Just a very quick introduction from me to say thank you to Sundari for writing for us – she really is a beautiful soul, both inside and out, and I’ve throughly enjoyed following her wedding planning story. She’s always written completely from the heart, with sensitivity and emotion and I feel like I’ve really got to know her over the course of her writing (I cried several tears of joy and pride while putting this feature together!!!)
I knew Sundari’s wedding would be incredible and oh my goodness you are all in for a treat this afternoon. Please do grab a cup of tea and get comfortable – there’s a whole weekend worth of images for you and the incredible wedding film too. Sundari, it’s been an absolute pleasure and all of the RMW team wish you and Andy every happiness. So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Sundari…
Here we are guys. It’s been a long time coming! On the 28th and 29th May, Andy and I celebrated a wedding weekend of love, joy and so much more. Words cannot describe how blessed we felt to have so many family, friends and loved ones join us for an entire weekend. Planning the wedding was stressful, we encountered many issues that I’m sure many couples face – however on the day, we’ll be cliché and say – they really were the best days of our lives!
The Hindu Ceremony & Celebrations
The Bridal Attire
Traditional for a Sri-lankan wedding, the bride wears two sarees. One when she first arrives, and the second the groom gives her to wear for the “thaali” tying. For my wedding I didn’t have to think long on the colours that I’d wear. My Mother for her tamil wedding to my Dad wore dark green and red which my grandfather, who isn’t with us anymore, had picked for her. So, for my koorai saree, (the marital one) I found the exact combination I’d dreamt of. It’s quite a hard combo to find as many brides wear pink, red or gold. For my first saree, my grandmother weighed in that it’s traditional for a bride to wear mustard…so I took her advice and went for a bright yellow, gold and chilli red saree. Both were bought on our trip to India in Kanchipuram, where they were handmade.
I wanted my look to be quite traditional and went for the long plait with an abundance of jasmine flowers. Sometimes Tamil brides change their flowers and jewellery between sarees however I wanted to keep things simple. As I was wearing a lot of heirloom gold and gifts from my grandfather, I wanted to wear them for the entire time. One of my favourite pieces was a ruby ring he’d given me when I was 12 years old so it meant a lot to wear it on the wedding day. Even though he isn’t with us anymore, it felt incredibly powerful to have a traditional wedding he’d be proud of.
For my hair and makeup, we hired one of our family favourites, Renuka. Our family has used her many times for special occasions and weddings and for a traditional tamil event when I was 12 years old, Renuka had actually done my hair and makeup in the exact same spot in my parents bedroom. It made it that much more special to have her there on my wedding day and obviously reflect on how much time has passed!
With a strong colour choice of burgundy and reds, I talked with Andy about wearing a deep burgundy colour with the traditional verti. We went shopping in Wembley with my parents and found the perfect Kurta top which came with matching turban and slippers. Having seen what korai saree I picked, I knew the outfits would sit well together.
I also picked chilli red and gold soft chiffon sarees for my bridesmaids to again match up with the whole red colour palette.
The Staging, Decor & Floral Design
Our wedding had a big emphasis on red and we hired Om Creatives to create a beautiful aisle and staging for our Hindu ceremony. Rikesh of Om Creatives showed us so much choice, Andy & I found ourselves drawn to a floral arch to sit behind us and an abundance of candlelight and flowers along the aisle. It was just incredible to see the crazy colourful set up when I first walked in!
Dominique just captured every memory for us beyond perfectly. With two days and two VERY different weddings it’s a wonder she was still awake on Sunday evening for our first dance. On either day whenever I saw Dominique I just smiled because I felt so comfortable and happy being around her. It wasn’t only just these stunning images we received but the love, jokes and care on the day as well. Dominique’s assistant Nicki was a wonderful addition on the weekend and made every moment that much more special.
I don’t think words can describe how happy we were when we received the slideshow of all our images. It’s fair to say I cried a lot. The photos brought those moments back to life and we felt as if we were re-living every second. Overjoyed that we were able to have images to treasure for years to come and proudly share with family, friends and hopefully our children.
