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Gitanjali & Alex | Intimate Rustic Jungle Wedding | Masinagudi

Gitanjali & Alex | Intimate Rustic Jungle Wedding | Masinagudi

Getting married in Jungle was really meaningful for Gita and Alex. She grew up in their house in middle of the Jungle of Masinagudi with the gorgeous backdrop of the Niligiri mountains and spent lot of time with her father  (an elephant engineer) in wilds along with rescued elephants. She is so inspired by nature, anybody can see that in her work and feel that in her stories. Finally, she decided to get married in Jungle in very same house, in a very minimalistic, intimate way.  Unlike usual indian weddings, it was quiet and calm with lush greenery all around. We even got lucky to hear elephants trumpeting the morning of the wedding and the sighting of a leopard that evening. Their main wedding ceremony, the Kanyadaanam and Mangalya Dhaaranam, took place in an eco-friendly mantap under the tree. Their wedding venue was blessed by a few precious fair-weathered hours. 

Straight from Bride's Diary..

Alex and I met in the most cheesy way.. We met in Goa hahaha! To be more specific, we actually met exactly 4 years ago to our wedding date, on 11th Oct 2013. I guess it was fate telling us something? I was on a much needed break with a few friends/colleagues from Bangalore. Alex was there with the French group from Bangalore, of whom I knew one of them well - Capucine. When I told her I was in Goa that weekend, she asked me to join her and her friends to catch up. Alex happened to be there at that table. Thats how we met. It turned out to be a really fun holiday, with me extending my leave by another 3 days and spending time with him. The real love story began a couple weeks after Goa, when he turned up to a place he knew I would be at back in Bangalore, and asked me to join him for movies and dinner. After that, there was no looking back :)

Vision of the wedding:
Every time Alex and I had spoken briefly about a wedding, even before getting engaged, we always knew we wanted something simple, small, elegant... and Alex had expressed an interest in having it in the Tamil Brahmin Iyer style (which definitely made my parents and relatives happy hahaha!). So when Alex proposed on that sunny morning in Ko Tao, Thailand, in May, we knew almost exactly what we wanted by then. We wanted it to be a low-key wedding at my parents jungle house in Bokkapuram, because thats a place Alex and I really enjoyed spending our holidays at, with the gorgeous view of the Niligiri mountains and the animals around us.
This jungle wedding ended up being unique and definitely exciting to all the people coming from France (his family and friends), Australia (my family and friends) as well as guests from Bangalore and Pune (both my family and our friends since we had lived between the two cities). We had told people a bit of what to expect.... less dhoom dhaam and more safaris, quiet and calm time, lush greenery and lots of wild animals. And thats exactly how it was... We even got lucky enough to hear elephants trumpeting the morning of the wedding and the sighting of a leopard that evening! The emotions of guests we had there ranged from pleasantly surprised to extremely excited because a lot of them hadn’t ever visited the jungle before. So to attend a wedding in the midst of it ended up with a whole lot of extremely happy and excited people :)

Because we wanted to keep it a simple wedding, we honestly didn’t put too much time or money into going overboard with my outfits. I don’t believe that one needs designer wear to feel special or bridal or beautiful. The wedding saree was an ikat banarasi saree from Angadi Silks in Sadashivnagar. I wanted a bright and happy colour that would contrast well with the jungle green backdrop of the wedding and I found exactly what I was looking for. I got myself a lovely contrast blouse stitched, just to keep it fun. I picked up 1 set of temple inspired jewellery from CKC in Bangalore, which I wore for the wedding. The evening before the wedding, for the Nichayathartham, I wore a simple banarasi saree from Mysore Saree Udyog with mum’s Kass-malai. I changed into a more comfortable jumpsuit (vajor.com) for the dinner that night hahaha! The saree isn’t the most comfortable outfit in the jungle, from my experience :P For the cocktail event, I wore a really simple but gorgeous maxi dress also bought online from Vajor.com . It fit beautifully and I wanted something that can be worn on any other day in the future.
Alex wore a traditional Veshti/ Pachakacham for the main wedding, which he was happy to do.. My family were so happy and pleased and he wore it well, it was quite adorable really :)
For the cocktail event, he wore a suit by MrButton. They initially didn’t have the suit he wanted anymore, but very kindly agreed to make one especially for him when we told him it was for our wedding day.

