The Knot Editors Unpack Anant Ambani's Extravagant Prewedding Weekend

The youngest son of the richest man in India is getting married to a billionaire heiress in July. Before the wedding, the couple threw a multi-day engagement event.
Getty Images Caption: Anant Ambani with Radhika Merchant during the inauguration of the Nita Mukesh Ambani Cultural Centre (NMACC), at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Bandra (East), on March 31, 2023 in Mumbai, India. Nita Ambani's dream project, which is housed within the Jio Global Centre in Bandra-Kurla Complex, aims to preserve and promote Indian arts. The event saw the presence of prominent celebrities and businessmen.
Photo by Vijay Bate/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
by
Esther Lee
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Deputy Editor
  • Esther is the Deputy Editor of The Knot. She currently leads all content on The Knot Wellness, focusing on financial, relationship, and mental wellbeing.
  • She oversees The Knot's travel vertical (honeymoons, destination weddings, bach parties), as well as overarching features and trends.
  • She proudly serves on the Advisory Council of VOW For Girls, focusing on ending the injustice of child marriage around the world.
Updated Mar 04, 2024

To be a fly on the wall of their venues. Billionaire heir Anant Ambani and wife-to-be Radhika Merchant will be getting married in July 2024, but it's their prewedding celebrations that created a global stir. The couple's prewedding celebrations kicked off on March 1, 2024 (fittingly, National Wedding Planning Day in the US). About 1,200 guests flew into the city of Jamnagar in Western India, which Ambani's side of the family considers their hometown.

Not only did the scale of the multi-day events generate buzz, but the guest list created a mega frenzy. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Blackrock co-founder Larry Fink, Isha Foundation spiritual leader Jagadish "Jaggi" Vasudev (who goes by "Sadhguru"), and Bollywood stars, like Deepika Padukone and Rani Mukherjee, were just a few notables on a rather extensive guest list. The entertainment options for the weekend drew considerable fanfare too: Rihanna delivered a private performance to guests to open the prewedding events, while other names that dazzled the crowd include top-billed Bollywood artists and magician David Blaine.

It isn't unusual for this scale of event, given the Ambani family's reputation in India. Anant is the 28-year-old son of Nita Ambani and Reliance Industries conglomerate chairman Mukesh Ambani, also known as the richest man in India and one of the top 10 richest people in the world. The bride is also the daughter of billionaires, pharmaceutical power couple Viren Merchant, the CEO of Encore Healthcare Pvt. Ltd., and Shaila Merchant. Here, The Knot Editors unpack this prelude to the 2024 wedding of the year from our POV. (Such as: Who is the lead planner behind this extravagant prewedding event? What were the contract negotiations like to get Rihanna on board? If this is the prewedding event, what will the wedding look like? Only time will tell.) Dive into the highlights and see what we learned.

Chairman and Managing Director of Reliance Industries, Indian billionaire businessman Mukesh Ambani (L) with his daughter Isha Ambani (2L), son Anant Ambani (R) and Radhika Merchant (2R) attend the launch of the 'Jio World Plaza' mall in Mumbai on October 31, 2023.
Photo by SUJIT JAISWAL/AFP via Getty Images

The Week Started With Community Service

Understanding their point of privilege, the Ambani family wanted to give back to the community during these important life events. On Wednesday, they preceded the prewedding festivities with a food drive, hosting meals for 51,000 locals throughout neighboring villages and communities. (The area is located in the Gujarat state of the country, close to the desert.) The family's impact on Gujarat is nothing short of significant, including local job creation and economic opportunities with the establishment of their oil refinery in Jamnagar. Our take? A service element is something we've noticed with top-billed events in recent years, especially as well-off couples and their loved ones have much to be grateful for. Why not use the wedding for some positive PR too?

The Timing Was Business Perfection

While the spotlight is on the wedding, both passive and active business opportunities don't stop for the Ambanis. On Wednesday, while community service festivities took place, Disney announced an $8.5 billion merger involving its Indian media assets with Reliance. (Yes, that same Reliance empire that Anant's family owns and operates.) Given the circumstances, many outlets speculated that Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger is anticipated to attend the events. Other chief executives and founders have also RSVP'd yes to the events as networking doesn't stop, especially as two billionaire families come together for prewedding events.

Guests Received a Dress Code Pamphlet

Getty caption: Radhika Merchant and Anant Ambani pose for the media during their engagement, at Antilia  on January 19, 2023 in Mumbai, India.
Anshuman Poyrekar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

For Ambani and Merchant, standard dress codes are so yesterday. The to-be-weds generated buzz for a few reasons in the weekend build-up, especially after releasing a nine-page prewedding guide to usher guests fashionably and tastefully through every event. While some internet observers have argued that nine pages worth of materials is a bit much, we're on the couple's side for this one. Imagine attending a multi-day prewedding celebration of India's richest family. Not only are attendees surrounded by some of the world's most accomplished entertainers and (fellow) tycoons, but they're also under the scrutiny of the internet. (TBH, we would want guidance on the dress code too!)

