Claudio and Preema went for it. A weekend of thrills, spills, excitement and Love. A civil ceremony one day, an Indian Ceremony the next.
So, for you gorgeous lot that means twice the fun… and actually three dresses (all stunning by the way), two outfits for Claudio and of course two amazing and vastly contrasting celebrations.
Preema The Bride: Our wedding was over the bank holiday weekend in August 2012. We had our civil ceremony at the Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall on the Friday morning for immediate family, followed by lunch at Tom’s Kitchen in Chelsea. In the evening we had friends and family over to my Mum’s house for a Moroccan themed Mendhi Night, where we had henna artists, Lebanese food and a belly dancer. Then our BIG Fat Indian Wedding(!) was on the Sunday at Botleys Mansion in Chertsey, Surrey.
For the Civil Ceremony, I looked for the right dress for ages and in fact I think I only found mine 1 month before the wedding. As I had always dreamt of being an “Indian Bride” I had never imagined myself in a long white traditional dress. I wanted something fun and quirky. I tried on so many dresses but finally found “the one” online! It was from Ted Baker. As soon as it arrived, I tried it on and loved it.
Aishwarya Vs. Packham
For the Indian Ceremony, I went to India with my Mum and Brother to buy my dress. I knew I wanted to have something slightly less traditional, i.e. not red and white. We shopped for days and couldn’t find anything that stood out and I had resigned myself to going home with my dress. Then on the 3rd day of shopping after having spent 3 hours in one shop. I saw the dress being shown to another customer. I nudged my mum, pointed to the dress, tried it on and the rest was history. The dress was from the Aishwarya Design Studio in Mumbai, India.
For our Evening Reception I had a good idea of the type of dress I wanted from the start. I said I wanted something like a Jenny Packham dress. Vintage Glamour. I never thought for a second that I would actually get one. My mum and I went to number shops looking for the right one but none of them stood out. I then took my mum to the Jenny Packham store in Mayfair to show her the type of thing I wanted. I tried a few on but as soon as I put this one on I knew it was perfect. It made me feel amazingly glamorous.
For the Indian Wedding, I bought all my jewellery from Mumbai when I bought my dress. I got it all from a shop called Magic Woman. I love, love, love my bangles. Magic Woman, as do most jewellery shops in India, had a man whose full time job it is to put together beautiful sets of bangles to match any dress. He matched my bangles with my dress perfectly.
I found the most beautiful rose gold skyscraper heels to wear for the evening reception with my Jenny Packham dress. I wore purple sparkly kitten heels down the aisle to the Indian Ceremony but unfortunately I had to take them off as you have to be bare foot for the ceremony.
I wanted to have subtle make up for all occasions. I had seen far too many pics of overdone brides. Thankfully I found Nassim, who really listened to all my needs. She did my make-up and hair. For my hair I also wanted something a bit different and at first I wasn’t comfortable having my hair up as I usually wear it down. However, Nassim tried a few different styles and I ended up having it up to show off all my beautiful Indian jewellery. Nassim really tried to understand me and my style.
We had our flowers done by the amazing Tanya Ferguson at Floral Accents. Her service was flawless from start to finish. For the bridesmaids bouquets we had bright cerise roses and deep purple lisianthus with dark green foliage. I made ribbons from old sarees and Tanya cleverly wove them into the bouquets. For the evening reception I wanted low table settings as I had been to too many weddings where I couldn’t see the person opposite me. I wanted a vintage chic look in peaches, pink and white to complement my dress and Tanya really helped bring my ideas to life. I had always wanted peonies but as it wasn’t the right season, so Tanya found a beautiful alternative, David Austin Garden Roses. These were combined with ivory Avalanche roses, peachy cream Vendela roses, and white hydrangeas in silver vintage looking vases of different sizes and heights. We also had small silver tealight votives which we placed around the vases on a large mirror plate to reflect the candlelight.
For the Indian wedding my Bridesmaids had made to measure outfits to match my wedding dress. I gave them the colour theme and designed the skirt and they designed their tops. I wanted them to each have something slightly different that would suit their style and body shape. Claudio’s groomsmen each had different Indian suits. Their personalities were so different that it made sense for them all to feel comfortable in what they were wearing.
A Classic Look
For the Indian wedding Claudio had a bespoke Sherwani Suit. I gave him a steer on the colours as he had not seen my outfit and he designed the rest. He was not keen on having his suit too blinged out so he went for a more classic look. I thought he looked very handsome. He had a cream suit with antique gold embroidery and an antique gold scarf. He had bespoke shoes made from the same material as his suit.
