This Couple Sandwiched Their Colorful Sri Lanka Wedding with a "Pre-Moon" in Dubai and a Postnuptial "Friendmoon" with 40 Guests

kelly sanjiv wedding couple walking with party
Rebecca Yale Photography

"Sanjiv is really smart and kind, and well-traveled. And I love traveling," says wedding photographer Kelly Kollar, putting into words what made her swipe right on Sanjiv Singarayar's Tinder profile. Her in instincts proved spot-on. "He asked me to go to India with him on our third date, a good sign that he was up for adventure." She accepted the invite, then three-and-a-half years later said yes again—this time to the big question, which Sanjiv popped on a trip to Alaska for Kelly's 30th birthday. "We took a helicopter ride up to a glacier, which was epic," she recalls.

Although she'd never been to Sri Lanka, Kelly knew right away that she wanted to get married there. Sanjiv's parents had emigrated from the island nation to Australia, where he was born, but he'd visited his parents' homeland many times before moving to New York City to work as a consultant for an Australian bank. "Sri Lanka had family significance for Sanjiv, and a combination of things that were important to me—the tropical climate; the beautiful, vibrant culture," she says. After coordinating for 16 months with the Sri Lanka-based wedding planners Magical Moments (another great online match), Kelly achieved her dream of "getting away with friends and doing something super-memorable for everybody."

That something was, for many of their 82 guests, the trip of a lifetime. It started with a welcome barbecue by the pool at the Garton's Cape Hotel, where many attendees had booked rooms, and on the next evening, February 17, 2019, the wedding took place at a private beachfront villa where the couple and some family and friends were staying. Sanjiv's uncle, a priest, performed the Catholic ceremony, which was followed by sunset cocktails, a seafood feast, passion-fruit cake, and dancing to a live cover band. Then came the fireworks, Kelly's flat-out favorite memory: "It was the moment I was able to relax and take in how much fun this all was."

After celebrating into the wee hours, the couple and 40 friends left the next morning for a six-day trip around the country. "We saw wild elephants, visited Buddhist temples, and went to tea estates," says Kelly, who continued with Sanjiv on to a honeymoon in Bali. And finally, the unforgettable trip was over—except for the intrepid newlyweds, whose journey was just beginning.

01 of 17

Come Rain or Shine

kelly sanjiv wedding couple walking in the rain
Rebecca Yale Photography

The peripatetic pair did a two-night "pre-moon" in Dubai on their way to Sri Lanka. "We stayed at the Palace Downtown, which we chose for its more traditional, Middle Eastern aesthetic, and went on a camel-riding safari, complete with a Bedouin-style dinner and dancing," Kelly says.

The day before their guests arrived, Kelly and Sanjiv did a casual photo shoot in Galle, a historic Portuguese fort city with a famous lighthouse on Sri Lanka's southern coast. "It was pouring rain for the first 30 minutes," Kelly recalls. "We just embraced it and had fun!"

02 of 17

A High-Energy Welcome

kelly sanjiv wedding dancer in grass
Rebecca Yale Photography

Traditional Sri Lankan kandyan folk dancers performed during the poolside welcome party at the Garton's Cape Hotel.

03 of 17

Tropical Suite

kelly sanjiv wedding colorful invitations
Rebecca Yale Photography

A la Carte Paperie designed the invitation suite, featuring custom watercolor illustrations of the wedding site, Sri Lanka's tea country, and elephants.

04 of 17

Pretty Gems

kelly sanjiv wedding bride mil
Rebecca Yale Photography

Kelly admired her future mother-in-law's jewelry while getting dressed.

05 of 17


kelly sanjiv wedding groomsmen in sarongs
Rebecca Yale Photography

Sanjiv gave his six attendants, dad (to his right), and future father-in-law (to his left) Sri Lankan sarongs to wear while getting ready.

06 of 17

Jewel Tones

kelly sanjiv wedding bridesmaid in red dress holding floral bouquet
Rebecca Yale Photography

Kelly's bridesmaids each dressed in a different jewel tone.

  • Ways to Use Modern Jewel Tones to Brighten Up Your Big Day
07 of 17

All Together Now

kelly sanjiv wedding couple with family
Rebecca Yale Photography

The groomsmen and bridesmaids joined the couple on the steps of the villa. Tropical flowers in the bouquets, boutonnières, and bridesmaids' hair helped unify the group.

Kelly wanted a dress she'd never seen on another bride and found it in this strapless Liancarlo with an exotic pattern. Her husband wore a blue tux from Joe Black.

08 of 17

The Ceremony Begins

kelly sanjiv wedding ceremony hexagon structure with greenery
Rebecca Yale Photography

Local flowers adorned the ceremony's geometric marker. During the processional, Sanjiv and his all-Australian team of groomsmen walked in to "Down Under" by Men at Work; the bride glided down the aisle to Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic," sung by a friend who was accompanied on the guitar by a pal of Sanjiv's—the two practiced on Skype calls between New York and Australia.

