Marriage is such a personal and important life-changing thing that taking that step should be as true to you as possible. And should one decide on forgoing the wedding, having a quiet make-it-official moment followed by a breathtaking elopement shoot is where it’s at. Sarah and Ravin went that less-traveled route.
It all started with a non-traditional proposal. Originally, Sarah had planned to propose while they were on a surprise trip to NYC for Ravin’s birthday, but the timing never seemed just right. So, she popped the question in their cozy Toronto apartment. From there, they kept their engagement quiet, telling no one until they’d signed their marriage certificate, and eloped to Goa, India. Explains Sarah, “Elopement was right for us because we wanted something just for us. We didn’t tell anyone we were engaged, or that we signed the papers at a coffee shop. We waited until we had all of our photos to announce our marriage, six months after the fact. We got to enjoy the planning, the event, the aftermath, the photos on our own, on our time, on our own terms, before we shared it with anyone…it was also a lot more cost-effective!”
Get all the details about their fabulous elopement and how Sarah found her Joy gown from our independent bride below:
How did you two meet?
“Ravin and I met online. I scrolled through his pictures and I thought, ‘This guy looks like a thug.'”
What did Ravin think?
“I looked at your profile and I thought you were beautiful and unique and interesting and I had zero confidence you would respond to me. So I sent the message and forgot about it. When I heard back, I was very excited, I was very happy. I was nervous when you wanted to meet right away. I thought I had to find some stupid, fancy thing to do, like everyone wants to do in this city. Like tobogganing, when I’ve never before in my life been on a toboggan. I was glad when you said, no, you didn’t want to do that.”
“Ravin took me for the much more reasonable date option: vegetarian Thai dinner.”
Share your proposal story:
“I started planning my proposal early last year, shopping for a ring, and organizing a surprise trip to New York City for Ravin’s birthday. I managed to keep our trip destination a secret until the night before our flight. I packed the ring, but the timing never seemed right to propose in NYC. I ended up waiting until we were back at home, unpacked and cozy in our apartment.”
How did you choose your dress?
“With only three months to go before our trip to India, with accommodation and our photographer, Rimi, sorted out, and AFTER we’d actually gotten married, I decided I wanted a white wedding dress. It just hadn’t really occurred to me until then. We live right down the street from Lea-Ann Belter’s flagship store, so literally every day I would walk by and admire the window displays. I sent a harried email asking if it was even possible to get a dress made in less than three months. Vanessa wrote me back and said it could be done.
My next worry was finding a dress: I didn’t think I’d find one that fit. When Ravin and I went in, I said I’d like something short, so we tried on one I had seen in the front entrance. Vanessa took over from there. She pulled a handful of dresses—the Cherish was, I think, the second one I tried on. I never would have chosen it for myself. I didn’t think a neckline like that would ever work, and it was long. Vanessa strapped me in and tucked up the bottom to mimic the look of it shortened. I was so amazed. I looked like a movie star! I tried on a couple of others but I went back to that one. It was so quick and easy. I have never really liked shopping for clothes; I often find it stressful and unfulfilling. This was the complete opposite.”
Tell us about your wedding day(s)!
“We had two wedding days, I guess. We met up with an officiant here in Toronto at my favourite coffee shop for about four minutes to sign the necessary paperwork. We invited our friend to be a witness and asked our favourite barista at the café to be the second witness.
Our photo day, in Goa, was our second wedding day. The Goa photo shoot began to materialize after my friend Apoorvya invited me to her wedding in Delhi. We had heard Goa was a beautiful place to visit and we thought we should add that to our trip. And then the idea occurred to me to actually get married there. That turned into a prohibitive hassle-filled idea, plus I tuned into the fact that India has not legalized same sex marriage, and I didn’t want to get married in a place like that. So I decided we should marry in Canada beforehand. Before we’d booked accommodation or flights for India, I was emailing photographers. I am so grateful we found Rimi because she is devastatingly talented. I can’t believe I connected with her from the other side of the world.
Besides the dress, the suit and the photography, ours looked pretty much unlike any wedding I’ve been to. Our elopement shoot was on the third anniversary of that first date at the Thai place and it was one of the best days I have ever had. It was, I imagine, how wedding days are supposed to feel. It was, thankfully, nothing like wedding days usually are. It was just me and Ravin and Rimi and her husband, Rahul. There was no real schedule, no expectations. My dress was wrinkled from travelling thousands of kilometres in planes and taxis and through too many brusque hands. I didn’t get my hair done or wear makeup. There were no speeches, no children. It was just the four of us journeying up and down the coast of Goa, India’s tropical, touristy state, from beaches to coffee shops to small towns to highways to shipyards, some abandoned, some staffed. Ravin and I changed clothes in the backseat of Rahul’s car. Once, Rimi and I needed to pee so we stopped at what had once been a bank but was now (I think) someone’s house. At one stop, I sat down on a log to discover I had uncovered a brand-new litter of puppies. it was an epic day that exceeded every last one of my expectations.”
Do you have advice for other planning couples?
“My advice to others planning a wedding is to not: elope instead. Also: hire the best photographer you can afford.”