You know what they say, whatever happens, happens for the best.
We've all seen weddings that are mapped out to the last detail. From destination weddings planned in grand palaces to theme-based celebrations with guests from all over the world, every wedding is special. However, the specialty of a wedding is not in its grandiose decor, or the amount of money you spend on it. It's in the willingness of a couple to be together and face the odds while holding each other's hands. Even if those odds are the size of a global pandemic!
And the story of Pallabi & Francesco is one that truly sets goals for all those distraught couples out there, feeling blue due to their postponed weddings. So grab your drinks, ladies, and gentlemen and witness the epic story of two lovers, who defied all odds and overcame the pressing Coronavirus pandemic and all the other complications that came with it.
"We've had a 14 month engagement period. Long, right! But it was going to be worth the wait because we were planning this beautiful Indo-Italian wedding at a Palace in Bikaner on 8th March, where we had invited guests from India, Italy, Peru, Spain, USA and all over the globe," recalls Pallabi, the bride and one of the two protagonists of this story, "Months of planning and months of travel plans by all of our guests because who comes to India just for a weekend."
While Pallabi and Francesco, a couple from two different countries, were planning their grand palatial wedding in Bikaner, a rather perilous virus breakout was starting to take a toll all over the world.
"Little did we know that on the night of 22nd Feb '20 our lives would be turned upside down. Saturday evening, the Italian government announced that the country's been infected with COVID-19 and declared that the country is going into lockdown. However, Francesco and I aren't the kinds who panic," Pallabi recalls as she relives how the couple tried to deal with the situation. And for them, the solution to this early onset of travel restrictions was to fly to India a week earlier than planned and hold pre-pone the celebration.
And then just 5 days before their wedding, another hardship came rushing towards them, "5 days before our wedding while there were around 25 people in different airports in Europe waiting to board their flights to India, the Indian government announces that no Italian Passport holders would be allowed to enter India and that all visas have been cancelled. This meant Francesco's parents and his brother wouldn't be able to come either."
What followed was a whole lot of tears for the couple. But just like the couple had strived through the previous hurdles, they didn't give up this time either. They finally decided to still have the wedding, since they were already in India. After all, they could still have a wedding with the bride and groom present. So, with heavy hearts and their family's blessings, the couple decided to carry on.
Unfortunately, there was something even bigger hiding in the closet of surprise difficulties for our protagonists.
Just four days before the wedding, while Pallabi was collecting her finalised lehenga from the store, and Francesco was waiting for her outside, they received a message which truly shattered their plans, "We received information from Bikaner that the local officials have declared that no Italian Passport holder would be allowed to check-in into any hotel. So, basically - NO GROOM!"
Pallabi and Francesco were left heartbroken and in tears. Hand in hand, with eyes wet with tears, the couple finally came to terms with the fact that their wedding was officially cancelled.
"So following the visa cancellations for Italians, there was no way we could stay back in India. Going to Italy didn't seem to be the best option either. Plus, we had another week of holiday from work. So, to unwind and try to get away from all the chaos, we flew to Thailand. "
Little did they know what awaited them in Thailand. After all, destiny works in mysterious ways.
When they arrived in Thailand and walked into the resort, Pallabi and Francesco witnessed another wedding being set up for the evening. It made them wonder if they would get the opportunity to get married soon. Or if the same complications would break their hearts once more. They wondered if they were going through their version of a Matrimony Mercury Retrograde.
On the other hand, Pallabi with a wide smile on her face said, "We just don't know how to give up but this time, of course, we didn't even tell our parents we were considering something as insane as this."
So, after a few 'Sorry sir, we are fully booked for tomorrow evening,' messages, they were finally met with a final yes! After all, who could say no to two gorgeous faces with swollen eyes and their sad story of a 'cancelled dream wedding in India'.
And fortunately, they were not alone in this happy moment.
"Our friends Luca and Livia were already back packing in Thailand but we never knew that they would travel 10 hours by road to reach us for our wedding. On top of that, we never would have thought that Luca would marry us and Livia would walk me down the aisle!"
The couple finally wed on a beautiful beach, where they spent the morning and held the ceremony in the following afternoon. The alter was a fabulously decoratrated off white tent with few flowers and fairy lights, adding a natured boho touch to their quaint wedding nuptials.
As Francesco waited with Luca at the alter by the ocean for his future wife, looking dapper in a Manyavar sherwani, Livia walked Pallabi down the aisle, which only gave more meaning to this tradition. For her vows, Pallabi dressed up in a gorgeous pale green organza saree by Sabyasachi and a bouquet of white roses and baby's breathe.
At the beachside alter, the couple exchanged their vows. They recalled all the moments of happiness, disappointments and despair that they had faced in the past few days, thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak. But it also reminded them that a wedding is not about the over the top celebrations or who wore what when! It reminded them that what makes a wedding special is the story of how they got to that moment, and how that moment can be made perfect, when you have the one you love by your side.
As the sun slowly set by the horizon, casting a glorious ray of orange sunlight with freckles of clouds dotting the sky, they finally said, "I do".
"So, just like that we became Mr. & Mrs. Alivia! Life is a beautiful experience and it becomes gorgeous when you have someone to hold you through it. A wise friend of ours had said to us on the evening our wedding was cancelled that 'The Universe only throws something difficult at you only because it knows you can endure it'."