Sonia and Arjun’s Fun Wedding

I love a lot of things about Sonia and Arjun’s wedding, but the standout feature for me are the gorgeous colour co-ordinated outfits of the groomsmen and bridesmaids.

The bridesmaids opted for the same saree and the group look absolutely stunning. The contrast against the bride Sonia’s outfit makes the group photo look absolutely stunning.

Not to be out-done, the groomsmen had similar style, if not the same colour of kurtas and the same colour of red dupatta. I like the muted tones for the kurtas because it looks so timeless and elegant.

The baraat procession looked like loads of fun

and the wedding venue looked so elegant. I especially loved the tasteful use of colours and lights. All photos courtesy Sunny Mathur – Photographick Studio

How I Helped Plan an Off Beat Honeymoon to South India

I helped a friend plan her honeymoon in India and I thought it would make the perfect topic for a blog post. While I have helped plan honeymoons in the past, this experience is particular unusual because the couple want to go off the beaten path, on their honeymoon – go figure!

One could argue that a honeymoon is one of the most important holidays for a couple and so it deserves to be well planned. This post is meant to provide some tips on how I helped to plan this off beat honeymoon in India. I suggest you can take away the process or simply see the destinations I considered for my friends.

Getting to know the couple

When I start to help a couple to plan their honeymoon, I take the time to get to know the couple individually and then together as a couple. This might sound obvious, you’ll be surprised how many times I discover that couples do not always have a clear understanding of their partner’s travel wishes.

In most cases because I am helping friends, I know at least one of the persons well. But all the same, I still meet for coffee with a very clear agenda around the honeymoon – trying to understand what they absolutely love and what they absolutely hate. The intention is to understand the type of things each of them would like to do or not. At this stage, I simply try to understand the types of activities or locations, rather than specific destinations. I also like to understand about previous holidays they have had which they really enjoyed or are particularly memorable.

Then I meet the couple together for a coffee to understand the things they enjoy together as a couple. Most of the times the individual preferences tend to get adapted as a couple. This stage is crucial to establish some basic understanding of what kind of places the couple is likely to enjoy together while respecting individual preferences.

Making an Initial Plan

With a clear understanding of the couple’s preferences for places and a sense of the type of things they like to do, I then do some initial planning for the type of honeymoon for the couple.

For my friend, it turned out that the couple both wanted to do something unusual and off beat. Their personalities were different, but what they agreed upon was that they’d like to not be sitting on a beach sipping coconut water. Phew, that made life a lot easier for me because it meant that I can focus on the destination rather than trying to get them to agree on common ground 🙂

Since they are getting married in India, I thought of starting with India as a honeymoon destination. I broadly broke down the country’s regions into 4 parts,

  • North India: Cooler, Mountains, Nature, Activities
  • West India: Warmer, Palaces, Historic
  • South India: Green, Cultural, Relaxation
  • East India: “Rugged”, Nature, Un-explored

Narrowing down options

This very broad brush classification is just that, a generalisation for me to start thinking (and tell them) about the locations and activities in each of these parts. I did this classification to structure the thinking for everyone rather than stereo-type any region.

  • West India (Rajasthan, Gujarat, etc.) is usually the first stop for tourists because they usually like to see the palaces and forts in the region, I thought that it was not off-beat enough for my friends
  • North India is great for indulging in nature and even for outdoor activities and sports, but they had already spent a lot of time in North India in the past, so this was a no go

Narrowed down my selection to South and East India for their honeymoon. 

  • East India is fascinating because it is relatively un-explored compared to other parts of India. In particular, I was thinking of the state of Assam because of the off-beat things that they could do there – Rhino safari, boat rides, nature walks, etc.
  • South India was equally fascinating because of the mix of nature, relaxation and great food

My friends wanted off-beat but also wanted luxury. They wanted to enjoy hotels that they stayed in and indulge a little. This seemed to be a problem in some parts of East India as far as I could tell because luxury properties are not as extensive as they are in South India. It seemed to me that South India was ticking all the boxes for my friends, so I decided to focus on this region.

From Options to a Plan

Now that I had a region in mind, I could focus on the fun stuff and make a plan. I usually start with standard tourist itineraries and then customise them for the specific couple.

