Wedding bill heads for $10m

By Frances Morton

Vikram Aditya Kumar and Pooja Chitgopekar had about 500 guests at the Formosa Golf Resort. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Vikram Aditya Kumar and Pooja Chitgopekar had about 500 guests at the Formosa Golf Resort. Photo / Herald on Sunday

In the end, it ended like they all do - he does, she does ... and then they were wed.

But, at almost $10 million, the nuptials of an Auckland doctor and Chicago billionaire yesterday became the biggest and most expensive wedding New Zealand has seen.

Former Auckland Diocesan School for Girls student Pooja Chitgopekar married Vikram Aditya Kumar before about 500 guests at the Formosa Golf Resort.

Along the way, an Auckland street was shut for a Bollywood dance-style party while guests at the reception were entertained by international acts imported for the occasion.

London-based dance group RDB performed, along with the King of Bhangra pop music, Daler Mehndi, and Signature, a Bhangra dance act that took out second place in Britain's Got Talent.

The bride, wearing a strapless dusky pink gown of tiered chiffon, and groom, in a grey and white pinstriped suit, burst through a white screen to make their entrance at the reception.

Proceedings began with a toast of Dom Perignon champagne followed by speeches.

The venue was decked out with two container-loads of Indian decorations from Mumbai including engraved thrones for the bride and groom and a sculpture of Ganesh, the Hindu elephant-headed god.

Vikram's father Shalabh Kumar, chief executive of electronics firm AVG Advanced Technologies, told the Herald on Sunday he had been "inventing this wedding" since his son was a toddler. He said the bill for the wedding ran into the "high seven figure" mark.

"I'm contributing a lot to your GDP. I think the Department of Tourism should give me a commission."

Nearly three-quarters of the wedding guests were from overseas.

American ladies with blonde bouffants in jewel-toned gowns mingled with Indian women in dazzling gold and silver encrusted saris while security men with earpieces and dark shades kept a watchful eye on proceedings.

Four priests officiated over the formal Hindu wedding ceremony at a marquee in the grounds of Formosa on Saturday, one year to the day after the happy couple met in New Zealand.

Shalabh said marrying Chitgopekar was his son's "dream come true". Chitgopekar was born in England, attended Auckland Diocesan School for Girls, trained at Auckland University medical school and won the title of Miss India Earth in 2007.

"She's a high achiever," said Shalabh of his stunning new daughter-in-law. "She's essentially an Indian actress who is not an actress, but a doctor."

Chitgopekar and Kumar's union is being filmed by the Indian television network for the reality show My Big Fat Indian Wedding and will be broadcast to 150 million viewers. It is also set to become a feature film.

- Herald on Sunday

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