Meeting in the Middle! | A Destination Indian Wedding in Dubai, Styled by IKIGAI Planners

When the UK meets Australia midway! Anisha and Neale decided to have a three-day destination wedding in the beautiful city of Dubai…where east meets west. A mix of modern and tradition is what they had planned along with a special touch of the magical Gulf region, and Ikigai Planners were the dream team who brought their vision to life!

On the First day was the Mehendi and Haldi, for which they chose a bright, colorful palette, while the second day was the ethereal, pastel wedding day, where the bride walked an aisle of floral slendour. But of course, you can never let go of a touch of Arabic style when you are in Dubai, and so on the last day the reception was curated around a Moroccan theme, during which the bride and the groom entered dancing in style! The Tanoura performance left their UK and Australian guests totally mesmerized!

Let’s take a look at this wonderful 3 day wedding planned and styled by the team at Ikigaii Planners, and hear about it from the bride and groom, in their own words…

Bride & Groom: Anisha Shamji & Neale Adhar
Wedding Dates: 8th -10th July, 2022
Wedding Location: Anantara, Downtown Dubai  |  Wedding Planner: Ikigaii Planners

Photography: Melrish Photography

We met…

Neale and I met in London, UK. He moved over from Sydney Australia for his work and before we knew it we had exchanged messages online and agreed to meet up in a rooftop bar in Shoreditch in the summer of 2017. This was my way of showing Neale the sights and sparkle of London which we both loved. We discovered we worked in similar lines of work sectors and were based within a mile from each other in the big city…this was the start of two of our world’s simply complimenting one another.

Our proposal…

We love to travel on short city breaks, beach holidays and explore the world, so 4 years later, Neale whisked us off to one of his favourite European destination, Kefalonia in Greece. Unbeknownst to me he hired a private boat and popped the question in the middle of the ocean! It was an instant yes once I had gotten over the excitement of what was happening! We celebrated this private occasion and then told our family and friends around the world who were overjoyed and excited for the celebrations to come.

Our wedding theme/colours…

Since I was young, I dreamed of a big fat Indian wedding surrounded all those who mattered to us. A celebration with an explosion of colours, culture and two families becoming one – and that is exactly what we did.

The Haldi & Henna high-tea marked the first of our four-day festivity, with a beautiful draping of sunshine themed colours. There were fresh flower garlands, drapes of yellows, pinks and greens to complement our mood. The welcome dinner was informal with a splendid variety of cuisine and a live band to entertain our guests while they mingled.

Day 3 was the big day of the wedding, an afternoon scene with the most beautifully crafted mandap I have ever seen! Two man-sized peacocks wowed our guests, and our planners went above and beyond to make the pastel and floral theme complement each corner of the room. Fit for a bride and groom is an understatement.

The formalities of the day were so touching, our guests were involved and entertained during the traditional Indian ceremony with hand crafted guides to follow, narration from our priest and tasty bites and refreshments. And I cannot get over the glass walkway filled with flowers for the Bridal entry.

The Sunday-finale was the Moroccan inspired reception night. The razzle dazzle of our entertainers, emcee and dance performances delighted our guests during an all-round magical night. The décor and theme was followed by our planners to a tee with shisha style table centre-pieces, a candled wall as our backdrop and strobe lighting for the additional umph, while our guests danced the night away on our light up dancefloor…the wow factor was well and truly delivered!

My dress…

All my bridal lehenga from the haldi, welcome dinner, wedding and reception night was sourced by designer experts across the UK, India and Dubai. Thank you to all my suppliers who made us look suitably extravagant; Kora Bawree, Ashley Wallis and Shaveta and Anuj.

My hair and make up…

I went for a soft touch, fresh look on all occasions. As a minimal make up wearer, it was important for me to look like myself; authentic and real! Neha Shah Artistry understood the assignment, thank you Neha!

His suit…

Neale went for the tuxedo look, but not any black stereotypical tuxedo. He worked with Ashley Wallis to curate a bespoke royal blue velvet single breasted tuxedo. Fit for a groom, hand stitched from Italy, he stood out for all the right reasons. Especially so during the Groom’s performance to a Bollywood classic!

What our bridal party wore…

Our bridal party wore a variety of lehengas, dresses and sarees. It was important to us that while we had a dress theme for each event, each guest could also celebrate their own identity and, most importantly, feel confident in what they chose to wear. One request from the Bride and Groom was gold netted safas for the bride’s side of the boys while the Groom’s side style teal blue. The colour in the room was vibrant Indian!

Our ceremony…

Our ceremony was a combination of Fiji Indian and Gujarati heritage and traditions. It was great that we were able to implement both side rituals.

Photography: Melrish Photography

We chose our photographer because…

Quite simply, they were easy to work with! They made us feel comfortable and captured key moments that make us want to experience it all over again. Thank you @Melrish for your storytelling, surprises on the night that you had for us, and for giving us life-long memories of the best day of our lives!

Photography: Melrish Photography
Photography: Melrish Photography

We chose our wedding planner because…

Initially we didn’t think we needed a wedding planner, now we have had the pleasure of working with the team at Ikigaii Planners I have no idea how we would’ve pulled off such an extravagant four-day celebration without them!

The detail, production, surprises, and execution were second to none. As Bride and Groom you can’t be everywhere and control all elements, so Neale and I were so grateful we could leave certain parts in the trusted hands of Heeital & Vaibbhav, and they went above and beyond. We were in awe of their work and they brought the destination wedding of our dreams into reality!

We chose our venue because…

The management at our venue understood us, the structure of our events, our culture and all the nuances and requests that come with a destination wedding. All our guests stayed onsite at the hotel, and we hosted the wedding in the beautiful ballroom, executive rooms, courtyard and suites at Anantara, downtown Dubai. This was important to us and amplified the experience for all our families and friends involved.

Photography: Melrish Photography

Our menu…

Our menu differed for each events’ theme added variety and represented all of Dubai’s tastes and smells without compromising the importance of our Indian heritage and traditions of what you would expect at a grand Indian wedding. We offered a fusion of live stations and small bites for the Haldi & Henna high tea and welcome dinner.

The wedding day dinner was traditional Indian vegetarian, and our reception night hosted a medley of Levant flavours. Everything tasted incredible and was crafted by the award-winning chefs at The Oberoi.

My favourite part of the day was…

My entry! I had planned it in my head for months and months but to be there and present with everybody as Neale waited for me at the end of the long aisle was magical.

All the plans, discussions, ideas and arrangements came together perfectly. I was bawled over of the glass walkway as I had just mentioned to Heeital and Vaibbhav in casual conversation and they made a note of it and kept it as a surprise until the last minute, and we both had to hold back to tears for what was such an emotional and special day for us as the wedding couple.

My piece of advice to other brides would be…

Work with your planners and trust them with your ideas and vision. Be open to things that may not go to plan on the day, in the grand scheme of things its likely it won’t matter or even be noticed! Enjoy the planning, see it all come alive and most importantly soak it all in…it’s all over so quickly! Talking from experience from a very happy Bride & Groom.

Photography: Melrish Photography

To start planning your wedding day with Ikigaii Planners, visit their profile page or email Hetal at or call +971 552873665. Happy planning!

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