Yutika Chawla had wanted a small intimate wedding but the man she had grown to love over the past seven years was most insistent on a big fat Indian one.
“Honestly my husband was the bride,” says Yutika, a giggle in her voice. “He wanted everything to be grand and big and properly done according to Indian tradition, while I had wanted a simple, low-key ceremony.”
Indians Yutika and Chandan’s slow-burn evolution as a couple culminated in a fun, feel-good, tasteful three-day wedding this July in Dubai, the city where both were born, educated, found jobs and along the way, love. “We were even born at Al Wasl Hospital, as it was known then,” says Yutika.
Their wedding had its own hashtag – #YutiKaChand – where the two practically documented the countdown to D-day through regular posts. Scroll down a little and we have glimpses of Yutika’s dream moment: Valentine’s Day 2022, when Chandan led a blindfolded Yutika to a Palm Jumeirah beach, got down on bended knee and made his proposal of marriage.
“Not even my wedding was as special to me as the proposal was,” Yutika says, “because that had been my first dream. Always. That the person I marry must propose to me.”
Chandan had taken her out on the pretext of an office party. “But I knew something was up. No one holds an office party on Valentine’s Day! He had prepared a cute little speech which was very emotional; there were candles, we had a lovely dinner afterwards. It was extremely cold, and wearing a short dress was probably the worst decision. But the moment was amazing,” recalls Yutika.
Hands-on with planning
The next few months were packed with shopping trips back home to Mumbai and working with an event planner to sort out venues, themes and the décor. “We didn’t have a theme as such, but we followed certain patterns, such as bright colours for the first event, a floral theme for the wedding and lots of bling for the reception,” says Yutika.
The ceremonies began with the engagement during what, as per Hindu wedding rituals, is known as the Mata ki Chowki ceremony. Here the couple and their families come together for prayers to invoke the blessings of Hindu Goddess Durga.
The wedding the next day saw the couple taking the ‘Agni ke phere’ that loosely translates to circling a sacred fire (agni), seven times as a Hindu priest intones seven vows on which the marriage is to be built.
The last day at the reception, held at Al Habtoor Palace hotel, the couple together with their friends and family partied the night away, Yutika in her 10kg diaphanous mint-green ball gown that hid her sneakers! “Was I glad I chose to wear sneakers the whole time. I had planned on wearing them only for the dances,” says Yutika. “The reception was by far, the highlight of the whole event, as the venue was massive. It was beautiful.”
Yutika and Chandan were hands on with supervising all the arrangements. “You won’t believe it… I was to be married at 4.30, but I only went to get ready at 4,” says Yutika, cracking up.
The bride was ushered into the wedding hall, under a floral canopy held up by male members of her family led by her father and brother. “We ensured they were all colour coordinated,” says Yutika. The mandap or wedding stage was densely decorated with red blooms and yet managed to look bright, light and pretty.
A major highlight of the wedding were the dances that the bride and groom performed in honour of each other and their families. “I had five performances while Chandan had two,” says Yutika. “The last song with the whole family was probably the most special, as my grandmother also joined in! She never dances.”
Among the small touches were the photo booths set up near the mandap and in the reception hall, where guests could take photos and post them under #YutiKaChand.
Post marriage, the couple are back at work. Yutika works in human resources, while Chandan is an aeronautical engineer. Almost every weekend since the wedding has been a staycation around the UAE. “We’ve known each other for so long; communication is great; we share hobbies – reading, shopping and travelling and have mutual friends,” says Yutika. “We’ve had an excellent start.”