Devika Bhise & Nicholas Gilson
February 14-17, 2020, Rajashthan, India
A Multi-Day Wedding Celebration at Leela Palace in Udaipur, India
Photography: Cory Goldberg for Cayenne Pepper Productions; Location: The Leela Palace on Lake Pichola Udaipur, Rajashthan, India; Planning: Swati Bhise, Judy Caleb & Cayenne Pepper Production; Floral & Event Design: Dhun Cordo, Full Moon Creative; Bridal Fashion: Tarun Tahiliani, Oscar de la Renta, Anita Dongre, Vidhi Singhania; Groom’s Attire: Himmat Singh, Anita Dongre, Pratap Singh, Raghavendra Rathore
In the summer of 2007, Devika Bhise was enrolled in an acting program at Brown University in Providence, and one of the other girls in the program who was a Rhode Island local was dating Nick Gilson at the time. Nick was this handsome, older, kind surfer who would drive Devika and her friends to the beach. She even did her laundry at his parents’ house. Nick now admits to being nervous around her back then, thinking she was this gorgeous, confident, whip-smart girl who knew how to have a good time. But they were both dating other people, so the summer came and went, and they never thought they would see each other again.
Two years later, in the Fall of 2009, Devika was moving into her freshman year dorm when she spotted a volunteer student mover and said, “Nicholas?” Not only was Nick the president of his class – he was personally tasked with welcoming her to campus. Once again, they were both dating other people; so, although they remained friendly, they kept a healthy distance throughout college.
In the Fall 2012, Nicholas was living and working in Nashville with Teach for America when he came back for Hopkins Young Alumnae Weekend in Baltimore, where Devika was a senior at Hopkins. After bumping into each other at the reunion party, they had a wildly romantic evening, and both revealed that they had huge crushes on one another for the past five years.
The next day, they asked each other what their plans were in the coming months – Devika was graduating and moving back to New York City to start her acting career, and Nick was moving to Central Pennsylvania to start a ski and snowboarding company. Neither of them was in a position to start a relationship (long distance), so with a heavy heart, they parted ways and said goodbye for what would be another five years. They both kept track of each other’s career over the years, impressed and proud of the other’s success, fulfilling the goals they remember having in high school.
Five years later, in February of 2017, Nick reached out to Devika via text completely out of the blue to grab a drink while he was passing through New York. She had never left his mind, and although she was in LA at the time, he tried again a few weeks later. They had a date that lasted so long, they watched the sun rise; and finally, the time was right for the two to begin an official relationship.
The engagement took place a year later, when the couple was going to what Devika thought was a dinner with her family. When the elevator doors opened, Devika saw flowers, candles and beautiful decorations everywhere. Nick got down on one knee and proposed, Devika said “Yes!”, and the Head Chef of Morimoto arrived. Nick had written a letter to the Head Chef at Morimoto (one of their favorite Japanese restaurants in NYC) explaining their whole story and asked if he would be willing to prepare a private omakase dinner for their engagement night. After eating their delicious multi-course private dinner, both of their families burst through the doors and celebrated together until 3 a.m., despite it being a Tuesday.
“The wedding day was such a whirlwind,” Devika describes. “We had already had a week of pre-wedding festivities and two packed days of wedding events, and it is quite overwhelming seeing all of your closest people from different walks of life all gathered together to celebrate you. We both hadn’t slept in a week but the magic in the air was palpable. We feel so lucky that we kept the list to just our closest people, because it really felt special and there was so much love all around us. No one was there for a photo-op, and everyone who was there we cared about deeply.”
At the beginning of the multi-day wedding celebration at Leela Palace in Udaipur, each guest was greeted in their rooms by a personal handwritten note from the couple, thanking them for making the long trip to India, and welcoming them with hampers stuffed with snacks, hangover kits, and emergency supplies.
“It was important to blend traditional Indian customs with contemporary western and global practices,” adds Devika, “so the events were highly personalized, and we let my mother (Swati Bhise) take care of most things since we trust her keen eye for detail and she knows us both so well. One of our favorite nights was the Sangeet, because all of our American friends (of all ages) participated in various dances and took preparations very seriously, so everyone was really in sync and looked fabulous! We were so impressed with how much work and passion everyone put into the dances, and all of that performer energy made it so the dance party lasted till the early morning (which happened to be our actual wedding)!”
After the wedding, the newlyweds traveled to Goa for a few days, where they enjoyed a pool party, reception, and boat party with their closest friends and family. With more than a week of wedding celebrations, plus two weeks of preparations beforehand, Devika and Nick opted for a mini-moon in the Maldives so they could rest, debrief, and simply enjoy their time together.