Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Indian Weddings in Dubrovnik

I have been meaning to write about this subject for a while. For years in fact, and somehow it always slips my mind.
I remember when I first heard from my first big Indian wedding client, Rishi. He phoned me and when he said what he and his fiance, Shilpa, wanted, I thought it was a phone prank. Seriously. I remember telling Marin that I wonder who is at the other end of the line laughing at me, being so vigorously ambitious about everything he said. As it really did sound incredible.
350 people... 4 days... 9 events....
All in Dubrovnik, all organized by us.

I have craved so long to do something so intense and so new and challenging for a while and then it came to me!
Shortly afterwards, Rishi and his brother came for the first site inspection. We met, we clicked, and the rest is history.
This is how we (un)officially became Indian weddings in Dubrovnik Wedding planners.

Over the years, we planned many more Indian weddings in Dubrovnik. Some bigger, some smaller, some lasting 3 days some even 7! It has taught us to cherish new traditions and cultures and learn new wedding traditions too. Many of which I will speak in this blog. So- enjoy :)

Tina and Bart were officially our first Indian couple getting married in Dubrovnik. Tina is Indian, Bart is Dutch and they live in London. Perfectly modern international wedding. We loved everything about it and the two of them were just so incredibly fun to hang around with, the whole experience was a breeze.
The wedding was twofold- day 1 Indian and day 2 European :). Here are just a few photos of the Indian part, it was a beautiful sunny June day and it was great to see Bart experiencing this new transition and tradition , being brought in by his new Indian family...

Only a few days after Tina and Bart, which were a fantastic introduction for us in Indian wedding traditions, we started with coordination of the big fat Indian wedding, that from beginning of the blog, the 350 people, 4 days and 9 events.
We welcomed everyone at airport and brought them to the hotel, they all stayed at Rixos hotel where majority of events took place.
Day 1 was welcome party on Dubrovnik's galleon, a replica of 16th century galleons, where people drank, nibbled, mingled and danced at the amazing tunes of the best Dubrovnik saxophone player ever.

The evening was continued at a view point bar with canapes and flowing champagne, with a ring ceremony and finished off in hotel's night club, with more food and drinks, till - 6 in the morning! Not a lot of people showed up for breakfast but thankfully all future events were scheduled for the afternoon :)

Day 2 was reserved for Mehendi and Sangheet. This is where I learned the most and enjoyed the most. Professional henna (mehendi) artists were flown in from London to ensure prime service and girls enjoyed all day long by the pool while having their hands made.

After the Mehendi party for the girls, the guys joined in and made a party out of it, the DJ started with Bollywood hits and as the sunset grew into the night, the fun grew....
Hence we didn't have a lot of time to prepare for the Sangheet, which took place on almost the same venue, shortly afterwards. Guests enjoyed Indian buffet and even guests from India commented on the quality and superb taste of food. That was a huge relief, we knew how important food was and this was basically first ever Indian event of that kind, so this was a time to toast for us too :)

Champagne was flowing, scents of incredible Indian food embraced it all, the DJ hit it off with some nice intro music and the red carpet was set up for the guests to enter in style. It was an extraordinary event. Upon entrance of Shilpa and Rishi, fireworks hit off and throughout the night the laser show pointed their names on the hill above Dubrovnik. AS fabulous as it gets....
Party lasted on till 3am on the beach and continued till 6am in the hotel's night club. Next day was grand finale- wedding ceremony and wedding reception. My nerves were on the high :)
I had no sleep in days and for sure wasn't going to have any that night either. When I returned to my hotel room (this was the first time we stayed at the hotel for duration of the events to ensure every second is supervised, as all guests were staying there and all events too, we had to. It showed to be a great way of keeping things under control so now we do this regularly for similar events.) I knew I had a few hours only before we would start preparation for the next day.
I was so nervous, everything went so smoothly till now, I had to end it perfectly!
Before I knew, I had a pre event meeting with our staff, there was 12 of us working on this event! We were as ready as it gets!

