Taj Aravali Hotel Ballroom | Ishaan Group

Inside the big Udaipur wedding that made a splash on Instagram

Saanchi Gilani and Shahaan Bachooali’s destination wedding is the most-talked about Indian wedding of the year so far. What went on behind the scenes?


You probably recognise this wedding from the buzz it created on Instagram a few weeks ago. From the bride’s cinematic entry and the unconventional colour palette of her wardrobe to the heartwarming surprise dance performance by her best friends, every detail of Saanchi Gilani and Shahaan Bachooali’s wedding—where the guest list included the likes of actor Athiya Shetty, fashion entrepreneur Pernia Qureshi (also the bride’s sister-in-law), fashion influencer Masoom Minawala and Condé Nast Traveller’s Global Editorial Director Divia Thani—won the Internet. CNT got an exclusive insider look at the celebrations, and we have all the details for you.

A dream wedding in Udaipur
Timing was the secret sauce in Gilani and Bachooali’s love story. The duo who share a common best friend had been on the periphery of each other’s lives for almost a decade, but never considered being with each other. When they finally started dating during the early months of the pandemic in 2020, it wasn’t just about being with the right person, but also being with them at the right time. “We had been right under each other’s noses all this while. But even a day before we actually got together wouldn’t have worked. It really makes you trust the timing of life,” muses Gilani, a Mumbai-based fashion stylist.

Her beau, entrepreneur Bachooali, put a ring on it last year with a dreamy proposal at Taj Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad, and the wedding date was set for January 2022. The couple narrowed down on yet another Taj property—Taj Aravali Resort & Spa, Udaipur—for the nuptials. “We clearly have a soft spot for the hotel chain and their hospitality,” laughs Gilani.

Decoding the destination
Udaipur’s culture of grandeur and the city’s weather in January sealed the deal in its favour. But the couple wanted an Udaipur wedding with a difference, an advantage their chosen hotel provided. “Having the Aravali hills as the backdrop for the wedding, instead of Lake Pichola that is typical of Udaipur weddings, made such a big difference,” says the bride.

The 27-acre property in the lap of nature, with 176 rooms, was a no-brainer for the wedding as it blended tradition and modernity in equal measure. “We also had the choice of multiple venues for our various functions, which helped create a different vibe for each event,” she adds.
The wedding mood board
Gilani always wanted to get married at home, while Bachooali had his heart set on a more elaborate celebration. They met halfway with a big, little wedding—intimate in scale but grand in its flair.

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With the wedding date set for a time when the third wave was spreading across the country, the families had to deal with a great deal of uncertainty and last-minute decisions. “Our plans were on hold until 15 days before the actual wedding!” recalls the bride. “We were able to make only one recce trip, and had to race against time to execute all final decisions within a fortnight. There were days when it felt impossible.”

Having the right team made it possible, according to the bride. They worked with Sylvia Moin (SM Weddings) for the planning and The Design Company by Henna Arora for the décor. “You can have a vision for your wedding, but ultimately it’s best to leave it to the experts. They know best. Which is why I was very particular about the vendors we worked with,” says Gilani. The couple worked with some of the best names in the business—Joseph Radhik for the photography, The Wedding Filmer for the wedding video, Namrata Soni (assisted by Shefali Shah) for the bridal hair and make-up, DJ AJ for the music, Two Right Feet for the choreography, and Dolly Jain for the bride’s draping.
The celebrations begin
Since the bride and groom are both half Hindu (from Sindh) and half Muslim—“I know, what are the odds, right?!” laughs Gilani—they wanted a wedding that honoured both sets of traditions. “The other important thing was having a very chilled vibe. We just wanted everyone to have a good time.” So the 300-people affair started with a relaxed rustic-themed welcome brunch by the poolside. The evening was reserved for a sundowner mehendi flowing into the sangeet.
After the rehearsed performances, hitmaker Harrdy Sandhu kept the crowd on the dance floor. Mindful of the nippy weather, the planners created a glasshouse set-up for guests to lounge and enjoy dinner. “It was a very beautiful vintage indoor-outdoor set-up,” explains Gilani.
The fun-filled haldi brunch the next day took place in the day, with a surprise dance performance by the bride’s two best friends—Minawala and Aaliya Nensey, co-founder of blog, The Image Code. The evening nikaah ceremony took place against the glistening waterfall on the hotel grounds, framed by the hills, making it a truly ethereal affair—the bride elegantly walked down the stairs escorted by her brother, while the groom entered under a canopy embroidered with a Quranic verse. The ceremony honoured their multi-cultural backgrounds as they performed both Hindu and Muslim rituals special to them.
The reception that night had a live set by techno-meets-Punjabi-folk singers Hari Sukhmani. Both nights had designated after-parties with DJ AJ on the deck, and a surprise set by DJ Aqeel too. “For the after-party at the hotel’s all-glass bar, we masked the whole room with LED screens and a play of lights from ceiling to floor. So when guests entered, it almost felt like the room was swaying!” recalls the bride.
All in the details
As is with any celebration, it’s the little details that elevate the overall experience for everyone part of the celebration. This wedding was no different. The wedding logo–the couple’s names enclosed in an infinity symbol—was generously used on various elements like luggage tags, key jackets, itineraries, and even projected on various parts of the property. The after-party props included glasses with their hashtag #SgToSb, and the sangeet had custom napkins printed with fun facts about the duo.
The haldi favours were organic hemp scarves from Reistor that were printed with original artwork especially created by the couple’s family and friends. Wedding favours for the older guests came from silverware brand Ravissant, while the younger crew were treated to Jo Malone gifts with personalised notes.
Inside the bridal wardrobe

As a fashion stylist, Gilani had a very clear vision for her bridal wardrobe—it had to be comfortable, true to her personality and devoid of typical bridal colours. The starting point for her welcome brunch look was a pair of Amina Muaddi heels, which she wore with a white Self-Portrait dress with diamante detailing. Bachooali too kept it casual in a button-down shirt and trousers from Govinda Mehta with sneakers.

Anamika Khanna was Gilani’s natural choice for the sangeet, and the bride’s only requirement was that the lehenga be incredibly light. She went with a hand-embroidered white and gold lehenga set that only weighed a kilo, and opted for a cape instead of a dupatta. Uncut jewellery from Satyani Fine Jewels (a classic design bought several years ago), and shoes from Rhea Kapoor’s collection for The Cai Store completed the look. The groom wore a navy blue bandhgala with cutdana work from Kunal Rawal. For the after-party, Gilani changed into a black tulle Alexander McQueen couture dress—a hand-me-down from Qureshi, while Bachooali threw on a Moncler hoodie.

“For the nikaah, I wanted to steer clear of gota work or bridal red. And I definitely did not want to wear a typical lehenga set,” admits the bride. She turned to Pakistani designer Khadijah Shah of Elan to bring her vision to life. The result was a mint green floor-length embroidered anarkali with a matching skirt and two dupattas—one of which she wore for the nikaah, and the other for the reception (she then slipped into a Nadine Merabi tassel mini for the after-party). The complementing jewellery was a diamond and emerald set from Veda Diamonds. “The original plan had been to fly to Dubai for the fittings, but the pandemic made that impossible. The entire outfit was coordinated over WhatsApp!” Bachooali wore an ivory sherwani by Raghavendra Rathore, with the kurta made to match the colour of his bride’s outfit for the nikaah; and a Zegna suit for the reception.

More images from the wedding in Udaipur:

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