I wanted to elope to India and get married, simple as that. However mentioning the word ‘elope’ to my family meant it’s over before it had begun!

So I decided to bring India to Australia – and just to add to the challenge, bring Bollywood to a NSW country town!

I can’t tell you how much I worship India, the colour, smells, sounds, and sights, and the whole sensory experience, so I put all my efforts into bringing this sense of India to our big day and create an ‘Indian Summer’ wedding...

An Indian Summer Wedding

Patrick and I looked at a few places in Sydney but we wanted somewhere that meant something to us both, so we thought we would combine my love of India and Patrick’s love of wine (he is a wine writer) and have the wedding on my best friends vineyard, Logan Wines, in Mudgee NSW. Our 110 guests could make a weekend of it, visit some Cellardoors and have a fun time getaway in wine country.

Patrick and I, with my family and our bridal party headed up to Mudgee a few days before to check out the best spot by the river for the ceremony and also see how the Cellardoor was going, as it was still in the final stages of being finished!

I’d also been obsessing about the weather, as it has been overcast and raining throughout the week up there, and the month was notoriously unpredictable. Little did we know our wedding day would end up being one of the hottest days in Mudgee! My bridesmaids and I stayed in a great country house, just drinking champagne and hanging out, whilst the boys did their thing down the road in a group of apartments.

The Wedding Day

The morning of the wedding we woke up to the sun shining, clear blue skies, and a weather forecast of nearly 40 degrees! So my bridemaids and I did the only thing possible – get back to keeping hydrated and drinking lots of chilled Logan champagne until it was time to get married! 

In keeping with our ‘Indian Summer’ theme, the groom wore a light Ted Baker suit, very reminiscent of the English Raj days. It was beautifully cut and fit them perfectly. Patrick also wore a beautiful embroidered Morrissey shirt, Havaiana thongs, and a cool trilby hat.

The groomsmen also wore Morrissey shirts, with stunning embroidery down the front, and on the cuffs. Again they also wore Havaiana thongs.

The bridesmaids wore gorgeous dresses created from unique fabrics from all over India. No two dresses were the same. They were strapless with a smocked top, then empire line down to the ground in a v-shape, each adorned with different mirrors, fringing and other fabulous detailing. Sarah wore green, Hannah wore red and Kylie wore pink.

I also wanted the girls to be completely relaxed, so they wore jeweled Indian thongs, with accessories of colourful Indian bracelets and amazing chandelier Indian earrings.

Our hair & makeup artist turned us all into Bollywood beauties, complete with dark kohl eyes, glossed nude lips, tousled hair and bindi’s in the centre of our foreheads. Meanwhile I had just naturally assumed Patrick knew where to be and at what time, before realising that perhaps he and I should have also actually talked to each other about what he was supposed to do, as it was apparent he had no idea!

As the ceremony time became nearer, there was no sign of Patrick and the boys. Somehow (and he blames this on being English!) he was under the impression that the groom was meant to be at the pub welcoming the guests!

Needless to say after a call to my brother, the boys finished their beers and left the guests at the pub, and they screeched off to the river just in time to mix a huge tub of Pimms & Dry for everyone when they arrived for the ceremony.

My schedule wasn't going so well either (girls, if you are planning a bit of an ‘event’ a wedding planner could be your best friend!). As I had pretty much planned everything myself, I was still ‘working’ on last minute wedding details right up until the eleventh hour, including herding camels into the correct yard, with full hair and makeup! My bridesmaids had to literally drag me back into the house to get dressed.

Wedding Guests Arrive

We had hired a red double decker bus to pick up all our guests from the local pub and bring them to the river for the ceremony.

Everyone was greeted with a tall glass of Pimms & Dry on arrival, to get them into the spirit of the celebration and also because it was so damn hot!

Guests were also handed a southern Indian woven fan to try and cool down and a gorgeous Order of Service booklet, handmade with sari material sewn onto the cover.

Meanwhile the groom and his boys were given a beginners guide to camel riding, their means of transport to the wedding ceremony. As they trotted towards the river bank, where we were to hold the wedding ceremony the guests applauded - these unusual wedding cars were a well kept secret and a perfect way to kick off the wedding day.

We created the most beautiful Indian ceremony setting by the river, including an exquisite Indian Mandap (beautiful beaded and jewelled domed tent) with amazing beaded Cholis around it.

We set up gorgeous Indian silk umbrellas around the Mandap so people could be shaded from the sun. We had a long red carpet leading up to the Mandap, purely because all the burs on the ground would attach themselves to my wedding dress!

The Wedding Ceremony

It was then time for us girls to make our entrance, again keeping with the Indian theme.

With our chosen song of “Across The Universe” by The Beatles, my bridesmaids led the way, throwing petals from the gold Hindu bowls they carried.

I followed in a traditional wedding Doli – a intricately carved wooden box carried by my father and four of my strongest male friends! We hadn’t actually practiced this either, so I was rather like Houdini getting into this small structure.

I finally managed to get out of the Doli and make my entrance in my amazingly beautiful dress I co-created with my designer Lisa from Culture Shock.

It was an exotic Indian-Princess inspired pure sand-washed silk full-length strapless gown in oyster, with a small train (with a finger-loop of bells!), inner-corset, and silk-covered buttons and loops down the back.

The Empire-line bodice section was decorated with hand-stitched Rajastani glass mirrors, pale-pink and latte vintage sari appliqué, and embellished with hand-beaded swarovski crystals. For me it was the most perfect dress in the world.