Ceremony took place on the beach in sunset time. I thought it was a very serious ceremony- they flew in their own priest and nobody seemed to know exactly how long it will last! It took about 2 hours after which the guests let go of helium balloons making a wish for the couple.
Next stop- reception.

It was a perfect weekend and there is nothing I would change about it. Rishi and Shilpa are friends today and we share photos of kids and speak regularly. We even met with their families on one of our holidays recently. That's why I love my job so much. It is so much more than work....

It didn't take long till our next Indian wedding was booked. This was already 2013! Prince was Indian, marrying Ksenia, who was Russian. They lived in Canada. And wanted a truly international wedding lasting - wait for it- 7 DAYS!!!
Wow, I was blown away and had so much fun planning different itineraries for them. Since they were so far away they never came for site visits and left it all to me to plan for them and went for all of my first recommendations. Now this was a whole lot of trust put in me....

Copyright of Dubrovnik Event. All other use prohibited by law.
As guests arrived we picked them up at the airport and took to their accommodation- most stayed in luxurious Cavtat villas close to each other so the logistics would be easier.
Each guest received a welcome packet upon arrival, a bag of local goodies (honey, grappa, sugared almonds), Dubrovnik maps and restaurant and attraction guides.

Day 1 was a welcome dinner and party till dawn in a local tavern, on a hill above Dubrovnik, providing guests with a great insight into local culture, food and wine. Guests were welcomed by the Bride and Groom and it was a White All Event dress code. It was a perfect beginning of a perfect week.

Copyright of Dubrovnik Event. All other use prohibited by law.
Second day we had parties at the villa and Mehendi with the girls. We flew in a special henna artist from Zagreb and were happy a local was used for such an important Indian event. This was one fun day!

When both guys party and girls party was ready, we moved to the lounge bar of Spinnaker lounge and restaurant of hotel Croatia in the charming village of Cavtat- located right on the beach, for fantastic food, drinks and even more party!!!
The whole place looked like a great bazaar and ladies had a chance to get their fans, bracelets and loads of other Indian gadgets and props.
We had surprise dance performances, signing and just so much fun I don't remember I had last time.

Spinnaker lounge bar, Hotel Croatia, Cavtat (www.alh.hr) 

Spinnaker lounge bar, Hotel Croatia, Cavtat (www.alh.hr) 
Day 3 was the day of a rest and villa parties. It was also the day of Dubrovnik Summer Festival so we had people taking a day off, chilling at the pools of Russian Villa and Party villa (each villa had an appropriate name assigned by the couple) and a night in Dubrovnik.

Day 4: Indian wedding day.
Morning in both villas was spent in prayers and small ceremonies preparing the bride and groom for THE ceremony.


When all hair was done and all makeup applied, when all the beautiful jewelry was on, it was time to go, separate ways, to the Indian ceremony that took place on top of Srdj mountain above Dubrovnik. The bridal party arrived by cable car and groom arrived on a white horse, followed by his friends and family.

All ready to go!!!

Prince's party arrived and danced it away, this was the start of the ceremony, celebration of the actual start. The bridal party stood behind the "scene" waiting for their grand entrance after the Groom was taken to his place in mandap.

When Prince's sight was closed , all eyes were directed towards Her- Ksenia....

After the ceremony, all guests took cable car down to Dubrovnik and were taken by buses to their Indian wedding dinner. All vegetarian, no alcohol. Beautiful and a bit silent for most wedding traditions. But wait until tomorrow for the big party :)

Day 5: Russian Wedding Day

After 4 days of partying, you'd think these people had enough, but really- this was the grand finale of the week, though it wasn't the end of it. Today, the ceremony was to take place in Sponza Palace, followed by the panoramic cruise on the famous Dubrovnik galleon replica and topped off with delicacies served on private beach club in Dubrovnik Palace hotel. If you ask me- a perfect plan!

Guests were taken by buses to Dubrovnik, welcome at the city's gates and taken to medieval Palace to wait for the bride. Nobody was prouder than Prince....

