16 June, 2015
Weddings

That Bride: Sonia Samtani

16 June, 2015
We know a bride who’ll be sure to hypnotise you with her positively magnetic wedding- that’s right, our That Bride of the month is Sonia Samtani, hypnotherapist, corporate trainer and image consultant who knows exactly what she wants! She took time out of her busy schedule as the director of All About You Wellness Centre to help you sassy brides learn how to approach wedding planning with a professional attitude and where to pick up the hottest Indian wedding dresses in Delhi. And, of course, we couldn’t resist asking about fashion designer Danny Hathiramani’s magical proposal on a surprise gondola ride and their elaborate destination wedding in Bangkok. We don’t know about you, but we’re feeling very, very dreamy…sonia2 sonia3All love stories have to begin somewhere. How did you two meet?
We first met through a mutual friend and remained acquaintances for about six years. Danny then decided that he wanted to learn hypnotherapy so he enrolled for my course. It was during this time that we got to know each other better and there was a definite attraction (although I seemed to be the last one to notice it!).  When he completed the curriculum, I knew that being with him felt right and we started dating.

Where was your first date?
Our first date was in the winter and we went to an intimate bar in Central called 001 (check our review here). We had Earl Grey martinis and a special macaroni and cheese that needed to be booked 24 hours in advance!  It was so easy being with Danny because he’s extremely down to earth. We had been friends for so long, but it was exciting to see him in a different light.

1.2Can you tell us about the first time he said he loved you?
Danny actually said I love you to me on Valentine’s Day before we started dating – it seems like he was very sure from the start! I said it two months after our first date on the steps outside my door when he walked me home.

The ProposalWe’re dying to know about your proposal. What was it like?
Danny whisked me off on a surprise trip to Macau on 4 August, 2012. We were walking around the mall in The Venetian hotel when he suddenly said that he had never been on a gondola ride. I knew something was up when we were being escorted to our gondola in a canal outside the hotel and an entourage of photographers were following us everywhere. We were serenaded by an Italian opera singer on our ride and then taken to an area especially constructed for us, complete with a red carpet and gazebo with a big sign saying ‘Will you marry me?’. I was completely lost for words when Danny took me under the sign, got down on his knee and popped the question. The night ended with what felt like a 15-course meal at a private room at Morton’s and excited phone calls from our friends and family.

2Tell us about the ring.
The ring is a beautifully designed solitaire with smaller diamonds and baguettes. Danny’s father designed it just before he passed away and it holds tremendous sentimental value for both of us.

What did you do for your hen party? We want the dirty details.
I went back to the Venetian in Macau with 20 of my closest girlfriends. I’d always wanted to spend the night at a suite in Macau, so we arranged a sleepover in the biggest one we could find with a beautiful patio and swimming pool. One of my closest friends planned and organised the two-day event with typical hen night games and fun in the hotel, followed by all 20 of us getting ready.

All the girls wore their little black dresses and I was in white.  We then had dinner and watched the seductive cabaret show Taboo at the City of Dreams Hotel. Finally we ended up at Bellini Lounge in the Venetian, where we played a special hen-night-scavenger-hunt until I was escorted onstage by the live band and asked about all my embarrassing moments. Luckily for me, I don’t get stage fright and actually enjoyed it!

4How did you go about planning your wedding? Did you go the DIY route or did you hire a wedding planner to help you out?
It took us just under a year to plan our big fat Indian wedding; we had five events and held a destination wedding at the Four Seasons Hotel in Bangkok. Each event was themed, and yes we definitely needed a planner to help us coordinate a team of decorators, entertainers and more! Our events were:

– A Hollywood meets Bollywood welcome dinner and sundown drinks.
– A mystical Mehendi (Henna ceremony). The theme was spiritual, full of chanting, well-wishes to the couple from friends, prayers and promises made to each other.
– A Sangeet (evening of music and dance) that channeled Rajasthani Mela (an Indian carnival).
– The Wedding Ceremony set in the Himalayan mountains with the presence and blessings of Lord Shiva.
– The 20s funk Great Gatsby reception, which was full of glamorous fun.

To ensure that we had worked out all the details of the wedding, our families would get together 1-2 times a week in our office and plan it as though we were planning any other large event. We all had specific areas that we were in charge of; mine was the wedding card, themes, decoration and schedules for each event. We made about four trips to Bangkok to meet with our planners and the hotel, try out the different menus and handle all the other arrangements. I went to Bangkok about five days before the wedding celebrations started with my Mum to finish up all the last minute bits and bobs.

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Tell us about the dress.
I had to choose five dresses for a single event! Fortunately, I’m quite decisive and already had my themes and colours in mind. As an image consultant, I was clear about the looks that I wanted for each occasion and just needed to go find them! Mum and I actually bought all my outfits in Delhi, where most of the designers took our ideas and created new pieces for me rather than selling one off the rack. We went back there three months later for the final fitting and to collect the outfits.