Sanjiv recalls this moment as a particular big-day highlight: "When Kelly emerged from the villa, it was amazing to be standing up front and see all our family and friends, who had flown in from around the world, watch her walking down the aisle."

09 of 17

Vows with a View

kelly sanjiv wedding ceremony under palm trees
Rebecca Yale Photography

The ceremony took place in the late afternoon on the lawn of the waterfront Villa Indisch, located near the island's southern tip. One side of the pool served as the ceremony site, the other as the reception space and dance floor.

Before the couple exchanged vows, they exchanged gifts. Kelly gave her groom a vintage compass engraved with the words "My True North" and their wedding date. "No matter what, he's always the way home for me," Kelly says. Sanjiv presented his bride with a wooden ring box with two elephants engraved on it: one to symbolize the couple's first trip to India, another to represent their wedding locale.

  • Gifts to Give Your Groom the Morning of Your Wedding
10 of 17

Golden Hour

kelly sanjiv wedding sunset over water during cocktail hour
Rebecca Yale Photography

A stunning sunset lit up the cocktail hour.

11 of 17

Find Your Seat

kelly sanjiv colorful wedding seating chart
Rebecca Yale Photography

The colorful escort cards by Muse by Amarante were printed in white and arranged on a dark wooden board for contrast.

12 of 17

The Night Is Bright

kelly sanjiv wedding reception space by pool
Rebecca Yale Photography

On the villa's first-floor veranda, guests enjoyed a buffet of grilled lobster, coconut-crusted red snapper, and chili-orange chicken.

During the merriment, the couple stole away to the second floor for a few brief seconds alone. "The day is going to be a whirlwind of excitement and activity, and it's important to take a moment with your partner to step away and just absorb it all," says Sanjiv. "After dinner, we went up to the balcony of the villa and spent a couple of minutes taking it all in by ourselves. Then we hit the dance floor!"

13 of 17

Elephants in the Room

kelly sanjiv wedding colorful place setting
Rebecca Yale Photography

Crocheted table runners lay beneath clear vessels holding orchids, fuchsia ginger flowers, ferns, and orange bougainvillea and heliconia. Carved elephant favors, covered in sequins and mirror work, sat at each place.

14 of 17

Fire on the Water

kelly sanjiv wedding couple putting lanterns in pool
Rebecca Yale Photography

Candlelit lanterns floated in the pool. Here, the groom stepped away from the party to push one back into place—but by the end of the night, the pool was a popular spot (several guests stayed on after the celebration wrapped, enjoying the water's glow).

15 of 17

All Aglow

kelly sanjiv wedding reception party by pool
Rebecca Yale Photography

Strung lights illuminated the dance floor—upon which a blow-up kangaroo made appearance later in the evening (a tradition at parties among Sanjiv's Australian friends).

The newlyweds danced to the country tune "Tennessee Whiskey," a nod to a starry night in Belize when they were standing on a dock and the song played on someone's device. "We did an impromptu little dance and thought, 'Oh! This should be our first dance!'" Kelly recalls.

16 of 17

The Adventure Begins

kelly sanjiv wedding friendmoon stones
Rebecca Yale Photography

Following the wedding day, the duo and 40 of their guests embarked on a six-day "friendmoon." One stop on this part of the trip was Anuradhapura, a sacred city built in the third century B.C.E. Today, it is full of houses of worship marked by carved guard stones like this one.

They took their time exploring Sri Lanka (and embarked on a safari in Udawalawe National Park, where they spotted plenty of elephants); as a last hurrah, the group spent their final night together at the Grandeeza Hotel in Negombo, where Sanjiv's parents threw an event complete with a Sri Lankan band and food. The dress code? Saris for all.

Finally, the exhausted newlyweds flew to Bali for four days. They chilled at the Bulgari in Uluwatu, which "overlooks the ocean from these cliffs," says Kelly. "Every sunset was spectacular. We didn't do much, but we did take a day to go into the cultural hub of Ubud and see the temples and markets."

17 of 17


kelly sanjiv wedding safari elephants
Rebecca Yale Photography

Photography, Rebecca Yale
Venue, Villa Indisch
Catering, Raffles
Event Planning, Magical Moments
Flowers, Flowers by Shé

Videography, A&Y Video
Stationery, A la Carte Paperie
Place Cards, Muse by Amarante
Cake, Butter Boutique
Rentals, Mangala Sootra (tables and chairs); Highbury Inc. (flatware)
Bride's Gown, Liancarlo
Bride's Accessories, Pauletta Brooks Wearable Art (earrings); Susie Saltzman (engagement ring); J. Lingnau Jewelry (wedding ring); Lulus (shoes)
Reception Dress, BHLDN
Hair and Makeup, Dana Mack for Salon Tranquillo
Groom's Tuxedo, Joe Black
Groom's Accessories, John Henric (bow tie); Satomi Kawakita (ring); Florsheim (shoes)

Music, Magic Box Mixup
Lighting, LightUp
Transportation, Red Apple Travel & Holidays

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