I started by looking for Honeymoon destinations in South India. I don’t have a favourite source, but I almost always read Quora and Tripadvisor because they give me a real person’s perspective rather than a marketing message. The long list of destinations I initially found and the ones that looked interest are,

  • Alleppey
  • Coorg
  • Coonoor
  • Ooty
  • Thekkady
  • Munnar
  • Kabini
  • Kovalam
  • Kumarakom
  • Mysuru
  • Vagamon
  • Wayanad

I did very quick google searches for these places, and I usually tend to look at Images first as a quick way of getting a sense of the place. Not the most accurate, but very good for an initial shortlist.

Alleppey

What I liked: Authentic Kerala experience, house boats, local sightseeing options

What I didn’t like: Connectivity is not the best, Might get monotonous after some days (what can you do on a houseboat? take a walk?), loads of tourists

Coorg

What I liked: Indulge in nature, spice farms, trek options, good food, excellent accommodation options

What I didn’t like: Connectivity to other places not the best, loads of tourists

Coonoor

What I liked: Indulge in nature, spice farms, trek options, quaint town

What I didn’t like: Connectivity, limited local tourism options

Ooty

What I liked: Old world charm, local sightseeing options, connectivity

What I didn’t like: Limited chances to indulge in nature/treks, loads of tourists

Thekkady

What I liked: Loads of options for local tourism, elephants

What I didn’t like: Connectivity, limited accommodation options locally, loads of tourists

Munnar

What I liked: Indulge in nature, spice farms, trek options

What I didn’t like: Connectivity, limited local tourism options, loads of tourists

Kabini

What I liked: Indulge in nature, trek options, animal safari

What I didn’t like: Connectivity, limited local tourism options

Kovalam

What I liked: Quaint town, accommodation options, local tourism

What I didn’t like: Beaches do not seem the best for sun bathing, might get monotonous after a few days, loads of tourists

Kumarakom

What I liked: Authentic Kerala experience, ayurvedic spas, accommodation options

What I didn’t like: Limited local tourism options, loads of tourists

Mysuru

What I liked: Historic, cultural, accommodation options, connectivity

What I didn’t like: Medium sized city

Vagamon

What I liked: Indulge in nature, trek options

What I didn’t like: Accommodation options, connectivity

Wayanad

What I liked: Indulge in nature, spice farms, trek options, not as many tourists

What I didn’t like: Connectivity, limited local tourism options, limited accommodation options

The Final Plan

It took me a good part of a week to do the research above. And now I was ready to make some travel plans!

Most of the options above had loads of green areas to relax and explore. So for me, it was a matter of selecting places that complement each other and can work together as a coherent holiday. I considered these 3 alternative plans,

  • Munnar – Alleppey – Kumarakom: This is a standard triangle tour and provides a good mix of different things including nature treks and house boats that are traditional to Kerala
  • Kabini – Munnar: Kabini is great for a safari and Munnar is perfect to relax. You can even stay in hotels that are part of a tea plantation!
  • Wayanad: Relatively un-explored area with options for nature treks and safari at Bandipur Tiger Reserve (some hours away)

In the end, I have suggested Wayanad as the ideal destination for them because I saw some very cool accommodation options in the region, and it gave my friends the flexibility of either chilling out at their hotel or heading out and exploring the area.

Hotel Picks for Wayanad

I liked 2 hotels in Wayanad – these seem like ideal honeymoon hotels to me because of their locations, service levels / reviews and generally good connectivity to the key attractions in the region.

My friends picked Wayanad CGH Earth and will be spending a week there this year. I am super excited for them and cannot wait to see pictures!

Have you been there or have any other suggestions for south Indian honeymoon destinations? Please do share in the comments!

Indian Wedding Invitations for 2019

Wedding invites are special and little memories that we can treasure long after the event. The invite is a first glimpse at what the wedding theme will look like and what the style of the wedding is likely to be – an opulent affair, a fun and quirky style or a destination theme and so on.

Because an invite says so much about you as a couple and about the wedding, it is important to give it proper thought and consideration. Selecting an invite which is quirky and fun, when you are a serious couple who wants a serious wedding would certainly confuse a lot of the guests. Staying true to the overall feel of your wedding is my top tip when thinking about the perfect wedding invite.

