Jewelry designer Kaabia Grewal and entrepreneur Rushang Shah’s meet-cute was straight out of a rom-com: The duo met over bottomless drinks at the open bar of a mutual friend’s wedding. What ensued was a two-year romance, before Shah got down on one knee on Valentine’s Day last year. “He took me by surprise and planned a trip to the Golden Temple—one of the most revered temples for the Sikh community—and proposed to me at dawn after the prayer ceremony. It was magical,” Kaabia recalls.
As the couple hailed from different cities (Kaabia grew up in New Delhi while Rushang is Mumbai-bred), a destination wedding was their top choice. They were on the same page about their nuptials from day one: They wanted a beach wedding that would be a modern take on a traditional Indian wedding. “We are both eclectic, quirky and crazy in our own ways, and we wanted the celebrations to mirror our personalities,” explains the bride.
But finding that dream location turned out to be something of a wild goose chase for Kaabia and Rushang. After touring multiple venues, the couple visited Vietnam at the suggestion of Rushang’s father. “The island of Phú Quốc turned out to be a hidden gem," Kaabia recalls. "As soon as I entered the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa, I knew we’d found ‘the one!’” Designed by Bill Bensley, the artsy hotel had just the whimsical vibe the couple envisioned for their wedding. “I felt like I was Alice in Wonderland,” she adds with a laugh.
With the venue locked in, the hashtag #KABANNG was coined, and the wedding was meticulously designed as a three-day festival for their 580 guests from all over the world. “We worked very hard to create a unique ambience, and curate each event like an experience," says the bride.
As a designer herself, Kaabia took a detail-oriented approach to the wedding, as it also marked the launch of the event planning leg of brand. She worked closely with London-based Potesta Designs to design personalized welcome gifts, such as hampers, gift bags, and branded coconut drinks, for guests.
The wedding festivities kickstarted with a Bagatelle-themed welcome dinner that led into the main highlight of the night: "The Mad Mansion Party." Kaabia wore a purple Amit Aggarwal gown with a Schiaparelli-inspired cape jacket and bespoke Outhouse bling she, of course, designed herself.
The party was planned as a flamboyant pink ball, centered around the concept of a pink pearl. “I wanted to recreate the debauchery of the ’20s, but Gatsby was too commonplace a theme," explains the bride. "Instead, I turned to the Rothschild Surrealist Ball for inspiration.” Drama was the order of the night; with transcendental theatre, surreal dancers, and a sax player from Venice setting the mood.
Day two was reserved for the beachside mehendi (henna party) leading into the sangeet (dance party). The luxe bohemian sundowner was called ‘Le Hoi’, meaning ‘carnival’ in Vietnamese, with tribal décor elements punctuated with local Vietnamese accents.
Keeping true to the theme, the bride wore a bespoke Shivan & Narresh (the designers are also close friends of the bride) crop top and flared pant set featuring intricate embroidery and shell embellishments. The jewelry, from her own label, borrowed from Egyptian culture.
Since the same event transitioned into an after-hours party, music was key in creating the night's vibe. DJs Pappa and Nick Jojos were especially flown in from Greece for the occasion. “I travel to Mykonos every summer with my sister so I was very clear that these guys, both resident DJs at Astra and Alemagou, would play at my wedding long before I got engaged," Kaabia adds.
The high-octane glamour of the pre-wedding revelry was contrasted by a romantic and dreamy setting for the wedding day. Though white is often considered to be an inauspicious color for Indian brides, Kaabia decided to go against the norm with her bridal ensemble.
All the bridesmaids dressed in pastel pink outfits by designer Atsu Sekhose, adding handcrafted ear cuffs by Outhouse to finish their looks. “Earlier that year, I whisked my crew to Bikaner in Rajasthan for a trip where I surprised them by bringing in Atsu, so they could customize their outfits for my wedding," Kaabia says. "I didn't want to impose any particular silhouette on them!”
Kaabia says she actually created a mood board for her wedding jewelry first, then used that as the starting point for the wedding décor. On the big day, shades of light pink, shells, and fresh flowers were used to dress up the beach for the couple’s walk around the ceremonial fire typical of Hindu weddings.
Dressed in a bespoke ecru pearl and beaded lehenga set and nine-foot ivory veil by Shivan & Narresh, the bride arrived on a boat and walked to the mandap (altar) to the tunes of "Can’t Help Falling in Love" by Kina Grannis from the Crazy Rich Asians movie.
It really would not have been a #KABANNG wedding if the poignant ceremony wasn’t followed by an all-night celebration. Punjabi singer Sukhbir had the crowds grooving with his energetic chartbusters. Adds the bride, “We also had two resident DJs who played at all our after-parties. It really was a rager—we popped 220 bottles of Dom Pérignon in three days!”
Wedding Planner: Horizon W.I.E
Conceptualization: Experiences by Outhouse
Ceremony & Reception Venue: JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa
Décor: Silhouette Events
Bride’s Jewelry: Outhouse
Bridesmaid Attire: Atsu Sekhose
Monogram, Invitation, Stationery & Website Design: Potesta Designs
Catering: Puneet Sikand
Entertainment: Nu Art
Photography: David Bastianoni
Videography: Naman Verma