They had a lot of principles on how the wedding should take place and were particular about the food served for the guests. Priyadarshini asked her close friend Akash Muralidharan, a food designer, to curate the menu. Another friend of theirs Sanjana Ravi, a textile designer, was brought in to style the entire wedding. Once the wedding was over, the trio realised that they made a great team and could easily pull off an eco-friendly unique wedding. Akash, Sanjana and Priyadarshini started a design studio called Vizhai that curates themes, decor, food, clothing and invites.
“When Priyadarshini and Vivek told me to curate a traditional menu with a modern twist, I took it as a challenge. I curated a menu that was offbeat and consciously designed to be vernacular, yet unique. Seasonal and local ingredients were used to prepare the food. I took this as an opportunity to educate guests about the gastronomical potential of ancient grains and local ingredients with a balance of tradition with modernity (elai saapadu alongside barbecue). The guests enjoyed the unique flavour combinations and unexpected ingredients. An expert team of chefs was assembled from all over Tamil Nadu, each with a specialisation in a different dish. Barbecued sweet potatoes and pineapples, palm sprout halwa, jackfruit biryani were the few highlights. Everything was made from scratch, with whole ingredients and nothing refined. We didn’t use white sugar or refined oils,” says Akash Muralidharan.
From the palm leaf craft making workshop
He points out that in the wedding industry so much wastage and pollution happen and his team wanted to make a difference. “The venue was part of the design itself, with its lush casuarina trees, sparkling water, and a semi-constructed rustic house. The decor was plastic-free and everything was made by local artisans. A high ceilinged pana olai canopy was also built. The bride and the groom’s garland was made out of palm leaves,” says Sanjana Ravi. Unlike other weddings where the guests leave soon after lunch, the founders of Vizha wanted to make Priyadarshini-Vivekanand’s wedding more memorable and hosted a palm leaf workshop. “Palm leaf is a material that is widely used for arts and crafts in Tamil Nadu and continues to serve a wide range of purposes. We wanted to give people a truthful and authentic experience while supporting the local artisans. Lakshmi, a pana olai artisan from Vellore, was invited to host a workshop. Guests, irrespective of age and gender, participated in the workshop and took home souvenirs such as toys and keychains they had crafted with palm leaves. This was also our way of showing awareness about palm leaf crafts,” she adds.
(From Clockwise) From the wedding; Akash Muralidharan; Sanjana
Akash tells us that the return gifts were chosen to be beautiful, memorable, and useful. “The famed pathamadai mats were sourced directly from the artisans. The sweets and snacks - karupatti kaju kathli, thinai laddu, dry fruits barfi, varagarisi murukku - were packed in eco-friendly wrapping and were also different from the usual fare. We made sure that there was a minimal ecological footprint, little to no waste, and the entire event was a celebration of tradition, art, sustainability, and local craftsmanship,” Akash concludes.