Sujata Gidumal & Raj Vanjani
April 13, 2019. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
It was friends of Sujata Gidumal’s parents who first introduced her to Raj Vanjani. “Our initial hesitancy quickly gave way to a seven-hour Wednesday night date that lasted until the wee hours of the morning, sipping water, thrilled by conversation,” she recalls. “It felt like a spark of magic flickering tentatively amidst hectic travel schedules on opposite sides of the world – impractical magic, if you would. But the little spark thrived. Mutual respect provided a base, WhatsApp served ample kindling, and the joy of discovering a true partner was its oxygen.”
A few years into their relationship, Raj proposed to Sujata at Harry Potter World, right in front of Hogwart’s Castle. Being an avid Harry Potter fan, Sujata wanted to keep the magic alive while blending their mutual Indian Sindhi heritage into the wedding planning process. There would also be a Caribbean touch, alluding to her mother’s Jamaican upbringing.
“Mexico provided stunning venues with resplendent natural beauty, a comfortable yet elegant atmosphere, and a respite from the New York cold that we both love to hate,” she shares. “We felt strongly about honoring our Indian heritage yet wanted to acknowledge and respect the local Mayan culture, to blend them creatively through decor and food.”
Guests were welcomed to Mexico with a party on the beach at the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen. Water and fire drummers performed, while DJ Shilpa spun tunes from her perch atop a lifeguard stand. This lively, yet relaxed celebration set the tone for the rest of the weekend as everyone kicked off their shoes, filled the dance floor, and played beer pong in the sand. Mexican street food was served, and the décor was bright and colorful.
Raj’s family hosted a non-traditional baraat the next day, complete with tequila shots. In return, Sujata’s family welcomed the groom with a surprise flash mob resembling a Bollywood wedding.
The wedding ceremony was held in the courtyard of a traditional Mexican hacienda, where Canteiro Weddings creatively blended a mandap with the surrounding foliage. After their vows, Pandit Nilesh Pandya asked guests to raise their hands and bless the couple, which was one of the most powerful moments of the day.
Following the ceremony, Moghul Caterers served up a delectable cocktail hour for guests with a unique array of Indian food with a Mexican twist, including Mexican bhel, beetroot tikki chaat, idli fries, and a pomegranate pulse salad. This led to an unforgettable reception, which took place in a massive cave surrounded by water.
“Our guests made their way down a candlelit cobbled spiral, into a giant fire pit, and through a tunnel to enter the space,” Sujata describes. “Once inside, guests were greeted with jaw-dropping chandeliers suspended – like magic – from the cavernous thatched roof. It was the event of a lifetime, and we have all of our vendors, families, and guests to thank for the energy, support, and love they brought to the occasion. Our designer Jean Mason brilliantly blended Mexican Otomi elements with traditional Indian icons while paying respect to Jhulelal, the patron saint of our ancestors in Sindh, in a bright palette befitting the vibrant cultures. Our decor vendor, Canteiro Weddings, brought the designs to life with a distinct flair for each of the three nights. Styling Trio kept us looking fresh and fabulous, polished but not overdone. Moghul Catering delivered delicious and inventive dishes that highlighted the fresh flavors of Mexico with an Indian touch. To round out the experience, DJ Shilpa kept the crowd on their toes, effortlessly navigating among genres and moods throughout the weekend. Touch of Elegance events worked tirelessly to ensure our guests would have the best possible experience. When the events were complete, Braja Mandala blew us all away with photos that we will cherish for the rest of our lives.”
>Written By: Lauren Malamala