Swati Bagaria & Roshan Bhakta

April 7, 2018. Sintra, Portugal


You could call it the biggest mistake of Swati Bagaria’s life, but she has no complaints. While trying out a new dating app, she contacted an interesting prospect thinking he lived in New York. They chatted online, and within a week, Roshan Bhakta phoned her. “We talked for five hours,” says Swati. “He seemed like such a nice, kind person and was really interested in me.” But at the end of the call, she was floored to learn that he lived in Dallas—a definite nonstarter for her.

Even so, every few days they enjoyed lengthy calls, until he asked to visit. Roshan arrived concealing a rose behind his back. That weekend, they lost track of time in conversation—closing bars, wandering Central Park and forgetting to eat. “He invited me to Dallas the next weekend and I said, ‘Not a chance in hell.’ On Thursday I booked a flight,” says Swati.

After commuting back and forth that summer, the relationship blossomed. A year later, a friend invited Swati to an art gallery event, suggesting she be photo-ready since there would be press there. As the two women strolled to the party, they stopped for selfies under the Brooklyn Bridge. Swati was distracted by a stranger asking if they needed assistance.

“My favorite part of the proposal was watching Swati’s face change from annoyance to puzzlement to joyful tears, as she realized it was me and what I was about to do,” says Roshan, who once again presented Swati with a single rose.

A hired cellist began to play and they danced as the sun set. “Roshan spun me around, and when I came back he was on one knee,” says Swati. After saying, “Yes,” a photographer stood ready to take pictures, but happy tears had ruined her makeup. The ever-ready Roshan had purchased all her favorite cosmetics in case she needed a touch-up. “What guy thinks of these things?” marvels Swati.

The couple found their perfect wedding destination inside a national park and next to a UNESCO World Heritage Site at the Penha Longa Ritz-Carlton in Sintra, Portugal. Traditional Hindu rites were scheduled for the meditation garden, but with the threat of rainy weather, they moved the ceremony to a covered courtyard in a nearby monastery. “Décor painstakingly planned for a year didn’t happen,” says Swati, “but the smaller space made it even more intimate.”

While the décor didn’t go as planned, the wardrobe did. In a labor of love, Swati, owner of Pleats and Petals, South Asian Bridal Party Outfitters, had designed 46 ensembles for the wedding party.

That evening, the couple recited western-style vows and exchanged rings before their wedding dinner in a 17th-century fortress overlooking the sea. A cake cutting accompanied by fireworks wrapped up the day on a high note.

On the following night, Swati and Roshan were feted at their reception. The newlyweds entered with a slow romantic dance, transitioning into a crowd-pleasing upbeat Indian bhangra. The rest of the evening was filled with dancing, a flash mob, toasts, roasts and food barely touched while guests crowded the dance floor. “I wondered if people with morning flights would leave early, but the dancing continued til 3 a.m., making wonderful memories for us,” says Roshan.

The short flight to Marrakesh, Morocco, fit the bill for a relaxing honeymoon at the intricately restored palace-hotel La Mamounia, where old world charm meets modern luxury.

> Written by Francine Kaplan

Sangeet, Wedding Ceremony and Reception Location: Penha Longa Resort, a Ritz-Carlton Hotel Sintra, Portugal; Stylized Photo Shoot Location: Palácio de Monserrate Sintra, Portugal;