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Shaadi on a shoestring


Destination weddings

Their intimate destination wedding turned into one long road show

One year, we decided to marry. More truthfully, I decided to marry. 'A wedding', progressed to 'A wedding in Goa', and settled for 'A budget wedding in Goa'. Most couples plan tropical weddings for exhibition.

Ours was a cop-out for frugality. Since we'd trumpeted we'd foot the bill with no charity from kith or kin, and we were young and foolish with high ideals and low incomes, we resorted to that boon of youth - cunning. Let's get married far enough for a small but committed turnout we said, but not too far for the wedding to resemble a house party. Goa was good since I had family there, and they had houses. Accommodation: check.

Next, we needed a reception ground. We sent word out by garrulous relatives, and within a month, someone called Avertano surfaced in a village about a swine's swagger away from the family's place. Avertano was a portly landlord with a ginormous Portuguese mansion that required binoculars to view the far wall. He instructed us to follow him on our rented Activa (Rs 150 a day, off season) to the spot. We wound around coconut groves, bars, buffalos and finally landed smack in the middle of fields. There was a salt pan on the right, a field on the left, and a river at the back of a plot with a cheesecake cottage in the middle. A narrow moat with a tiny bridge circumferenced the plot. It was a postcard. Avertano said he could arrange for me to ride up the moat on a boat on the wedding evening. I rolled my eyes, privately considered the offer, but declined the drama. The lawns would hold 250 guests comfortably. How much, we asked? "5, 000?" he attempted. Venue: Check.

The church on the hill we wanted was unavailable, but we found another hill, and it had an available church. Then, the minutiae.
A wedding mass needs a choir, so we cocked our ears for choral sounds, and found the Orlem Choir in the village of Orlem. The choristers were largely part of the same biological family. Father, mother and daughters superbly sang and played some sample hymns on their spotless Yamaha organ. Expect for aberration 'Piss is Flowing Like a River' they were very good. Price: Rs 5, 000. Sound: Check.

A good, but cheap, caterer proved tricky, and at the risk of food poisoning, we sampled the breadth of Goan cuisine. Many pigs-inblankets later, we settled on a chap who came well recommended and honestly priced, but wouldn't supply bar glasses. No problem, we could take it straight off the tap. Everything (and everyone) else fell into place - decorator, DJ, bar glasses, even dear hypochondriac Aunt Lotta who claimed she had swine flu at the time. On the wedding evening, Avertano thoughtfully planted his men along those gloomy Goan inroads holding glosigns to point the way. He even twined LEDs around coconut trees for that festive touch. A vacant field served as the car park, and it brimmed with vehicles. Goa was not that far off the radar after all, and we were inwardly grateful for the crowd; it wasn't to be the downsized tea party we'd imagined. And so we progressed to the reception after mass, stopping by Levi's, because my new husband wanted to attend his wedding party as a rake in dark jeans.

Apparently, the staff had never before seen a groom hot off the altar, so they all piled out on to the sidewalk to wave out to the bride. After that embarrassing piece of street theatre, we had more drama at the farm, when the decorator turned up drunk and was attempting to lay out the chairs even as the guests were coming in. Some guests even helped him speed up the job! The decorative props and arches he promised preferred to stay home that evening. But the chairs were there (although half the tables weren't ), and short of eating off their laps the guests seemed, err, comfortable. And that's how we pulled off our Goan wedding. And a certain field in the middle of the boonies came to be known as Avertano's Wedding Lawns.

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