Neeraj Chandra and Melanie Kannokada had met briefly at Stanford University in the spring of 2003. But, despite his attempts to catch her attention, three years passed before they would see one another again. Opportunity struck in January 2006, when the two literally bumped into each other at a Manhattan bar. This time, his charm made a lasting impression. By their second date, they were thinking long term. Still, budding careers kept marriage at bay. “It was always a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if,’” says Melanie. “We took our time.”
The time was right in April 2014. During a weekend escape to the Turks and Caicos Islands, Neeraj asked his future bride to meet him on the beach at sunset. But, instead of finding him waiting for her, Melanie was coaxed down a walking path by a series of messages that eventually led to a private seating area. Tasked with completing a jigsaw puzzle, Melanie soon realized a piece was missing. Neeraj then emerged with the required piece and a ring in his hand. “It was a wonderful moment,” she recalls. “We were ready for the next chapter.”
“IT WAS ALWAYS A MATTER OF ‘WHEN’ NOT ‘IF.’ WE TOOK OUR TIME.”
Eager to plan an event that would be memorable for their guests, the couple considered sites around the world. But, in the end, they agreed the only place that truly made sense was the Amanyara Resort, where Neeraj had proposed just a few months before.
“Our focus was to create a shared experience for our guests,” says Melanie, “something truly personal and unforgettable.” The couple and their planning team worked meticulously to make it happen.Intent on incorporating several Hindu and other religious rituals into the celebration,which traditionally takes place over several days, it was no small feat. But soon a clear vision culminated into a theme, coordinated colors and distinct attire for each event.
Pre-wedding festivities included a mehndi, in which the bride and bridesmaids were decorated with intricate henna designs, as well as a Bollywood-style soireé, complete with dance performances by the bride and groom. A baraat, in which Neeraj traveled to his bride’s dwelling on horseback, served as the customary precurser to the ceremony.
It was on her father’s arm that Melanie made her way to her groom that day wearing a red, raw silk lengha gown, embellished with layers of gold jewelry. The traditional ceremony, conducted in the Tamil language, was translated for their 250 wedding guests.
Following vows, the space overlooking the infinity pool was transformed for cocktails, an internationally-inspired, seated dinner and dance. Later, fireworks coincided with the cake cutting.
Of course, despite the precision with which every detail was executed, this bride confesses the most memorable moments
of the evening include the impromptu swimming session that carried on well into the morning. “Everything about our wedding exceeded our expectations,” she says. “We wouldn’t have changed a thing.”
The newlyweds embarked on a two-week honeymoon to South Africa following their event.
Location and Cake: Amanyara Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Planner: Sonal J. Shah Event Consultants, LLC New York, NY