Married in Maui: Indian Destination Weddings on the Rise

Indian destination weddings have been trending among Canadian South Asian brides and grooms for the past five or so years. With accessible, inexpensive and direct flights available to sunny destinations and newly engaged couples hearing about beach-side nuptials through word-of-mouth, it's no surprise big, fat Indian weddings are turning into experiential, intimate vacay-weddings instead -- a refreshing trend indeed.

Imagine having your mehndi party on a cliff overlooking the ocean or your groom-to-be gliding in on a private catamaran to the trumpet-like sounds of the pu - a ceremonial Hawaiian conch shell. Your parents are relaxed, enjoying their time with family and guests with mai tais in hand. You wake up on the morning of your waterfront laavan with a view of the ocean and tropical green mountains greeting you. Your wedding menu is filled with authentic Indian and Hawaiian options -- frompakoras and pineapple lassi to pao bhaji and mahi mahi.

Ocean-side manicured lawns dotted with swaying palm trees and flaming tiki torches set the mood for the evening -- the destination becomes your décor and its people, culture and food your inspiration. Over cocktail hour, experience the magic of the glowing sun setting in the horizon with your close guests in attendance. Start the night with spectacular Polynesian fire knife dancing and end it with what you know best --bhangra and Bollywood dance.

In 2009, Amy and Navi Dherari of Langley, BC began planning their dream destination wedding in Maui for July 2010.

"I thought the island was really beautiful and very different from Waikiki/Honolulu, which is really touristy. And the Polynesian culture is very beautiful. I wanted to go somewhere different," explains Amy.

"The culture in Maui is like no other; it's such a chilled out place to lounge and relax. There are no aggressive beach vendors. Everyone's on Hawaiian time. It's super chill and there are nice little shops," adds Navi as I sit down with the couple to find out more about their Sikh destination wedding.

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It wasn't easy convincing their parents at first, especially when thinking of wittling down a possible 1200-people wedding to a 100-200-people one. "My side of the family had said no at first. This was way out of the box for them. They didn't travel much and they wanted a large wedding for me," says Navi.

With no decision in sight, one night, after much debating at Amy's house, it came down to asking her 94-year-old grandmother, the matriarch of her family, to make the final decision. Amy was nervous asking at first, but she soon found out sometimes grandmother does always know best.

"Beta (dear), we have seen so many weddings here. Let's go to Hawaii."

The matter was settled -- the wedding would be in Maui. Amy promised her in-laws that they would have an "experience of a life time."

With pressure on them to ensure their parents' happiness with this "out-of-the-box" Indian wedding, Amy and Navi rolled up their sleeves and got to work, managing most of the details themselves -- even with a Hawaiian wedding planner.

"Our venue didn't have an on-site wedding planner, so we got a wedding planner out there, but there was a lot of coordination. She wasn't experienced in Indian weddings and didn't realize how large of a wedding it would be. We did a lot of micro-managing back then, even sending her pictures of what the inside of a gurdwara (Sikh Temple) looks like," explains Navi. "We found Monsoon India, the Indian restaurant, ourselves and we also flew in a Sikh priest from Honolulu."

Fast forward to 2015 and the Indian wedding landscape in Maui has changed. Now dubbed "The Queen of Indian Weddings" in Hawaii by many of her industry partners, Indian wedding planner Mira Savara offers full-service event planning and design, specializing in Indian weddings in Hawaii through her company Mira Savara Events. She organizes Indian weddings on all of the Hawaiian Islands including Maui and has worked with most of the large hotels such as Sheraton, Westin, Four Seasons and Hyatt brands.

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