On the last day of June 2018, on an usually hot British summer’s day, I tied the knot with one of the steady constants in my life since we first met, my best friend, Pratik Naik. Our love story started when we first met in a rather unromantic location back in 2013. Since then our journey together has been full of so much joy and fun that I can’t help but wonder at the magic of our first meeting, this tall, slim American boy and the strange girl from tiny Oxford brought together on a gloomy rainy London day through a shared love of photography and photoshop.
I’ve always wondered what my wedding would look like, not because I had a particular vision for it, but mainly because I’m someone who has always struggled to make any decisions and to plan ahead. I’m far better at dealing with things (and life) in the moment, and if I’m honest, that’s pretty much how wedding “planning” went for me. Most of this wedding came together in about 8-10 weeks - vendor booking, wedding stationery, flower wall, homemade candles with my grandparents, and all! Thank goodness for eBay and Amazon Prime, as well as a family that rallied around to lend hands that I effectively put to work the closer we got to the big day!
This is going to be a long blog post, so grab a cup of tea and get cosy as we dive into the moments and stories from our wedding day as captured beautifully by Kiara & David Talley from Indwell Weddings and later that night, our friend Indy Sagoo.
Our wedding location was the stunning Woburn Sculpture Gallery. My parents actually discovered it while on a wedding fair tour and fell in love with it. My mother has good instincts and instantly felt it was “the one”. How right she was! The gardens allowed us to set up an outdoor setting that I knew I wanted and inside the gallery itself the walls were lined with priceless paintings and sculptures. This was the perfect venue for our creative, art loving spirits and setting up our cultural rites so beautifully.
On that day, the summer sun blazed brightly, there was an abundance of beautiful regal deer that freely wandered the grounds, greeting our guests as they arrived at the venue, and that night we danced under a waning strawberry moon. All those factors were completely out of my control and to see it all come together so perfectly (no rain!), made the day feel even more special.
Our wedding day started very early in that morning. I’d decided to have my pre-wedding ceremony, called a Vidhi, before our wedding ceremony. It’s not the norm to have it on the same day as the wedding, but as I’ve later learnt it’s also not that unusual. It’s held generally the day before the wedding ceremony but I knew with my last minute nature that this was not going to be possible (what with my never ending list of things to do… and how right I was! I may or may not have been frantically putting the table plan together moments before we had to leave the house !)
Vidhis are done separately before the wedding, Pratik had his in back at home in the States with his family before they flew out.
And so bright and early at nine in the morning of my wedding day, here I am, getting blessed with our florists working furiously in the background, and the wind trying its best to tempt the structure around us to fly away!
For those of you who aren’t familiar I’ll share what my Vidhi ceremony involved -
Ganesh Puja is a brief ceremony where Lord Ganesh is invited to remove all obstacles from the couple and to bring them happiness and prosperity
Mandva Mahurat - My parents seek the blessings of Mother Earth and ask permission to commence with the digging of the soil to erect mandap (a four pillar platform erected for the wedding rites covered with a canopy).
Graha Shanti puja - this ceremony is undertaken with the goal of reducing the negative effects of the planets that are malefic. It improves the positive energies of a person and the family performing this Puja. The planets or grahas for whom this Puja is performed are the Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Saturn and the two shadow planets Rahu and Ketu.
Pithi - This is a paste made of chick pea flour, turmeric, rose water and other ingredients. This yellow paste is applied to the face, arms and legs of the bride and groom to cleanse and purify them before the wedding ceremony. Usually it can get pretty crazy but since I was really nervous of my skin reacting to the paste we stuck with just pasting it on my hands and feet instead.
Mameru - The bride receives gifts from her maternal uncle which consists of clothes, jewellery and other gifts items including a traditional red sari (red is the most auspicious color for indian weddings)
As nearly all my major events go, we were running late ! I raced back to the cosy cottage I’d booked for Pratik and I at Woburn Hotel, just a very handy five minutes from the venue. Believe it or not I only had about 20 minutes to change into my bridal clothes and jewellery, fix makeup, get my hair done, and help my lovely bridesmaids with their outfits, but of course we did it, and in 20 minutes we were off!