Something that was also incredibly important to me was videography. Secretly, I reached out to Jon of Happy Wedding Films before even getting engaged just to tell him how much I adored his work. Crazily enough, a month or so later, Andy proposed and I immediately knew we had to book Jon. Throughout our engagement I’d stalk his vimeo page and watch every wedding he was capturing and got increasingly excited as we got closer to our weekend. On the Friday before Jon and his wonderful assistant Peter visited me at my parent’s house and I remember just enjoying being sat on the grass chit chatting about the weekend ahead. I cannot stress how lucky we felt to have him on the day, another friend made, and another calm persona on a day when we could’ve felt uncomfortable with lots of cameras around. I think the video speaks for itself.
The Humanist Ceremony & Celebrations
This was something I really struggled with. I visited many beautiful stores and if I’m honest, I forced myself to enjoy the experience. I felt very self-conscious and no matter what I tried on, I still didn’t have a moment where I felt it was right. I think having worked for a Couture Bridal designer before hand really hindered my search because I knew the beauty of having something made for you! One dress that did become a contender was a Hayley Paige gown that I tried on in a whim at Coco & Kate, but again, as incredible as it was, something didn’t fit.
My friend and old work colleague Laurie Smith came to my rescue. She offered to create something especially for me along with dressing me on the day, which meant a ridiculous amount to me.
Having something made for you from scratch can be nerve wracking because you don’t know what the final result will be but Laurie’s caring guidance and friendship made me feel so relaxed. She took the time to find the perfect lace with ivy leaves and texture for my gown along with designing a shape which felt modern, without a petticoat yet with traditional flare, as I knew Andy would love that. It was honestly the most magical thing I have ever worn. I keep staring at the photos and remember how comfortable and fun it was to wear.
I wanted my look to have a relaxed, ethereal feel to it to reflect the décor and colour palette, so I chose a Corrine Smith hair chain and was lucky enough when I struggled to find the perfect earrings, to have Victoria of Victoria Fergusson Accessories create some bespoke crystal and gold droplet earrings for me.
As an advocate of small business owners I wanted to use as many of them for gifts and jewellery, So, for Andy, I contacted Jessica of Little Homebird (whom I found on Etsy) for a bespoke brass tie clip and brass double bar neckline for myself with our initials and roman numerals of our wedding date engraved on. She also made the initial necklaces I gave to my bridesmaids when I asked them to be in my bridal party along with the tie clip for my brother and bracelet for my sister in law. It was wonderful knowing that Jessica had hand crafted so many gifts that created incredibly emotional moments for us both before and during our wedding.
Balancing the budget was obviously something I constantly worried about so for my shoes I ended up purchasing some simple heels from ASOS, BARGAIN, they were totally on sale too for like £40! ASOS is also where I found my second gold leaf hair piece along with giving the bridesmaids matching pieces from there as well to wear.
My veil was hand created by one of my dearest friends Daisy, who runs Daisy Sheldon Embroidery. She also surprised me by gifting me a hand embroidered silk dressing gown. The design is simply stunning; it almost felt too precious to wear!
For hair & make up I entrusted my delicate look to Kristina Gasperas and Kasia Fortuna. I first found Kristina online and fell in love with her website along with her bridal portraits that she captured herself, it was there I found Kasia as part of her K-Team. Kristina was so respectful of my fear over heavy makeup, which I spoke about in my hair and make up trial blog post, and created the most perfect natural looking make up on the day. Kasia & Kristina both looked after me so well on the day and were such a calming aura to have around. They also created gorgeous looks for all of my bridesmaids and another member of Kristina’s team worked with Andy’s sister and mother at their home.
Kasia patiently stayed until after the drinks reception so just before I went in for dinner to change my hair to a hair up down look with my ASOS leaf hairpiece. Have to say, it was quite nice having a little moment away after portraits to change my look and having my husband (!!!) sit with us.
I could talk for days about Sarah, of Floribunda Rose, she is my go-to florist for all of my clients so when it came to my own wedding, I could think of no one more meaningful nor more talented. As you read before, we wanted the colour palette to be muted, a total contrast to the day before and Sarah totally understood my love for texture, foliage and movement.
