Helena and Vivek’s Beautiful ‘Big Fat Indian Wedding’ in Tuscany by Nicola Tonolini

Today I have a real treat for your wedding eyes! As I take you off to Italy – Tuscany to be precise – for this totally gorgeous Indian wedding. Helena and Vivek wanted a destination wedding as they had so many guests from all over the world coming to their wedding. After a lot of deliberation on locations, they settled on Tuscany and fell in love with their venue Castello di Casole. Then the hard work kicked in as they planned the whole thing in just 5 months. The wedding itself was a traditional Indian wedding, full of colour, brilliant patterns and textures and full of life, with the Western ceremony the day after. I just love the joy between these two beautiful people, their smiles are infectious, their outfits stunning and the whole day is an absolute delight. Thanks to Nicola Tonolini for the gorgeous images.

After our wedding, we were told by several of our guests that we had the “Big Fat Indian Wedding” and we should do it again! I thought I was going to be nervous but the whole day was perfect. It was honestly the best day that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Helena and Vivek were married on 28th July 2017 at Castello di Casole – Casole d’Elsa in Tuscany. ‘We wanted to have a destination wedding in Italy. Guests were traveling from the US, London, Hong Kong, Chile, Taiwan, Australia, and Germany, and we wanted to pick a place that everyone would be excited to go to.  When I googled Castles in Chianti Tuscany, Castello di Casole came up and immediately I and Vivek fell in love. The views were beautiful, and the Hotel was the perfect size with his 40 rooms. We had 90 guests. We booked the venue mid-February and we had the wedding at the end of July so we planned it in 5 months.’

How they met
We met in Tokyo in 2009 where we were both living at the time. We were introduced by mutual friends at a bar called Sabaku No Bara. Vivek remembers thinking, “This is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever spoken to.” Although, I don’t remember meeting that night! We started dating in July 2014 and been together ever since!

The proposal
We went on a hiking trip in the southwestern US in September 2016. One of our stops was Antelope Canyon.  I woke up that morning excited to see the canyon. Instead of taking us to the canyon, he took us to the municipal airport in Page, Arizona.  “We’re going to see Antelope Canyon from a different angle,” he said.  From a helicopter!  I had never been on a helicopter and I was very excited for the surprise, but the thought of him proposing still had not occurred to me.
While we were waiting to board, our pilot, Dusty, came over and introduced himself.  He said that it was our lucky day – on a normal 6-person helicopter tour, there would be only 3 of us. The third passenger introduced himself as a journalist who was taking aerial shots for a local newspaper. The ride was simply breathtaking. Twenty minutes after taking off, we landed on a rock formation 5,000 feet above sea level called Tower Butte. The next thing I knew, Vivek was holding my hands, his lips were trembling, and his eyes were teary. My heart started to race, and I finally realized what was actually happening. As soon as he started to propose, I started to cry. The journalist wasn’t a journalist after all; he was actually a photographer Vivek had hired to capture the proposal. Vivek planned every detail possible, and the best part is that we now have pictures and video of one of the best moments of our lives.  We got engaged on September 21st, 2016

Where did you splurge and where did you save?
We knew we wanted all our guests staying in the same hotel so it would feel more like a vacation. It also made more sense to have all the wedding events within the hotel estate so our guests didn’t have to take transportation from venue to venue.

How did you choose your photographer?
I knew what I wanted specifically so I googled and did a lot of research about the different styles of wedding photography. I saw Nicola’s website, his pictures weren’t just images, but they all had life in them and each one of them was a story which was what I was looking for. We spoke via Skype and I immediate knew he was the right photographer for us. I’m a model myself and I needed someone who is able to communicate with us and has a great passion for photography. Nicola is very easy to work with and his works were a huge inspiration to what we wanted in our wedding photos. I’m so glad we chose Nicola!

