What comes to mind when you hear the word tradition? Boring? Uncreative? Obligatory? It doesn’t have to be any of that. When planning a wedding, […]
We’re heading to Paradise for today’s wedding!
Imagine two heartfelt, joyous ceremonies on the sandy shores of beautiful Mauritius and a night of dancing under the stars with family and friends? Heavenly right?
Meet Sheila and Vinoy, the lucky couple who got to experience this dream fusion wedding. Sheila has a mix of Scottish and Iranian heritage, and Vinoy of stunning Mauritian heritage.
The two met in London through their jobs in the hotel industry, and in fact, hotels played quite a part in their courtship. They met in one at a conference, Vinoy proposed at one in Mexico, and they chose two of Mauritius’ loveliest resorts for their white wedding and Indian ceremony.
I loved that for the Indian ceremony the couple wanted to make sure everyone felt included in all the Hindu rituals, and understand the meaning of what was taking place, so they included explanations in an order of service that each guest received. It’s a great way to involve your guests in the ceremony and the perfect way to fuse cultures together.
How Did You Meet?
We used to work together. I was the training manager and Vinoy was the Regional Sales Manager. I used to train his teams all over the country and would have to stay away in the hotels. The first time I met Vinoy was my second week in the business; it was the summer conference at Kensington Roof Gardens and I was sat at his table for dinner.
We got talking and I thought ‘this guy is trying it on!’ so I made my excuses and left. Then about six months later, I was away training an induction group in a hotel and was really ill. I had the flu and felt like a walking zombie. I hadn’t seen Vinoy since the summer but something had changed. He was very sweet and looked after me, making me honey and hot water every time we had a coffee break. He even offered to take me to Mauritius there and then! We carried on speaking after the training course and the rest, as they say, is history!
We had gone to Puerto Vallerta in Mexico for a friend’s wedding. It was our first destination wedding and we decided to stay over there for two weeks. We made a holiday of it and took my twin sister and auntie with us. We had talked about getting married but I didn’t think it would happen for a while. Vinoy waited until the last night of the holiday and asked if I would go to dinner with him on my own. We went to a beautiful clifftop restaurant and had a fantastic traditional meal. In hindsight, he was very quiet, which as most people know is unusual for Vinoy! I was forcing him to drink tequila with me but he was conscious of time and kept telling me we needed to get down to the beach at 8.43pm for sunset (another sign I missed). As we walked down to the beach, the hotel had set out buckets of champagne for guests to help themselves to, so we took a glass and headed down. We found some rocks to sit on, and then Vinoy said he needed to go to the toilet and headed off behind me. When he got back he snuck up and, unbeknownst to me, placed the ring on the rock behind me.
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He then came out in front, got down awkwardly on one knee on the rocks (not that I could tell!) and started talking about our future. He then looked behind me, pointed, and said ‘look at that gecko behind you’. Me being me looked and didn’t click on to the ring until I looked a second time and that was it! I burst into tears and didn’t stop shaking for a good hour. We headed back into the resort and told my sister and auntie, who arranged for a mariachi band to serenade us with a traditional Mexican love song. It was perfect!
Our wedding was a fusion of cultures, with the elegance and simplicity of the white wedding and the traditional vibrancy of the Indian wedding. We wanted to create a unique experience for our guests to give them something they may not have seen before, especially with the effort they all made travelling to Mauritius.
Our photographer was Julia & You. They captured all our events perfectly, and are highly recommended!
We worked with Louise Perry Weddings as our planner. They looked after everything for us at every stage.
Another standout was the venues: both the Beachcomber and Sugarbeach Hotels, where we had the white wedding and Indian wedding, respectively.
The Beach Wedding
For the white wedding, I wore a dress I bought from Wed2B. It was the third shop I went to with my bridesmaids and friend. It was a light dress (perfect for the beach!) with a sweetheart neckline, which suits me best. My best friend bought the veil for me, which was an elbow-length veil with teardrop crystals as a trim.
My mother had passed away two years before and she would have loved everything about the trip. I knew it would be hard without her, but my sisters bought me the most beautiful trinket with a picture of her to attach to my bouquet, along with her bracelet as my something old and something borrowed. It was perfect and I know she walked every step with me!
All the men wore stonewash linen trousers and a white shirt. As we knew it would be hot, we wanted everyone to be comfortable.