Initially I was just going to drive myself to the venue, that’s how “in charge” mode I was about this day, but at the last minute my brother insisted on driving and I’ll always appreciate and forever cherish that moment when the six of us were bundled into a five person car racing towards the venue past bright sun-kissed fields filled with deer and music fuelling the giddiness I was beginning to feel.
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.
- Maya Angelou
We’d arrived at the venue, all our guests were on the other side of the building gearing up to welcome Pratik, in our culture the groom’s entrance is a lively event with dhol drummers, dancing and all!
With my heart in sync with the thumping drum beats of Pratik’s entrance in the distance, my Mradula babu and I were in the back hallway trying to put on my wedding veil. As we struggled frantically looking for an extra hand to help just at that moment my dear friend Dina (who also did my wedding henna) arrived at the back door completely by chance. She’d gotten confused about which entrance door to go to and just like that, with perfect timing we had a wedding veil expert at hand!
I have strange moments in my life when things just synchronise and whenever that happens I feel a sense of peace recognising that I’m exactly where I’m meant to be in this life. This was one of those moments, it calmed and grounded me.
Both Dina and Babu got me wedding ready with their quick hands and warm feminine energy and within minutes I was lead to my waiting bridesmaids, the music, laughter, and sounds of our guests in the air.
They say that you can plan everything detail down to a T but something will always go wrong on a wedding day, but the attitude you hold will be the key to your happiness. (A good lesson for life too!)
After all the tears, tantrums, sleepless nights and meltdowns leading up to the day I was determined to be 100% in the moment. I wanted to honour and be grateful for every moment of it and let the day flow exactly as it was meant to, mistakes and all!
I will never forget the moments before the wedding ceremony, holding hands with my beautiful girlfriends in their bridesmaids outfits as they gathered around me checking in to see if I’d eaten (as if I could!), my weak knees moments before stepped out the door, my body flooded with all the emotion that this is it, this is the moment I step into another chapter in my life.
I’ll never forget the overwhelming horror when I realised I walked out the wrong door, taking steps down a path that wasn’t an aisle, and the moment it was all forgotten when I looked at the tears in Pratik’s eyes as he watched me walk towards him. The tender looks on our parents faces and the steady warmth of my uncles arms as they walked by my side leading me to this beautiful soul that that charmed my heart from the moment we met.
This is it, the core of everything, this love and support, sharing it with our friends and family and giving thanks for every moment of it.
the wedding list…
Thank you to all these lovely vendors who gave us great service on our day!
Ceremony floral garlands: Chayaben
Invitations designed by Bella, Printed by: Double U Studio
Bride’s wedding look
Hair & Makeup: Branka Volkapic
Henna: Dina Jeshani
Lehenga: Variety Silk House
Jewellery: Kyles Collection
Shoes & hair pieces: ASOS
Bangles: Green Street, London
Pratik’s Outfit: Designer Studio London
And that’s a wrap! Well done you if you’ve made it this far!
As you can see Indian weddings aren’t just about the bride and groom, everyone gets involved! It’s a real family affair and this is exactly what makes it so special.
I want to say thank you to everyone who stepped up and helped me bring it to life! Thank you to my uncles who made sure all the guests were hydrated during the ceremony. Thank you to my Motamama for strapping down our mandap so it didn’t fly away with the wind that day (I photoshopped these out as they weren’t a part of the original vision (yes i’m insane i know!) but you can see his hard work in the video). Thank you to everyone that set up and took down the gazebos that I’d bought just a couple of days before so my guests wouldn’t melt. Thank you to everyone who contributed in any way!
Thank you to all our guests for joining us from near and far! It meant so much to us to see you there and it was truly wonderful to share the day with you all!
The biggest thanks goes to my parents who bore the brunt of my (many) meltdowns, and without whom this wedding could never have happened. This was your wedding as much as it is ours!
And thank you so much to Pratik’s parents and family who’ve been so kind, welcoming, and supportive from the moment we met.
Thank you to all my lovely vendors who worked so hard on the day, I would recommend every single one of you, and also to those of you who went the extra mile for us! We appreciate you so much!
Thank you to our dear friends Kiara & David Talley for the stunning moments captured of this day and our videographers Joe and Detail Films for delivering a video we love!
Thank you for reading this epic post and joining us as we share our wedding day!
Lots of love,
Bella & Pratik ❤