Our couple today used ambient lighting to change the appearance of their location for the various elements of their day. And looking at these amazing pictures from Christian Ward Photography, you can see how The Royal Exchange cleverly transforms from wedding venue, through to elegant dining room before finally becoming a full on night club.
She Knew My Style
I wore a traditional sari which was made for me in Lahore, Pakistan by a family friend who is a designer. Some might think it was high risk because my time in Pakistan was limited and I pretty much decided on my wedding sari based on a swatch but she has been making outfits for me and my family for some time (and still doing so) so she knew my style and understood exactly what I wanted. And it worked because I absolutely love my wedding sari.
I wore the jewellery that my mother in law wore at her wedding and which her late father had bought her. I was honoured to have worn something of such nostalgic value.
A Hint Of Bling
My shoes were diamante cream sling backs. Just enough bling to go with the sari!
A fabulous artist called Gini Bhogal did my hair and make-up. I had only one make-up trial and that was with Gini and we got on very well and I just knew she would be great… and she was. When my 7 year old nephew came in to see me when I was ready he did not recognise me. When I asked him why he said: “your hair looks big” (I took that as a compliment)!
Elegant And Classical
Nicola Eve at Flowers by Eve did a fabulous job with the flowers. She was recommended by Zain’s colleague and we fell in love with her website. She offers a wonderful personalised service and is happy to visit you at home and take time to talk through styles.
We wanted to create an elegant and classical “white wedding look” so we opted for white roses, lilies and hydrangea in tall slim vases with tea lights. Zain chose white cala lilies for button holes and I had vintage baby pink roses to add a touch of colour. My flower girls had wicker baskets bursting with silk rose petals.
We bought the Groomsmen outfits and their ties and cuff links matched Zain’s . We bought the Flower Girl dresses from Debenhams, which were white and long. I absolutely loved them and so did all of the girls: I was thrilled when my niece called (and still calls) it her princess dress. Like a true princess she asked for a tiara but we settled on a white rose flower headband. Seriously cute!
Zain opted to wear a lounge suit rather than a morning suit. His suit and shirt were from Hackett and his tie from Pal Zileri. He had been looking for a very specific colour and style of tie so we were very pleased to have stumbled on it in Pal Zileri.
Crisp, Natural Photos
We used Christian Ward Photography – in fact we were lucky enough to find Christian and Erica on Rock My Wedding and when we saw their photos we immediately fell in love with their style. We had spent a lot of time researching photographers because having great photos to capture everything about the day was very important to us.
Christian and Erica are masterful at taking crisp, natural photos which take advantage of light and seem to really capture the spirit of a wedding. They are also extremely friendly people so it was an easy choice.
Cakes For Fun
The cake was made to order by Cakes for Fun in Putney – it was a white square tiered sponge cake with lemon buttercream decorated with a green ribbon around each tier and cascading lilies on top. I wanted a classic cake with not too much going on and was very happy with it. We had quite a few tastings before deciding on it, which was great fun because I love cake!
Busking the Night Away
We chose to have live singers at the drinks reception – we found them busking in our local town centre and were so impressed that we asked them to come along and sing at our wedding. Many people thought we were crazy! but were really impressed when these guys (Lloyd and Jon) performed on the day.
For the dance floor part of the evening, we wanted this to be as much like a nightclub (to the extent that it was achievable in a Grade I Listed building in the City of London) so we opted for a DJ and special lighting. To our surprise it worked and a lot of our friends commented on the nightclub feel to the end of the night, which was a massive contrast to the white wedding which preceded it. We have Elia Nicolas and Kristian Ardley at Beyond Certainty to thank for making this work!
Simple And Powerful
We choose the song “You are the Best Thing” by Ray La Montagne for our first dance. It does not have any special significance, but is a song both of us love and we identify with its simple but powerful lyrics. It is also very upbeat and fun to dance to which I think sort of symbolises our relationship.
Lighting The Way
With a venue like the Royal Exchange we did not need to do much to it. We focused a lot on lighting because a touch of colour on stone pillars looks fantastic. The Royal Exchange invited us to a number of their private events so we could get ideas for our wedding and so we could see what the venue was capable of. From these many trips we knew lighting was key and we worked closely with Elia Nicolas at Beyond Certainty who arranged for special uplighters that changed colour throughout the day: we had amber for the ceremony and early evening, burnt orange during dinner and red for the late night dancing!
The team at The Royal Exchange led by Hannah Walley were superb throughout the organisation process and arranged for our drinks reception on the Mezzanine floor to be lit up beautifully with candles. It really added to the intimate chic feel of the reception.
We Planned Everything Together
I have always said that that marrying the one you love, surrounded by your nearest and dearest, will be great no matter what you do. However, when I started planning the wedding I realised that I would never get the chance to celebrate such a wonderful occasion again so I decided to make it even greater…
I think my top tip is make sure you plan and design your wedding around what you want rather than what you think your guests will like because that is the only way to make it your own. Friends of mine had said that they spent so much time planning the major things that they ran out of steam when it came to the detail. I was determined to avoid this and I am pleased to say that I was successful and took my time over detail, which I absolutely loved because it allowed me to put my personal stamp on the day.
For example, I have a sweet tooth the size of my head so sweets were a must at my wedding (which my friends found hilarious). Zain loves music and he spent a long, long, long time preparing the playlist and it was just perfect. I was very lucky because Zain was very involved and we planned everything together and our relationship got stronger for it. Because of our joint effort it very much felt like our day and I think that for me is what made it truly unique. It just so happened that we agreed on everything which I took as a very good sign for our times to come…
Venue The Royal Exchange
Hair an make-up Gini Bhogal
Flowers Flowers by Eve
Photography Christian Ward Photography
Cake Cakes for Fun
Planning Beyond Certainty
I have a soft spot for a contemporary city wedding, and this one is pressing all the right urban chic buttons. The Lighting is a masterpiece but so too is the venue its self – that massive open space and dizzyingly high ceiling was the perfect choice for a contemporary cool affair such as this.
I also love the fact that Zain and Osma hired buskers as their wedding entertainment – it just goes to show that you should always be on the look out for that perfect wedding vendor or supplier, because you can never be sure where you will find a hidden gem.
And don’t be afraid to think out of the box.