We wanted to create a classic elegance with a relaxed beach vibe. We had the ceremony in the garden next to the restaurant with our aisle facing the beach. My auntie was the officiant, bringing together a fusion of Christian and non-secular influences. We wrote our vows and ring exchanges and had a reading from each of our sisters.
For our reception, it was important to us that the details were simple so as not to spoil the natural beauty, so we stuck with simple local flowers that were currently in style. We wanted to create more of an atmosphere with our lighting and actually brought our lights over with us from London. We wrapped fairy lights around the palm trees as we had seen on a Pinterest post months before. The soft lighting outside created a serene ambiance.
It was breathtaking walking into the wedding reception. We felt like we were on a movie set. The cuisine was traditional local food and it was exquisite. In keeping with the relaxed beach vibe, we wanted a buffet for people to try a bit of everything and enjoy the experience. The evening finished off with a party under the stars, which will forever be in our memories.
Our first dance for the white wedding was Endless Love by Luther Vandross. It actually has a story behind it! On our first holiday to Mauritius together in 2014, we went to stay in a hotel in the north of the island.
When we arrived, Vinoy told them we were there for our honeymoon and they upgraded us to the honeymoon section of the hotel. In the evening we headed down to the main bar for dinner and the evening invitation. Vinoy popped outside for a cigarette and was gone for about ten minutes. When he got back he told me he had met a lady outside who was from London and he got talking to her. He said he told her we were here on our honeymoon and she asked what our first dance was. Vinoy panicked and picked the first artist that came into his mind, Luther Vandross. She instantly replied ‘Endless Love’? and to avoid him stumbling he said yes. He told me how bad he felt about lying about it. In the next moment the live singer started and the first announcement was that the song was dedicated to the newlyweds “Sheila and Vinny” and she serenaded us with ‘Endless Love’ while we had to get up centre stage and recreate our first dance with me hiding my ring finger in shame! We couldn’t have had any other song!
We had an open bar all day with unlimited stocks of the local rum. We made the decision not to drink so we would remember every moment, but let’s just say there were a few sore heads the next day. Being the sober ones in a room full of drunk family and friends was quite amusing!
The Indian Wedding
For the Indian wedding, I bought the fabric a year before on our trip to Mauritius to source venues. I went for the traditional red and had it made into a lehenga and blouse when we arrived in Mauritius for the wedding. They work so quickly and it was ready within three days and made to measure!
For the Indian wedding, we relaxed the dress code and told everyone to embrace whichever tradition they wanted. Vinoy wore the traditional outfit and it only took one afternoon of shopping on Green Street! He looked like an Indian prince.
We had the traditional Hindu ceremony with all the rituals. We wanted our friends and family to be able to understand the meanings of all the rituals and so created an order of service with all the explanations. The priest conducted the service in both Hindi and English and everyone commented on how funny he was and how enjoyable he made the ceremony. Sugarbeach were great and did a seat service for drinks throughout the service.
We tried to keep as many of the traditions as possible whilst still adding our personality and beliefs. For a destination wedding we were able to do some of the traditions like getting ready separately and the bridesmaids got me my something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. For the Indian, Vinoy walked in with doll drummers and we exchanged gifts, gold, and walked round the fire together.
The venue was more accessible by the public so we did attract an audience. Although it was great that people were interested in our wedding, they were wandering in from the beach in their swimwear. We had some protective friends and planners who kindly reminded them it was a religious ceremony!
Challenges and Triumphs
To be honest, the whole experience was fine – we were lucky enough to have two great wedding planners: Natalie and Louise. They took care of everything and made every aspect of it stress-free and enjoyable. If I had to pick something, it would have been managing the guest list. It was still changing up until the day before the wedding. The culture in Mauritius is completely laid back, so at times I found that hard to cope with, being the super organized Londoner I am!
Top Tip for Other Couples
Use a wedding planner – they are the best money spent for the whole thing. They make it so you can enjoy the build up, the day and the after party. We built a great relationship with them and we will miss our weekly updates emails. Also, enjoy every moment of the day and do what you want to do; don’t let others sway your decisions.
Photographer: Julia & You
Wedding planner: Louise Perry Weddings
Venues: La Ravenne, Paradis Beachcomber Golf Resort and Spa (white wedding), Sugarbeach Resort (Indian wedding)
Suit & Shoes: Next
Bridesmaid Outfits: Next
Groomsmen Suits: Next