I would suggest the following process to come up with your ideal invite options,

  • Decide on the overall theme of the wedding. You do not need to know things right down to the last detail, but a general theme and style would help
  • Think about a colour scheme and theme for the overall wedding decor. If you can decide this theme already and use it for the wedding invite, I think it is fantastic and creates a sense of continuity with the wedding
  • Get inputs for the most important elements from important decision makers for the wedding. I am thinking of couple, parents, elder relatives in the case of Indian weddings
  • Shortlist the most important elements that are important for you. These could be the colour, style, layout and the language of the invite
  • Write the final details down before you start your research for the wedding invite. It is very easy to get carried away and inspired by so many amazing styles out there

Writing down the final details really helps to maintain focus and get everyone to agree on the basics. This avoids so many issues after the designs have been finalised.

Back in the “old days”, one would visit specialist vendors of invitation cards who stocked samples, and you selected a style from that and that was it. Things are so much better now, and the possibilities are virtually limited by your own imagination!

I do suggest that if possible see an actual example of the wedding invite before you make a final decision. Sometimes pictures can be quite different from the real thing!

Before I share some of the inspirations that I think could be interesting themes for 2019, I do suggest thinking about an online only invite. This is a super environmental friendly option and while it may not have a wow factor, it is perhaps what wedding invites of the future will look like.

Indian wedding invites with small gifts

These wedding invites are on the luxurious side and involve a wedding invitation card and some small gift that is neatly packaged in the same box. The options for colour and gifts are endless and there are numerous specialist stores online that you can turn to to help you create a box that is very personalised.

Traditional Indian wedding invitations

Sometimes the classics are just the right choice. They offer a familiar style that everyone is so used to (at least the ones above 50 years) and have a sense of nostalgia about them. When in doubt, I would suggest that you opt for this style as it might be the safest option. You will also find plenty of vendors for these styles, so logistics might be easier.

Fun Indian wedding invitations

I like these rather off-beat and interesting styles because they can be quite cool and really bring out the couple’s personality. These are not styles for everyone, but if you like this style then I think you can get very creative with the layout and content. My suggestion would be to find some budget friendly printing services like Vistaprint where you can customise the designs and the layouts.

Extravagant Indian wedding invitations

If you have the budget and the inclination to create an invite that is unique and memorable, then this is the section for you. While some might argue that these invites are completely OTT, I say that if you can get something like this made, you should. A wedding is a memorable life event, and if you can make it that much more special for your guests by splurging on your invite then go for it!

Discussing your requirements with a specialists is the way to go for extravagant wedding invites. Specialists will first understand more about you, the event, the theme and then present you with ideas for the invite. These could range from how you first met to something that is very personal and unique about you like your family background or profession.

Invites for the utterly romantic at heart

Nothing quite matches a beautifully composed poem that is unique and very specific for your wedding. While you might be able to spend a ton of cash on making a materially extravagant invite, for the truly inspiring and intellectual invite, I would be inclined to get a poem composed.

Check out a beautiful poem written by Rachel Hill for us. It’ll be so cool to have a poem like this on a card that is personalised for the bride and groom! You can contact her (via email on rachel [at] startur [nospace] ntuition [dot] co [dot] uk) to ask for a poem written specially for you.

The dress code is colour, anything but white,
And you’re going to have to party long into the night.
Watch out for the glitter, confetti and rice,
A day full of joyfulness, you’ll be wanting a slice …!

– Rachel Hill

I really enjoyed this post because there was so much to inspire me! I have to admit that I kept getting distracted by all the varieties of invites and the styles that are possible and it took me forever to finish this post. If you have details to share about your wedding invite or of an invite that you find particularly interesting then please do leave a comment!

Make sure you check out my previous post about Alternatives to Extravagant Indian Wedding Invitations for other styles I liked!

Pictures: Puneet Gupta invitations, Pinterest

Top 5 beauty products that are missing from your make up bag

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The holidays are the perfect time to bring some fresh sparkle and cheer to your makeup. Chances are there are some products you already have your eye on. Even the most outfitted makeup expert might have some essentials missing from her makeup bag. Whether you’re looking to gift a friend or just treat yourself, here are five products that will up your makeup game. Once you’ve tried them, you’ll wonder how you ever did without. From cult-status eyeshadow palettes to the perfect eyeliner, discover the makeup that will rock your world. 

1. Lime Crime Venus XL Eyeshadow Palette 

The Venus XL Eyeshadow Palette is a gold mine for makeup goddesses obsessed with color. A whopping eighteen shimmery shades lay down rich, buttery color with maximum staying power. The collection includes shades like “Celestial,” a deep mauve with flecks of sparkle, and “Inspire,” a warm berry with rich metallic shine. The Lime Crime palette’s neutral color, “Blank Canvas,” provides the ideal foundation for building any eye look. This is the perfect eyeshadow palette for when you want to mix it up and do something a little more unexpected with your makeup. 

