A Marriage Fit for a Maharaja
A prince’s palace and royal Rajasthani feasts— the Indian wedding of Nancy Fung and Dinesh Nihalchand was an affair to remember
A prince’s palace, royal Rajasthani feasts and the groom making his entrance atop an elephant—the Indian wedding of Nancy Fung and Dinesh Nihalchand was an affair to remember, writes Rachel Duffell
Intimate is not a word that one normally associates with an Indian wedding yet Nancy Fung and Dinesh Nihalchand’s vibrant threeday wedding celebration in Jaipur, India was just that.
“We knew from the start that we wanted to do an intimate destination wedding,” says Nancy, the founder of Signature Communications, a Hong Kong-based boutique PR agency. “After going through a list of the usual suspects, we did not feel we had a personal connection with any of the destinations. Although Dino, the co-founder of District 15, a real estate development, investment and management company, was born and raised in Hong Kong, we decided to do a traditional Indian wedding as it felt important to honour his roots and heritage. He had brought me to India for the first time just a few months prior to our engagement and we thought it would be perfect.”
With the destination decided, Nancy and Dinesh set about planning. The couple decided on an intimate three-day affair in Rajasthan for their nearest and dearest, choosing Rambagh Palace, the former residence of the Maharaja of Jaipur, now a stunning five-star hotel by Taj that features striking architecture and a fascinating history.
“While Rajasthan has no shortage of beautiful palaces, we loved the Rambagh Palace with its vast, majestic lawns where peacocks roam,” says Nancy. “The palace is big enough to accommodate all the different functions that we had, each at a different
“Being able to wear Sabyasachi with a palace backdrop was one of the reasons that made me want to get married in India”
venue within the property. We wanted our guests to be able to stay together and to experience the palace. Plus, since most of our guests were travelling to India for the first time, the palace’s location in the middle of Jaipur meant they could also do some sightseeing between functions.”
The celebration kicked off on November 30 with a welcome dinner, a royal Rajasthani thali meal in which various dishes are served on a platter, served in the hotel’s opulent Survana Mahal restaurant.
The next day, the palace lawns were bedecked with beautiful canopied tents, cushions and carpets for the mehendi lunch party, where intricate henna designs are applied to the bride’s hands and feet. While this event is traditionally attended by the ladies only, Nancy and Dinesh wanted all of their guests to be involved. Consequently, the lunch was themed around hunting, a nod to the property’s history as a former royal hunting lodge. Indian street food was on the menu, perfect for those guests who wouldn’t have time to experience it outside the hotel.
While the ladies had their hands and feet decorated, guests were treated to all manner of fabulous entertainment, including a DJ, a traditional Indian folk band and dancers, a tarot card reader, a bangle maker and an Indian shoe maker, as well as games such as archery and croquet.
The evening’s sangeet celebration, as is customary, was filled with song and dance. “We were lucky to have our friend Roxane Lo sing my favourite song, My Funny Valentine, and my brother-in-law Louis Shan sang several love songs for us,” says Nancy. “The highlight of the evening was when our friends did the traditional Indian dances that they had spent numerous hours practicing. Our friends had come from all over the world and all have busy schedules, but they took time out to either go to dance practice or to watch videos. Even my sister Eugene amazed me by doing a dance, after she had told me that
there was no way in the world she would dance in front of other people. She had hired a dance instructor to practice privately to surprise me.”
These events were all part of the buildup to the wedding day, which took place on December 2. Nancy wore an exquisite mint green dress embellished with intricate gold embroidery crafted by Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee. “Being able to wear Sabyasachi with a palace backdrop was one of the reasons that made me want to get married in India,” says Nancy, who wore another of
the label’s celebrated designs for the sangeet. Nancy made four separate trips to his Delhi boutique for fittings prior to the wedding to ensure the perfect style and fit.
Dinesh was also dressed in Sabyasachi Mukherjee, from his sleek cream sherwani (long coat) and gold turban to his matching shoes. In preparation for the procession, he was joined by the male guests for a turban or safa-tying ceremony.
One of the grandest parts of any wedding ceremony is when the wedding party makes their entrance. At Dinesh and Nancy’s wedding, however, first came the camels, dazzling in their brightly-coloured decorations, followed by horses, and finally the groom riding an elephant. The wedding guests surrounded the animals and joined the procession, along with uniformed guards and a band, moving towards a balcony where Nancy awaited their arrival.
“My personal highlight was when I first saw my husband on the elephant at the start of the wedding procession,” she says. “I really was overwhelmed with emotions when I saw him looking so handsome and regal accompanied by all our loved ones.”
Nancy was then carried on a palki by four men to the wedding mandap, or ceremony platform, where the truly memorable sunset wedding ceremony took place. Guests then took time to freshen up before the evening reception at which Nancy and Dinesh entered to the tune of Bill Withers’ A Lovely Day, accompanied by dazzling fireworks.
After heartfelt speeches inspiring both tears and laughter, a fleet of vintage cars collected guests and delivered them to the after-party venue, a recreation of HALO, the Hong Kong bar, now closed, which was once a favourite hangout of the couple and many of their friends. Including music from HALO’s former DJ, the bar’s legendary truffle fries and signature Flirtini cocktails, the exclusive one-night-only return of the defunct bar provided an unforgettable way to round out the celebrations.
“It was a whirlwind of events,” says Nancy of the wedding celebrations, “but it was something that I have never experienced and I was so happy that we got to enjoy it with our friends and family.”