Indian-Dutch Eco-Friendly Kumarakom Soiree With No Wedding, Just An Exchange Of Vows!
Zuri Kumarakom was the landing strip for what you’d call an exotic, fully-entertaining multi-cultural soiree that had us at hello. The premise was simple, an Indian girl got married to a Dutch boy in a simple ceremony where there was no real wedding. There was just an exchange of vows with a lot of fanfare and so many sweet quotes. Sigh, such is life, you wonder as you take in every little thing that makes this wedding a wholesome, gorgeous affair.
There are a few things that immediately strike you when you glance at this beauty of a setting. The attention to details like the wedding trousseau that’s so unique and subtle but really, colourful and effortless. From bright reds at the pre-wedding shoot to the subtle pastels at the wedding alongside spectacular Meenakari jewellery - there’s so much to love here. The biggest draw is of course the fact that at it’s very core, this one’s an eco-friendly green wedding that’s also multicultural in it’s outlook.
Guests came from all over the world, 45 countries, 6 continents to be precise. To add to the drama, the couple were environmentalists at heart, so a green wedding it is with no plastic and unnecessary wastage. The events were filled with so many interesting nuggets:a boat race between families, the entry of the bride with her dad on a boat, the groom’s baarat that came on 20 bicycles and more!
It was a story of individuality and spice, the couple designed it all on their own and did not follow the rules. That to us, says only thing - strong, sweet and totally off-beat in every way.
We asked a few questions to the couple to see how it went, how they created the wedding of their dreams and we had nothing but admiration for the way they saw the whole deal. Wanna know the tid-bits? Follow these two lovebirds who know how to make their dreams come true in the best way possible!
How did your love story begin?
Mahima + Reinier: We met through Fatima -- a boisterous, brilliant woman who will never let us forget that she is the reason our relationship exists. Mahima and Fatima were best friends at college, and later, shared an apartment in NYC. Reinier and Fatima interned together in San Francisco, and stayed in touch over the years.
The first meet?
Mahima + Reinier: It was the summer of 2012 and Mahima and Fatima were living together in New York, while Reinier was visiting from Amsterdam. We all ended up heading downtown to a bar for drinks. Mahima and Reinier were engrossed in conversation throughout, and sparks were flying. We planned to meet up the next day, but a pivotal text message didn’t go through, and we didn’t end up seeing each other. Reinier flew back to Amsterdam that night. Thankfully, we met again one evening the following summer, and with the interest still clearly there, we started dating long distance!
Mahima + Reinier: We love going on long runs together - it’s our time to be out in nature, without our smartphones, with only each other and our conversation to focus on. We were on one of these long runs in The Hague, Reinier’s hometown and in the middle of a long conversation on everything they’re grateful for, Reinier got on his knees and proposed. Mahima didn’t believe him at first, thought it was one of his silly jokes, but was finally convinced it was a real proposal when he pulled a ring out of his exercise gear! Apparently he had been carrying this ring around everywhere for a few weeks, waiting for the right moment.
Which ceremony was your favorite, and why?
We are skeptical of anything done ‘for the sake of it’: for us, the idea of sitting around a mandap with a priest we didn’t know, reciting lines we didn’t understand, following religious norms we didn’t associate with, seemed strange - inauthentic even. We decided instead to design our own vows ceremony. We agreed that it was important for us to lay out our commitments to each other and to our relationship, surrounded by our closest family and friends.
What did you wear to the wedding?
Mahima: I wore a pastel pink and mint green lehenga from Anita Dongre. I bought this lehenga before I even knew when or where I was getting married actually! I wore my great grandmother’s ‘taveez’-style necklace (traditional Rajasthani miniature paintings, which can be worn both sides, as the back as covered with embossed gold). I paired this with a long Rani Haar made with Basra pearls and emeralds, also inherited from my great grandmother.
Reinier: In the Netherlands, wedding wear is much more moderate - dare I say boring? So when it came to preparing for my own wedding, I needed some help! My mother-in-law saw this fabric with bicycles on them online and, knowing well how much I like cycling, she got me some of the fabric - custom-ordered for me as it had sold out! We decided to have a waistcoat made - one of my favourite types of clothing.
