In Chandan’s words, her first meeting with Kumar was ‘very Bollywood’. A Dubai resident, she was holidaying in London with her cousins two years ago when she bumped into the man who would become her husband in Leicester Square.

‘With gorgeous chandeliers, it is one of the most royal ballrooms I’ve ever seen. So I decided not to go overboard with the décor, apart from exaggerated centrepieces,’ says Chandan of her reception
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‘My brother happened to ask Kumar some tourist-y questions and before we knew it, he became part of the group getting along with my family as if he had known us for years. By the end of day, my brother was match-making between us,’ recalls Chandan, laughingly.

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A business graduate who specialises in marketing and events, Chandan says she got along nicely with Kumar during that holiday ‘though he is a dental surgeon and I know little about medicine.’ Holiday over, they stayed in touch spending hours on the phone or on Skype.

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‘I used to look forward to the next conversation and that’s when I realised he is somebody special,’ she says. Six months later, in January 2017, Kumar flew to Dubai to be with Chandan on her 30th birthday. ‘We went to [Italian restaurant] The Artisan for an evening together, and that’s where he popped the question.’

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Cut to February 11, 2018, and the two tied the knot in a charming wedding that spanned four days. ‘It took us a year to plan our big fat Indian wedding,’ says Chandan, who decided against using the services of a wedding planner instead relying on her events management experience.

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The couple’s idea was to create unforgettable memories not just for themselves but for their guests as well. ‘I wasn’t keen on a marriage that would be merely an overload of parties. With that in mind, I shortlisted 15 venues that stood out for their unique ambience and food. Then, together we chose three,’ she says.

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Bridgewater Tavern at JW Marriott Marquis was to be the venue for their welcome party for 120 guests. ‘Since most of our overseas guests were staying at the Marquis, we did not want them to travel far. Plus it has a beautiful terrace overlooking the canal – perfect to host a fun, casual event that prepared everyone for the next three days of madness,’ Chandan explains.

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For the mehendi and sangeet ceremonies, the couple chose Magnolia at Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah, as they wanted their guests to get a feel of ‘quintessential Dubai’. ‘Magnolia’s gorgeous outdoor courtyard, fairy lights wrapped around palm trees and abras that transported guests to the venue decorated with gorgeous lanterns and candles on the water terrace, and a private indoor lounge where we partied until 3.30 am all combined to create a totally magical experience,’ she says.

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If the pre-wedding celebrations were more like a leaf out of Arabian Nights, the wedding at Ritz Carlton JBR had a ‘fresh dewy look’, says Chandan, who preferred a day marriage just so she and the guests could appreciate the spectacular views the beachfront property offers.

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‘Since I’m a water baby, I wanted to hear the soothing sound of waves and see the sunlight playing on the water in the background while I took my pheras (a Hindu marriage ritual). And the Ritz had it all. It was the highlight of our wedding and I felt I was inside my own fairytale.’

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Since the décor was mainly in subdued shades of gold, white and a dusty pink, Chandan placed colourful paper umbrellas on every chair to ‘add a fun element to the otherwise elegant décor. They came in handy when the sun got a tad harsh. Guests found them so adorable and many kept them as souvenirs,’ she adds.

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In keeping with the guest-centric theme for the celebration, the couple decided that their reception – a black tie event – at the Dubai Ballroom in JW Marriott Marquis, would not have a clichéd stage or throne-like chairs for the bride and the groom as the focal point. ‘Also, no stage means the pictures of the event have a variety of interesting backdrops and are more candid,’ says the events specialist, who is now in the process of packing her bags and flying off to London to start her new life. ‘Although I am very pragmatic, I believe in magic and I know my life with Kumar will have a lot of that.’

Also read: Want to get married in the UAE? Here’s the legal stuff

Also read: Top ways to avoid wedding-planning stress

Who put it together

Wedding planner: The couple and their families.

Photographer and videographer: Imprint Studio

Entertainment: DJ Linz at the welcome party, DJ Manoj Punjabi at the sangeet and DJ Ace at the reception. Freelance Indian drummers played at the wedding.

Décor and flowers: VCraft Events

Bridal lehenga designer: A bespoke bridal boutique in Mumbai called Feathership.

Reception gown: Dress Code, a boutique in Indonesia.

Jewellery: Kundan stones set in gold for the sangeet and pheras. The reception jewellery was diamonds and pearls in platinum. All jewellery was bought in Mumbai.

Wedding make-up by: Mumbai-based film make-up artist Yasmeen Rodgers