We are huge fans of couples expressing their unique story, and one of the coolest way to do this is through incorporating your cultural and ethnic traditions! Some couples think “No, I can’t do X in Ireland…. we have to do Irish traditions, or western/Catholic elements.” But the truth is, unless you’re going for a traditional Catholic ceremony, you have tremendous flexibility to work in whatever details you like! At Waterlily Weddings, we’re particularly excited about this and really relish in helping our couples define their own unique wedding celebrations.
We’re excited to share Part 2 of Ashna & Chris’s incredible castle wedding from this past summer! The celebrating started the day before with a traditional Sangeet. Ashna sat down with our lead stylist Mishy for a quick interview to help give an insight into what it’s like planning a non-Irish element for a destination wedding. We think you’ll find it very helpful and inspiring! And don’t forget to see the incredible Day 2 castle wedding here!
Mishy: We planned a gorgeous castle wedding full of gorgeous details, but I wanted to chat a bit about the day before. Many couples have rehearsals or welcome parties, but you and Chris decided to include a Sangeet as part of the day-before-wedding celebration. Why did you feel it was important to you to include a Sangeet?
Ashna: “A Sangeet translates to “music” or “music night” and is a part of Hindu wedding celebrations where the brides family and the grooms family perform (through dancing and singing) a night or two before the wedding. It’s supposed to be a chance to get to know each other’s family before the big day. Music not only is so important in Indian culture, but it is also such an important part of my family. My parents actually met through music – when my dad was a teenager, he wanted to learn how to play guitar so he found one of the best music teachers in India, who just happened to be my mom’s father and his future father-in-law. He learned guitar and joined my mother’s family band where they used to travel and play music all over southern India. Through performing and learning music, my parents fell in love and when they had me and my sister, they made sure to fill our house with music. My most favorite and prominent memories of my childhood are centered around music – hearing my parents sing to each other, performing bollywood dances and songs with my sister, and eventually learning guitar and singing from my dad and going on to perform myself throughout the years. Not only was the Sangeet a way to incorporate something traditional into my non-traditional wedding, but it was also a way for me to honor my childhood and my parents and the importance that music has to my family and my culture. Music also has always been a way to communicate and show love for each other in my family, so having a music night seemed like the perfect way to jump start our wedding weekend.”
Mishy: Was it difficult to plan something traditional for a destination wedding in Ireland?
Ashna: “It was actually much easier than I thought! We needed a couple of key elements for the Sangeet: instrument and sound system rentals, decor (preferably with some Indian elements), willing performers (ha!), and of course a venue to house all of this! One thing I realized about Ireland, and specifically the wedding industry in Ireland, is that everyone in the industry knows each other and, most importantly and thankfully, are always willing to work together and go above and beyond to accommodate and find the right vendors for you.”
Mishy: I find this really interesting.. you actually ended up doing two different venues for your wedding celebration: Kilkea Castle for the wedding day, and Kilruddery House & Gardens for the Sangeet. How did you come to that choice?
Ashna: “Kilruddery was one that I had fallen in love with when we were searching for a wedding/ceremony venue, but it was a little too rustic for the type of wedding we were envisioning. But when I was searching for the Sangeet venue much later on, instead of starting from scratch, I went back and looked at all our notes and lists from that time and was so excited that I got to use Killruddery for another event! It was perfect.”
Mishy: Was it hard to find specific items that you needed? I know some cultural traditions can require really specific items and they can be harder to come by in Ireland or any oversees country.”
Ashna: “Once we found the venue, the rest of the elements seemed to fall in place more seamlessly through the help of the venue coordinators and, of course, Waterlily Weddings. It was such a non-Irish-traditional set-up and event, I was nervous that the venue coordinators would find it difficult to host. But the Killruddery event team was so easy to work with and I think the fact that it was a different kind of event made them even more willing to jump right in and start brainstorming with me. They were just as excited as I was to pull it off! They made Mango Lassis (a traditional Indian drink), supplied Indian-inspired food, and even helped decorate the venue with some Indian décor I was able to find online (Etsy and Amazon!) and bring with me to Ireland.”
Mishy: Let’s talk about the décor! Again, a pretty specific look we’re going for here with lots of amazing details. How did you manage to get the look you wanted to achieve?
Ashna: “The most difficult part was perhaps the décor. We combined Indian décor we bought back in the U.S. with what the venue was able to provide themselves and it ended looking so beautiful.”
Mishy: I often say the same to clients: pack a suitcase with items we can more easily source in the US/Canada so you know what we’re doing, know what we’re using. This gives peace of mind that anything super specific or something that needs to be super authentic is taken care of. It’s easy for us and the venues to work it in on the day!
Mishy: What was most helpful in coordinating the logistics of your traditions for the Sangeet?
Ashna: “I think utilizing some of the groundwork that we had already done for the actual wedding was a lifesaver — the sound system vendor from our wedding was able to provide the sound system for the Sangeet, for example, and happened to have a connect to rent instruments as well, so that fell into place perfectly.”
Mishy: Any advice you can give for those who are thinking about bringing in cultural traditions for their wedding celebrations?
Ashna: “Do it! There were several times where I thought about not hosting a Sangeet because of how complicated I thought it would be, but it truly ended up being one of my most favorite nights ever. To be able to be in a beautiful country like Ireland and experience an Indian tradition like I have always dreamed about made it that much more special. We had guests who had never attended a Sangeet before and guests that had attended 100s, and both types of guests have told us that this was the best Sangeet they had been to and I think a big part of that was that it was traditional enough, but had a little bit of Irish flair and uniqueness that made it such a special event. Just because you are doing an international wedding doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t incorporate any and every tradition you want into your wedding. The international wedding element actually made it easier to pick and choose what traditions we wanted to do and in which way, without feeling the pressure to conform to what others at home always do.”