Nikhita Iyar’s wedding was everything she had dreamed of. Wedded to Mukund Chillakanti, their celebrations feature in Condé Nast India's The Big Day, a six-part docu-series that spotlights the modern day Indian wedding, and its changing features in a new-era. As a nod to their Indian roots and culture, the California based couple flew down to Chennai for their nuptials.
Described by one of the guests as the ultimate sensory overload, the wedding was planned to give the guests the ultimate attending experience. “The wedding planning is seen as an industry that’s all fluff. I think there’s not enough respect for the amount of labour, creativity, and production to create these sets,” expresses the bride. While the setting was very contemporary, the themes in terms of music, periphery artists, and food, were very traditional. Read on for a closer look.The meet-cute
“I met Nikki at the summer camp for high school. Then Karthik, my brother and her sister Lena, started spending a lot of time together and started dating. Kind of obligatory “Hey our siblings are dating, we should get lunch and hang out sometime,” shares Chillakanti.
The pair got close during their siblings’ wedding planning phase. “Eventually it became more dinners than dance practices,” reveals the groom. On New Years night, a day before the wedding, Iyar asked Chillakanti if there was anything he wanted to say to her before their siblings got hitched, and that’s when he revealed he had feelings for her.
“We were filming Lena and Karthik’s wedding, we also got footage of Nikhita and Mukund flirting with each other. One of my producers had spotted them having some sort of romance going on in the corner, and she came and told me “Vishal, I think this is going to happen,” reveals Vishal Punjabi, the wedding film specialist who shot their sibling’s wedding.The planning
The couple opted for Chennai as the setting for their celebrations. Iyar wanted to feel a connection to the city, apart from her association with the city through her grandparents. “For me, doing the wedding in Chennai was about feeling really connected to them and building a strong memory,” says the bride.
Iyar’s job demands a lot travelling, so she needed to be able to plan the wedding on an app. She entrusted the planning to Dreamzkrraft, a wedding planning company based out of Mumbai. “Nikki is not like the typical bride. They’ve never seen someone go into the level of detail she does whether it’s eight to ten back-and-forths on the menu or designing the drinks herself,” shared the groom.
“When I saw what you can do in India, you can create these little sets. It was almost like every single little thing I could have ever wanted in a marriage was ticked off. I wanted to give everyone an experience because it’s about making them happy so that they can bring a nice camaraderie sort of feeling to the celebrations,” said Iyar.
Moments before the weddingThe pre-wedding celebrations
The festivities were kicked off with a welcome event, an Indian version of the rehearsal dinner. Zorawar Kalra, the luxury wedding caterer, created a food map on which they charted every place in India.
The mehendi ceremony was a tea party inspired by classics - Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. The decor included big hats, clocks, and teacups hanging from the tree and rabbit shaped shrubbery.
The Sangeet was a night in Bollywood, where guests were given tickets which they could redeem to access the bar shaped like a ticket counter. The event was a fully immersive experience - complete with Rajnikanth, Anil Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan impersonators making the rounds. The performances were choreographed by Terrence Lewis, the famed contemporary choreographer. “Think of it like an awards ceremony, like the Oscars,” said Lewis while talking about the magnitude of the sangeet.The wedding
“Chennai by the ocean almost gave me that feeling of home in California but with the spiritual feeling of being authentic to my roots, to my grandfather, the beaches that we used to go with him. It was a perfect convergence of everything,” expresses Iyar.
The pheras took place on the beach, and the couple exchanged peony garlands, surrounded by friends and family. “I feel that we built something where I can develop a home and family culture that I want with a person who is just so supportive but also such a free spirit himself,” said the bride.Also read:
Inside childhood sweethearts Pallavi Bishnoi and Rajat Swarup’s nuptials in New Delhi
Inside Ami Pandya and Nitin Zacharias’ nuptials in Rajasthan
Details from Divya Khandelwal and Aman Kapur’s sustainable fort wedding