It was the most anticipated wedding, especially in the society and luxury media circles, and all the stops were pulled out for a magnificent celebration. Real estate tycoon Asok Kumar Hiranandani, who has an estimated net worth of US$1.24B, and his wife Asha feted the marriage of their son Bobby Hiranandani to Shaila Tanwani over a five-day celebration attended by guests from all over the world.
The choice of venue was easy: Bobby’s own hotel, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa. However, there was one dilemma: how to fit 3,000 family and friends in one place. Shaila, the daughter of Tanwani Group’s Kumar and Mona Tanwani, reveals, “We ended up building a marquee.”
(Related: Bobby Hiranandani: How I Popped The Question)
Indeed, owning the venue meant the couple had the freedom to create a truly bespoke event. The celebration was a harmonious marriage of Indian traditions and modern touches. Kicking off the festivities was the mehendi or henna party on December 6, a vibrant evening soiree underscored by brilliant colours and a mystical Moroccan feel complete with belly dancers.
The momentum continued to build at the next day’s sangeet, a princely affair where guests dressed to the Maharajah and Maharani theme. To balance the expected sea of colours guests would wear, a mostly-white design palette was chosen for this event. The ceremonial sound of bagpipes playing signalled the arrival of the couple. The highlight was a performance by the couple, their family and friends. Bollywood singers Vishal & Shekhar also entertained.
The Navghari and Ghari Pooja were kept intimate and traditional, as was the wedding ceremony at Gurdwara Katong. Then on the final day of celebrations, fantasy and drama took centre stage in a Moulin Rouge-styled reception. Thousands of fresh red roses, as well as feathers and sequins scattered all over the marquee imparted a romantic Parisian feel, while red and black elements lent drama and energy, getting guests in the mood for all-night dancing, what with Bollywood singers Salim-Sulaiman providing entertainment.
“We were very hands-on with the planning, especially Bobby who attended all meetings with our wedding planners, organisers, designers and even our suppliers. He took care of every detail of the wedding and made sure that it was very special and memorable to both of us. It was just so perfect. It might have been very tiring but everything was worth it. We enjoyed every single day of the celebration and I can only describe it as magnificent!” says the bride.
Singapore Tatler Weddings looks at some of the key people who journeyed with the couple to their big day.
The Chief Collaborator: Dimple Aswani
Assigned as overall collaborator, Bobby’s sister effortlessly moved between coordinating family meals, travelling overseas with Shaila for her gowns, and personally calling guests. At the wedding, she constantly flitted around the couple to make sure everything was in order, right down to touching up the bride’s lipstick. “I wanted to support Shaila and Bobby all the way, from the wedding preparation to the actual celebration and for the rest of their married life,” she says.
She also played fashion advisor to the bride, helping to match her outfits and jewellery. Roping in the couple, family and friends, she initiated a lively dance performance during the sangeet, sourcing for a top choreographer and coordinating all the rehearsals. Her own corporate engagements had to be put aside for twice-weekly meetings with the wedding planners as well as teams from Royal Group and the hotel, but she has no regrets: “The night before the wedding, the couple hugged me, saying, ‘Thank you for all your help. We will always remember it.’ It was a very emotional moment.”
It wasn’t exhaustion or relief she felt as the last guest left: “I missed making the preparations, when Shaila and I really bonded. She’s not my sister by blood but in my heart, she’ll always be my sister!”
The Matchmaker: Asha Hiranandani
“Bobby talks to me daily, about work and personal life. I always listen and he knows I want the best for him,” says the groom’s mother. In fact, she was behind the couple’s set-up: “I’m not getting younger and wanted him to have someone to take care of him. When I saw Shaila’s sweet heart, I knew she was the one! I also knew Bobby liked her so I made the first move for them.”
She adds, “He is our only son and we wanted a wedding he’ll remember for a lifetime. We got what we wanted. I also made sure that I had taught my son how to be a responsible man and husband.”
Having family in different countries, she took it upon herself to ensure everyone was given a special welcome. “I also know Bobby and Shaila are very modern, so I ensured that all customs and rituals were adhered to at the wedding.”
Her biggest reward: “All the smiles Shaila and Bobby shared with each other during the event. I’ll never forget that!”