Tell us one quality that you love about each other.
Mahima: I love Reinier’s way of learning: both his curiosity and his learning mindset. I joke about the fact that he’s my personal, walking, talking encyclopedia. For every question I ask, he has an answer. If he doesn’t, he engages with the question with humility and an open mind: it’s so enriching being around him.
Reinier: I love how strong Mahima is. Mahima has a certain type of strength, a kind of resolve that is very rare. She does not give up - she has set a standard for herself and will achieve it.
Did you get the wedding that you wanted?
Yes! We were very clear that we wanted to wedding to clearly reflect us – the couple. Before we even began to design the event flow, we listed out some important shared ideals we wanted to stand for and pay tribute to:
Internationalism in the midst of resurging nationalism
Respect for nature in an age of environmental destruction
Truth-seeking in the face of willful ignorance,
Roots and Wings: the best of tradition, with a bent towards evolution
We then went about crafting the events around these ideals, and the result was a wedding that we felt was truly representative of us and who we wanted to be.
What was the most emotional moment for you during the festivities?
Reinier: For me it was the baraat, where I came to grips with the fact that my friends and family had travelled all the way to Kerala for the wedding. Looking around me, seeing my Dutch baraatis on their bikes, proudly wearing their turbans, I felt so grateful to have them by my side.
Mahima: It was seeing my sister Ashima up on stage MCing the sangeet evening marvelously, with such flair and elegance. A natural leader, she was the one holding the reins throughout the planning process, the one managing difficult vendors and family disagreements with calm confidence, maintaining high-level oversight while also getting deep into the details (she spent the night before the wedding stringing up a ‘memory lane’ photo installation she had designed), coordinating with 250 guests flying in from 40+ countries across six different continents, whipping my friends into shape for their sangeet dances, proofreading and editing speeches – you name it, she was on it.
Apart from that, my favorite moments during the wedding were seeing people from very different parts of my life interact with each other. I take immense pride in the people I have in my life - I curate my relationships carefully, like pieces of art, but mostly at an individual level, or within pre-established groups (like ‘college friends’ or ‘colleagues’). So to see such a diverse group of people, all in the same place, playing off each other so well and bringing out the best in each other was extremely gratifying for me. After some Facebook stalking, I’m happy to report that many of these new friendships are still alive and well!
Which were the decor ideas that brought out your passion?
Because we had the themes of the event so clear from the beginning, the work on décor was to find the right elements to fit the brief, and then deliver. Some examples (though words can’t really do the décor justice!):
Globes, postcards and travel books were strewn across old suitcases at the ‘We are the World’ dinner, the 40 dinner tables were each named after a country from which the wedding guests hailed.
For the ‘Flora and Fauna’ brunch, we had Origami birds and butterflies everywhere, animals made out of tender coconut leaves, hundreds of flowers floating in the swimming pool, a bar counter made of palm leaves and champagne glasses with little birds clipped on.
On Magic Masala night, we had Bollywood kitsch everywhere: film reels lined the stage, the bars were decorated with old Bollywood movie posters, there was a cycle rickshaw photobooth and spotlights in the amphitheater that made us feel like stars! The whole evening was glamorous, surreal, larger-than-life, and the décor really helped build that atmosphere.
At the Tot Ziens brunch, the chikoo tree in the middle of our home was transformed into a ‘wishing tree’ – a charming Dutch tradition where guests write their wishes for the couple and hang them off the tree like ornaments.
Do you have an amazing moment that you want to share through your pictures?
The most magical moment pictorially was when we both arrived at the Zuri lagoon at the end of the Baraat: Mahima being rowed in by her father across the lagoon, and Reinier and his 20 Dutch Baraatis arriving on the shore of the lagoon on their quaint old bicycles, decked out with flowers, accompanied by a wedding band.
The evening light was gorgeous at this moment and Manvi and team got some stunning shots and we figure if there was one ‘most visually appealing’ moment, this would probably be it.