After a touching ceremony where besides the official officiates, Prince's sister had an incredible speech and had all eyes watery, guests enjoyed a refreshing cocktails while the newlyweds took some photos with Dubrovnik Old town's best backdrops.

We ushered guests to the boat and Prince and Ksenia came last to a huge round of applause and cheers. It was definitely one of those moments.... Followed by an incredibly fun cruise to the wedding venue.

Vala beach club wasn't set up as a standard wedding venue, but much more relaxed, with lanterns, sofas, delicacies laid out on a tasty stylish buffet and a pool that didn't have to invite many times :)

And last but not least, the final event of the week was a very laid back and a beautiful barbecue on the island of Lokrum.

Around noon, water taxis picked up guests from their villas in Cavtat and took them to Lokrum. Perfectly arranged comfort food waited for them along with ice cold beer. Just what everyone needed after a week long party.
At the welcome evening, guests received disposable cameras to be used throughout the week. They were advised to bring them along on the final night for us to collect them and develop photos.
I then took developed photos and hung them around the trees on the BBQ venue.
No words can describe the excitement of everyone looking over the photos and grabbing mementos to take home with them. It was one of the best ideas we did ever. I wish I did this for my wedding! :)

Final day everyone just relaxed, chilled at the villa, we delivered loads of food and it was detox time and departure time.
We will never forget these people, after all we spent a whole week with them, it felt like family in the end.
Can't thank them enough for their trust....

And now last but not least... our 2014 Indian wedding, of Shelina and Anish...
Last year I attended a conference of wedding planners in Greece and met a lot of Indian wedding planners. One of hot topics of the conference was firing a client and when asked about this, one of my fellow Indian wedding planners told me: "It is impossible to do this in India, when you become their wedding planner they embrace you like their family."
Truly, after this wedding, we felt like their family...

A three day wedding of 160 people. By now we knew the traditions, culture, communication and customs. And it was great feeling like "home" with Indian weddings!
The forecast was disasterous! Floods and rain throughout the weekend. But Indian good luck didn't fail us and only 2 events out of 5 were influenced by the rain. The most important events definitely got their sun out.
So let me show you how this amazing wedding looked like....

Day 1 was a welcome party- henna artists corner, food and drinks, mingling, photographing all around and just getting in the groove. Due to weather conditions, we had to move this event indoors but didn't regret it as it was a fantastic venue...

Second day we had initiation ceremony and celebratory lunch. Again, rain was following us but half way through lunch, sun started to come out and it looked promising to do the gala evening event out on pool area as planned. We were just all so excited- it was about making it all special for these people and showing them what we have to offer, especially with good weather!

Shelina was so beautiful. I was left speechless when I visited her to her room to finalize the seating arrangements due to some extra surprise arrivals (very common with Indian weddings :)).

The sun was showing more and more each moment. We made a decision to do the evening events outdoors and well done for taking risk! It was perfect!

The evening continued in Ginja night club until morning hours. It was one incredible evening. I cannot tell you the pride that hits you after planning for months and years events like this. True productions, and to someone they are everything, the biggest day of their lives. Coordination of staff of dozens of people, food, logistics and event management. This is the crown of our job....

This was a time for our toast too! All went just so greatly! We had one more day left with 2 events- galleon cruise and BBQ on Kolocep island in Villa Ruza restaurant and lounge bar. A perfect scenario. And weather forecast was sunny and hot. As Happy as it gets, we went to sleep :)

It was just a perfect day....
Well my dear ladies and gentleman, sincere thank you and congratulations if you came to the end of this blog. I know it was long but I struggled with even keeping it so short, considering how many amazing photos I have of these weddings and even more incredible memories of these people.
We absolutely love doing Indian weddings. We love that we learned a lot about their culture and we love how we become part of their families. 
We look forward to new ones in years to come!
And if you are interested in your own wedding, Indian or not, don't hesitate to contact me at info@dubrovnikevent.com
It will be my pleasure to be there for you :)

Happy planning darlings!



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