20 April 2023

A surprise proposal weeks before the wedding? Yes, please

| Zoe Cartwright
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Akhil Antony and Sneha Joseph

Akhil Antony and Sneha Joseph were separated by border closures for much of their engagement, so Akhil arranged an extra special surprise ahead of their wedding. Photos: Shebin Shajan and Joe Wilfred.

Visitors to the Wollongong Botanic Gardens last weekend got to see something very special blossom.

“Surprise man” Akhil Antony had told his fiancee Sneha Joseph they were going to get some ‘save the date’ photos done ahead of their wedding in Kerala, India, on 6 May, but he had something more in mind.

“On Friday he suggested I get my nails and lashes done for the photos,” Sneha said.

“I was planning on doing them anyway, and he’s always very thoughtful, so it didn’t give anything away.

“I didn’t expect anything like what I saw when we arrived.”

Akhil spoke to Let Us Shine for You wedding planners, who put together a giant word display complete with balloons.

When Sneha took off her blindfold she saw Akhil down on one knee, with the words ‘marry me’ behind him.

A man proposes to a woman

A save the date photoshoot turned into a heartfelt surprise.

“He really surprised me,” Sneha said.

“He planned it all. It was a beautiful day, the best day of our lives so far.”

The couple’s courtship was an unconventional one.

Sneha studied her bachelor’s degree in Akhil’s hometown, but the two didn’t meet. She moved to Wellington, New Zealand, while he moved to Australia for study opportunities.

Meanwhile, all of their parents were busy checking out potential partners on a matrimonial app.

They thought Akhil and Sneha would make a good match and sent them each other’s profiles. The two began talking online and hit it off straight away.

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In 2021 he proposed, but due to COVID-19 restrictions the couple met for the first time in person in July 2022.

On Sneha’s birthday, Akhil secretly flew over to visit and surprised her at midnight.

By December, Sneha had moved to Wollongong so the couple could live together.

“According to Indian customs it’s normal to live together after marriage, and we were so opposite to that, but our parents were the best supporters of us,” Sneha said.

“We are sure about each other, and so our parents were happy for us.

“I couldn’t imagine a life without him, he’s such a genuine person, and you can see the romance is still there!”

It’s been a long wait for the couple to get their wedding details finalised, but they will fly to Kerala on Monday along with some of their siblings who also live in Australia and New Zealand.

After the chaos of the pandemic, the trip is a very special family reunion. Sneha will meet her young nephew for the first time, and they will also have their first meeting with each other’s parents.

“There’s a little bit of nervousness, but our siblings have all met and get along so that’s a good sign,” Sneha said.

“The wedding will go for four or five days, so we will have mehendi [a type of body art] done and then the engagement party on May 1, the ring exchange, and we also have customs around taking ornaments and dresses for the wedding, before the Christian wedding ceremony on May 6.

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“They are all evening functions, so lots of food and dancing with friends, family and children.”

Also watching will be the couple’s many Instagram followers. They began posting photos and videos to update friends and family, but the account took off, with some reels getting up to four million views.

After their wedding, the two are keen to continue their life in Australia. Sneha works in mental health, and will begin her Masters of Psychology, while Akhil works as a maintenance engineer after receiving his Masters of Engineering from the University of Wollongong.

“We love Australia, and we’re hoping to bring our parents here later this year to show them around,” Sneha said.

“Akhil has turned down jobs outside of Wollongong because he has such good memories and friendships here from university.

“We have everything we could want here in Wollongong, we live in such a beautiful environment. We feel very lucky.”

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