Wedding functions:
The wedding was done in traditional tam-bhram tradition, particularly in our Iyer style.
The evening before the wedding, we did a traditional Nichayathartham, the purpose of which is to signify the coming together of the bride and the groom’s family, led by our respective elders where we commit to each other about the wedlock we are about to enter. The morning of the wedding day started with the Kasi-yatrai. Traditionally, the groom pretends to take a vow of abstinence and head to Kashi, refusing to marry the bride. The bride’s father is then meant to stop the groom, offering him his daughter’s hand, promising comforts and happiness. Alex didn’t quite like this part, felt it was way to silly and outdated, and refused to do it that way hahahaha! We then did the Malai-mathal, which is a fun exchange of garlands between the bride and groom to be. This was followed by the Oonjal ceremony. During this ceremony, the bride and groom are made to sit on a swing, to symoblise the ups and downs of life that the couple will have to face together post the wedding, and all the married, elderly women from both sides of the family preform aarthi. We then moved over to the main “stage” area where the main wedding ceremony - the Kanyadaanam and Mangalya Dhaaranam take place. The bride here sits on her father’s lap (my poor, skinny Dad! hahaha the whole time I was aware I was probably squishing my poor dad’s legs with my big bum) and “gives me away” while the vadhyars chants slokas. A ring of the sacred darbha grass is placed, along with the mangalsutra, on the bride’s head. After the kanyadaanam, as per tradition, I was supposed to go change into the traditional nine-yard saree, and sits again on her father’s lap. This got forgotten when I left the stage with the saree and almost fell off into that mud and gave everyone a comedy show. I ended up getting married in my gorgeous ikat saree in any case, since I didn’t change :) It is at this time that Alex ties the sacred mangalsutra. After this, I take the Sapthapadi, the 7 steps taken as Alex holds my toe, and helps me take the seven steps, each step being an oath the husband and wife make to each other. He then places my foot on a grinding stone, This is symbolic of an advice to the bride to be as firm as the grinding stone, so that the family can depend on her.

Things you did right:
Overall, Alex and I are completely happy with the way every single thing went. Our hard work Putting this whole thing together was worth it... And it was a lot of work! Since we had the wedding in such an unusual destination, finding 1 place and 1 single vendor who could do everything was impossible! (Because we didn’t want to go overboard by hiring wedding planners, who might’ve not executed the wedding exactly how we wanted it to be, as well as the task of shuttling and coordinating with them between Bangalore to Masinagudi to Pune wouldn’t have been feasible). So I personally put together the task of the arrangements, every detail of the decoration, the placing of guests in the various resorts and my favourite little bit - the cute honey and coffee giveaways in the Thamboolam. Alex and I wanted to give our guests something to take home and remember us by, but we also wanted to keep it local. We sourced this from an NGO that aids the local tribal community in the Niligiris, buying the honey and coffee collected by the Adivasi community of these mountains. I designed and put together the cute packaging design and voila, we had the fun and personalised Thamboolam for our guests to take home.

I was super lucky to have some lovely, awesome people working with me to get this wedding turn out the way it did!
I found this person Siraj, an event coordinator who also does execution, thru a bunch of online research and digging around. This man is based out of Ooty, and he understood exactly what Alex and my vision for the wedding deco was. He took our cues and sample photos of references and did a beautiful job with the final execution of the venue, our house and the lawn and the stage. I also got incredibly lucky with my hair, make up and saree draping. An old family friend, our neighbours in Masinagudi when we lived there years and years ago actually, had 3 daughters, who used to play with me and babysit me there. 25 years later, we went to invite them for the wedding and realised that 1 of those sisters, Keerthi, had gone on to own her own beauty salon in Tirupur. She happily volunteered to get ready and wow, she did an AMAZING job!! Our neighbour, family friend and resort owner Rohan Mathias and his wife Smriti of Jungle Retreat was a huge help! He helped my parents getting the house ready for the wedding, got the stage built for the main ceremony, served our guests some kickass food and kept everyone so happy and content and comfortable! I couldn’t thank them enough honestly.
Can I just say we had this amazingly awesome, bubbly couple Sudha and Mukesh as our wedding photographers? My family loved you guys! You blended in so well, had lovely chemistry with everyone there and it made everyone comfortable to just be themselves and be photographed. You were more like friends than hired vendors, and I loved that. Thank you so much for it.

Advice for to-be brides:
People, friends, family, even salon staff told me over and over again, to relax, enjoy every moment of the whole month leading up to the wedding. And I will echo their words. Enjoy as much as you can! Worry about everything as less as possible.. It was difficult for us to do this properly in all honesty. I fell sick for 2 weeks a week before the wedding. Hadn’t got my shopping done between falling sick and travelling between Bangalore, Pune, Masinagudi every 2 weeks and juggling a full work schedule. We also came to know 2 months before the wedding that my father-in-law’s cancer had returned, and that he had chemo sessions on our wedding day back in France and couldn’t make it. But being the lovely, strong and amazing man that he is, he smiled his way thru it, didn’t insist once that we postpone the wedding, instead settled on doing a Skype appearance from the hospital. That was so large of him to do, and I absolutely love him for that. So to get back to the advice - Enjoy every small thing, every silly thing, just everything goes by so quickly, you’ll be really happy to make certain efforts and do it the way you want it to be done.
— As Narrated by Bride
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