Greatest struggle while planning your wedding?
“We were initially planning on getting married in Cape Town and had booked a venue in the inner city for April 14th. Just after sending out the invitations, the City of Cape Town declared that “Day Zero” had been moved forward to April 12th! Given the level of uncertainty around the water crisis in Cape Town, and the fear of having no toilets for our wedding guests, we decided that the most prudent option would be to change the location of the wedding. We were most concerned about the stress of not really knowing whether the city would run out of water or not by the date of our wedding. At the same time, we were also renovating our newly-bought apartment in Joburg. I know, what were we thinking?!?! Thankfully, we managed to get a full refund on our venue in Cape Town and we found the most gorgeous wedding venue in Joburg called Thirteen, located on top of a building in Braamfontein, who were wonderfully sympathetic to our plight and went the extra mile in ensuring in helping us out.”
Your biggest inspiration behind your wedding’s look and feel?
We always knew we wanted a city wedding. Andrew is a city enthusiast and we wanted to be surrounded by amazing views of the city. Given Keval’s Indian heritage, we knew we also wanted to incorporate elements of Hindu tradition to the wedding. We engaged a lot with other couples who had gotten married. We also had the most incredible wedding planner who gave us awesome ideas and was able to suggest affordable DIY hacks in bringing about our look. Ultimately, we went with what we liked most, and did our best to kept the style sharp and elegant with the easiest execution possible.
How did you go about finding vendors?
Word of mouth, mainly. We definitely relied on friends and family to provide suggestions. We used a food caterer that Keval’s brother had used before (so we knew the quality was good!) and we used a lot of other vendors that the venue recommended.
Favourite moment of the day?
Gosh, there are so many! A highlight for both of us was the actual ceremony. We didn’t exchange rings for personal reasons but had decided that we would represent our nuptials by exchanging garlands, which is derived from the Hindu wedding. My eldest aunt made the garlands herself and it was an honour to have her hand the garlands to us as we made our vows to each other. Following the ceremony – walking down the aisle and having guests shower us with their blessings, whilst the theme song to Star Trek: The Next Generation played (Andrew is a huge Trekkie!).
Our pictures were also a great highlight: Just after taking our family pictures at Constitution Hill, the security guards told us we had to leave because apparently, we weren’t allowed to take pictures there. So, we had to make a Plan B on-the-spot. We decided to relocate to Nelson Mandela Bridge – what a great decision! We took our wedding pictures with all of South Africa moving around us in trains, buses, cars, and minibus taxis, looking out over all of the city’s skyline. It was a very memorable photo shoot, for sure!
A definite highlight for Keval was the moment that my mother, my grandmother and aunt wrapped the ‘Pagdi’ (turban) on my head. The turban was, in fact, an old sari of my grandmother’s and it felt like I was being wrapped with their love and well wishes as I embarked on this adventure with Andrew. The Bollywood dancing and singing was also pretty amazing.
How did you prioritise your wedding budget?
Andrew is a consultant, so we always had a running spreadsheet of the budget to make sure costs were in check. But with a guest list of 190 people, we knew we’d have to spend a lot on some things. We knew that we wanted to provide a healthy amount of complimentary booze, so we bought a lot of great yet affordable wine from a liquor retailer ahead of time, and placed bottles on the tables. We also splurged on getting a gin bar for between the ceremony and reception, which was a great decision! But for all the drinks after dinner was done, we had a cash bar. We also didn’t want to compromise on the food and cake. Both of us are vegetarians, so we didn’t want to spend money on any meat—it’s also customary to have fully vegetarian food at Indian weddings. To serve 190 people and keep the quality high, we went with a buffet of a whole range of different curries—this saved a lot of money (plated dinners are incredibly expensive) and helped increase the portion sizes so nobody went hungry. In Hindu Gujarati tradition, it’s customary for the maternal uncle to make a contribution to the wedding of nephews and nieces. Keval’s aunt and uncle generously contributed a beautiful four-tier cake made by celebrity chef Lesego Semenya! Things that we did NOT spend money on? Flowers. We actually went “harvesting” for greenery to put on the tables as centrepieces during the reception. You’d be surprised how many beautiful lush green plants grow in Joburg that make great centrepieces! We did spruce them up with some professional flowers, but one of our best friends did the arranging, which helped us out so much.
Any advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Get a wedding planner, even if it’s just for the two days of the wedding, and don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help! Also on the day itself, be good about saying “That’s not my problem, someone else needs to handle it.” The stress you take on is your choice—choose to not have it be there in the first place. Ultimately, the ceremony is the part for the two of you to share in and make your own moment. After that, though, you’re throwing a giant party for the benefit of everyone else, so think of it like that: One big massive party with all your friends there– let go of everything and just have fun!
Keval wrote a beautiful, thoughtful piece on his experiences with being gay, Indian and getting married. Click here to read it.