The Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez wedding left Philippine society in breathless wonder at its celebrity and elegance, but if what you’re looking for is
The Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez wedding left Philippine society in breathless wonder at its celebrity and elegance, but if what you’re looking for is the wedding that really pushed the boundaries of grandeur, you cannot look farther than the wedding of Vanisha Mittal and Amit Bahtia. When the bride’s father, the largest producer of steel and fourth richest man in the world, Lakshmi Mittal, promised her a surprise, he wasn’t just thinking a new Ford in the driveway. What he had in mind was a celebration that would stun the world and dazzle the City of Light itself: everyone’s dream romantic destination, Paris.
Considered the most expensive wedding of the century, the marriage of Vanisha Mittal and Amit Bhatia racked up a bill of between $55 to $77 million or £30 million. This largely overshadows the £10 million spent by diamond dealer Vijay Shah for the joint wedding of his daughter and son in 2002.
The bride is billionaire heiress Vanisha, the daughter of Lakshmi Mittal, the biggest steelmaker and third richest man on the planet. She has a degree in Business Administration from the European Business School, a masters degree in South Asian studies from the London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. Currently, she sits on the board of Mittal Steel and is estimated by Forbes to be worth $51 billion. In 2007, she was named the most intriguing billionaire heiress by Forbes.com. The groom is Amit Bahtia, a Delhi-born investment banker based in London.
The guests received invitations in a shiny silver box, 20 pages thick, containing personal treasures in the form of romantic poems penned by a Mittal family member, and material riches of jade necklaces or diamond jewelry for close family friends. Business tycoons, industrialists, celebrities and some of the richest people in the world were flown to location in 12 chartered Boeing jets. The ultra rich of India have been known to invite as many as 10,000 guests for a wedding, but Lakshmi Mittal had decided that Vanisha’s wedding will be tasteful, different, and most of all, exclusive. Early on it was made clear that the media would not be invited to cover the event.
Truckloads of flowers, professional cooks from India, and can-can dancers all contributed to the unbelievable celebration of Amit and Vanisha’s union. Munna Maharaj, top caterer-turned-restaurateur from Lakshmi Mittal’s hometown of Calcutta, rose to the challenge of satisfying the palates of Delhi, Mumbai, and London’s fashionable crowd.
The six-day ceremony opened with a Ganesh puja, which is an act showing reverence to the Hindu god Ganesh, followed by dinner for 180 people at the Georges Cinq, the world’s second best hotel. Later that evening, youngsters sipped Kristal and swayed their hips to the sounds of DJ Aqueel and Vikrant Pawa at a swanky nightclub facing the Louvre. The upper crust of Delhi, Mumbai, and London society rocked the night until 4AM.
The Sangeet, which is a pre-wedding event in Hindu weddings where family and friends of the couple perform dances to celebrate the upcoming wedding, was held at the Jardin-des-Tuileries on the banks of the Seine. It reenacted the love story of Vanisha and Amit in a script written by top Bollywood writer, Javed Akhtar, with music by Shankar Mahadevan and choreography by Farah Khan. The father-of-the-bride and his wife, Usha, played themselves in the drama, which they rehearsed for over three weeks. The bride and groom were dressed by Suneet Varma, one the pioneers and leading names of the Indian fashion industry.
The brightest of Bollywood’s stars were present to entertain the guests, among them the queen of Bollywood Aishwarya Rai, Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Saif Ali Khan, and Rani Mukherjee. As fireworks lit the skies in what newspapers called “the mother of all firework displays” and guests consumed case after case of Mouton-Rothschild 1986, pop diva Kylie Minogue regaled the A-list with a half-hour act before an improvised castle.
As guests delighted in an impressive spread of various cuisine from some of the world’s best restaurants, superstars Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Khan gave the couple a preview of what married life would be. Playing the role of Amit and Vanisha, they performed songs from their hit film, Hum Tum. The script told of how the betrothed couple met, how they fell in love, and how their life would be after the wedding, all brought to life in Bollywood-style singing and dancing. The party wore on until the wee hours of day as the youngsters carried on, looking down at Paris from the Parc St. Cloud.
ENGAGED TO WED
For the first time in history in June 20, 2004, a private function was allowed to be held in the Palace of Versailles. It is said that it took Lakshmi Mittal over a year to obtain permission to use Versailles, and here is where the would-be groom went down on his knees and slipped a ring on the would-be bride’s finger. After the guests were entertained by a performance by the kicking can-can girls of Moulin Rouge, there were treated to an opera where they heard music from Mittal’s favorite composers—Verdi, Leo Delibes, and Jean-Baptiste Lully. Afterwards, they walked through the bedrooms of France’s kings and queens and the Galeria des Batailles before sitting down for a formal banquet.
The Mehendi is one of the most meaningful rituals in a Hindu wedding in which a henna designer applies mehendi to the bride’s hands and feet. For this, Indian henna artist Ash Kumar, who counts Julia Roberts and Sophie Dahl as fans and has been featured in Bollywood blockbusters like Devdas and Kabhi Kushi Kabhie Ghum, designed an exclusive pattern matching the embroidery on the bride’s gown. The wedding took place at the Vaux le Vicomte, described as the “finest chateau and garden in France,”--a fitting venue for the grandest wedding affair of the century.
by: Ched Sarthou