Do you remember your first date? Reema Patel recalls hers vividly, along with her first impression of Sumantra Datta-Ray at Toronto's gastropub The Oxley: stylish, down to earth and hilarious. On top of it all? He was an excellent cook. Reema was hooked. Sumantra, an engineer who manages the data and stats teams for York Region's waste program, noticed how punctual his stunning date was, and realized he'd "better not mess it up:" Reema, a law graduate who investigates complaints about the City of Toronto, was a keeper.
It took a henna artist 4 hours to cover Reema's hands and feet in intricate designs (Sumantra's name was even incorporated).
Reema paired her outfits with an assortment of heirloom jewellery, including an antique gold and velvet armband that she wore as a choker for the ceremony and her great grandmother's ruby and pearl matha patti (hair ornament) which she wore on her forehead. Sumantra splurged for a pair of handmade Sabyasachi leather shoes with embroidered bugs with jewelled eyes. The cufflinks were his late father's, worn in his memory.
On a trip to Puerto Rico to celebrate Sumantra's birthday a year into their relationship, Reema, who knew about his family's tradition of eating Indian rice pudding for breakfast on their birthdays, had the chefs at the St. Regis Hotel make and deliver it to their room with coffee. At that moment, Sumantra knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with his beloved.
Above: The couple decided to wear traditional Indian attire for both the ceremony and reception, and traveled to Calcutta to purchase their outfits. Reema's red silk ceremony sari, with its gold threaded flowers and vines, is a replica of a sari that belonged to a 17th Century Maharani of Benares. Working simultaneously on a single loom, it took three weavers 5 weeks to complete. For the ceremony, Sumantra wanted to honour his late father's memory and had his wedding outfit recreated in Calcutta by his father's tailor. His vest was hand-embroidered with Gara embroidery, which is done by Parsis, a community from Persia who settled in India around 900 AD.
Two years into their relationship, Sumantra proposed to Reema on the couples' rooftop patio, where he was waiting with a mural he had commissioned by a local graffiti artist, a buffet of snacks, 100 long stem roses, music and a custom replica of an art-deco emerald and diamond ring that had caught Reema's eye at an antique store.
Reema and Sumantra exchanged vows at Toronto's Evergreen Brickworks. Reema is flanked by her parents, Reeta and Jay, our HG neighbours and owners of My Favourite Ice Cream.
The couple invited 350 family and friends to celebrate with them over 9 days with the main event taking place at Toronto's Evergreen Brickworks.
The food was catered by The Host, and immediately after the ceremony guests were offered kulfi (Indian ice cream pops) and shikanji (spiced lemonade). As an alternative to buffets often found at large Indian weddings, the couple created a more intimate experience by serving everything family style on long tables, where each place setting included a creative place card alternative - a preserved magnolia leaf.
The non-traditional Indian menu included pani puri shots (fried hollow pastries filled with chickpea, potato and spicy water), pan roasted okra, eggplant with nigella seeds, saag paneer, dal panchrattan (5 types of lentils simmered together), chicken lanbabdar (a tomato, onion and coriander gravy) and goat braised in aromatic spices.
The 5-tier cake from Oakville's Sweet Occasions was big enough to feed the 350 guests. Other desserts included jalebi (sticky Indian funnel cakes) and an Indian chai stand. Nous Designs constructed the ceremony roadmap and arranged the flowers and candles for the table settings. Their vision was based on Reema's reception outfit, a raw silk lehenga choli (long skirt + top), hand-embroidered with velvet roses and leaves purchased in Bombay. Sumantra's reception outfit was a black silk brocade sherwani woven with copper and gold.
The couple headed to Sugar Beach in St. Lucia for their honeymoon, and are now settled back into newlywed life. When they're not working on their hobbies (Reema just wrote her first fiction novel and Sumantra is trying his hand at ceramics), their routine involves lots of entertaining (they love serving drinks from their favourite HG cocktail pitcher) with friends and family.