Love is a beautiful thing that deserves to be celebrated. Ravi Kotecha met Meera Ruparelia eight years ago. She was 20 and he was 23.
The two lovebirds took the bold step and walked down the aisle last November at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hyde Park, one of London’s most exclusive hotels.
The wedding was attended by only 200 guests, which called for another reception, two days later, that had 900 guests at the Grosvenor, another exclusive London Hotel. Sudhir flew hundreds of guests from different parts of the world into London. But that wasn’t enough as it called for a Kampala ceremony that coincided with Valentine’s Day.
Kotecha is a Kenyan businessman, also born to one of Mombasa’s real estate and haulage honchos. He met Meera when he frequented Kampala where his uncle, Bhasker Kotecha, owns Midcom, a giant mobile phone dealer in Uganda.
Meera is the daughter of tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia, a man with a big heart and naturally with many friends. He decided that his family, friends, business colleagues, associates and contemporaries who didn’t make it to London deserved a piece of the pomp and glamour.
You could say it was a big heart or simply Sudhir’s excesses. He threw not just a conventional wedding ceremony but a week-long celebration with bashes on each day.
The big day was Friday, which happened to be Valentine’s Day, when lovers exchanged vows, yet again and Sudhir officially handed over his daughter.
It was a day particularly themed to Indian customs; colourful, with the walkways carpeted with flowery decorations. Speke Resort Munyonyo, the venue for the wedding, was beautifully decorated with flowery ropes hanging from the trees. Guests ate and drank enough during the seven days when Munyonyo was closed off to the public for the “mother of weddings”. This wedding went down in the books of history as one of the most expensive, with reputable financial magazine Forbes valuing it at $2m (about Sh5b), more expensive than most of your foreign celebrities’ wedding ceremonies, including that of showbiz couple David and Victoria Beckham, which cost $800,000 (about Shs2b).
It was an emotional moment for the father of the bride, Sudhir, happy and sad for letting his eldest daughter go, so he made sure it was memorable. The seven-day festivities also included a Ugandan themed party on Thursday, with the entertainment and the décor mirroring an African setting. Sudhir himself donned Nigerian attire for that particular party.
Sunday was the day to wind down with boat cruises.
But the biggest ball with over 2,500 guests was on Saturday. During his speech at the ball, Sudhir was happy with the massive gathering of family and friends and expressed his happiness, quoting wise counsel that was passed down to him by his own father.
““A man’s wealth is not judged by the size of his bank account but by the number of his friends,” he said. This was confirmation that he is a wealthy man in all measures, as his bank account is not in question, being the 24th richest African, according to Forbes.
Sudhir, who has spent 37 years in marriage with his wife Jyotsna, gave Kotecha a piece of advice on how to make the marriage work.
“Women are never wrong, they are always right, so there is no point in arguing.” He advised the newlyweds to govern their marriage with the principles of respect, love, care and honesty and prayed that God blesses them with many children.
After the wining and dining, guests got onto the dance floor till the wee hours of the morning.
There was no better way to sum up the wedding, than Kotecha’s own brother who when called up to give a speech on behalf of his family said, “I’m never lost for words, but all I can say is, wow.”
Funded fully by Sudhir
Pulling out all the stops: The festivities of tycoon Sudhir Ruparelia’s daughter span several continents and months. Guests were last year flown to London to witness the nuptials of Meera Ruparelia and Ravi Kotecha. Last week they flew from different parts of the world to attend weeklong celebrations at Speke Resort Munyonyo. The bill was $2m (about Shs5b) and it was fully funded by the Ruparelias, as one of the Kotechas said, “All we had to do was sleep, wake up, eat and go back to sleep.”
No wedding meetings: Unlike the normal Ugandan wedding, Sudhir didn’t have to fundraise for his daughter’s wedding. Godfrey Kirumira, the Chairman of Kwagalana Group, of wealthy businessmen who come together to fundraise for similar events among their members said that, “This was entirely on Sudhir and Jyotsna’s wallet.”