Mauritius was the stunning setting for Anneka and Richard’s engagement and, two years later, their wedding.
The couple met in the early hours at a house party in Hackney and immediately bonded over a mutual love of Sonic Youth. On their first holiday to Mauritius, the couple decided to get married in the most wonderfully pragmatic way. “As we boarded our flight we both looked at each other and said, ‘If the hotel give us a good deal, we should get married there,’ and thus we were engaged,” said Anneka.
In June 2019, they were joined by 12 guests at the luxurious Oberoi Hotel for their intimate wedding. Featuring a last-minute decision about which Jenny Packham dress to wear down the aisle, an unplanned first dance with traditional Sega performers and some forgotten vows, it was a whirlwind of fun and laughter.
If you’re considering a destination wedding, make sure you read Anneka and Richard’s advice at the end!
Photography by Vanilla Photography
The Wedding Morning
The beauty of marrying at a five-star resort on a paradise island is it’s gloriously stress-free. Bride Anneka spent her wedding morning getting massaged while the hotel took care of everything.
“We started the day by doing a session of yoga in the hotel with the Wellness Head, had breakfast and then I had an hour-long massage. I washed my hair and turned up at the spa’s beauty and hair salon. I cannot sing The Oberoi’s praises enough. They knew I wanted absolutely no stress and was ludicrously chill so they took care of everything.
“Both dresses were steamed and waiting for me with a bottle of champagne. The beautician did my nails and hair while I did my own makeup (at the same time)… all whilst plying champagne down my throat. My maid of honour was also there and we were both just getting dressed as if we were going for a night out. It was just so lovely and relaxed.”
The Wedding Dress
How many brides can say they decided on their wedding dress just 15 minutes before the ceremony? Anneka fell in love with two Jenny Packham dresses – a black one and a white one – and it was a last-minute decision to do a reception outfit change. For the ceremony, she wore the Willow dress from Jenny’s Classic Collection.
“I always knew I wanted a Jenny Packham dress. I’ve always loved her style of a simple, modern silhouette but the beading makes it special. I never actually envisaged wearing white; the black dress was supposed to be my wedding dress. I got it on sale online at Shopbop from the Resort 2016 Collection.
“Online is great for discounts – the black dress was 50% off so I got it for just over £1,000 which is amazing for a Jenny Packham dress. However, six months before the wedding I panicked and thought I should have a white dress.
“I had a session at the flagship store in Mayfair and at that point they didn’t have the Classic Collection in store. I must have tried the entire 2017/18 collection plus the ready-to-wear before walking away empty handed.
“A few months later I was alone in Birmingham for a work trip so I decided to pass the evening trying on dresses and ended up at The Wedding Club where I finally found the Willow. I purchased it in London from Jenny Packham as it’s closer to home and quite often throughout the year they do discounts on the dress.
“Up until 15 minutes before walking down the aisle I went back and forth about which dress to wear. The white was beautiful and wedding-y but the black one had character and was super comfortable. In the end my maid of honour suggested the dress change meaning I got to wear both.”
Anneka accessorised with a bracelet and simple stud earrings from Anabela Chan, who also designed her engagement ring. She picked up blue Michael Kors sandals in the sale from Farfetch and did her own makeup, opting for a natural look with Chantecaille products for her face and skin and MAC for her eyes. Her hair and nails were done by a beautician at the hotel: loose curls complemented by fresh local orchids.
The Wedding Party
Anneka had her best friend Ruba as her maid of honour (wearing a strapless blue jumpsuit of her choosing from ASOS), while Richard decided not to have any groomsmen. He looked dapper in dark chinos, a pastel blue shirt, a stone-coloured blazer, and a purple and blue silk print pocket square – all from Paul Smith.
“We went together to choose his outfit. The staff at Paul Smith really helped us until maroon suede shoes were suggested – that’s when I stepped in and put an end to things.”
Despite having the tiniest of wedding parties, all their closest friends were there to witness their vows. “We were all basically having a long holiday together,” said Anneka.
“It was special when Rich saw me all done up. Living in London, we get so used to walking around in casual wear or suits. To see me with my hair and makeup done was quite a nice change from the tired, suited, sweaty person who emerges grumpily from the tube at the end of the day.”
The Wedding Ceremony
The ceremony was a civil service held at the hotel with a procession of traditional Sega performers leading them down their ocean-front aisle. The couple were lucky to get the female officiant they had wanted on the day and despite some hiccups – like leaving their vows in the room – it was full of fun.
“Rich and I walked down the aisle together. I was in no way keen on the giving away part. For us it was always necessary that we start this chapter of our life together and as equals.
“We had a procession of traditional Sega performers escort us down, which is the national music of Mauritius. Its roots are in the slave trade and originated as a prayer to transcend suffering and reach peace. I insisted on traditional Sega as I find the music so moving and they sang a traditional wedding celebration song. It was the only time in the whole day that I got emotional and it finally hit me I was getting married.
