Ceremony Location: Swami Rama Sadhaka Grama, Rishikesh, India; Reception Location, Cake, Caterer, Linen and Rentals: Ananda Resort, Uttarakhand, India; Event Planner and Design: Catherine Bachelier Smith, CBS Lifestylist, La Jolla, CA; Floral Design: Isari Flower Studio, Solana Beach, CA; Yogi: Swami Jee; Officiant: Swami Veda Bharti; Entertainment and Lighting: Vineet KKN Panchhi; Invitations: Alchemy Fine Events and Invitations, San Diego, CA; Hair: Ratchada Puangpuangngarm; Makeup: Nontapat Amornchai; Photography: Elizabeth Messina Photography, Los Angeles, CA
Lots of boys may dream of one day marrying a supermodel when they grow up, but few actually have that wish granted. Eric Levine was one such lucky guy. A real estate developer and owner of several fitness center chains, Eric hired model Joy Varaluk Vanichkul for one of his yoga company’s photo shoots. “It was love at first sight,” he recalls of seeing the former Miss Thailand.
They dated for eight years before Eric proposed. The couple flew to the Maldives for dinner at their favorite restaurant, and “after dinner we strolled along the beach and Eric wrote his proposal in the sand,” says Joy. “I said yes!” To celebrate, they held an engagement party for 130 of their family and friends at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Bangkok, Thailand. “It was a pure Thai engagement party, which everyone loved,” Joy adds.
For their wedding day, they chose to hold a more intimate affair with only 33 guests in
India. During their three-day stay at the Ananda Resort (the property was once the palace of a famous ruler), each guest was treated to a spa treatment and on the wedding day, all were invited to participate in the ritual of henna art. Family and friends also had the opportunity to go on a river rafting excursion, temple walk and a trip to the Ganges River for an ancient tradition of Ganga Aarti.
Joy and Eric had both dreamt of having a spiritual wedding with a great yogi and a private island party, so they hired California duo Catherine Bachelier Smith of CBS Lifestylist and Tam Ashworth of Isari Flower Studio to make their vision a reality.
The ceremony—a 4,000-year-old yogic ritual with Vedic Sanskrit chanting and meditation—took place in the couple’s great yogi’s ancient and still-functioning ashram retreat near the base of the Himalaya Mountains. “It was a very personal connection to both of us,” Eric says, “as we are initiates into his tradition.” The Hindu Officiant requested that the designers not use the traditional marigold, so Catherine and Tam designed a color palette using Gerber daisies. Ceremony garlands for the bride and groom were hand-carried from Thailand.
Following the ceremony, guests were shuttled back to the resort for the reception. Desiring a celebration that exuded happiness and elegance, the designers used locally-grown and harvested carnations, tuberoses, gladiolas and colorful lighting to honor the couple’s wishes. White linens, as well as white blooms nestled in shallow glass containers, were styled gracefully along with timeworn, ornate gold candelabras. Guests dined on an artistically-displayed sumptuous feast, while entertainment was provided by a traditional Indian band, sitar guitarist and Bhangra dancers. By the end of the night, the party was in full swing with a DJ mixing Bollywood and Western dance music.
For their honeymoon, Joy and Eric headed back to the Maldives bringing their love story full circle. They welcomed the birth of their second son this past March.
> Written by April C. Miller
Copyright 2013 Grace Ormonde Wedding Style Magazine