{reality wedding story} 1 Love Story & 700 Guests Rich in Colour & Tradition Fabulous Live Music One Magical Day

Photo: Gillan Willamson of Ikonica

Photography: Gillan Willamson from Ikonica | Story by The Wedding Ring | From the Spring/Summer 2014 issue of The Wedding Ring ONTARIO Magazine

POOJA & PAUL | CP24 Anchor, Pooja Handa, and her true love, Paul Pathak, marry in a large, luxe gala, surrounded by hundreds of guests who love them and thousands of carefully planned, beautiful wedding details.

Bride & Groom: Pooja Handa & Paul Pathak
Videography: Stories Worth Sharing
Wedding Date: Sunday, May 26, 2013
Ceremony & Reception: Paramount Conference and Event Venue by Peter & Paul
Catering: Cuisine of India
Guest Count: 700
Décor & Flowers: Designing Trendz
DJ: Rhythm Force
Bride’s Attire
Ceremony: Silver Tulip
Reception: Designer Vikram Phadinis (sold exclusively at Vanita Kollections)
Jewellery: Banglez
Groom’s Attire
Ceremony: Men of India
Reception: Custom made burgundy suit from Harry Rosen
Make-Up: S.C. Artistry & Natalie Matias
Hair: Cathy Truong
Entertainment: EH440 – A Capella Group, Rayn – Magician, Leroy Jones – New Orleans Jazz Trumpeter, Grenville Pinto – Violinist, Paul – The Drummer
Horse & Carriage: Caledon Horse & Carriage
Spent the Most on: “We were waaay over budget. based on sheer numbers alone, everything was costly. Everything becomes pricey when you are trying to accommodate 700 guests!”
Favourite Memories: “How happy we were and how much love we felt in the room. We didn’t want it to end. In fact a few days after the wedding, Paul and I looked at one another and said ‘wanna do it again’??? We both agreed… but then got the sober reminder of how much money we spent and decided to wait for our 10 yrs anniversary!” – Pooja

Favorite Moment: “Paul and I agreed to write one another a letter to open on the morning of the wedding. We weren’t able to speak to one another in the lead up and wanted to have something to commemorate the occasion. I ended up reading the letter aloud and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Our videographers managed to capture it on video and included it in our same day edit. It’s a memory I will have for a lifetime.” – Pooja

How did you two meet?

We met at The Spoke Club last summer. We were there for a party of a mutual friend. Hundreds of people were in attendance, but as I was coming in, Paul was leaving. A male friend of mine obnoxiously yelled out, “Look Pooj, there’s a tall brown guy! You two should get together.” Mortified, I watched as he got in the elevator to leave the party. I jokingly yelled out, “That wasn’t awkward,” just as the door was shutting to the elevator. Turns out he returned to the party determined to find me. Instead of finding me another mutual friend brought us together. A friend brought me over to meet her husband who I had never met and, low and behold, Paul was talking to her husband. Before they could even introduce us, we were already laughing about our earlier exchange and shook hands with huge smiles on our faces.

It was a brief interaction as I left to go mingle, but I was sure to ask my friend if he was single. She said yes, but left it at that. He had also asked the same thing and with my permission got my number from her. He called me the next day. I was so impressed that he used the traditional way of communicating and didn’t text.

We went on our first date a few days later and he says within the first 15 minutes he knew he was going to marry me!

How did you find the planning – smooth? Stressful? Or plain out crazy hard?

It was hectic in the lead up to the wedding as we planned a massive 700 guest wedding in six months. We didn’t hire a wedding planner until the day of. So we ultimately made all the decisions ourselves. Paul was involved every step of the way, with every detail and he rarely disagreed with me. The times he did, he learned very quickly that agreeing was the better option. Kidding!

The wedding itself was magical. Everything was perfect. I was expecting things not to go as planned as it often goes, but everything exceeded my expectations. Paul was the forever bachelor in his circle of friends and we knew our guests were all waiting 20 years for this day. As a result, there was nothing but love in the room. One of things we heard over and over was that our love was radiating and despite the size of the wedding, it felt very intimate.