I carried a simple organic bunch of wild daisies, with the stem wrapped in moss and dodder vine making it look like I had just picked them fresh from the field!

Three close friends did readings from ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coehlo (a book very special to us both), ‘Captain Correlli’s Mandolin’ by Louis de Bernières (a passage that Patrick loves) and from my favourite book in the world ‘Another Roadside Attraction’ by Tom Robbins – very left of centre but very very me!

During the wedding ceremony we made a blessing to the Hindu elephant deity responsible for prosperity and removing all obstacles, particularly at the start of a marriage. We had a beautiful bronze Ganesh set up in the Mandap, where we both placed floral garlands as an offering. As Patrick laid his garland on the statue, it fell back comically making for an inauspicious start!

Our wedding celebrant guided us skilfully and professionally through the service culminating with our self-penned vows, which were irreverent, yet meaningful. We didn’t want anything too traditional or long, and a service that was meaningful and represented us as a couple.

All our guests were then given a gold cone complete with our names in Sanskrit text, filled with colourful dried petals (as widely used in Indian celebrations) to throw at us as we walked up the red carpet as husband and wife, to one of our favourite songs - ‘God Only Knows’ by The Beach Boys.

After the ceremony we had a chance to mingle with everyone; a lot of them now bare foot and wading in the river drinking their Pimm’s!

We then went off to have our photos taken with our family, bridal party and a very patient Ruby the camel (who I was coaxed into riding in a very snug wedding dress!)

The Wedding Reception

Our wedding guests were all taken up to the Logan Wines Cellardoor in the double decker bus for canapés and drinks on the balcony.

We all then went up to the reception, and were announced by my brother, who was a groomsman as well as MC for the evening, and ran the evenings proceedings with aplomb.

Our guests were served pre dinner drinks and some Indian inspired delicacies that Patrick and his chef friends had conceived.

The Cellardoor looked amazing, we had a beautiful white silk marquee erected on the huge balcony, and kept all the sides open so you could see the incredible vistas of the vineyards and rolling green hills, as well as kangaroos in the afternoon.

We had three long banquet tables (34 people per table) covered in white cloth, with runners of incredible pink and gold sari material, which I bought in India, really setting off the Indian vibe. The chairs were all made of bamboo, which kept with the theme!

All plates were made of stainless steel, and colourful Indian bracelets acted as napkin rings as well as bomboniere. Guests also received a pack of Indian Bindi’s to wear on their forehead.

For our table decorations we had large pink lotus candles, pink & red dried petals and red & green chillis scattered down the length of the tables for decoration. At the end of each table were large Indian copper standing bowls filled with rose petals.

Behind the bridal table were the most exquisite wall length beaded hangings, which spanned across the whole length of the marquee and were lit from behind. They were breathtaking.

On another wall was a wall length beaded hanging of the deity Ganesh. Surrounding the room were about twenty large brass statues of Hindu goddesses, which carried tea lights, and two shrines set up to Ganesh.

Details such as silver camels, copper elephants and colourful Hindu deities were also placed around the room. Our bridal table had two large Maharaja thrones that Patrick joked in his speech were on loan from the Beckhams!

We wanted to create the feeling of a big Indian family feast, so we decided on a fantastic grazing dinner.

All guests helped themselves to Indian delicacies such as Keralan prawns; Barramundi cooked in banana leaves; and rose petal & coconut rice, all served on large banana leaves. It was a delicious spread and an amazing feat created by three close friends of Patrick’s all chefs from leading restaurants in Sydney.

The MC had organised a game of ‘Lisa & Patrick Trivia’ where the guests were asked to stand up and answer a series of questions about Patrick and myself. For yes you put your hands on your head, for no you put your hands on your hips. Those who got the question wrong sat down, and the last person standing was awarded a bottle of Logan Champagne!

The wine and beer flowed freely as did the speeches, which were engaging, amusing and just plain eccentric!

The best man, who was very nervous about public speaking, was having enough trouble reading his speech, until someone turned on a fan and all his notes went flying out of the marquee down into the vineyards!

There was no first dance but the bridesmaids did an Impromptu Bollywood dance, practised two nights prior in a champagne fuelled evening of watching ‘Bride & Prejudice’ which was hilarious. We decided on a DJ who sourced a great set of tunes ranging from Bangla to some great house tunes.

There was a quick break for the cutting of the cake, which I can undoubtedly say was the most amazing creation!

Imagine this: a three tiered mad-hatter (in chocolate mud) adorned with the goddess Lakshmi (made of sugar) on top. The bottom tier was red, decorated with gold piping detail and mirrors, the middle tier was fuscia, decorated with detail from the goddess herself, and the top layer was in pink decorated with the sari patterns from the table runners.

Post Wedding Parties

The party went on to around 12.30am, when everyone was whisked off in the red bus to Mudgee town where we had organised an after-party at the local pub until 4am. Another friend then hosted an ‘after-after-party’ at the country house she had hired which went on until 7am!

Perhaps in retrospect we shouldn’t have been overly ambitious and invited our guests to a brunch the following day as everyone obviously was a little worse for wear, but nothing that a few Bloody Marys and a bacon & egg roll couldn’t fix.

There were a lot of sore heads and a lot of funny recollections of the night! Not surprisingly the ‘brunch’ turned into an all day event for the hard-core guests, and we finally finished celebrations around 8pm.

Patrick and I stayed in Mudgee until Tuesday with some friends to recuperate, and finally take in the whole amazing experience of our wedding.

Share to Facebook Tweet Pin It Email