“We had intended to read our own vows but we left it back in the room. Halfway through she said, ‘Do you have anything to say to each other?’ and we said, ‘No, we forgot.’ Yet somehow it only added to the fun of the day as we all burst out laughing and it kept the whole atmosphere relaxed.
“The rest of it was the usual exchange of vows. In Mauritius, they also add the code and legislation under which you are getting married which was funny.”
The Flowers and Wedding Cake
Anneka and Richard had a white theme with plenty of foliage and a hint of pastel. Her bouquet was full of white dahlias with a few pastel pink roses and eucalyptus, made by the hotel’s florist.
However, the flowers at the reception weren’t quite what Anneka had envisioned – “For some reason we ended up with dyed flowers in some of our arrangements even though we wanted to keep with the natural beauty of the island. The good thing, however, is when you marry in nature, the backdrop did so much of the heavy lifting that the flowers (though not what I wanted) didn’t take away from the natural beauty of the place.”
The couple’s menu was exactly what they wanted: a mixture of Mauritian and Indian cuisine, served family-style. Fresh, cold salads of smoked marlin and palm heart, plus a poached lobster in citrus dressing started the meal. Mains were fish biryani, prawns in coconut sauce and lentil side dishes.
Their “incredibly decadent” menu finished with a dessert buffet and two delicious cakes gifted by the hotel’s chef. “We had two wedding cakes: a spiced carrot cake and a chocolate and orange blossom cake decorated with macarons and flowers, plus choux buns and a fresh fruit salad.”
The Favours and Entertainment
The couple’s first dance was to the Sega music at the end of their ceremony. Spotify did the honours for the rest of the evening. The couple booked the Oberoi’s Presidential Villa for the dinner and drinks reception so they could have it all to themselves.
“We set up a help yourself bar in the kitchen and the staff came by to help serve drinks. We just hooked up the iPhone to some speakers for entertainment and some of our guests jumped in the pool.
“Instead of favours, we posted a homemade box of goodies to all our guests before we all travelled out. It had homemade cinnamon-infused gin with Fever Tree tonic cans, a scented candle and little tropical-themed enamel pins.”
Anneka and Richard stayed in Mauritius for another two weeks for their honeymoon.
“It was amazing. We just love Mauritius. We will always keep going back. The people, the history, the food: it’s such a beautiful place and there’s lots to do other than lounge by the beach. The island is full of excursions, historical and nature based.”
The newlyweds couldn’t sing the praises of The Oberoi highly enough.
“Beautiful location, great food, but the star of the show was really the phenomenal quality of service. If you asked them to bring back a piece of the moon, I swear to God they would try. I knew I wanted such diligent staff to take the stress of planning a wedding out of my hands.”
The Newlyweds’ Advice
You might assume a wedding in Mauritius would be incredibly expensive, but Anneka said they spent far less than the average £32,000 UK wedding. The only compromise they had to make was that the couple weren’t in charge of every single detail of the day, but they were happy to leave it in the experienced hands of the hotel.
“Lots of people think a wedding out in Mauritius would cost a fortune for the couple and the guests but it’s not true. Mauritius is a whole island, not a collection, so there are lots of different types of accommodations from guest houses to Airbnbs and resorts. A few of our guests did that so the only biggish cost they endured was the flight. We all had such a nice time having a holiday together, not just the wedding day.”
For couples marrying abroad, the newlyweds had some useful advice. For example, it was difficult to find a good photographer on the island and transporting one over from London would have been pricey. Instead they found Bron Veale of Vanilla Photography in South Africa, who had a shorter journey and a style they loved.
“The ceremony was the only thing I would change. I wish we had insisted that the officiant spoke to us beforehand. When you marry in Mauritius you must register a few days earlier. No one was available on that day to discuss the nature of the ceremony. We were told that the officiant would come and chat with us before the ceremony but that never happened. Before we knew it we were being walked down the aisle with nothing prepared, but it did add to the fun – an element of surprise.”
Venue: The Oberoi Hotel, Mauritius
Photographer: Vanilla Photography
Wedding Dresses: Jenny Packham. Anneka found one from Shopbop, the other she tried on at The Wedding Club and purchased from Jenny Packham’s flagship store
Dress Alterations: Alterations Boutique, Marylebone; Jenny Packham, Mayfair
Accessories: Anabela Chan; Michael Kors
Rings: Anabela Chan; Tiffany & Co.
Groomswear: Paul Smith
Wedding Planner: Darshini Armoogum from The Oberoi
Flowers, Cake, Catering: The Oberoi
Wedding Website: Minted.com
Thank you to Anneka and Richard for sharing their wonderful day with us.