2. Urban Decay Naked2 Palette 

The OG neutrals palette, Urban Decay’s Naked had 12 colors that reinvent what it means to go nude. I had a friend who gave away her unused palette and it was gone in less than twenty minutes. Naked has a cult status for a reason. Naked was unfortunately discontinued in August 2018, but Naked2, one of several spinoff collections, packs just as powerful a punch. Naked2’s shades have unforgettable, edgy names: “Busted” is a deep brown shimmer, while “Bootycall” makes beige anything but boring. Naked2 looks good on every skin tone and can be used for neutral makeup looks or crafting the perfect smoky eye. This palette is a must-have for anyone looking to cover their bases. 

3. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner 

Stila’s liquid eyeliner ends your search for the perfect eyeliner pen. Just swipe it on in the morning, wait a few seconds for it to dry, and it won’t wear or crease through your work day. This eyeliner works even on the oiliest lids. Trust me, it’s magic. The thin pen tip lets you control how thickly you want to lay down lines of color. The Stila eyeliner pen comes in 11 amazing colors from classic jet black to a rich, intense purple. If you only buy one eyeliner, make it this one. 

4. Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation 

Many women struggle with finding foundation that matches their skin tone. Rihanna sought to change this and created a foundation with 40 shades to choose from. Pro Filt’r Foundation won the AllureBest of Beauty Award in 2018. It works on even the most dry and sensitive skin and lasts all day. If you are looking for a foundation with even coverage and high performance, this is your pick. 

5. Nars Blush in Orgasm 

It may have a provocative name, but the Orgasm blush flatters every skin tone with natural, healthy-looking color. The Orgasm blush has a subtle pink undertone and is good for both blush beginners and blush experts. Most Nars blushes are very pigmented, but it’s virtually impossible to put too much of this shade on since it’s so sheer. The Orgasm shade has won the AllureBest of Beauty Award multiple years in a row.

Alternative Indian Destination Wedding Locations

Let us face it, all of us have now seen the massive palace locations as backdrops for destination weddings. The recent Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas wedding took place at Umaid bhavan looked so amazing. But it has left me wanting to explore some more alternative destinations which are within reach of us normal folk.

This post is inspiration for everyone who is not considering a palace wedding 🙂 There are so many options to choose from – beaches, temples, outdoor settings – the sky is really the limit. With more and more couples opting for destination weddings, the options can get really confusing.

Use this post as a guide to what options might be possible for destination weddings.

Outdoor locations are perfect for a summer wedding. The couple and guests can be super relaxed and comfortable outdoors rather than being stuck indoors. Outdoor weddings also have their challenges because you are not close to facilities possibly and the seating arrangements might not be perfect, etc etc. But the pictures do look stunning.

An exotic beach location like Bali is what a lot of us dream about. But this is what a wedding at an exotic beach location might actually look like. I am SO jealous! Also, how cool is the picture in the field – i love it!

A destination wedding for me is one where you can have exotic locations and you are disconnected from everything, and spending time with family and friends. The feeling of being in the wedding for the entire duration is very special.

Did you get married at an alternative destination? or did you photograph one? Please do get in touch, I’d love to hear more!

A look at Umaid Bhawan – Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’es Wedding Venue

Everyone’s talking about just one wedding right now, Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra’s. The couple look absolutely amazing together and their wedding was no exception – beautiful clothes, celeb guests and a palace as the venue. While everyone will be writing about the wedding and focusing on all the details related to the couple, i thought i would write about the venue.

A few of my favourite pics from the wedding first though. The couple have been very tight lipped about the wedding and there have been very few official pictures released. But the ones that have been released look absolutely gorgeous, with the couple looking so in love!

Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra dressed up for their traditional Indian wedding

Priyanka Chopra looking stunning in a beautifully coloured lehenga

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas for their Christian wedding

Now, lets turn our attention to the gorgeous venue. The venue is probably out of reach for most average folks thinking about a wedding, but it does no harm to dream and get some inspiration from the venue anyway. As per the Wikipedia description,

Umaid Bhawan Palace, located in Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India, is one of the world’s largest private residences. A part of the palace is managed by Taj Hotels. Named after Maharaja Umaid Singh, grandfather of the present owner Gaj Singh. The palace has 347 rooms and is the principal residence of the former Jodhpur royal family. A part of the palace is a museum.