We had the lovely Amy Murrell from Especially Amy as our photographer. I researched lots of different blogs and websites as Claudio and I both wanted natural pictures and nothing too choreographed. I came across the especiallyamy website and fell in love with her style. Amy was so enthusiastic about shooting our wedding and has taken some beautiful shots. We are both so pleased with our decision to choose Amy.
As we had quite a few guest that did not eat eggs. We wanted to have an eggless option available for our guests. Rather than having two cakes we thought it would be fun to have cupcakes. Crumbs and Doilies were local to us, were able to make eggless cupcakes and had beautiful designs. We had vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream. The colours matched the pinks and peaches of the flowers.
Following the Indian Wedding, Botleys Mansion arranged for us to have some games on the lawn. We had croquet and a Big Jenga. In the evening, we had a friend of my uncle’s DJ for us. This allowed us to have a mix of Bollywood, Dominican and English Music. Our guests loved the mix of different sounds and made the most of the dancefloor. My amazing brother, Hinesh, works in TV and has many talents in all things technology. He set up a photobooth for us during the evening reception which our guests loved! I made a backdrop with the peach, pink and silver colour theme and he arranged the camera and props.
Our first dance was a Bollywood-Salsa Extravaganza! As is customary at an Indian Wedding there is usually some type of dance performance by the Bride and Groom or members of the families. As a surprise to our guests Claudio and I started our first dance to a slow Dominican song… Half way through the music changed to an upbeat Bollywood song… and we were joined by 6 of our friends and family on the dancefloor. Then halfway through the Bollywood song the music changed to Danza Kuduro, a Brazillian/Spanish party song. We all helped to choreograph the dance and in preparation for the big day we hired out a dance studio at Pineapple in Covent Garden. My brother, Hinesh, did an awesome job of merging all the songs together for us. All the guests were so surprised and loved all the different influences. At the end of the night… and after many glasses of champagne… we managed to do the dance for a second time.
When I was in India shopping for my wedding clothes, my mum and I came across these beautiful little trinket boxes. We thought they would be ideal to put favours in and guests could take them home and use them after the wedding. They also complimented the overall theme and matched gorgeous table centres. As Claudio is from America, we thought we’d bring a bit of the US to the UK and put Hershey’s Kisses inside the little boxes. I had seen comments on a number of blogs saying that many guests didn’t know they were supposed to take their favours home with them. To avoid this I made handmade tags which said “take me home” as a little helpful hint for our guests.
For the Indian wedding we both wanted a quite clean, traditional look. Our Mandap, the canopy that we got married in, was a great example of this. It was a wooden craved Mandap with a traditional floral design and we had matching Ganesh statues along the aisle.
As the Indian wedding was a Hindu ceremony we had vegetarian canapés and virgin cocktails following the ceremony. Botleys Mansion did an amazing job accommodating us to arrange these for us. My Mum made some sample food and gave them a few recipes and they did the rest. Everyone commented on how much they enjoyed the food.
After the Indian wedding we had a traditional leaving ceremony where Claudio and I “drove off into the sunset together!”. We arranged to have a 1960’s New York Taxi as our wedding car which was popular with everyone.
World Wide Postcards
In the evening the table names were of places that meant something to Claudio and I. On each table there was a short story about why the place meant something to us. We had “Somerset Lodge” where we got engaged and… The other addition to the evening décor was our guest book table. In line with all the different cultures that influence our lives we had postcards from The Dominican Republic, where Claudio’s family are from; Uganda, where my mum’s family is from; New York: London and India for our guests to leave us messages.
The thing I loved the most about the décor at our wedding was the small handmade touches. We had so many compliments during and following the wedding; it made all the effort that went into making them well worth it.
Take Some Time Out
What made the wedding special for us was having all the people we loved around us. After all the effort you put into making sure everything looks perfect, you realise that none of it really matters and that not everything will go to plan. In the end, however, I promise you that it will, despite the things that don’t quite go to plan; you will have the time of your life.
Unfortunately it goes by too quickly, so if you can, take some time out during the day to be with your partner and to really take in all the amazing things that are happening around you.
I would make sure to have the best photographer your money can buy. You will have the pictures of your big day forever and you want to make your photographer captures your day as you remember it.