As Manolia D’Souza’s parents walked down the aisle, she had a surreal moment of realisation – in a few steps, she’d not just close the distance between her and the man waiting for her at the other end, Tanuj Damani, but those steps would see them make the giant leap from being best friends-turned-lovers to family.
Family was at the fore of the four-day-celebration that saw Manolia, 30, a Goan-Mangalorean Catholic raised in Dubai, and Tanuj, 28, a Marwari Hindu, merge not just their different religious ceremonies and traditions but also bring together their two families as one, considering each of their inputs and keeping both sides in the loop.
It’s hard enough to plan one wedding, so when Manolia and Tanuj took on the mammoth task of planning two different weddings as well as the many pre- and post-wedding ceremonies part of each of their cultures, things did fall apart at times. That’s when the couple learnt that the building block of a successful marriage is compromise. ‘There were times when we struggled to see eye to eye on issues, starting with which wedding would be considered the official anniversary,’ laughs Manolia. ‘We’ve picked November 18 – the date in between both the Christian and Hindu ceremonies as a trade-off.’
In the four days, the couple powered through seven different functions between them – the traditional Goan-Mangalorean roce ceremony that sees the bridal party doused in coconut milk by friends and family to symbolise the end of bachelorhood, a catholic wedding at Dubai’s St. Mary’s Church on November 17, the mehndi, bhaat ceremony (an exchange of gifts between relatives), sangeet, the tel-bana (Marwari version of haldi), and the beachside pheras at JA The Resort, Jebel Ali on November 19.
While the Christian ceremonies were planned to perfection by Manolia with the help of her parents and relatives, Tanuj and his family roped in wedding planners to ensure the larger Hindu functions would unfold without a hitch. That doesn’t mean Manolia and Tanuj washed their hands off the proceedings – in fact, they oversaw the tiniest of details and customised each event to incorporate personal elements that reflect their love story. Manolia, a graphic designer, unleashed her creative genius designing the couple’s logo and the punny hashtag #TanManKiShaadi, which is both a portmanteau of the couple’s names as well as a play on the Hindi phrase that means a union of body and soul.
Meanwhile, Tanuj, a web developer, designed their wedding website and online invites and customised T-shirts for the bridal party to wear during the Roce ceremony. The attention to detail extended to the wedding favours: customised macarons to signify the couple’s love of food and their joint food blog, and gifts for the bridesmaids and groomsmen too – customised trinkets and cufflinks associated to a special memory.
But it’s the surprise the couple planned for each other that takes the cake – Tanuj played the guitar and sang a three-song-medley for Manolia after their church wedding, and at the sangeet, Manolia returned the favour with a surprise dance performance with their friends. ‘I was so upset she surprised me because I always surprise her,’ says Tanuj. From returning from Mumbai earlier than planned and showing up at Manolia’s doorstep to confess his love for her, to the surprise proposal, Tanuj has always had the upper hand. But his mate checkmated him with the greatest surprise of them all – a red Ferrari California for Tanuj to ride into the baraat instead of on the traditional horse. ‘I arrived on 600 horses (power),’ the petrolhead jokes.
Sounds like hard work, but their love for each other made it seem effortless. ‘Here’s a secret, if something goes wrong, only you know about it!’