Ground for the foundations of the building was broken on 18 November 1929 by Maharaja Umaid Singh and the construction work was completed in 1943. The Palace was built to provide employment to thousands of people during the time of famine.

History of Umaid Bhawan

Again, turning to our trusted Wikipedia,

History of building the Umaid Bhawan Palace is linked to a curse by a saint who had said that a period of drought will follow the good rule of the Rathore Dynasty. Thus, after the end of about 50-year reign of Pratap Singh, Jodhpur faced a severe drought and famine conditions in the 1920s for a period of three consecutive years. The farmers of the area faced with famine conditions sought the help of the then king Umaid Singh, who was the 37th Rathore ruler of Marwar at Jodhpur, to provide them with some employment so that they could survive the famine conditions. The king, in order to help the farmers, decided to build a lavish palace.

The foundation stone was laid in 1929. About 2,000 to 3,000 people were employed in its construction. Occupation of the palace by the Maharaja came after its completion in 1943, and close to the period of Indian Independence. The estimated cost of building the palace was Rs 11 million. When it opened in 1943 it was considered as one of the largest royal residences in the world.

The palace was built with “dun-coloured” (golden – yellow) sandstone with two wings. Makrana marble has also been used, and Burmese teak wood has been used for the interior wood work. When completed the palace had 347 rooms, several courtyards, and a large banquet hall which could accommodate 300 people.

The Palace is divided into three functional parts – the residence of the royal family, a luxury Taj Palace Hotel, and a Museum focusing on the 20th-century history of the Jodhpur Royal Family.

Imagine having your wedding in the same place as where the royal family lives. Windsor castle is not available for wedding receptions now is it? So if you’re looking for lavish and royal, head to India and do it in proper royal style!

Weddings at Umaid Bhawan Palace

To give you a sense of the scale of weddings at Umaid Bhawan palace, I collected some pictures of previous weddings at the palace. The decor ranges from average to blow your socks off, so I am putting this down to individual tastes and preferences of the couples getting married. I personally dont like the colourful lighting used and that usually is an instantly put off for me.


So my lovelies, if any of you decide to get married at this palace or any other for that matter, please do share photos. I’d love to see what it looked like and I will pretend that I was part of it as a guest!

 

Sources: Instagram, Wikipedia, Taj Group Website

Kids Style Inspiration for Indian Weddings

There is nothing cuter than kids dressing up in traditional Indian clothes for weddings – they look so adorable. Kids clothing is best sorted out in advance to avoid a last minute rush. Whether you are planning for the little ones to wear clothes matching daddy and mommy or you’re looking to let them pick their own, a little planning goes a long way.

Accessories are also a great way to create the perfect look for kids – think of turbans for the boys and little potl bags for the girls. While these make for great photo ops, getting kids to hold on to them is a problem! If your kids are anything like my nephew and niece, then the accessories are going to be flying around after 10 minutes. I tend to dress them up, take some nice pictures right at the start and then let the kids be kids, even if it means that things get lost.

Simple accessories like jackets and dhotis for boys are perfect because they complete the look and are not likely to get lost easily. For the

I have collected some cute pictures that will hopefully give you some inspiration to create the perfect look for your kids. If you dress up your kids and can share your photos and tips, I would love that!

Pictures: Pinterest

The Ultimate Inspiration Gallery for Indian Bridal HathPhool

Hathphools are an amazing accessory and one that has until recently been under-utilised as a bridal accessory. The sheer variety and styles that one can select from are mind boggling, with enough colours and styles to match with almost any look. Pair them with a lehenga or an anarkali, they are going to add that wow factor to both outfits.

Think of haathphools as the marriage between a bracelet and rings. The traditional style of haathphools are usually made from metal or metal and encrusted with uncut diamonds. The newer age styles feature not just floral patterns, but actual flowers and I think that is very cool!

I particularly like the floral styles because they are so pretty and full of colours. I do worry about them being too delicate and literally falling apart, but the use of faux flowers puts my mind at ease. Using bright coloured flowers adds a beautiful touch to an already vibrant outfit.

The inspiration gallery is a collection of the styles that I really liked and thought you would like as well. If you have other specific styles you’d like to see more of, then just let me know in the comments. I plan to have this post as a living one that keeps evolving as I come across new inspiration and styles!

   

  

    

    

Pictures: Wed me good, Instagram, Pinterest, Wedding Sutra