Juveca Panda’s eco-friendly wedding blends Indian traditions with fairytales and fantasy

It was a captivating three-day affair with ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Alice in Wonderland’ at Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire.

I was glued to my phone, finding and making sure my wedding was as eco-references on Pinterest and going through old photos. With only two-and-a-half months to plan my wedding, I was overwhelmed but also filled with excitement. It was finally my time—to marry the man of my dreams and have that fairytale wedding. I always loved watching all things Disney and reading fantasy and fiction novels. From Aladdin to Sophie Kinsella’s works, to the Harry Potter series, I’d get so deeply immersed in those stories and worlds that I’d want to find ways to share those experiences with everyone. My wedding seemed like the perfect way to do it.

Meticulous planning

My imagination was running wild while putting together the mood boards for each event. But while scrolling through all my shortlisted references, I realised that a lot of the décor elements used plastic props specially made for one-time use. Even the floral arrangements would generate a lot of waste. This didn't sit well with me because over the years, I had become someone who wouldn’t drink out of a PET bottle, unless out of desperation for water. I always keep a cotton bag handy to avoid taking bags at stores, and even my footwear and accessories brand, Misfit Panda, uses materials such as plant-based leather and recycled PET fabrics.

“Reduce, reuse, repurpose and recycle” is my daily mantra, which is why I had my heart set on celebrating as responsibly friendly as possible. When I told MEW (Motwane Entertainment & Weddings) about my desire for a sustainable wedding, they were completely aligned and helped bring my vision to life. 

Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire was the perfect setting for an idyllic summer wedding in the English countryside, surrounded by lush gardens, colourful blooms and beautiful trees that have stood the test of time, with the sun glistening down on us till 10 pm. The incredible outdoor setting made it that much easier to amplify the natural beauty of the venue without having to go overboard with décor.

Three magical celebrations

There were multiple events spread over three days, starting with the vintage glamour-themed ‘Sangeet Summer Soirée,’ bedecked with chandeliers, elaborate dried-flower arrangements, silk flowers, large mirrors, and rustic photo frames (my husband and I use these at our new home now).

On the second day, we had our ‘Mehendi in the Enchanted Woodlands,’ which was closest to my heart. The day came alive with hobbits fishing by the stream, Harry Potter zip-lining across the woodlands, the Mad Hatter stumping our guests with wacky riddles, and a duel between Captain Hook and Peter Pan. Some of my favourite books came together to create a magical day for everyone. While the characters really brought the event to life, it was the beautiful décor that set the mood—large butterflies lining the pathways, giant mushrooms that lit up after sunset, witch hats and broomsticks, a life-size Alice in Wonderland-inspired chessboard dance floor and unique table arrangements.

The ‘Wedding Under the Stars’ was the simplest in terms of décor, done up with silk foliage, silk flowers in various hues of pinks, a clear acrylic structure, and a reflective walkway. The idea was to let the expanse and beauty of nature have their moment.

The three-day celebrations came to an official end with a whimsical dinner reception that was adorned with crystal candles, chandeliers, white silk flowers, silk foliage, and a wish tree where all our family and friends could leave messages for my husband and me.

Mindful decor

All the décor we used across the events were reusable. We made minimal use of natural flowers to ensure there wasn’t too much wastage, and the few acrylic structures that were made for the wedding were recycled into pellets.

Our after-parties also stayed true to this ethos, with no unnecessary use of plastic décor. Instead, there were LED screens with a lot of graphics to keep up with the changing after-party themes.

Every little detail was given special attention—from Misfit Panda’s plant-based leather luggage tags and gifts made from sustainable materials for our guests, to jute food hampers with edible items that used sustainable packing material, using glass water bottles, and composting leftover food from every event.

Conscious Couture

As a bride passionate about sustainability, it was important for me to wear designers who share the same beliefs. For the mehendi, my family, husband, and I wore custom outfits from Re-ceremonial by Ateev Anand, who uses recycled industrial textile waste to design exquisite outfits. My hand-embroidered lehenga was made from recycled cotton, and the natural dyes used for the floral patches were made of floral waste.

For the wedding, I opted for a red sari from JADE by Monica and Karishma for the first half of the ceremony. It had embroidered motifs personal to me and my husband, like our dogs, tennis rackets, and the name of the city where we first met. I also surprised him with a quote from one of his favourite movies embroidered on my veil.

While I’m a big fan of JADE’s work, I really love that they empower women from underprivileged backgrounds and have a net-zero target set. In line with being conscious and ethical, the Paithani outfit I wore for my Pellikuthuru puja was a sari sourced from a local weaver in Maharashtra and then converted into a lehenga.

Even though it was a cross-cultural wedding—my husband is Gujarati and I’m Telugu—the beauty of it all was that despite the different traditions we follow, both of us and our families wanted to do our best to be conscious while planning this milestone moment in our lives. I hope my journey and story will inspire others to celebrate mindfully, as well. 

This article originally appeared in Brides Today January-February 2024 print issue.

All images: Brides Today January-February 2024 print issue

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