It was right after the wedding and just before the after party. Kunaal Rochlani was nervous, even irritable. Mehak Gouri, his radiant bride turned to him and smiled. “Don’t talk to me now,” he muttered.
All Kunaal could think of at that point was the ordeal lying ahead. “I don’t like dancing. My main stress throughout the wedding was nothing but how I’d remember all my steps; I had about 7-8 minutes of full dance time.”
The clouds for him seemed to lift right after his performance. He sought out his bride and beaming into her face, declared: “Hey we’re married!”
Traces of their excitement and euphoria remain five months on as the Indian couple recall practically every minute detail of their destination wedding held at the Alila Diwa hotel in Goa, India.
From the acrylic mandap (wedding stage) that provided guests an unrestricted view of the couple as they garlanded each other, to the tiny bells that guests were invited to ring instead of showering them with petals; the windmills on the tables, the fairy lights on the trees, the smoke machine that lent a dramatic touch to the vision of the couple on the dance floor, the champagne tower, their MK logo stamped on party boxes, the glasshouse that provided a backdrop for photographs… the smallest details seem etched in their memory.
“Everything was beyond perfect,” says Mehak with Kunaal seated beside her at their home in Jumeriah, Dubai. “We paid attention to the smallest things,” he adds. “Our digital wedding invite itself took up to three weeks, going back and forth. Each event had its own page, its own colour and certain motifs; and these were replicated at the venue.”
The couple even had #MehReNaal as their hashtag. A combination of their names, the term also means ‘with us’. “For instance, on our wedding invite we wrote ‘come celebrate #MehReNaal and ‘let’s get lit #MehReNaal’.”
20 plus dances
Held over two days with a Sangeet and Mehendi ceremony on the first day, leading to two wedding ceremonies — one according to Mehak’s Sikh rites, and the other Hindu — and an after party, the couple ensured that their relatively small guest list of 130 was kept entertained. The Sangeet ceremony itself had around 20 dance performances by the couple and their family and friends. Says Mehak: “My friends who post practically everything they do, had so few photos from the five events! They were having so much fun, that they just didn’t find the time to!”
The couple were married on March 23 this year, three years to the day they first met. “That was pure coincidence,” they declare.
It was a wedding that almost didn’t happen if Mehak had gone by first impressions. At their first date after discovering each other on a dating app, Kunaal turned up late, and then went on to hog the conversation. “He wouldn’t shut up! It was almost like I knew everything about him in that first meeting and other than my name, he didn’t really know anything about me. When he said we should do this again, I just looked at him — yeah sure,” says Mehak who runs her own e-commerce platform for event organisers.
A prescient friend predicted that Mehak had actually “met her match” and urged her to give Kunaal another shot. “And I grew on her,” says Kunaal, who works for a sports brand.
From the start Mehak had her heart set on a destination wedding. “I wanted everyone to live in one place. I wanted that excitement of people rushing up to their rooms to change and coming back down,” she says.
They zeroed in on Goa, falling in love with the last property they visited during a trip to the Indian state, a tourist-favourite. The wedding planners they initially hired weren’t quite able to stick to deadlines, forcing Kunaal to sit up late one night trawling the net for another option. Rather serendipitously he discovered a second cousin who had set up The Wedding Planners, a Mumbai-based company, together with a partner.
It was smooth sailing towards happily ever-after #MehReNaal after that!