I was in Mumbai this December for a wedding, when I visited a family friend of mine at her Peddar Road home. As the evening sun spilled through the glass windows and made its way across the marble tiles, we sat down with tea and home made chocolates for a long overdue catch up session. A beautiful box on the dining table caught my eye, and as I picked it up I realised it was an invite to the wedding of an old classmate of mine. While I have lost touch with most of my junior school friends, I never lose a chance to hear an update about their current whereabouts and new lives. There’s something special about an old classmate, isn’t there? You might barely know each other anymore, but you’ll always remember them fondly. Nostalgia and rose-tinted glasses walk hand in hand it seems.
Shonan’s card was a little box of treasure troves.
Lifting the lid, I first saw the bride and groom’s names inscribed onto thick white paper – in a font befitting a royal wedding. But that wasn’t even what began to make the invite spectacular.
A small paragraph sat on top of the box and having glanced down at what looked like a unique card structure, it felt necessary to read the introduction and figure out what to do next –
“This wedding card has been inspired by a Victorian tradition from the mid-nineteenth century. Small shadowboxes were used to view bright attractive paintings and photographs from around the world. Over time, women began to enclose pictures within these shadowboxes to commemorate the special occasions in their lives.
Remove each insert starting from the top, and watch a beautiful story unfold.”
Was this a peek into the bride and groom’s memory box?
As I removed the first insert, the card revealed itself to me layer by layer.
First up was a stunning landscape painting with laser-cut birds and trees adding themselves through the frame to create a complete picture. A couple was added to the frame next – they appeared to be out for a stroll in a whimsical garden. On removing this insert, the backdrop changed to a lake, with a beautiful fountain added in the frame. And finally, the couple arrived at the gate to what looked like their new home.
Every insert, with bright paintings in the front, had the details of a different wedding event printed at the back.
I was fascinated by this shadowbox, and played with re-inserting and taking out the individual paintings over and over again. Within a minute, I knew this card had to go up on the blog.
I called up Shonan as soon as she got back from her honeymoon, and asked her to spill every single detail about her unique wedding invite.
Her sister-in-law – Ruchi – is a graphic designer, and Shonan wanted her to create the wedding card. A little bit of research led her bhabhi to the concept of shadowboxes, and keeping in mind Shonan’s fascination with all things English, they decided to create an Indian wedding card with a Victorian touch to it. While this was the first wedding invite Ruchi had ever designed, she was no stranger to the land of design and all things paper-related. In fact, Ruchi’s forte has been laser-cutting, and it’s her love for this form that eventually allowed them to create such an extraordinary piece.
While designing the card, Ruchi took into consideration all the little things that Shonan & Adesh shared as a couple. She whipped out her magic designing wand and took all of their fond memories and placed them in the shadowbox. Two very special dates they went on – one in Belgium and the other in Mumbai – served as the base over which the card was designed. There’s their love for going on walks in the park and their love for picnics that’s visualised through the paintings and the laser-cut frames. Sky lanterns were pencilled in, along with a fountain, because of their significance to the couple, and the place where Adesh proposed to her also serves as a backdrop in one of the layers. “The card was very, very personalised,” says Ruchi, adding, “Shonan placed her faith in me and gave me a free reign to experiment with the design.”
It was challenging at first, to figure out the mechanism of it. The laser-cut frames and elements in each layer had to sit at just the right spot over the painting, and as each insert came out, the laser-cut layers had to blend together flawlessly. They also had to figure out the most efficient method – to keep the box light enough so that it could be sent all over the world, and to print the laser-cut elements with a neat finish & without burning the edges. Ruchi decided this was a job only the best laser-cutter she had worked with could handle, and her trust in their abilities paid off – the cards were printed with perfection.
They assembled them at home, adding the inserts one layer at a time. And as the cards started to get shipped to family & friends, phone calls started pouring in. The guests were ecstatic about the card! It was an offbeat idea that worked. Shonan went on to get married in December in one of the most stunning weddings of 2014, and for once this line, that I’ve read a hundred times before but always dismissed, rang true – “Your invite is the first glimpse of what guests can expect at your wedding. It’s your introduction to the world, of who you are as a couple.” And Shonan’s wedding invite did just that.
No guesses for what’s up next – Shonan & Adesh’s stunning wedding is taking over the blog this week. Hold onto your breath, it’s about to be taken away.
Update: Part 2 of this series – Shonan’s Bridal Shower – is up on the blog now!
Images courtesy: Stories by Joseph Radhik