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Real Weddings 2016: Inside a three-day bash, featuring choreographed dances, dinosaurs and Tim Hortons doughnuts

By Jean Grant| Photography by Mango Studios
Real Weddings 2016: Inside a three-day bash, featuring choreographed dances, dinosaurs and Tim Hortons doughnuts

Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar started dating in 2010, shortly after Kanwar hired Sharma to run communications and strategy for his recently launched design agency, Jet Cooper (the company was acquired by Shopify in 2013). They got engaged in July 2015, when Kanwar (a self-described obsessive planner) orchestrated a lavishly decorated surprise rooftop proposal at the Soho House. Sharma laughed the whole time: “I find really cute things kind of cheesy,” she says. Their three-day Hindu ceremony, which took place in August, was as traditional as it was modern. Indian weddings can last up to a week and include more than a thousand guests, but Kanwar and Sharma worked hard to condense the number of events and size of the guest list. Even so, their big day turned into three extra-big days, with between 200 and 400 guests each: they kicked off the celebrations with a traditional sangeet in Vaughan on a Wednesday, held the day-long ceremony at a golf club two days later, and finished with a grand reception at the ROM on Saturday.

Since Sharma and Kanwar have worked together professionally for so many years, logistics were a breeze (Sharma is more of a big-picture visionary while Kanwar is great at managing details and budgets—a perfect match). Their vendors may have been a bit taken aback by their detailed questions and management tactics: Sharma admits to habitually editing the Google docs they’d send over, and Kanwar would redline practically every contract.

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Cheat sheet

Dates: August 10 (sangeet), 12 (ceremony) and 13 (reception), 2016 Photography: Mango Studios Bride’s Outfits: Ekaya Banaras (sangeet), Sabyasachi (ceremony and reception) Jewellery Stylist: Bridelan India Flowers: Pink Twig Groom’s Attire: Sabyasachi, Garrison Bespoke Hair and Makeup: Amplified Soul (bride), Original Grooming Experts (groom) Venues: Le Par Vaughan, Copper Creek Golf Club, Royal Ontario Museum Caterer: Rick’s Good Eats, The Host Dessert: Tim Hortons, Costco Late night food: Domino’s Pizza Music: Empire Entertainment, Gagan Singh Music Entertainment: Fulkari Group Invitations: Veronica Wong Planner: Melissa Samborski, One Fine Day Guests: 200 (sangeet), 300 (ceremony), 400 (reception

The design for each of the three celebrations started with the outfits. Sharma travelled to India and enlisted a few well-known designers to bring her wardrobe visions to life. Then, she used the colour schemes in the outfits to inspire the decor. For the sangeet, she chose bright green ensembles with flashes of pink and gold for both her and Kanwar. At Le Parc in Vaughan, they decorated with marigold garlands, a flower that represents the vibrancy of life:

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Sangeets are typically rowdy pre-wedding parties where family and friends dress in bright colours and perform choreographed dances. “It kind of became a family dance-off,” says Sharma. “It was very Bollywood.”

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At this party, the mostly family guest list was 200 people long:

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Before the ceremony on Friday, the bride and groom got ready separately, at their families’ homes. Sharma brought in a henna artist, and requested a silhouette of the CN Tower (not pictured) and a Lauryn Hill lyric: “Loving you is like a song I replay, every three minutes and thirty seconds of every day”:

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Sharma hired a jewellery stylist in India, who helped source most of her jewels from Jaipur. “It was important to me to find someone who understood trends,” says Sharma. On the day of the ceremony, she woke up at 4 a.m. to start the getting-ready process:

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Over at Kanwar’s family’s home, things got a little messier, with his cousins covering him in a traditional turmeric mixture:

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At the ceremony, Kanwar rode in on a decked-out white horse. After, as is customary, the groom’s family danced into the venue to meet the bride’s family (they were originally going to hold the ceremony outside, but it was during this year’s blistering August heatwave, so they decided to move it indoors):

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Kanwar’s family wore red to match Sharma; Sharma’s wore pale pink to match Kanwar:

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The priest read traditional Hindu prayers, and translated everything for the non-Hindi-speaking guests. The pair also broke with tradition momentarily to read their own vows:

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There’s no kissing in a Hindu ceremony, so the couple sealed the deal with a spontaneous high-five:

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After the ceremony, the couple spent the night at the Four Seasons and got ready for Saturday’s reception together. For her reception look, Sharma wanted something slightly more contemporary. She initially went for a more austere fabric, but her mother fell in love with the sequinned threadwork on this Sabyasachi piece:

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Booking the ROM was the first thing the couple did after they got engaged.

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The 400 guests entered through the majestic rotunda (instead of the renovated Bloor Street entrance), and enjoyed cocktails in the Gloria Chen Court before dinner and dancing in the Samuel Hall Currelly Gallery:

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The Host catered all three events (the couple had to attend three separate tastings for each day). The menu was designed to match the flowers at the table, while the invitations and program included custom emojis:

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The couple’s first dance was to “La Vie En Rose”:

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For the rest of the evening, the music was a mix of traditional Indian songs and old-school hip hop. A Tribe Called Quest played during dinner, and there was a lot of Drake—this bar decor is a tribute to the Six God:

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Sharma designed her earrings, which feature emeralds and diamonds. She wanted them to be investment pieces she could wear forever:

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Sharma isn’t a big dessert fan, so she let Kanwar arrange the sweets table. His choice? Tim Hortons doughnuts and full-sized chocolate bars from Costco. “The kids had a field day,” says Sharma:

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For a late-night snack, Sharma chose Domino’s Pizza:

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At the end of the night—after the DJ left around 3 a.m.—guests started freestyling and singing to keep the party going:

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