What she created for us was above and beyond stunning. Even with last minute mistakes made by the venue, Sarah and her team hung our Hanging Lantern Company lanterns along with masses of florals and ivy. She created our own indoor Italian garden with an explosion of eucalyptus as well as delicate wisteria arches. She also continued the floral design outside with delphinium touches along the terrace.
My bouquet was incredible. Sarah created something beyond my dreams filled with white peonies, eucalyptus, stocks, and garden roses. It was a scent crazy and with stunning Pompom Blossom trailing silk ribbons to fit my bouquet dreams. Sophie created over 40 yards of hand-dyed silk ribbon for all of our ribbon needs!!
Bridesmaids matched as well as my little flower girl, Holly. Sarah also created corsages for the important ladies in our lives. And button holes again all consistent with the neutral colour palette using eucalyptus with the garden roses.
Decor & Styling
Well, how do I begin?! As a stylist it was hard styling a wedding where I couldn’t even style on the day however as you all know, we hired Andri of Always Andri Weddings to take care of everything. In the lead up, I had friends and family help with stamping the canvas bags, tied on escort cards to our olive oil favours and grey silk ribbon to our orders of service.
To create this delicate wedding style I pulled inspiration from Italy, which played a big role in colour palette and styling choices. With Andy’s studies in Latin and his parents being classic teachers, Roman numerals were used throughout our paperie. From the table numbers, chair backs and obviously the gallons of eucalyptus.
We chose a tonal colour palette of white through to grey because Andy liked the idea of wearing light grey and we wanted emphasise our personal taste of simple colours. Our home is filled with lots of white and I gravitate to greens a lot! Also, bit of colour psychology here! I know that green is a colour that your eye doesn’t need to work hard to see, when creating a relaxed atmosphere, using greens seemed to mean that it would feel laid back. This directly influenced the floral design to encompass more foliage than floral quite beautifully and also fit well within the venue, The Dairy at Waddesdon, which overlooks a lake and has an abundance of trees and greenery.
I hand drew a map of the gardens around the lake for guests to use during drinks reception to explore the surroundings, again printed on handmade paper to add to an Italian rustic feel. This sat upon the escort card/favour display. I decided that we wanted to have guests find their name along with their table number and a favour to take home which was Italian extra virgin olive oil Andy & I had poured ourselves! The handmade paper tags were designed by Tanya of Bureau Design, which I ripped up and with friends attached to the bottles.
Table-scaping was simple, I used brass vases and candlesticks that I’d collected over our engagement to use on the day. We hired dove grey linen from Coloured Linen Hire as well as mahogany chiavari chairs with white seat pads from Well-Dressed Tables. Each table place had a canvas bag for guests to take their escort card favours home with them along with a Italian paper menu, sprig of eucalyptus and calligraphy name places I’d written on dark grey hammered paper. We also hired vintage cut glassware from Helene Millot as a special touch.
Over a year before the wedding I found the girls of Posh Pud online. We booked an appointment and visited their lovely home in South Buckinghamshire. The tasting was delicious with Kirsty and Claire just leaving us to all the sponges, fillings and toppings to create our own mixtures! We had so much fun trying all the different combination and eventually settled 3 tiers of vanilla sponge with white chocolate and raspberry filling, chocolate cake with florida orange and chocolate spread filling and finally a lemon and poppy seed cake with strawberry filling. I know. Ridiculously amazing. On the day we barely had ANY cake left because it had be absolutely devoured by our guests.
Andy & I both love buttercream so definitely were set on a rough iced finish but the beauty of Posh Pud’s talent was very much their realistic icing sugar flowers. Kirsty & Claire created a cascade of peonies and roses with a few eucalyptus sprigs.
I wanted my bridesmaids to continue the green to grey tones and dreamt of them wearing something soft and full flowing. I eventually found Jenny Yoo dresses and saw that the Annabelle was stocked at Coco & Kate. Immediately when they tried them all, they looked absolutely stunning and felt comfortable. The quality of tulle was gorgeous and the addition of the girls being able to create their own necklines was a huge selling point. I wanted them to all feel similar however have their own look.
