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These Doctors Had a Traditional Hindu Ceremony Followed by a Colorful Slim Aarons-Inspired Wedding in Australia

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Megan Kelly

|Planning by 

The Nuptial Collective

Dr. Prasanthi Purusothaman, a general practitioner and cosmetic physician popular on TikTok, and Dr. James Di Michiel, a respiratory and sleep physician, met while on rotation at a hospital in Sydney, Australia. “I think we are a testament to the old adage that opposites attract,” she shares. “We have come together as two completely different individuals, working through our cultural differences to build something really beautiful.”

Over the next two-and-a-half years, they dated and co-founded the skincare company, L’ORIENT. Then, on Leap Day in 2020, James proposed to her in the Capertee Valley, surrounded by their boisterous labrador, Benji, and nearby cicadas and kangaroos.

As she began planning the wedding with the Nuptial Collective, Prasanthi was drawn to old-world imagery that would evoke an upscale dinner party. Slim Aarons’s photography of la dolce vita and architecture throughout India served as her main style inspiration. She also considered the décor of splendid hotels in India, like the Bar Palladio and Taj Lake Palace. For an additional touch of color, there were unique florals by Lule Artistry & Events x Two Wild Hands and exotic fruit and vegetable centerpieces of papaya and persimmon—her late grandparents’ favorites. She also requested rambutan and dragonfruit, which reminds her of her family’s tropical home in Singapore and Malaysia. The couple enlisted Megan Kelly to photograph the multiple-day affair.

Between December 1 and 3 of 2021, Prasanthi donned three different traditional Indian outfits for the wedding. First, she wore an old temple border silk saree before changing into another one gifted by her soon-to-be husband, a ceremony tradition for South Indian brides. The Mysore silk Koorai saree was colorful with mustard, gold, and green tones and still complemented her traditional temple jewelry, mementos from her Bharathanatyam days.

Her grandmother provided her “something borrowed” pieces. These golden heirloom items each had special stories, like the pathakam necklace that her grandmother and mother wore to their weddings. Afterward, she slipped into a modern red lehenga from KALKI Fashion. Sanaz Fakhra applied Prasanthi’s beautiful makeup, and a family friend, Manohari Bala, arranged her hair, jewelry, and saree draping. To pull everything together, Prasanthi stepped into Manolo Blahniks and spritzed Rose 31 perfume from Le Labo.

Guests sat before the non-traditional mandap, which was reminiscent of Indian maharaja tents and flanked by scalloped umbrellas. “For me, it was really important that James understood what was going on during the ceremony, as well as the guests,” Prasanthi shares. Local priest, Rami Sivan, officiated the ceremony perfectly and conducted the proceedings in Sanskrit but generously paused the service to elaborate on what was said and why it was momentous for the couple’s union. “We were completely immersed in the profound and sacred meaning of the ceremony, which was so poetic,” Prasanthi asserts. 

While Prasanthi originally envisioned the following lunch outdoors, a torrential thunderstorm threatened those plans. At the last minute, they picked out a sailcloth tent. Despite a miraculous day without rain, she was pleased with her makeshift roof that provided ample shade from the unapologetically harsh sun. Serpentine tables of pink, purple, burnt orange, and terracotta contrasted against the gardens’ deep greens and the tent’s stark white. Sharanya of Ineffable Lettering designed bespoke menus and place cards for the Indo Lankan Food Bar–catered meal. Bollywood dancers from DA Choreography, Anjana Chandran Choreography, Prachi Batra, and Vijay Bhasin on the dhol entertained guests. Prasanthi shares, “They were so vivacious, bringing the energy and controlled chaos of Bollywood to the wedding to get people dancing to the thumping and feeling pure joy.”

On December 3, while overlooking the harbor and picturesque opera house from Pier One Sydney, Prasanthi prepared for her civil ceremony in Olivia von Halle pajamas. With monogrammed Hill House Home robes on, she and her friends sipped Dom Perignon Champagne and savored every bubble. 

For the civil ceremony, the Prasanthi donned a deep v-neck Inbal Dror dress and veil from Helen Rodrigues Bridal. Jackson Roberts crafted her radiant makeup look, and Natalie Anne styled her hair. With bespoke Baroque pearl earrings and Amina Muaddi heels, the bride-to-be felt like a real-life Cinderella. Her bridal party stood by her side in a collection of different Needle & Thread, Sachin & Babi, and M.J. Bale. Meanwhile, James and his groomsmen dressed in their M.J. Bale suits before it was time to hop into a 1950s black Mustang and ride to the private estate at Darling Point.

The charming home was replete with a lush green lawn and azure blue pool. An all-woman string quarter from Encore Strings serenaded everyone with a playlist of classical music and retro songs. Then, when the musicians began strumming the tune of “Concerning Hobbits” from Lord of the Rings, Prasanthi and her parents descended the aisle. She finally joined her groom at the altar, which was underneath a romantic white rose archway at the front of the house. Gary Clementson delivered a thoroughly personalized ceremony, and once declared man and wife, the newlyweds recessed to “That’s Amore.” After the couple signed the registry with their mothers as their witnesses, it was time to celebrate.

Tables were placed near the pool with flashes of blue hydrangeas. Motifs of buttery yellow hues and Roman sculptural bust candles were nods to the underlying Slim Aarons theme. Salt Meats Cheese catered the family-style Italian lunch with a selection of fresh oysters, caprese salad, arancini, octopus salad, prosciutto e melone, cacio e pepe straight out of a parmesan wheel, and eggplant parmigiana. The Henry Clive Bar concocted his and hers cocktail menu with Negronis—for James—and salty margaritas and amaretto sours—for Prasanthi. The entire reception was altogether sublime and dreamy. “We indulged in the fun of a picture-perfect Champagne tower [and] deep belly-laughed and cried to heartfelt speeches from my parents, James’s father, and our best friends,” Prasanthi remembers. “James delivered the most romantic speech where he called me up and said some really beautiful words to me in front of all our guests.”

The bride embraced her sweet tooth and curated a delectable dessert spread. The two-tier mascarpone and vanilla buttercream wedding cake featured red cherries from Les Sœurs Macarons. Then, there were cannolis and beignets from the very same stall vendor that she and James would frequent while dating at their hospital. Fully loaded and energized by the sugar rush, guests danced to Malina Kelderman on the saxophone, DJ Niki Dé Saint at the turntables, and Kilagung on percussion until the early hours of the morning.