As with Indian special events and weddings, the dress code is a point of presentation and respect. The couple requested certain palettes for cultural events and other fun parties, including a jungle-themed event where guests were told to pack Hawaiian shirts and other animal motif-printed options. (Think leopard-printed dresses and tiger-striped shirts. Palm trees and coconuts are a given.) For a separate weekend gala, the couple requested guests to pack "dazzling" formal Indian attire.

"Mela Rouge" Was One Evening Theme

As we know, dance is huge in Indian culture. Guests were invited to an event called "Mela Rouge" where they were told to bring their best selves to the dance floor. The evening brimmed with action, including an appearance by Blaine. WeddingWire India found that other performances of the evening included the Bollywood wedding hit "Bole Chudiyaan." Top performers and stars like Aamir Khan, Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, as well as Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh, all appeared on stage too.

Activism and Conservation Were Also on Display

Some casual events took place too. Ambani and Merchant requested guests pack "comfortable shoes" for a group visit to the local animal rescue center (Anant Ambani's Vantara). The shelter is home to about 2,000 species of animals across 3,000 acres of land located on Reliance's campus in Western India. While researching this wedding, we learned that "vantara" means "star of the forest" in Hindi. The center is known for rescuing and rehabilitating animals. One of Vantara's shiniest accomplishments is that the center is known to be one of the largest elephant hospitals in the world.

Multiply the Guest Experience by 100

According to multiple reports, the couple has hired a range of vendors for their various events. Guests will have access to professional makeup artists and hairstylists; however, according to documents read by Reuters, this will be on a first-come, first-served basis only. Drapists for Indian event attire, including lehengas and sarees, will also be available to help guests look their best. (Wouldn't you want the same when the world is watching this wedding online?)

Not only that, but attendees will have plenty of content from the weekend. (Given the guest list though, we won't expect all of it to be shared on TikTok.) Friday's evening party kicked off with a rousing performance by Rihanna, who commanded the stage in a sparkling lime look. Videos showed the R&B superstar singing along to her smash hit, "Umbrella" (which we would all like to stand under right about now) and mingling on the dance floor with guests.

Charter Flights Are Offered to Guests Back to Major Cities

Transportation is something even billionaire families have to consider with guests. Given that the events were located in Western India, where it isn't exactly the easiest to access from major cities, the Ambanis generously offered up return flights from Mumbai and New Delhi. Attendees, though, were cautioned to pack light-ish. The documents asked guests to only bring two luggage items per couple.

The Bride's Stylist Did the Most

According to our sister brand, WeddingWire India, Radhika Merchant's stylist, producer and creative Rhea Kapoor, selected a Versace look for one event. The piece, in the vein of Blake Lively's Lady Liberty-inspired gown for the 2022 Met Gala, helped the bride-to-be sparkle for one of the many parties.

Kapoor also dressed another key attendee: international Bollywood star Sonam Kapoor. "An @anamikakhanna.in girl always," Rhea wrote in her styling caption in collaboration with Sonam. "Nothing is more elegant than silver and white…"

sonam kapoor instagram ambani prewedding march 2024 in jewels
Sonam Kapoor / Instagram

Guests Ate It Up Too (And Dressed for the Occasions)

zuckerberg at the ambani wedding
Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook

Wouldn't you? Like the rest of us when we attend a wedding, Zuckerberg took to Instagram (you know, that social tool that he oversees) on Friday, March 1, to upload a photo with his wife, Priscilla Chan. "Love an Indian wedding," wrote the Meta scion. "Congrats to Anant and Radhika!" The couple was decked out in head-to-toe black attire accentuated by gold flowers and dragonfly motifs. According to a Meta rep, Zuckerberg donned a tux by Alexander McQueen, paired with a T-shirt by Saint Laurent and velvet shoes by Christian Dior.

Startup founder Joshua Kushner and wife, supermodel Karlie Kloss, also attended Ambani's prewedding weekend. Kushner posted a photo of his wife wearing traditional Indian attire and standing before an extravagant Ferris wheel.

karlie kloss at the ferris wheel of the ambani prewedding
Joshua Kushner / Instagram

This Isn't the First Extravagant Wedding-Related Event for the Couple

In January 2023, the couple hosted a lavish engagement ceremony in India attended by family members and dignitaries. Media was also in attendance to capture the moment. However, this is something both are well accustomed to at this point.

According to Vogue, the couple first connected in 2017. They kept their relationship relatively private until Radhika attended Isha Ambani's engagement festivities in Lake Como, Italy, in September 2023. She has also since been spotted at numerous wedding events for other Ambani family members.

Again, This Will Be the Wedding of the Year

Come July, Anant Ambani and wife-to-be Radhika Merchant's wedding will likely be the most opulent and lavish event of the year. If their three-day prewedding festivities have anything to do with the outcome of the actual wedding, we speculate that perhaps even more fanfare will be involved.

Up Next
  • The most influential women in history
    The Weddings of the Most Influential Women in History