Destination romance


ACTOR Aftab Shivdasani wed his British girlfriend Nin Dusanj after two years of dating in 2014 with a simple registered marriage. The Mumbai-based couple finally had their traditional ceremony at a lavish destination wedding, which took place at coastal resort Anantara Peace Haven in Sri Lanka in the presence of close family and friends earlier this month.

They chose three locations in the resort to have the various functions including a royal themed wedding, lavish reception and emotion filled union. Eastern Eye caught up with Aftab and Nin to talk about at what became an unforgettable few days in Sri Lanka. 

Why did you wait so long to have the Indian wedding? 

Aftab:Well the original plan was never to wait. We always wanted to have a destination wedding, but didn’t find the perfect location. So when we found it, we went for it. (Smiles) And as they say, patience is a virtue.   

What made you have a destination wedding? 

Aftab:We wanted to have an intimate yet beautiful wedding far away from the glare and attention. So a destination wedding seemed most appropriate to match our plans.  

What did you like about the venue? 

Aftab:From the venue being close to the sea, to the resort, its hospitality, the people of Sri Lanka, the venues for the functions and the fact that most of Sri Lanka is Buddhist (since both of us are inclined to Buddhism). So everything was perfect. We couldn’t have asked for anything better. 

Nin:Anantara Peace Haven is absolutely stunning in every way. Firstly the name is so attractive that it entices you to want to visit a resort called Peace Haven. We chose three locations in the resort to have our functions, each with its own beauty. The mehendi party was in Verele restaurant, which were these huge dome like structures on the beach and a perfect place for a fun party. The ceremony took place on the private lawns, with a backdrop of blue skies, palm trees and huge waves rolling in; so an idyllic spot to have it. The reception party was in Il Mare, the Italian restaurant, which is set on a cliff side of the resort. Each location was stunning and with the wonderful service of Anantara staff this was the perfect place for our wedding. 

What was the biggest challenge of putting the whole wedding together? 

Nin:I don’t think we viewed it as a challenge. We both did our research and through that found everything we needed for the wedding. I made a presentation beforehand for the wedding concept, so with this vision we needed to just execute it. A huge help to us was Mr Dinesh Jayasanka who really went out of his way to help with all arrangements. He was amazing. 

Who took charge of arrangements? 

Aftab:Both, Nin and I personally took care of everything including all arrangements – from the food and beverages to the guest list, production, decor, venue colour schemes, lighting, sound etc. We did outsource an event company though to execute all our plans, but every single detail was overseen by us both. We got exceptional help from the manager Mr Dinesh Jayasanka from the property, who saw our vision and helped us execute our plans to a T. 

Nin:Myself, Aftab and Dinesh were like a little events team taking charge of everything, from sound, lights, colour schemes, mood boards, entertainment acts, to ordering items online. We also worked with Jeeva entertainment to help execute and run parts of the events. 

How was the guest list decided? 

Nin:Simply family and close friends. It was a beautiful blend of people who flew in from London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mumbai. The beauty of it was that everyone blended really well and got along with each other. It ended up being like a big family of love. I think the universe brought all these like-minded people together for our wedding and none of us wanted the parties to end. 

Did you two have any differences of opinion? 

Aftab:The good part in this is that we have been married for three years now and have been together for five years in total. So I guess we crossed those hurdles a long time back. We were pretty much on the same page since we know each other along with our likes and dislikes by now, so that worked seamlessly in our favour. And the best part was that even though we arranged almost everything from overseas (India-Sri Lanka), our vision was clear and we had rock solid conviction to back that vision up.  

Tell us about the outfit you opted for. 

Aftab:I wore a Troy Costa label for all my functions as I swear by him and his designs. For the mehendi, he designed a lavender-themed shirt and a purple jacket to match, with black trousers. For the actual wedding ceremony, I wore an ivory sherwani with a baby pink kurta inside and an ivory churidaar. He topped it up with a muted gold saafa with a vintage gold broach on it. For the reception I wore a classic white tux. He has been a close friend for a while now and is more like family to us. So that was easy. 

