The ultimate magical fairytale wedding at Disneyland Paris
25 Jun 2021
Varun and Anisha got their happily every after during a three day wedding at Disneyland Paris
Photographer: Rashpal Photography
Wedding planner Arun Bablani tells us about the couple's big day which took place in September 2019:
Tell us about the proposal.
This wedding made world headlines right from its proposal, which was trending as ‘Crop Circle Proposal’ across online and social media. The groom took his fiancée for a helicopter ride and surprised her with a ‘Will You Marry Me?’ sign created purely out of crop circles.
Which cultural traditions have the couple inserted at their wedding?
Although the couple are from the UK, they originally are of Indian descent. The family chose to keep all their cultures, traditions, and rituals in place during the wedding. The multiple days of celebrations saw various events scheduled, with hundreds of guests attending dressing up in some of the best designer outfits.
Welcome lunch: This is a growing trend. Families these days are hosting a pre-event celebration in the form of a welcome lunch or welcome dinner. This is where guests break the ice and get comfortable with each other.
Mehendi / henna celebrations: Mehndi, the henna ceremony, typically occurs one or two days before the main wedding day. The event was traditionally held separately for the bride and the groom. Lately, families have been hosting it as a mixed event. The henna is symbolically placed on the bride’s hands. The groom’s friends and family bring along sweets and henna for the bride, and the bride’s family does the same for the groom. Female guests are also applied henna courtesy of the bride’s family.
Puja / Pithi / Haldi Ceremonies: Both sides of the family, the bride and groom, have their individual prayer ceremonies before any festivities or celebrations begin. This marks the auspicious beginning to the events that follow over multiple days. The Pithi or Haldi ceremony is the applying of turmeric and sandalwood paste to the bride and groom. This is done to clean and beautify the skin for that extra glow and radiance for the upcoming events.
Sangeet Evening: Sangeet, meaning “music,” was traditionally a function where the women in the family gather around the bride and sing traditional wedding songs. Today, it has evolved to an evening of dancing and perhaps the event that is most looked forward to. Friends and family practice tirelessly to improve their dance moves for this big night. The theme of Sangeet ceremonies today revolves around the bride and groom – their love life, how they fell in love, how they met, and so on. Families hire international Artists, DJs, and Entertainment Acts for their event to stand out.
Baraat: This is when the groom proceeds towards the wedding venue. Along with this entourage of family and friends, the groom rejoices and celebrates with loud drums and dances as they make their way to the wedding altar, also called the ‘Mandap.’ Typically, the groom sits on a white horse which is also richly decorated. He is armed with a sword- a Rajput. Often it can take an hour for the Baraat to move just a few hundred meters. At the other end, the bride’s parents, along with other family and friends, await the arrival of the groom at the Mandap.
Wedding Pheras: Once the groom gets to the altar, the bride walks in with her brothers and sisters to make her way to the altar. The priest lights the sacred fire, which commences the wedding ceremony. Offerings are made into the holy fire as a form of thanksgiving and purification. The groom’s waistband and bride’s dupatta are tied in a knot, and they circle the sacred fire seven times (pheras) and make the seven vows to each other. At the end of the pheras, the bride and groom are announced as a married couple.
Reception evening: Like all other cultures, after all the customs and rituals are over, it’s time to party and celebrate. This marks the first public appearance of the couple as the newlywed in front of friends and family. In this way, the groom’s side welcomes the new bride open-heartedly. The venue is lavishly decorated, and a grand feast is organized for the guests. The guests greet and congratulate the newlywed.
Were there any challenges for this wedding? How did you manage it?
Working at any new destination comes with its fair set of challenges. It was no different at Disneyland Paris. In a way, the challenges were multi-fold, but with the support of the professional team at Disneyland Paris, we were able to overcome it all.
Cultures and Traditions – It was a whole new education process where we had to explain to the Disneyland Paris team the cultures, rituals, and celebrations that an Indian wedding entails. It was essential for us to prepare the Disneyland Paris on clients’ expectations as they had never had such a large wedding celebration before. In addition to this, we had to work closely with the Disney team on client sensitivities and preferences, constantly re-aligning them on deliverables and timelines.
Planning across distances – It took over seven months of planning, including multiple flights for venue visits, numerous emails, several staff-hours, and massive on-ground operations during the wedding.
Operations – Due to high security and stringent policies from the parent company at Disney, each Vivaah Weddings team member was officially registered as Disneyland staff for a week. Furthermore, access to any venue had to be through a secured backstage area. All distances at the massive Disneyland Paris park had to be covered on foot as there are no vehicles inside the park. The entire on ground operations team stayed connected through licensed radio walkies authorized by the Disney security team.
Food and beverage – The requirement for such a magnitude of weddings is large and complex. More often, there are kitchen facilities at venues where we host our international destination weddings. However, in this case, by virtue of Disneyland Paris being a recreational park, there weren’t enough extensive kitchen facilities equipped to support the food and beverage requirements. Hence, the food had to be catered all the way from London using state-of-the-art cooking facilities and preservation techniques. The food was brought in freshly cooked every day by land and sea for each event.
How many hours was the full wedding?
This wedding celebration lasted three days in total. Each day, the guests would be a part of the events for an average of 10-12 hours, owing to multiple events taking place.
Did they have something different for the ceremony?
This was a true fairytale wedding. The night took a magical turn as the civil ceremony took place right in front of the Disney castle at the strike of midnight with a customized princess fountain show and a special fairytale entrance for the bride and groom. While the groom walked out of the castle amidst a fanfare of traditional trumpets, the bride arrived in her Cinderella chariot. The mayor of Main Street Disneyland called out the vows and formalized the wedding.
How many people were working behind the scenes?
Up to 60 members from our team were at work alongside the core Disney team to shape up this wedding. Our staff was divided into operations team, artist management, production team, guest relations team, and family shadow members. Each of them had pre-defined roles and responsibilities to ensure that every task had the undivided attention of a professional to be completed satisfactorily and in time.
Steal Their Style
Wedding planner: Arun Bablani
Photographer: Rashpal Photography
Ceremony venue: Disneyland Paris
Reception venue: Walt Disney Studios
Cinematography: Salshan Photo
Catering: Tabla Catering – London, UK
Floral design: Roni Floral Design
DJ: DJ H
Artist: Juggy D
Band: Versatile Brass