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Popular actress and celebrity, Sonalee Kulkarni has a candid conversation about her destination wedding and how it was a wonderful introduction of Bharatiya traditions and cultural weddings to the patrons of Essex. Here is the interview:

Did you always wanted to have a destination wedding?

Yes. I always dreamt of having a very special wedding. There were a few ’must have’ on the wedding list - choosing a unique destination, having a traditional style wedding and to adorn a custom designed wedding saree! So, when I entered Colville Hall, stepped into the Marathi tradition themed wedding ambience and was wearing my custom-designed handmade traditional Sonalee Paithani wedding saree, I knew in my heart that all boxes are ticked, this was the wedding of my dreams

Tell us about the venue you finally decided upon?

We had the wedding at a picturesque venue, Colville Hall. This was the first ever Indian wedding to be held at this venue, let alone it be a traditional Marathi wedding! The venue is immersed in historical significance and endows a rich culture alongside being a warm country side avenue

Tell us more about the venue and how did you select this place?

I was keen to explore a unique location which beamed of culture and tradition, because it would be the perfect setting for my very traditional

Maharashtrian wedding! The country side’s beauty and charm in England have always allured me, so after a few visits and research I found the perfect match in Colville Hall which ticked all the boxes. Also, they never hosted a traditional Indian wedding, so I guess it was for me to bring the flavour of Bharat to the local community there.

How were the wedding preparations? Any funny anecdotes to share?

As I said, this was the first traditional Bharatiya wedding to happen there so the wedding venue caretakers were in for a shock when they heard about a fire-pit (Havan-khund) needed inside the wedding venue or use of rice grains and even the floral arrangements. They denied permission at first. We actually spent an entire afternoon with the owners of the barn, who were an old British couple, explaining them about different Bharatiya cultures and the significance of each item in context of the wedding. They were intrigued by every ritual and setting we had for the wedding, but it was kind of them to be accommodative and help us arrange everything we need.

What was the theme of your wedding?

We planned a very traditional themed wedding, completely celebrating the Marathi traditions and culture. We were so traditional that all the attires at the wedding were– Nauvari sarees, Marathi Phetas, Dhotis, etc. Even the décor and entire vibe of the function was to adorn the tradition yet have a contemporary feel. Even both my mothers wore Nauvari sarees, in fact mom who is a Punjabi was wearing the Nauvari saree for the first time in her life. This was also the first wedding in the UK to bring in the Dhol Tasha Phatak. Usually, they are accustomed to the Punjabi Dhol whenever any Indian wedding takes place, but this was a first glimpse they got of the Marathi culture with the Dhol Tasha Phatak. The local helpers and caretakers were mesmerized by the grandeur and beauty of Bharatiya (Marathi) culture and clicked many pictures and learnt a lot about Marathi culture, so much so that they hope to host many more such pure traditional weddings at the barn. My bottle green Sonalee Paithani wedding saree was also a big hit among the patrons!

Tell us about your wedding attire?

As per the tradition, the bride wears two sets of sarees. First is a yellow Nauvari saree which is gifted by the Mama (mother’s brother) and then later a green Sahavari saree gifted by the in-law’s side. I was very clear that the Sahavari saree had to be traditional but yet something unique. So, I collaborated with Sonalee Paithani brand based in Nashik with their own manufacturing unit in Yeola, to custom design a new saree, wherein for the first time ever, a ‘Doli’ was weaved on a Paithani saree. It was a beautiful bottle green all over saree with pink, yellow and golden zari flower with a doli on the kaath. The saree is called an all over saree which means that there is delicate handloom work all over the saree. Usually, the weavers take about 4 months to complete a customized piece of work, however they got the this one ready for me in just 45 days! It is such a beautiful saree, symbolic of our culture that I want to preserve it safely and hopefully pass it on to the next generation.

Was the wedding planned now or Pandemic played a dampener?

We actually had planned the wedding two years back and also had done the bookings and everything, but then Pandemic struck. Then the second lockdown again caused problems in the planning of the wedding and we postponed it the second time. So, we got registered marriage done last year and then planned this serene wedding to bring together all family and friends and celebrate the wedding the way it was meant to be.


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