What three elements of the wedding were most important to you?

When it’s your wedding it’s amazing how every detail becomes important! But we definitely knew that the venue, the food and the décor would be our biggest priorities. The venue was top of the list as we needed a place with a capacity of 700 people.  As many brides to be know, getting a date in 6 months can be virtually impossible. I remember calling places who were booking dates 3yrs in advance. I actually recall hearing laughter on the other end of the phone when I said “We’re looking for May– of this year”.

My in laws are all “foodies” and they knew exactly who they wanted to cater the food. So our other challenge was to find a hall that was willing to use a caterer that we brought in. Luckily Paramount Conference & Event Venue was very accommodating. The head of Cuisine of India met with my family to go over every detail of the food being served, right down to how spicy the food was allowed to be.

Finally, the décor was key. You can transform any space if you have someone with a vision and great taste. We found that in Craig Gruzd from Designing Trendz. Let our magnificent Mandap be the example of true creative genius. Craig wanted to do something nobody had ever seen before. He certainly accomplished that by stacking crystal lamp shades as pillars to our Mandap. He added strings of flowers we had never heard of called “dendrobium” and paired it with dozens of roses in crystal vases. It was the MOST beautiful and unique thing I’ve ever seen at any wedding! A true masterpiece. Talk about a “wow factor.”

Did this change at all during the planning? If so, what changed?

Once the main priorities were taken care of, our only other concern was how we’d entertain so many guests. We’ve all been to weddings where the speeches take forever to get through and all you want to do is dance.  We wanted people to be engaged, to laugh and of course have a good time. I’m a firm believer in making sure your guests are taken care of, otherwise what is the point in spending all that money if you forget to make sure it’s an experience for your guests too?

We decided to make a mock movie trailer of our love story to play for our guests. It was complete with music composition by Oscar winner Mychael Danna who has worked on blockbuster films including Life of Pi. We wrote it and produced with the help of Stories Worth Sharing, who made it all come to life. We hired an A Cappella group, EH 440 to sing our first dance “Stand by Me” LIVE the night of the reception. They also sang the first verse of a Bollywood song in Hindi that they managed to learn in just a few days. We had a create your own “flipbook” stand by My Party Impressions and a photo booth courtesy of Imagine8 to take pictures and leave messages that we played on the monitors during our cocktail reception. We used our Stand up comic friend Jazz Mann to MC the evening and as a surprise to us, famed jazz trumpeter and musician Leroy Jones opened up the dancing to our guests with a “What a Wonderful World”.

As guests arrived for our reception, we stationed a DJ, velvet ropes and a red carpet at the entrance to welcome our guests. We figured we’d start the party outside before our guests even entered our venue to get them hyped up.

Any funny wedding moments?

A few days before the wedding Paul got a call about the horse and carriage we had rented for the wedding as the groom traditionally arrives on a horse to meet his bride. They offered up a second horse for a small fee as two horses were required for their next event after our wedding. Paul agreed even though it’s not a tradition to come in on two horses. But he figured he’d put a spin on an old tradition to make it unique. It was a BIG hit!

What was the biggest surprise on your wedding day?

Paul and I agreed to write one another a letter to open on the morning of the wedding. We weren’t able to speak to one another in the lead up and wanted to have something to commemorate the occasion. I ended up reading the letter aloud and it nearly brought tears to my eyes. Our videographers managed to capture it on video and included it in our same day edit. It’s a memory I will have for a lifetime.

Tell us about your theme and choice of colours. What look were you going for?

We didn’t go with a theme. We just wanted something elegant with a “wow” factor. Our colours for the ceremony were blues/rust and purple. In the evening it was purple/gold and peach. Our decorator Craig made sure he could re-use colours/props from the ceremony into the evening to save time and money when setting up and taking down.

Advice, One couple to another?

Ask for help. You’ll need it! Oh and being a Bridezilla or Groomzilla is not a good look!