An Exclusive Look Inside Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s Lavish Pre-Wedding Weekend (2024)

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As soon as a video leaked of Rihanna arriving in India went viral on X, it seemed like every news outlet—and person—in the world was talking about the “pre-wedding” weekend of Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant. There was the guest list, for starters: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Karlie Kloss all attended. Then the fashion: On the first night, Radhika wore a custom Versace gown similar to the one worn by Blake Lively for the 2022 Met Gala. Add in a performance by the “Diamonds” singer—and, well, you had an internet phenomenon.

Anant Ambani, who leads the energy vertical at his family’s company Reliance Industries, and Radhika, who serves as a marketing director at her family’s company, Encore Healthcare, were introduced by mutual friends during a leisurely drive in 2017. “That first meeting just sparked something special between us, and it wasn’t long before we started dating,” Radhika tells Vogue.

In 2023, Anant proposed to Radhika at the Shrinathji Temple in Nathdwara, Rajasthan, a holy Hindu site on the banks of the Banas River. Following their formal engagement ceremony, they held a dinner with their parents, grandparents, and siblings. It was just the first of many celebrations: When they returned to Antilla, the Ambani family home in Mumbai, extended family and friends were waiting for a surprise engagement party. “It was, unquestionably, the best night of my life,” Radhika says.

Nearly a year later, Radhika and Anant threw their now famous three-day pre-wedding weekend and hastakshar (a traditional Indian prenuptial event) at the Ambanis’ home in Jamnagar, Gujarat. “Choosing Jamnagar was our way of honoring our roots and the family’s legacy,” Radhika says. “It’s the place where Anant works and where we spend much of our time, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It is also where Anant’s grandmother, Kokilaben, was born and truly where our heart is.” Within the 750-acre compound is a mango orchard as well as Vantara, Anant’s animal sanctuary. (Currently, the couple is working to open Vantara to the public. “Anant and I both believe that this is our karma bhoomi, or land of duty,” says Radhika.)

Their pre-wedding took three months to plan. Anant’s mother, Nita Mukesh Ambani, executed the affair with the Indian designer Manish Malhotra as the creative director. “Nita and Manish’s meticulous planning and execution round the clock brought the event to life,” Radhika says. “I cannot emphasize enough that no one else could have created something like this—both in scale and on such a tight time frame.” Anant’s sister Isha and sister-in-law Shloka also supported their mother and future sister-in-law. Meanwhile, Radhika asked Rhea Kapoor to serve as her head stylist.

On March 1, more than 1,500 guests arrived in Jamnagar as the festivities officially began. For the first night, Radhika wore a blush pink custom Versace dress, accented with bespoke jewelry by Parthiv Mehta of Kantilal Chhotalal. Anant, meanwhile, wore custom Dolce & Gabbana.

The couple chose not to see any of the venues beforehand, as they wanted some elements of the pre-wedding to be a surprise. Little did they know Radhika’s mother-in-law and Malhotra had constructed a glass palace evoking the Palm House in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden—a favorite place of the bride’s when she was a college student in New York City—adorned in flowers from Jeff Leatham. A mini train transported the guests throughout. After dinner, 5,500 drones took to the sky to tell the story of Vantara, becoming India’s largest drone show ever in the process.

As the night grew later, Radhika changed into an Ashish dress just in time for Rihanna to take the stage. “I wanted to be fun, free, and young,” she says. “An Indian wedding is incomplete without a lot of dancing.”

The couple stayed out until 7 a.m. When finally heading to bed, they saw a rainbow. Radhika viewed it as a surreal moment within an already otherworldly weekend. “Rain in March is an anomaly in India, and yet, during those three days, we experienced weather unlike anything we’ve ever known,” she says. “It felt magical, as if I were living in a dream.”

Several hours later, the couple held a lunch on the grounds of Vantara’s Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. “We went to great lengths to accommodate our 1,500 guests, complete with an audio-guide system to ensure that everyone could connect with the animals that have been given a new lease on life here,” Radhika says. She wore a custom blue leopard-print look by Dolce & Gabbana—her personal take on the mob-wife aesthetic currently dominating fashion.

Come nightfall, it was time to party again. The theme? Mela Rogue, a playful spin on the film Moulin Rouge. Radhika opted for an outfit designed by Malhotra, who is renowned for his Bollywood costumes. “For the first look, we chose a modern interpretation of the traditional ghagra,an Indian wedding gown, intentionally omitting the dupatta, or scarf, to reveal a meticulous cutwork back that mimicked lace, complete with intricate embellishments,” she says. “We wanted to reinvent the bow by incorporating a drape around the shoulders for a geometric contrast of gold and silver against cool blue.” The ghagra was embellished with Swarovski crystals, and Radhika complemented the outfit with more jewels by Kantilal Chhotalal. David Blaine did magic tricks for the crowd, and there were a number of family dances. Then, Diljit Dosanjh—the first Punjabi singer to perform at Coachella—took the stage. Radhika then changed into her second look by Malhotra. “Malhotra, a true master of innovation, actually spent six months developing a mesh, or jaal, from a thin sheet of metal for a modern twist on the traditional dupatta, she says.

On Sunday, it was time for their formal hastakshar. The bride-to-be wore a concept sari by Tarun Tahiliani as she walked down the aisle toward the temple. “I wanted to represent a traditional Indian bride but infuse the look with a fresh and contemporary reinterpretation,” Radhika notes. “I ventured beyond the typical bridal silhouettes while carefully integrating meaningful homages to Indian tradition and design. For example, my dupatta was intricately hand-painted and embellished, in a tribute to the art of Nathdwara, commemorating the place of our engagement. My veil was meticulously handwoven in Banaras with real gold threads, offering an ethereal elegance to my look and really allowing the detailed craftsmanship to shine through as it cascaded down the aisle.” Anant waited for her in an ivory sherwani by Rohit Bal, complete with diamond buttons by Raghavendra Rathod and a custom brooch by Lorraine Schwartz. They signed their wedding papers legally as 1,500 guests looked on.

Afterward, Anant’s mother performed a Bharatanatyam-style dance for the crowd. It was an emotional end to an emotional weekend for the couple: “It added to the divinity of the night—all in the temple where we spent so many special moments during the last seven years together,” Radhika says. As the party began, she changed into a pink gown that paid aesthetic homage to a traditional saree. “Embellished with crystals, it is what I envisioned a Parisian saree to look like,” she says. To close out the weekend, the singer Akon performed.

Looking back on it now, Radhika says she feels immense gratitude. “I recognize that this is a privilege few people experience, and I truly feel blessed,” she says. “I hope that our wedding will bring global attention to Vantara, the largest animal rehabilitation center in the world, a project that my husband and I hold very close in our hearts.” The wedding she speaks of? That will happen this July. If one can believe it, the celebrations for Radhika and Anant are just getting started.

  • An Exclusive Look Inside Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s Lavish Pre-Wedding Weekend (5)

  • An Exclusive Look Inside Anant Ambani and Radhika Merchant’s Lavish Pre-Wedding Weekend (6)

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