Wed. May 22nd, 2019

India’s richest family caps year of big fat weddings

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Mukesh Ambani, Nita Ambani, Isha Ambani, Anant Ambani and Akash Ambani at Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone's reception in Mumbai.
Mukesh Ambani (left) is worth more than $40bn. His daughter Isha (third from left) will marry on 12 December

India is still recovering from two back-to-back celebrity weddings but it’s already time for the next one. This time it’s the children of two Indian billionaires, who are all set for what promises to be the next level of big fat Indian weddings.

Isha Ambani, the daughter of India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, will marry Anand Piramal, the son of another billionaire industrialist on 12 December. Celebrations kick off this weekend in Udaipur, a royal city that is now a coveted wedding destination.

The last time a wedding of an Indian businessman’s family got this much attention was in 2004.

Indian-born but London-based steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal hosted his daughter’s wedding at France’s historic Palace of Versailles and a grand chateau. The bill, which included gifts for family friends, ran up to $55m at the time.

The wedding ceremony of Ms Ambani and Mr Piramal is not quite on that scale, but “leaked” details are still greatly exciting Indians – and it caps a year of Instagram-fuelled celebrity wedding fever.

The platform’s Indian universe is as driven by celebrities and influencers as anywhere else, but weddings provide it with its fashion oxygen.

Indian fashion – and increasingly photography – on the platform is dominated by brides, grooms and their parties.

And 2018, which has been a year quite unlike any other in terms of wedding bashes, will be capped off by the Ambani-Piramal wedding.

Celebrity bloggers, entertainment writers and lifestyle magazines have been scouring Instagram to keep up with the pre-wedding festivities, which will stretch over at least three days.

The wedding invites – sent in fancy mini-chests with gifts tucked inside – have their own share of Instagram videos.

The families have kept most details under wraps but rumours are rife.

India’s biggest national newspaper has claimed that Beyoncé will perform at the sangeet, an evening of music and dance that typically precedes the wedding. The tradition originally involved friends and family putting on impromptu performances at intimate gatherings – but now it’s far more common to see a few hours worth of choreographed dances as the latest Bollywood songs are belted out.

Several Bollywood stars themselves are expected to perform at Ms Ambani’s sangeet, according to local media reports. Actors are sometimes hired to perform at sangeets or other private events by those who can afford it.

But many of Bollywood’s biggest stars are personal friends of the Ambanis and are often seen attending parties hosted by the family.

The Ambanis themselves attended the recent wedding reception of Bollywood actors Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh; and Isha Ambani was a bridesmaid at the wedding of actress Priyanka Chopra, which took place in Jodhpur, also in Rajasthan state, last weekend.

Udaipur, the location for the Ambani-Piramal wedding – is a 16th Century city. Studded with lakes, it is home to some of India’s most luxurious hotels, including a 272-year-old marble-walled palace in the middle of a lake that now serves as a hotel. It’s a small city with a mostly quiet airport, but it will be busy this weekend – the families of the bride and groom have reportedly chartered at least 30 flights to fly guests in and out.

This latest wedding comes on the heels of other plush, glamorous ones.

The photos of Chopra and US singer Nick Jonas’s wedding were carefully released on Instagram over a period of days, producing both envious gasps and eye-rolls for the extravagance on display. Her 75ft long tulle veil made international headlines and videos of her sangeet, which resembled an awards ceremony, went viral.

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