My actual wedding ceremony dress was probably the hardest one to choose since it took me a while to find what I was looking for. Indian Brides usually wear red, pink or gold as their traditional wedding dress – I knew I wanted mine in gold (my favourite colour). I later decided to add light orange accents so that the colours would stand out against my skin. To all Indian brides: I would definitely recommend that you to go to the Emporio Mall in Delhi. It’s a beautiful mall where you’ll find all the Indian designers you can possibly think of under one roof.

6What was the wedding like?
I was on a completely different planet on my wedding day. I was present and knew exactly what was going on, but at the same time I felt like I was looking in on it from an outsider’s point of view. It was like an out-of-body experience! I remember spending the moments before I walked down the aisle with one of my best friends, feeling very relaxed and having a laugh with her like we did at university.

I always thought that I would be sad and teary at my wedding. I’m very attached to my family, so I always imagined being moved to tears by all the family traditions, such as the one where the bride’s parents hand her over to the groom and ‘end’ their journey with their daughter. However, I surprised myself by being extremely calm, happy and peaceful throughout, I knew I was stepping into what was right for me and that my journey with my family is one that will never end.

The setting was absolutely magical and a large statue of Lord Shiva overlooked the altar as beautiful Vedic chants completely charged the spine-tingling atmosphere as the ceremony was taking place. It also helped that the priest who married us was extremely light hearted and added his own comic touches to the vows – he even got Danny to vow that he would buy me designer handbags!

UntitledEveryone remembers their first dance. What song did you choose?
We chose an Indian song that was sung in English, so we could both relate to it through our culture and understand the words. The dance was choreographed by Cristo from Central Dance Studio (which has unfortunately just closed) right before we left for the wedding. Here’s the song.

8.2What’s the most valuable thing you learned while wedding planning?
I will probably never look at an Indian wedding the same way again. I never realised how much work goes into one! I would definitely say that it’s a time where your family is most important; we created a team and did whatever it took to work towards our common vision. Of course, your family may not be the team that you necessarily want to work with on a daily basis – each member has their own personality to add to the mix, which is part of the process. What worked for us was just being completely and openly honest with one another. Since we were all so clear about what we wanted, it kept us going and growing together all the way.

The experience also taught me never to let go of my vision, but also to trust that that everything would work out. I created my vision for the wedding at the very beginning with my husband, but it wasn’t until we reached Bangkok for the ceremony that I finally stopped worrying so much. It was the greatest thing I did because it meant I could be present and just enjoy being in the moment. I knew that if I was worrying about details that only I knew were missing that I would never enjoy the experience.

9.2Have any tips and tricks for brides-to-be?

  • Take some time at the very beginning to brainstorm exactly what you want – do every little detail! Run this all by the other people and decision makers so you are united in your vision, then create a list of all it takes to make it happen. Remember that you’re never going to get what you want unless you speak up!
  • You cannot control everything. Keep on dancing between certainty and surrender and bear in mind that your union is more important than details of the occasion!
  • Although it’s an extremely personal thing, be professional about the way that you’re approaching wedding planning. Create meetings with set times, roles and a prepared agenda.  Designate roles to everyone involved so that people are clear about what they are contributing, who they answer to, who’s supporting them, and how they will get this done.

7.2What do you remember most about the entire experience?
Enjoying my wedding and staying true to myself throughout the whole thing. I was totally in my element and relished the experience.

Is there anything you would have liked to do differently?
I would probably have tried to have more faith that things would fall into place during the initial planning stages. I did eventually give in halfway through and definitely during the wedding!

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And that brings us naturally to your honeymoon. Where did you end up going?
We went to South Africa and Seychelles straight after Bangkok. It was a blissful and relaxing two-week honeymoon. We started with the beautiful mountains of Franschhoek and then went to Capetown, where we did a helicopter city tour and saw Cape Point – the lowest point of the continent. We finally ended up in Seychelles (one of Sassy’s favourite honeymoon destinations) and relaxed on the beach for the final week. It’s the most stunning place that I’ve ever been to.

Want to see more of Sonia and Danny’s incredible wedding? Take a look at their wedding video below.

Danny & Sonia | Bangkok, Thailand | December 2013 | Reception Presentation from Picture Perfect India on Vimeo.

Some of these amazing photos were taken by the snap happy Indian wedding photographers over at Picture Perfect!

heart-black

We know we were mesmerised the whole way through Sonia’s story, but why not check out some of our other That Bride interviews on the site? If you’re planning a Hong Kong wedding (or if you’re aspiring wedding planners like we are), take a look at our guides to planning a wedding in Hong Kong as well!

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