted at Sue Mue in New Delhi, India. Her family have been regular clients of this boutique for three generations, so it was a very sentimental piece.

On her bridal lehenga, Jada says, “I lived in India for seven or eight years during my early childhood and was always fascinated by the customs and colours abound, but have particularly started appreciating it and learning more about it as I’ve gotten older now. Indian brides traditionally wear red as the colour symbolises love, passion and strength. These associations with the colour come from Hindu religious beliefs and representation of Durga, a warrior goddess who symbolises boldness, warmth and feminine power. Whilst I’m not particularly religious myself, I enjoyed the experience of being a part of timeless rituals going back centuries!”

The wedding ceremony was held at ISCKON Temple in Albert Park. Jada’s mum arranged the florals, which were a mix of orchids, roses and seasonal flowers.

Their ceremony was about an hour long and felt very contemporary, according to the couple. “Our priest explained the meaning of the Sanskrit scriptures in English. Listening to it all while seated in front of the ‘holy fire’ and hearing the soft chanting of the temple musicians was mesmerising and meditative,” says Jada. “We then walked around the fire seven times while the priest recited specific vows, which on reflection are so universal and no different to any other culture or time. I later learned that the fire is symbolic for another Hindu god (Agnideva) who is held as both witnessing and blessing the couple’s union. Coming together as husband and wife, with our overjoyed families and all this divine spirituality around us, certainly felt very meaningful and complete.”

Shivesh adds, “I remember sitting in the Mandap with Jada while the beautiful chanting from the temple musicians lulled us into a trance-like state, the flames of the fire licking the air and reaching toward bright blue sky overhead, and the happy faces of our closest loved ones surrounding us with a few tears of joy between them. What I remember the most is the mixture of elation, gratitude, and awe I felt taking all of this in while looking into the eyes of my beautiful wife – a crystallised memory of intense feeling that will stay with me forever, and thinking about how excited I am for us to be continuing on our journey together now as husband and wife.”

After their wedding ceremony, Jada and Shivesh hosted a dinner at Silks Private Dining at Crown Melbourne.

Filming this beautiful day was Cine Wedding Stories, who put together the highlights video below.

Jada admits that wedding planning often had her feeling overwhelmed, particularly after looking at Pinterest mood boards and Insta-worthy extravagant weddings. “I knew it really wasn’t something that resonated with me personally, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to the social pressure I felt to emulate something similar,” she explains. “In fact, we had planned a huge engagement party in April 2020 which got cancelled due to the pandemic. I realised then, that the wedding really just needs to be true to the values my partner and I hold – the most important of which was really just to immerse ourselves in the experience on the day, and have the ones nearest and dearest to us there to share it. We had hoped to go back to Italy and India with our closest friends and family for an intimate celebration, but given the border restrictions and frequent lockdowns ended up with our small Melbourne wedding which was perfect in every way for us nonetheless!”

Her advice for future marrieds is to be open and flexible with your vision and plans, but don’t compromise on your core principles and values. “Your wedding should be as unique and true to yourself, as you and your partner are to each other.”

Thank you Jada and Shivesh for sharing your day with us! We’re thrilled that you put together the perfect, intimate celebration that included everything you felt was important. A big thanks to Bhargav Boppa for the amazing photography in this feature, as well as Cine Wedding Stories for the incredible video.