When updating Lee Maxwell’s directory listing, I came across Musarrat & Merlin’s beautiful wedding. I immediately contacted Lee inisting that I can share this wedding on Secret Wedding Blog. Great minds think alike, when he replied with: “It was on my very long list to do – to submit this wedding to you.”
Mussarat, a born and raised Bengali girl from Dhaka, Bangladesh met, Exeter raised, Merlin in London. She had moved to London for university while Merlin was working restoring furniture. They met on the number 21 bus.
“There wasn’t really a proposal to be honest! We kind of both just decided that since we both knew we wanted to be in each others lives forever, we might as well get married. Me being Bengali, I come from a very conservative culture where it isn’t a thing for couples to live together before marriage. We thought there wasn’t any point prolonging the inevitable. Merlin came to Bangladesh with me in 2015 and met my family who loved him instantly and we decided that OK lets just get this whole wedding thing over with. Sorry! I wish I had a more romantic story, I’m just not a very romance-y person”. (Raj: Don’t be sorry – everyone’s story is unique in their own beautiful way!).
“My sari was the most important thing for me obviously, I’m a fashion designer so the whole part of who was going to wear what was very important to me. My mom, my aunt and I went to Calcutta, India and spent 4 days in the blazing 40 degree weather walking around visiting literally every single shop and looking at almost every single sari before I finally found one that I fell in love with. I did end up buying several other sari’s on the way so had a hard time trying to decide which one I eventually wanted to wear. In my culture, weddings are colourful events, so the more colourful the outfits are, the better.”
The groom’s outfit
“This was my favourite bit. Merlin had the worst wardrobe when I met him – so 90’s! I had to get rid of everything and get him a whole new wardrobe made of things I designed and had made for him, I love having a personal model around now to dress up how I want, I think this is probably the only reason I decided to get married. I bought the fabric for his outfit and had it tailored from one of my best friends who is an amazing menswear designer in Bangladesh. We probably spent more time getting Merlin’s outfit ready than we did mine! His took several fittings over several months to make sure it fit him absolutely perfectly. My friend, Zurhem, also made both my brothers suits.”
Wedding theme or colours if any
“I didn’t really have a wedding theme or any colours much to the frustrations of all the florists I met. I just said make everything super bright. I want red and yellows and pinks. That’s how we do weddings in my culture – practically neon! My maid of honour is an amazing graphic artist and illustrator so she designed our wedding invitations which were super amazing – it was hot pink and orange. So I just started showing all the wedding vendors the invitation and asking them to just go off all those colours. The cake maker (Kate Shirazi from Cakeadoodledoo) did exactly that and the cake turned out gorgeous – a psychedelic cake as people said on the wedding day.”
Food and catering
“Food is the most important part of any Bengali wedding so this is something we spent a lot of time on. We got super lucky with Sima Cutting from The Kitchn Table who did an absolutely amazing job catering to all the special dietary requirements of our various guests. She created a lovely menu for us using locally sourced produce and ingredients; her scones especially were a massive hit with the guests. She also did an amazing job dealing with my scatter brain-ed ways and me changing my mind every 5 secs. She is literally amazing! I couldn’t recommend her more.
Since it was so hot in July, my dad had a last minute brainwave to have some ice cream so we booked Icicle Tricycle. They were great, our guests loved the ice cream.
For the drinks, we got some lovely juices from Frobishers for all our non-alcoholic guests and we got our wine from Naked wines which turned out to be a really affordable way to buy wine in bulk for weddings.”
Favourite part of the day
“I don’t think I could pick just one. The whole day turned out a lot better than I expected, the weather was fantastic and it was just so wonderful to so many loved ones under one roof spending the day with us. A few of my friends and a lot of my family had flown in all the way from Bangladesh and other parts of the world for the wedding and it was so lovely to have them there. For both Merlin and I, our families and friends are very important so I think we both just really loved being able to spend time with them and have some fun with them in such a gorgeous place.”
Easiest part of the wedding planning
“Picking the venue. It was the first thing we did last summer when we decided to have our wedding in Devon. Upton Barn was the first venue on our list and we both just instantly fell in love with it so much that we cancelled all our other venue viewings and booked Upton Barn on the spot. We couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous place.”
Hardest part of wedding planning
“Everything else! I have no clue how English weddings work so it was a bit hard for me to navigate through all that. Thankfully, I had help from my maid of honour, my groom and my wonderful mother in law who did most of the planning leaving me to focus on my work. But over all, I think it was a pretty stress free wedding. My maid of honour took to calling me Bride-chilla because she said I was the most chilled out bride she had ever met, I thought that was pretty funny since I had my moments of absolute freak outs.”
“Both Merlin and I come from very musical families – His mom is an Opera singer and my dad is a musician – so we had a lot of help from them in this department. My mother in law did most of it actually, she picked out the amazing swing band we had for the night called The Locked Horns. She also got a cellist, a classical guitarist and she herself did a few songs for us. She even performed a lovely song (Flower duet from Lakme) with her friend during our ceremony.”
Advice to give to other multicultural couples
“I’m the worst person to ask for any advice. What worked for us was respecting each other cultures and traditions: We got everyone involved in our wedding and took all the best bits of our traditions and just went with it!”