Indian jewellery heiress ties the knot in lavish 'wedding in the sky'

Ceremony a poignant recreation of her father's wedding in 1994

Indian couple exchange vows on Dubai flight

Indian couple exchange vows on Dubai flight
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In 1994, Dilip Popley and his wife made headlines when they had a “wedding in the sky”, transforming an Air India flight into a marriage venue.

Nearly three decades later, on Friday, their daughter Vidhi embarked on the same journey, tying the knot with Hridesh Sainani in an airborne marriage ceremony described by the Indian mogul as a sequel to his own.

The Popley family runs and operates a network of jewellery and diamond outlets in the UAE and India.

About 350 wedding guests, mostly friends and relatives of the Popleys, boarded a Boeing 747 aircraft at a Jetex private terminal in Dubai South. Dressed in colourful lehengas and sleek kurtas, the guests were bursting with excitement, smiling and waving while intermittently breaking out into foot-tapping Hindi tunes.

Before boarding the plane, there was a baraat, or wedding procession for the groom, which involved four dhol players and a DJ to set the mood. Wearing a heavily patterned white and gold kurta, Sainani was greeted by his bride at the entrance of the terminal.

The Popley heiress donned a red bridal lehenga, with a heavy-looking elaborate skirt, a matching choli and an embroidered dupatta draped over her head. Of course, her accessories were over the top: a prominent necklace featuring diamonds and pearls.

Although the couple had been attending pre-wedding functions (from sangeet to pheras) for the past eight weeks, they did not look stale. Still, thankfully, Friday's on-air affair is the last in their jampacked schedule of Sikh wedding traditions.

The aircraft was slightly modified for the ceremony, with each section of the plane fixed with a small projector so everyone could watch. Only close friends and family were allowed in the section where the ceremony took place.

There, the bride and groom sat on the floor in front of a Guru Granth Sahib, the sacred scripture in Sikhism. In this most crucial part of the wedding ceremony, Sikh musicians recite a marriage prayer.

While that was taking place, wedding guests were treated to a slightly elevated version of a flight meal, including the standard bread and butter, as well as vegetable jhalfrazi, mushroom pulao, palak paneer and dal masala.

Everyone was in celebratory mood, singing songs and occasionally shouting the couple's names. Many of the guests flew to the UAE specifically for the ceremony, including mother and daughter Priya and Khushi Jeet Bhatia, who live in Singapore and Spain, respectively.

After the three-hour round trip, many of the guests went straight to a post-wedding soiree.

Although the couple were the main event of the ceremony, it was especially poignant for Popley, who lives in Dubai and is currently the managing director of the family business.

“I had the same wedding in the sky 28 years back. At that time we thought we would have done something in space by now,” he told The National. “So right now we are doing a sequel featuring my daughter.”

Asked why they chose Dubai for the momentous occasion, Popley calls the emirate his home.

“I can't think of any other place, really. Dubai is my home and Dubai can fulfil all dreams.”

Updated: November 27, 2023, 10:32 AM