Meet Lauren and Aadith, the clever couple who managed to dodge COVID not once, not twice but three times with their triple-barrelled nuptials! Not to mention the fact that Aadith is an infectious diseases doctor, so he’s had a pretty hectic few years lately – to say the least. “Our National Gallery of Victoria ceremony was actually one of three weddings we attempted to plan during the pandemic,” shares Lauren, who works in the arts sector. “We also had a traditional Keralan wedding two days after our NGV wedding, and our Mehendi, Haldi and Sangeet a month prior. Total chaos.”

But friends, this stunning day – captured by one of our absolute faves, Miranda Stokkel (who btw, snapped all three of Lauren and Aadith’s celebrations!) – looks like anything but chaos. It’s city-meets-nature bliss, and it’s exactly how these newlyweds imagined it.

THE VENUEWhen we planned our National Gallery of Victoria wedding we intended to hold two other wedding ceremonies in India, so we wanted this ceremony and party to be very us and very Melbourne. We had been to a party at the NGV years earlier and had danced beneath the Leonard French ceiling and had the best time, and we also knew that the Triennial Exhibition would be on at the same time and wanted to place our party within the outpouring of contemporary art. The Garden Restaurant was perfect for us, a green oasis surrounded by the looming city skyscrapers. The natural and city – exactly what we love most about Melbourne.”

THE VIBEThis ceremony was all about the celebration and the party. Originally planned as the only wedding we would have in Melbourne, the event was intended as a celebration for those unable to travel with us, particularly my grandparents. When our India travel plans went awry and we re-scheduled our Keralan ceremony for Australia, we decided to keep this event nevertheless, as it was an opportunity to hold a party that reflected us… and we knew that everyone was very keen to have a dance after the past year.”

THE DRESS “My dress was outrageously easy, a simple COS dress bought off the rack. I was not looking for dress at the time, I just picked it up whilst shopping to pop on in the change room with a friend, and it turned out to be the perfect dress. It was sheer luck. The kurta Aadith wore was a little more difficult as it was sourced from Amaare, a Delhi-based designer with a contemporary aesthetic that we are really into. The light blue kurta Aadith chose from their collection is intricately embroidered with motifs designed by the Central African Mbuti community. The piece is very beautiful. Our entire relationship with Amaare was through Instagram DMs, from choosing the design to sending measurements and arranging shipping, they made it very easy. The kurta was so beautiful that Aadith ended up sourcing his kurta for our Sangeet from Amaare, too.”

FAVE DETAILSOur approach with our vendors was to work as many locals as possible and to allow for each vendor to have their own creative autonomy; we wanted to relinquish creativity to the artists. With this brief, byAzumi, an ikebana artist who works on the same street as we live on, created the most beautifully considered floral sculptures and arrangements for our tables, dance floor and bouquet. Our wedding cakes were also brilliant, baked by our friends Anna and Mark, and my nan, Julie, using my great grandpa’s recipe that we use for every family celebration. And finally, Miss Goldie, the legendary PSB DJ, who played soul records all night which was an absolute dream. If you haven’t heard her magic tune into Boss Action on PBS on a Saturday evening for soul and funk heaven.”

RESOURCESSome of our vendors we literally found on our street, such as our florist and ikebana artist byAzumi, while most of our other vendors we found on Instagram whilst deep scrolling during lockdown. We connected with our celebrant, Celebrate With Hailey, and Miranda Stokkel, our photographer, from the same Instagram post of a wedding that they had worked together previously that had the relaxed family-centred vibe we were looking for.”

CUTE CUSTOMEarly on in the planning of our wedding Aadith and I had decided that our ceremony would focus on the love we have for our families and friends, as well as one another. We are both very fortunate to have had, and still have, strong relationships with each of our grandparents and wanted to recognise them within our ceremony. Acknowledging each in turn, we spoke to how lucky we were to have three of my grandparents attend on the day and how much we missed Aadith’s amummas, as they watched on via Zoom. For Aadith’s appupas and my pa, who have each passed but who would have loved the day the most, we decided to acknowledge in the ceremony through their art. A poem written by my pa was read aloud and a piece of music composed by Aadith’s appupa, a well-known composer in South India, was played as we and our guests reflected on the impact they had had on our lives and our families.

WE’RE GLAD WE… This is all so personal and dependant on the couple, but we are so glad we stripped back our wedding and excluded anything that did not resonate with us personally. For us this meant no bridal party, no ring ceremony, and no vows declaring promises. Instead we chose to include everyone, make our ceremony about our friends and family, and our vows stated our choices; our choice to love one another rather than our promises for an unknown future. We got ready together at home eating pastries and sandwiches with our friends and family. We took Ubers, had our photos before the ceremony and poured all of our energy into being there with our people on the night. This won’t work for every couple, but it was dream for us.”

STANDOUT VENDORSMiranda Stokkel, our photographer, and Hailey, our celebrant, are both brilliant people who laughed with us and supported us throughout the sagas of cancellations and rescheduling. Hailey created a ceremony that was truly relaxed, personal and without pretence, while Miranda was with us for all three of our weddings, becoming friends along the way with our guests who remarked how lucky we were to have a friend as a photographer – despite the fact we actually only met Miranda face to face on our wedding day. Both Hailey and Miranda are charming, caring and make you feel as if you’ve always known them. Both 10/10s.”

We couldn’t agree more – Miranda Stokkel is a deadset legend, not to mention a total gun behind the camera. If you want to her her as part of your dream team on the big day, check out her directory listing and get in touch.

Psst – this gorgeous wedding first featured in issue 33 of Hello May (in fact, Lauren and Aadith are our cover stars!). Grab a copy for yourself and see stacks more inspirational weddings to get your planning juices flowing.

CONTRIBUTING VENDORS Photographer Miranda Stokkel Florist byAzumi Stationery & Signage lines by lb, Hungry Workshop Printer Southern Impact, Snap Ceremony, Reception & Catering National Gallery of Victoria Cake Friends and bride’s nan Cake Topper byAzumi Lighting & Sound Hire National Gallery of Victoria Entertainment Miss Goldie Celebrant Celebrate With Hailey Rings MDT Design (engagement ring) THE BRIDE Gown COS Robes Suku Home Shoes Charles & Keith Accessories Familiar Jewelry Hair & Makeup Sophia Pafitis THE GROOM Suit (Kurta) Amaare Shoes John Fluevog Shoes Barber Shibui