Inside Smridhi Sibal and Bharat Dhingra’s Destination Wedding
The pandemic has thrown couples planning their nuptials during this unprecedented time many curveballs. But it also gave them perspective. For fashion designer and consultant Smridhi Sibal, and her textile entrepreneur fiancé Bharat Dhingra, it clarified the type of wedding they wanted – intimate, hassle-free and fun. Saying “yes” was the easiest part for them. It was the trip to the altar that was full of twists and turns.
The college sweethearts, who have been inseparable since they first met a decade ago, always knew they would end up getting married. “I was just expecting our families to meet and plan the dates, not a proposal,” Sibal confesses. But Dhingra had other plans – he originally planned to pop the question in March 2020, but the lockdown played spoilsport. He finally bent the knee in August on Sibal’s birthday. “Went in for a birthday dinner, not knowing I would be leaving the party engaged! I felt as giddy as when we first started dating,” she smiles. Wanting Dhingra to enjoy the same rush to say yes, she fired a Monica proposing to her soon after. “I took it back to the exact place where we first met in college and got down on my knees. It was such a full circle moment.
The couple decided to do the planning themselves – like a “group project in college,” the bride adds. But they did not take into account the different lockdowns and variants of the virus that were to follow. The original plan was to get married with a big wedding in their hometown of New Delhi, but they finally ended up getting married almost a year later in November 2021. “The silver lining is that it helped us achieve that we want a very small wedding in the lap of nature, with only our closest friends and family present,” reveals Sibal.
The hunt for the perfect destination ensued and they settled at Gateway Resort Damdama Lake Gurgaon due to its easy access from Delhi as well as its lush 20-acre grounds. Sibal’s experience of working in fashion and bridal magazines in the past helped her when choosing suppliers. They opted for Written in the Stars for the e-invitations, Paper-it by Nikita Kalra for the stationery, Meethi Reet for the mithai, Dhanika Choksey for the photos and Wedding Nama for the video. They opted for Riwaaz-e-Rishte to plan the wedding because the founder “was so close to our age, that he shared our sights, our vision and our concerns. We ended up becoming friends in the process. The couple’s close friend, Vedika Mohan, creative director of the famed Wedding Design Company, handled the decorating details (having also helped Dhingra put together the proposal.) “She was our one and only choice, we didn’t could have trusted no one else. Working with her was so moving and fulfilling – she has been with us throughout our relationship journey,” adds Sibal, whose childhood best friend, Somya Matta, also served as an instrumental helping hand and reference during Planning.
The couple didn’t want to overload their guests with a week of partying or multiple outfit changes. Instead, there was just one program they wanted everyone to join: “We’ve waited a year for this, so party on it!” The overall vibe was laid back and relaxed. The setup was subtle and minimal, with the decor of each function serving as an extension of the property’s lawns. Nothing shocking or over the top except for the dance moves! “Bharat and I are very particular about our music, so the playlists were carefully selected. Many of the songs had underlying stories. The celebrations started with pre-wedding pujas before recording at the venue. The first day was bridal mehendi with only 25 close guests in attendance. Held at sunset, retro Bollywood tunes set the tone for the evening. The following day began with a welcome haldi brunch on the lawns of the hotel, set off against a backdrop of marigolds, tuberoses and flowering kansaurlis. This was followed by the sangeet sunset with DJ Ajay Nautiyal and musician Shruti Dhasmana raising the festive spirit. But it was the dance performances energy that went viral on Instagram.” One newspaper even covered Bharat’s sangeet performance and my overwhelmingly enthusiastic reaction. It was hilarious that our claim to fame ed from the national media is that we partied so hard,” Sibal laughs. The overall vibe was causal glamour. The bride, along with Mohan, did away with the metallics typical of sangeets and used bright hues instead, with items like terracotta pots, old books and vintage typewriters with their wedding date imprinted on them.
The next morning began with the choora ceremony, with the wedding taking place at sunset. The bride entered Arziyaan by Devangi Chopra and The Wedding Filmer, and the couple swapped varmalasto Prateek Kuhad Oh dear. The mandap was set against a beautiful old tree on the hotel grounds, dressed in white flowers and a canopy of green leaves. The pheras chained up at an after-party where the Chizai group kept everyone on the dance floor. The highlight of the evening was the chaat counter at the former Delhi-based United Chaat House and the Jäger machine at the bar, which was also overflowing with custom cocktails.
As someone who works in fashion, Sibal had a clear vision for her wardrobe. For the bride’s mehendi, she wore a Lucknowi lehenga made from fabric she had bought herself. She stumbled upon Rhea Kapoor’s A&R three weeks before the wedding and wore a white sharara and tag-embroidered spaghetti top for the welcome luncheon, with a quick change to a mustard chanderi top for the haldi. “I wanted every outfit to be functional and reusable in the future, including what I wore for the haldi,” the bride explains. Sibal worked directly with Anamika Khanna and her senior designer Saim Ghani for her sangeet look. “I was sure I didn’t want a dupatta. Instead, I like blazers and structured Indian clothes. They went with a red lehenga with a heavily embroidered dori work jacket for the function and a lightweight cape for the afterparty. For the ‘I dos’, she wore an ivory Sabyasachi lehenga with an embroidered blouse. “I knew this would be my wedding lehenga before I even tried it on. I’m naturally drawn to muted colors and loved the vintage appeal of this one. She contrasted this muted palette with chooras dark red (to match the chooras her mother wore 30 years ago) and a bright red lip.All the jewelry was made by her Hyberabad-based jeweler aunt Poonam Wadhi during several FaceTime consultations. been a bespoke polki necklace and jhumka set with touches of green for the wedding, and an open suite in dull gold with red stones for the sangeet.For her makeup, Sibal worked with three different artists: Pallavi Devki for the mehendi , Gayatri Sharma for the sangeet and Jasmeet Kampany for the wedding. Dhingra wore Diyam Mehta for both events – a black raw silk ashkan with an embroidered Kashmiri stole for the sangeet, and a hand-tucked sherwani with b vintage buttons and a dull gold stole for the wedding.
“The planning process has not been easy and the pandemic has only added to the roadblocks. But in the end, the wedding was perfect because we were surrounded by so much love. Our planner summed it up perfectly with the words of Taylor Swift: “My heart was borrowed and yours turned blue. All’s well that ends well to end with you’.”
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