My gorgeous groom picked a suit from Reiss. Having such a long engagement, we found it pretty early on but Andy was hesitant to purchase. Eventually earlier this year we went back to Reiss to see if they still have the suit available…luckily they did in a different store, and it was discounted because it was an old collection! This meant that Groomsmen could all have their sets from Reiss as well. There was quite a bit of coordination to get all the right sizes from all over the country to one store for us to pick up but they all looked amazing on the day.
Andy is well known to be a check-shirt man, so it made sense for him to wear checks on the wedding day, true to his personal style. We found all the shirts and ties on ASOS and he gifted each of his groomsmen stripy socks to wear with brown shoes. We wanted to encourage more of the relaxed atmosphere we were trying to create, and had the groomsmen just in waist costs rather than jackets, which looked amazing!
As you know, we had Andri Benson manage, coordinate and set up our wedding on the day. Words cannot describe how thankful we were to have her. With guests being delayed by the ever-helpful M25, Andri effortlessly managed the timeline throughout the day ensuring that formal photographs happened with ease and the food service went out as planned.
She also was my eyes for all of the styling set up ensuring that my visions I’d written down for her were brought to life. From taking my boxes of props, fabrics and items she made everything stunning. We had difficulty with the venue at times throughout the planning process and Andri became an incredible support, she even managed the last minute problems that occurred without us ever knowing. Each of our suppliers have come back to us to say how wonderful and incredibly helpful she was to all of them.
We chose a humanist ceremony, which we personally wrote ourselves for the day with two readings and a moment for mindfulness. With Andy not being religious and having had the hindu wedding the day before, we really wanted the ceremony to be a reflection of us. We asked Andy’s Dad to say a few words along with asking the friend whom introduced us to send a message, since him and his wife couldn’t make it from the US for our weekend.
All of our paperie was created by my beautiful Bridesmaid Gemma Milly. Being a overwhelmingly talented calligrapher, I knew we’d have something special for our invitations and on the day stationery. She combined the simplistic design of the Sunday’s style with the Italian and roman design we desired. With beautiful letter pressed cotton papers and delicate modern calligraphy it was the most beautiful piece of design to show our guests what to expect on the day.
As lovers of classical music and acoustic guitar, Andy & I hired an incredible guitarist to play the music during our ceremony and drinks reception. The song I walked into was Claire De Lune, one of my favourite pieces, along with being a particular emotional piece of music for Andy & I. During our signing, we had him play Sweet Pea by Amos Lee and during the drinks reception he played a mixture of our favourite composer Einaudi and more modern songs by The XX.
Our toast master was our good friend Tom, my bridesmaid Gemma’s husband and quite funnily he got to master a gong to make announcements through drinks reception and dinner. We love Tom and his humour and knew he’d be the perfect person for introducing each speech with his little jokes and infectious personality.
For the evening we wanted to have a live band and being huge fans of Mumford and songs, I scoured the internet for a band with a similar style when I found Mister Kanish I KNEW they were perfect. We listened to their YouTube page for hours after we booked them and on the day they were beyond our expectations. Our first dance song was “Only Love” by Ben Howard and it was honestly one of my favourite moments of the entire day. The band played the song with such heart, I couldn’t stop smiling! They were such a gracious bunch of guys and played such a range of music to keep the dancing going on right until the end. When they played “I can’t get no sleep” by Faithless our guests went crazy!
Planning an entire wedding weekend made for a huge project, I’m not going to lie. We gave ourselves plenty of time to plan but it also became a massive waiting game. The real craziness kicked in the year of the wedding when final confirmations began and final confirmations. The greatest choice we made honestly was hiring our wedding planner. It was so worth the money in the end because after the wedding we received SO many messages from all of our suppliers saying how incredibly helpful and organised Andri was.
Sundari is getting married in 2016 with not one, but two ceremonies over two days – a Tamil Hindu ceremony & a Humanist ceremony. As one of the UK’s top wedding stylists – you just KNOW it’s going to be an extravaganza of pretty’