The dress
The dress was a custom-made Indian lehenga. The design was inspired by some pictures I saw online. The hardest part about the design was choosing the right color. I wanted a red that wasn’t too pink nor orange nor too dark. It was so hard to find the perfect red so I spent hours looking at different threads and sample fabrics and finally found my perfect color! The shoes were from Jimmy Choo and accessories were bought in India.

The mens outfit
Vivek’s Indian shirwani was also a custom-made piece. We went to a shop in Long Island and I pulled ideas from different already-made gowns and came up with our own! I knew what I wanted Vivek to wear, he didn’t have much of an opinion, but he loved the final design! The fabric was light, breathable and soft because it was going to be hot in Tuscany and shirwani’s are normally very thick. We also had a back up kurta for Vivek to change into during the party so it was easier to dance in and move around with. Vivek’s input for his Shirwani was to add that sword he was carrying during the Baraat.

Theme or colour scheme
I mainly focused on a colorful theme since it’s an Indian wedding. We had the Western wedding the next day so that was the big contrast. One day was colours and the next day was whites and neutrals.

I don’t know much about flowers so my main focus was to follow the color scheme. I asked the florist to use our color theme and come up with the right combination of flowers.

We used colorful cushions, candle votives, lanterns, linens etc that brought out Indian inspired decoration style.

Indian buffet of course! The restaurant of Castello di Casole prepared a rich buffet style dinner:
Vegetable Samosa, Tandori Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice, Raita: yogurt, cucumber, big Florentine tomatoes, Pulao: Basmati Rise with peas and carrots, Eggplant, Cauliflower, Coriandolo chutney, Shrimps Curry, Potatoes curry, Lamb Curry, Onion Bahji

We had a great DJ!

Who supplied the stationery?
It was a combination of paperlesspost.com, my sister’s graphic design skills, and at home printer :). Instead of spending thousands of dollars on paper we wanted to be more environmental and save on as much paper as we could. Most of the time, people throw them away so we didn’t want to spend on this.

Personal touches
We made our own goodie bags, printed and designed our own stationary/signs/place cards etc. The Indian wedding ceremony can be long and it’s all in Sanskrit so in order for our guests to understand and keep them entertained, my sister and I designed a wedding program with illustration and explanation of the ceremony.

Special moments
Seeing all our friends and family smile, laugh and enjoy this special weekend with us was everything.  However, seeing everyone having quality time that they can remember for the rest of their lives was truly something special.
My sister’s speeches made me laugh and cry. We don’t live in the same country and we haven’t lived in the same city since high school so our lives are very different and we are growing up in different environments.I think weddings bring out memories that you might have forgotten and that makes family bonds even stronger.

Advice for other couples 
I would say do what you both want and what feels right for you both. We initially struggled with the idea of a destination wedding, mainly because we were worried certain people wouldn’t want to travel or people might be picky, however it was probably the best choice we made. There will be things that are just out of your control so find a planner you trust and delegate when you can because there is a lot of planning and decision making involved.
Also, choose a great photographer and videographer that you trust!

Biggest surprise 
The whole experience was a huge surprise. We wanted everyone to have a good time so we didn’t focus much on traditions. we wanted to make sure that it would be fun and relaxing and a once in a lifetime experience for all. The planning process was challenging since we were planning a destination wedding in 5 months, we didn’t really know how it would turn out. Knowing that everyone had the best time using our wedding as an excuse to travel and experiencing Italy was the best surprise.


Supplier Shout Outs


For more information on Nicola’s work go to

www.nicolatonolini.com/en www.nicolatonolini.com/en/blog [email protected] / +393335073663 / FACEBOOK / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM / TWITTER

I am an Italian Wedding Photographer who loves to tell beautiful stories in Tuscany, Umbria, Lake Garda and in every destination wedding in Italy!



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    Pearl Malhi

    Hi there,

    This wedding story was described perfectly and very delicately. This very much described my dream wedding with the love of my life. All the details added from the wedding experience were beautiful. I would appreciate if you could please inform me how much the whole wedding costed?

    Thanks! -Pearl M


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