I always admire seeing how couples plan their multicultural wedding. Some know exactly what they want and some don’t really have a clue. Alex proposed to Bharti on the last day of their holiday in Istanbul, in the Basillica Cistern (where the scene from the James Bond film From Russia with Love was shot). However, unlike most couples, they didn’t want to plan their wedding for at least a year, mostly because a year of planning anything sounded awfully tedious to them.
“My grandmother consulted the stars for an auspicious day, which very helpfully narrowed down our choices for dates (and it made her very happy).”
“We had to start with a Google search on ‘how to get married’. From there on we googled everything. Despite lots of helpful articles and advice online, all that information took some untangling before we could get a tiny grip on what needed to be done.”
“Also, because we are not religious or particularly traditional, we kept getting told we could ‘do whatever we wanted’. In reality this much, much harder. What do we do, how widely can we interpret the ‘do whatever..’ brief, what is the overall shape of this event? In many ways couples from the same culture or religion probably have a ‘template’ that they can follow. They only have to worry about the details to fit in the template, whereas we had to create the template too. Either that or have two weddings following different templates, one for each culture.”
“If you are going to redefine weddings, I suggest you absolutely give it a year.
I think not knowing what to do, not understanding the processes involved or what to watch out for was probably the biggest frustration. As we got a better handle on things, organising this wedding became more and more fun.
We were quite averse to being the centre of attention. So we started off wanting something small and quirky, like being married by a ship captain on a boat – that turned out to be not so uncommon and quite an ‘package-deal’ industry. We looked at venues from the Scilly Isles to our back garden. Slowly the reality of access, accessibility, accommodation and costs (ours and our guests’) started pointing us to a wedding in London.”
“Here again we looked at getting married on the HMS Belfast, the top of the London Museum, in the Gherkin and on the Tower Bridge. Nothing seemed to gel, everything had pros and everything had cons.
So we sat down and had a think about what we are into, what our party should be all about. And we came up with:
- Good food
- Good people
- Good music
- Good drink (possibly in that order)
This helped, because we’d come across a venue in Kings Cross by the canal, which was run by a really good catering company. The events coordinator there did all the things a good salesperson should do, i.e. gave us samples of goodies from their bakery (and the biggest selling point was their food), she was super excited about our wedding and actually helped us visualise the day.”
“Still, one of the problems was that there were way too many choices for wedding venues, even after having narrowed down our criteria we could’ve kept looking forever. But we got to a point where we had to draw a line in the sand and pick the best option from what we’d seen so far. We picked Kings Place in Kings Cross.”
“Place done, now for the rest of it. Pinterest gave us a lot of good ideas of what we wanted at our wedding. We both knew we were not the ‘white wedding’ types. We wanted the day to be bright, colourful and happy. There was one traditional thing that we made room for, the wedding henna done on my hands.. we wanted it because it’s beautiful, rather than for tradition’s sake.
And because we weren’t going with any typical wedding clichés, Alex loved the idea of a cliché-wedding-photobooth, I loved the idea of having lots of little delightful details that can keep people entertained. Alex took charge of ‘dressing’ the room, he even made gorgeous stands for the table flower arrangements. I took care of the spreadsheets and to-do lists, the research and conversations that go into everything, and the design of the things that got printed.”
“I’d decided that I would not be ‘given away’ and I would not wear white or lace. I also didn’t want to be the spectacle that people stared at walking down the isle and I didn’t understand the prerequisite of having hold foliage to enter the room. Growing up in India my idea of a normal wedding didn’t involve any of these things. They were all western traditions, and I’m even less western-traditional than I am Indian-traditional! I also refused to have anyone else doing my makeup.. frankly I looked at pictures of bridal make-up and they looked frightening!
As I went around telling friends, family and suppliers what I would and wouldn’t do at my wedding, some were amused, others were confused. As it eventually turned out, I won some battles, I lost some battles and we drew a truce on a couple of things.”
Battles I lost:
“On the day, I made a grand entrance via a canal boat with a saxophonist and my entourage, so much for not being a spectacle. I walked down the isle, with a bridal bouquet and I had my hair and make-up professionally done although under very strict direction.”
Battles we won:
“We had a couple of lovely readings by our parents and a beautiful song by a friend that had everyone bawling. With the food, alcohol, live music and the company, we nailed it. Our cake was impressive and the band in the evening had everyone on their feet. Our stealth photographer (we felt like we saw him for the first time when he came to say goodbye!) captured the best pulled faces and all the right moments.”
“My bouquet went on to forming part of another flower arrangement- it served a better purpose. We had to work with many restrictions on the décor in the venue – we didn’t realize this until we were already committed to the venue. Alex did some impressive lateral thinking there. We were told that we could bring our own alcohol in, but the corkage for it almost made us pop a blood vessel, again we found this out too late (make sure you ask about corkage!). Luckily their wine was better than anything we would have brought in anyway.
All in all it was the biggest highlight of our lives. Even our guests talked about this wedding for days afterwards.”
Multicultural Wedding Advice
“My advice to a mixed race/ religion couple getting married is to know who you are. Find and celebrate the things you have in common. Have that common personality at the core of your wedding, and perhaps use your differences as colourful accents and highlights.”
Venue: Kings Place, Kings Cross
Food and drinks: Green and Fortune
Arrival boat: Hidden Depths Canal Cruises
Document Wedding Photography: Matt Badenoch Photography
Ceremony music: Nirakar (Indian fusion jazz)
Evening band: The Black Sheikhs
Cake: Cakes by Sejal