Nin:I was wearing Yoshita Couture for all my functions. For the mehendi and welcome party I wore a lavender gown. For the ceremony an ivory lehenga with antique gold work and the reception a pink and gold gown. All the artisans are from Lucknow and they did all the work on my outfits. 

Tell us about the look you went for in terms of makeup and hair. 

Nin:Honestly I didn’t think too much about makeup and hair beforehand, I just went with the flow on the day. I have a great hair and makeup artist who we flew in from Mumbai, so I knew I was in safe hands. Kalpesh Joshi did my makeup and Salma Sayyed did my hair.  

Tell us about your grand entry and why you opted for that. 

Aftab:We wanted to add a touch of royalty along with Sri Lankan culture and a larger than life feel to the entry as it would befit the whole setting of the wedding ceremony. So we had Nin coming on a gold doli with a procession of Kandyan dancers and guards with spears and sesaths. Literally like a queen with me following her on a fully dressed elephant. We wanted to take our guests to a vintage era, which would look stunning as well as make a grand impact. 

Tell us about the ceremony. 

Aftab:The ceremony was a Hindu one around the fire followed by a Buddhist blessing in the end. The priest who conducted the Hindu ceremony was flown down from India and the Buddhist monks who conducted the blessing were Sri Lankan. 

What was the most memorable aspect of the day for you? 

Nin:I think there wasn’t just one most memorable thing. Every single moment was memorable. From the dream catchers, bonfires on the beach, sky lanterns, double rainbows, rain, fire dancers, the naked teepee, our first dance, Aftab’s AV on us, the elephant with the grand procession, kandyan dancers, drummers, my doli, our family and friends all being together. Every single thing was special and breathtaking. 

Aftab:I also can’t pick one moment that was the most memorable, to be honest. Every single aspect of the two days of festivities were so special to both of us. We wanted to do it once, but do it right. It felt so beautiful and fulfilling for both of us. 

Tell us about the reception afterwards. 

Nin:The reception was at Il Mare restaurant. It’s a beautiful classy Italian restaurant with an indoor and outdoor deck area. We created a fairy tale ambience there with a marquee of fairy lights, lights wrapped around the palm trees and a cool feature of a huge naked teepee where everyone could lounge under and watch the stars. Dinner tables were set up on the deck under the stars with a view to the ocean. We had local Sri Lankan performers and also dhol jams with DJ Clement, who flew in from Mumbai. We wound up the evening with a fireworks display. It was an incredibly beautiful and magical night where we stayed talking all night with friends to watch the sunrise. 

Were there any last minute emergencies? 

Nin:A few things I had ordered online had been stuck either at the post office or at customs, which I think you need to be aware of when ordering and shipping to Sri Lanka. However everything got sorted and we received all of our items. Otherwise the whole event was so smooth.

What tips would you give brides opting for a destination wedding?  

Nin:I think if you don’t want to do the work yourself then hire a recommended wedding event company to help take the stress off you, but also view all their previous work. However, if you are quite an organised person I think you can do a lot of things yourself and source items that you might want at the wedding like umbrellas, confetti and decor. So it really depends on what you are like. I think it also helps to make a presentation with visuals and a concept so that everyone’s on the same page and understands what you want. Definitely hire a great photographer and videographer. I think that’s really important as these are memories of a lifetime. We had an amazing photographer, Dylan Seedin from Sri Lanka and videographer Dinuksher Wattegama from Siyak Seenu, Sri Lanka. We would highly recommend them both. 

What is the best thing about being married to each other? 

Nin:The best thing is that I’m blessed to have found my soulmate and twin flame. That this is the purest love that you could ever find and I’m forever grateful for that.  

Aftab:The bond between us is beautiful and sacred. Everything including getting married and living together felt so natural and like it was always meant to be. It’s like we were waiting for each other our whole lives. So, being married to each other feels like home, a sense of belonging.