Despite the futuristic world of a metaverse, this Chennai couple’s upcoming wedding reception has an old-fashioned focus on family
While most brides are stressed out with booking a venue, planning wedding parties, buying trousseaus and more, Dinesh SP and his fiancée Janaganandhini Ramaswamy are busy planning a metaverse.
When Tamil Nadu announced a lockdown on Sunday, it meant Dinesh and Janaganandhini had to limit their reception guest list to 100 people. The couple, wanting family and friends to attend, decided to revise their plans for the Sunday festivities. Introducing a virtual Metaverse setting for his wedding reception meant they could invite as many people as they wanted; the virtual guest list now stands at around 2,500.
With the offline and intimate wedding taking place in the early hours of February 6, the same evening will see the meta-reception.
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Dinesh tweeted about his and his fiancée’s decision, creating plenty of discussion around the prospect of an alternate marriage reality where literally anything could happen.
A whole new world
While the media coverage around the upcoming reception has been largely celebratory at the prospect of something so tangibly traditional in the Metaverse, Dinesh admits that some haven’t come to terms with the concept so easily. He understands, however, that this is the norm for many who are still adjusting to Zoom calls instead of offline face-to-face meetings.
“I certainly had to explain to a lot of people what even the metaverse was and it took about an hour, even for millennials, Gen Z and those who also work in technology, the latter including Janaganandhini who works in computing,” admits Dinesh. . He adds “I was happy to do that, especially with the old ones where I had to change the language to compare it to a video game. Once they figured out that all they had to do was use a login for the website and they didn’t need to install a new app or get new hardware like a headset VR, they were thrilled. It may take five years for India to integrate the metaverse so I also wanted Indians to experience it now and why not through marriage?
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A project manager at IIT Madras, Dinesh is no stranger to emerging technologies such as the metaverse and blockchain and crypto offerings. For this event, he approached fellow metaverse evangelist Vignesh Selvaraj, CEO of Chennai-based startup TardiVerse which uses blockchain technology to create metaspaces. Vignesh immediately accepted the idea and the two got to work as the schedule for creating this new world was tight. The process, leveraging Polgyon’s blockchain technology, will require a mock exercise on January 22 to test the space, and the TardiVerse team has been working around the clock to make it happen.
So how to enter? In addition to having to be on the guest list, Dinesh points out that the meta-reception will have a gateway in the form of a blockchain wallet which requires a single, secure login. Once a guest logs in, they can choose their avatar based on their gender and appearance preferences. Then you can move around the virtual reception area and see the bride and groom.
Potterverse meets Metaverse
The best part? This all takes place in the Great Hall of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Dinesh and Janaganandhini, having first met on a work project, quickly discovered a mutual love for all things Harry Potter and the two thought, given the malleable nature of the metaverse, why not celebrate their love in the famous party hall where the Sorting Hat said Harry Potter would be in Gryffindor, where Ron Weasley received a very loud and angry screaming letter from his mother, and where the Snow-Dappled Yule Ball took place?
You have to wonder: will there be any meta-foods on display like virtual biryani or sambar rice…butterbeer maybe? Dinesh laughs: “There is an idea to think about! I will check to set it up this week. But I look forward to the future of metaverse integration technology where you can virtually taste or smell something.
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Amid complex technology and impressive visuals, love and family are at the heart of meta-reception. One of the most important guests, an avatar of Janaganandhini’s father who died in April 2021 will be “present” at the meta-reception. “I was thinking of bringing my future father-in-law to life in the metaverse,” says Dinesh, who had seen how his fiancée struggled with loss.
Although the event takes place at Hogwarts, the tradition is still important to the couple. their avatars will be dressed in a sari and one dressed, while Janaganandhini’s father will be in kurta.
Dinesh wants to entertain his guests as much as possible to boost morale and share his happiness and that of his future wife; so he and Vignesh will have animated renderings of famous Harry Potter characters present for guests to “meet”.
“At the end of the day, while I love technology and all things blockchain and the metaverse,” Dinesh proudly concludes, “this is all a gift for my daughter.”