There for her child every step of the way, the bride’s mother declares, “Shaila isn’t just my daughter, she’s my best friend, my inspiration and my world. “I’ve always wanted her to be happy and envisioned her marrying someone perfect for her and who really loves her. And I can say I have never seen her happier than at her wedding!”
From the moment Bobby flew to London for the proposal, Mona and her husband Kumar got busy spreading the news, planning Shaila’s wardrobe, and the invitation list. As part of the wedding trousseau, she gave Shaila jewellery that used to belong to her late mother. “I wish my mum could have seen her granddaughter getting married. She spent her final years in our home and really looked forward to the occasion. She also adored Bobby.”
The parties were fun but it was the ceremony that really moved her. “That’s when it hits you that your daughter is leaving home. We perform a ritual, Kanyadan, meaning ‘giving your daughter away’. In Hinduism, blessed is the home with a daughter. I’m thankful to Andy (Bobby’s father) and Asha, without whom the celebration wouldn’t have been possible, and to my son-in-law who has done us so proud! My daughter is blessed to have them as family.”
The Fashion Head: Manish Malhotra
Bride and groom were dressed by the Indian couturier, who has designed for numerous Bollywood first ladies including Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. They had seven outfits each, each one a showstopper and a testimony of the designer’s love for intricate details. For the sangeet, Shaila wore a blue dress heavily embellished with crystals while Bobby was in a gold traditional outfit. At the ceremony, he was in another gold number while she was in a red-and-gold creation accentuated with an intricate headpiece. Dimple and Asha were also dressed by the designer. During the celebration, there was a surprise birthday cake to commemorate the designer’s 50th birthday.
From Indian and Chinese to French and Japanese, there was excellent food to keep this celebration going. The cluster executive chef at Sofitel Sentosa Singapore Resort & Spa shares that there were 12 different menus for the six wedding events, with dishes specially requested by the couple, such as mee goreng, fried carrot cake, quesadilla, Sindhi curry and aburi sushi. “More than 80 chefs were mobilised for the entire wedding, with 12 stewards and 40 part-timers to help with food preparations,” he says.
Among the staggering food statistics: 900kg of chicken, 800kg of fish, 600kg of lobster, 580kg of rice, 10 kg of black winter truffles and 8,000 oysters from France were used. A special 10kg tin of caviar was created for the wedding. The 1.6-metre Eiffel Tower ice carving was a marvellous centrepiece but the big scene stealer was the nine-tiered, 110kg wedding cake. Valegas says, “Our pastry chef spent 35 hours on decorations, and it took six very careful chefs to bring it on stage!”
With close to 300 overseas guests staying at the resort, the resort’s director of rooms wanted to ensure everyone had a comfortable stay. Full strength from all departments, from reservations to guest relations and security, was a must, with teams working extra hours. During the event, a valet company was hired with 60 drivers for smooth valet service at the entrance. She says, “All arrivals with transfers were coordinated by a dedicated team liaising with the front office team, ensuring guests had a proper reception.”
They were greeted with garlands, cold towels and a welcome drink and champagne, which was accompanied by live traditional music fanfare. A hospitality desk and dedicated desk for transport was also set up throughout the events, and butler services were extended.
Bobby’s guests were assigned in one wing and Shaila’s guests in another. Each wing was sub-divided for different family groups. Rooms were blocked days before the event for early preparation by the housekeeping, engineering and front office teams. Of course, extra care was taken with the bridal suite, which the team specially decorated with flowers for a romantic feel.
After pulling off a successful engagement party for the couple in July 2016, the director of
OMO Events was asked to plan their wedding.
The brief from Mr Hiranandani: “A classy affair with WOW”. Working with the family, she came up with different themes for each event. She says, “We used fabrics, flowers, lights, LEDs, chandeliers, everything to make this wedding a grand one.”
Building the air-conditioned marquee on the resort lawn took a month. It was used for two of the biggest events, accommodating 2,000 guests with stage, dance floor, buffet counters and seating.
“We used the best sound system, videographers and international artistes to make it an incredible party,” she says. At the temple wedding, English translations of the rituals were distributed to help foreign guests understand the proceedings. We made sure every guest was comfortable and that they had a good time.”
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