Monday, 24 July 2017 07:05

Forts of Rajasthan or Castles of Italy

I was seven years old when we first went to Italy. I remember Venice with its gondolas bobbing on green waters - my mother refusing to get on a gondola stating that the waters of Venice were the same colour as the Ganges. 

I remember the delight of seeing glimpses of medieval castles driving into a Tuscan sunset. I remember falling in love with a country, its language and its castles. 

  

Twenty years later, I fell in love with a man who shared my passion for Italian food and movies. Two years later when he proposed over prosecco, I accepted. 

 

Italy would have been our choice to get married. We spent evening after evening pouring through castles online as we held hands and imagined our wedding.

We had looked at majestic castles in Apulia for large weddings, spectacular castles on the Italian Riviera for royal weddings and fairytale castles in Tuscany just outside Florence for romantic weddings.

Finally, we narrowed it down to Tuscany to a pretty castle surrounded by olive trees and vineyards. It was a short drive from Florence.

  

 

It seemed perfect. Maybe too perfect. 

Five months before the wedding, my mother was advised not to travel long distances because of her health. The news hit us hard. I remember holding her hand. We had wanted to postpone the wedding, but my mother said no.

It was a while before I was able to focus again. The idea of Rajasthan came to us one afternoon. My mother had gently suggested it while pouring tea as she did every afternoon. The distance would be short enough for my mother to travel. We could invite more family and there would be no visas or translators to worry about. I loved her for thinking of it. Our wedding was a fairytale. We arrived in Jaipur at dusk. There was a cool breeze and a big moon in the sky. We had chosen a palace, now a resort, and an hour’s drive from Jaipur. I remember feeling excited as a child as I saw craggy forts, dotting hills, bright lights twinkling and later, the occasional camel.

  

The resort was beautiful. We were treated like royalty the moment we walked up the marble steps. There was a traditional dance in the courtyard, which we watched as we waited for our rooms. He even allowed us a peek into our bridal suite. We had a small private courtyard outside, looking up I could see the stars. Inside, there was a king-sized bed, which would be lined with flowers, a huge bathtub in front of the bed and everything we could possibly want. 

  

Dinner that night was served in a dancing hall with mirrors everywhere and beautiful chandeliers that took my breath away. The food was exquisite. Our wedding was the next evening. We started off with a camel ride to the venue. Girls threw petals at us as we walked to the venue. Then the fireworks went off spelling our names for all to see. Tears were in my eyes at the beauty of the event and being surrounded with so much love. 

The ceremony was surreal. Afterwards, we were entertained by women dancing and jugglers as we sat for an outdoor dinner overlooking the mountains. My perfect night ended with a lot of laughter and dancing. Later, when we walked into to our room hand in hand, there was a bottle of Prosecco waiting.

Published in Blogs

I know a lot of my friends think that destination weddings are really lavish affairs. Let’s face it: weddings can be expensive, but when you want to hold your wedding away from home - you’d think that things may get a little complicated. So I decided to do some research into whether it was possible to have a destination wedding on a budget.  And the answer is: yes! All it takes is a little planning. So I’ve decided to share some of what I found from couples who prove that it can be done!

  

Avoid Peak Seasons

There is some good news for you guys: destination weddings are hot. This means that there’s a lot of competition between destinations - which means that you can get a good deal if you plan carefully.  One tip that wedding couples shared repeatedly is that you should avoid peak season to get the best rates.  If you are planning to get married in a resort, rates are often slashed during off season periods. So that fancy hotel that you have been hoping to hold your wedding at may be a possibility. Another bonus of travelling off season is that your ticket prices may be reduced.

  

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Discounts

One of my friends is known as the discount queen in our circle. “There is no shame in asking,” she always tells us, “the worst they can say is no.” The same goes for destination weddings. We are assuming that you are travelling as a group and most hotels (and some airlines) are happy to throw in a group discount.  Now, a friend who works at a five-star hotel reveals that there are few factors you have to consider when asking for discounts:

 i. The minimum number of nights you are expected to stay

ii. The number of confirmed guests checking in (check if your guests can afford the hotel rates first before contacting the hotel)

iii. What is included in the package (if meals are included) - and what the extras are (extra costs can be very expensive so always check first!)

iv. Ask what extra services that the hotel can throw in for free

  

Stick To A Standard Package

Your location will be stunning enough to keep the wedding decor to a minimum. Often resorts will offer standard packages and there may be other weddings apart from yours.. Stick to what’s offered in the package as extras can cost a bomb. Wedding planners at most places have catered for hundreds of weddings before yours. So the chances are that your wedding will be a special affair. Of course, you’d have to cater for your guest’s dietary requirements. Instead of spending lots of money on the decor, a friend who got married in Goa, suggests that you enjoy the natural beauty around you and the resort’s gardens. It’s your surroundings that make a destination wedding so special.

 

Plan A Weddingmoon

A “weddingmoon" is a combination of a wedding and a honeymoon. To any wedding couple, it also means saving a lot of money if you are having your wedding and honeymoon in the same location. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to explore the place you got married in and spend time with each other after your guests leave!

 

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