Urmila and John’s two day celebration was a weekend of contrasting cultures, and a great excuse for two beautiful parties in one!
I can’t decide if I prefer Urmila’s traditional, romantic styling for the Catholic wedding day, or the colourful, bejewelled Hindu celebration that followed a day later. One thing is certain – this was one fabulouswedding!
With images by David West Photography.
urmila says: John proposed to me in a particularly embarrassing and public way at the Hard Rock Cafe in Edinburgh. He sent each table a note asking them to sing along to ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Andy Williams at 9pm, after which he would pop the question. So at 9pm, led by one of the waiters (who pretended it was just part of a Christmas tradition), there was an impromptu sing song, just before he got down on one knee and proposed in front of a restaurant full of people. My shock (he had thrown me off the scent two weeks earlier by telling me he could not afford a ring, having actually had it made a couple of months beforehand!) was captured on camera by another customer in the restaurant and posted on Youtube. John won the ‘Most Romantic Groom’ competition for Brides magazine for his efforts.
We had always wanted to celebrate both our cultures so decided on a two day wedding celebration over the summer bank holiday weekend (24th and 25th August 2013). The venue needed to be big enough, available over that weekend, have rooms for people to stay, and allow for external Indian caterers. Redworth Hall Hotel in Newton Aycliffe fit the bill perfectly, and was beautiful to boot.
We had a lot of unusual demands; having an Indian ceremony caused complications and chaos, but Vicky Dewdney and her team there were absolutely amazing. I would thoroughly recommend them as both a hotel and a wedding venue.
The 24th was our Catholic ceremony, where the theme was classical music, champagne and opulence. We stuck to neutral colours such as pale pinks, ivory and gold, with the odd splash of dark red in order so it was not too ‘girly’. We chose classical music as we are are both keen musicians, and met through John’s father being my music teacher at school.
My dress was bought from the ever inspiring Wendy at Bridal Wish in Corbridge. Named ‘Balira’ by Pronovias, it was strapless and lace, customised with extra lace and crystals through the bodice. I had tried several gowns on but was particularly assured and impressed by Wendy’s customer service and brutal honesty! This was teamed with some very contrasting blue leopard print Christian Louboutins and a cathedral length single tier veil with crystal detailing by Joyce Jackson. The bridesmaids wore dusky pink Twobirds dresses (with my sister wearing a bespoke necklace by Emma Hedley jewellery bought online and the guys wore contrasting navy blue morning suits hired from Waltons Formal Menswear Hire in Newcastle.
We got married at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Wycliffe (John’s family’s church for a number of years). Each pew was dressed in a dusky pink chiffon material, with candles, lamps and petals by the side of each, while our aisle consisted of a white runner. The altar was dressed in the same pink chiffon with white roses around the base. The church and venue decorations on both days were designed entirely by Zoe Pierson and her team at Kelly’s Event Boutique. Her imagination and commitment are second to none and She and her team put everything together, listening to our thoughts and bringing them to life, down to the most intricate details. We could not have picked anyone better for the job.
Our ceremony was both emotional and fun. We had personalised poems and a lot of emphasis on music. John arranged the diverse music for Arco String Quartet, a small band including guitars and drums and Cantoris choir led by Stephen Pettitt. We even high fived when the priest said we were now husband and wife!
Our stationery was bespoke and based on the Moet and Chandon label. Everything, from the order of service to the menu plan was created by the extremely talented and committed Stef Chambers at Squarepeg Design. She even put together the comical ‘Hoy Wuh’ confetti packets.
Our wedding breakfast was held in the truly magnificent Great Hall at Redworth Hall Hotel. It was decorated in different kinds of chiffon, numerous candles, flowers and mercury tea lights. The mixture of high and low centrepieces and carried on our musical theme thanks to Kelly’s Event Boutique. The table names were our favourite classical composers written on manuscript, but bearing the Moet and Chandon crown, and we even had real miniature violins and tiny pianos as some of the centrepieces!
Each guest had an individual fact about them tucked into their table napkins (which bore bespoke luggage tags with their names in the champagne theme), to encourage mingling between everybody. It took a lot of arranging beforehand, but really got people talking!
Our best man’s speech featured a room change and was delivered by Jamie Miller and the very creative James Craggs of Roundhouse Productions. It featured a slideshow, a hilarious ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire’ style audience Q and A, and even had personal messages from Eamon Holmes, Edith Bowman and Alan Shearer (to name but a few!)
Our beautiful cake was a four tier creation by Mrs Robinson’s Cakes based in Manchester and we partied into the night with Andy Nesbitt from AM DJ Services as our DJ. Our first dance was choreographed by Neil at Newcastle Dance Centre.
My sister made a guestbook with individual envelopes for people to write messages. We also had a beautiful personalised knife with which to cut the cake, bearing our initials in English and Bengali and made by one of our wedding guest, Henk of Henk’s Woodwork.
As favours guests were given a ‘Recovery Bag’. In each bag was a mixture of painkillers, hangover food and a personalised NHS ‘prescription’, made by SquarePeg design (as I am a Doctor) with humorous instructions on how to combat Saturday’s excesses, and then prepare for more of the same!
Our second day was our entirely different Hindu wedding. The theme was based around fuchsias, purples, blues and fun, loosely termed ‘Bollywood Bling’.
We started the day with the ‘Gaye Holud’ ceremony where the bride and groom are covered with turmeric to make their skin ‘glow’. Traditionally the bridal party wear yellow saris to this function, and the bride is officially ‘given’ to her new husband’s family. This proved to be extremely emotional for my mum and I. Thereafter the girls went to get dressed into our saris whilst the boys had a football match in the grounds.
The bridal party wore saris purchased from Kolkata. Mine was a particular Banarasi silk popular in West Bengal, and eschewing the traditional red colour was violet and adorned with real gold jewellery. The bridesmaids wore contrasting turquoise saris. The groom’s side wore purple Indian outifts, while the guests loved the opportunity to dress up in something different.
Our ceremony began with a grand and noisy entrance by the groom’s family along, to the beat of the Indian Dhol performed by Apnabeat Entertainment. John however was quickly stopped however by the bridesmaids who demanded a bribe to let him into the venue.
The Hindu wedding itself was conducted under a ‘Mandap’ with plenty of colour, laughter and involvement of the audience by the priest. We provided beautiful, bespoke orders of service, which explained the ceremony, produced by Angela McGurk at Graphic Embers. She created all the Hindu stationery, based on purple, blue and pink Paisley design, but with a twist.
The wedding breakfast decor was a mixture of purples, gold and pink. Each guest’s name tag was written in both English and Bengali. We had tanks of flower petals for the top table and the centrepieces were mixtures of floating flowers and tall vase arrangements. Our seating plan consisted of individual place cards on top of a table with an adorned bronze Ganesh.
Our Indian meal was provided by Saibal Maitra at Vujon restaurant in Newcastle which we would thoroughly recommend.
We also wanted to give the guests some Bollywood bling, so we gave them ‘Bindis’ and bangles. They were so much fun that even the boys got involved!
As we had already done a first dance the previous day we instead decided to do a first ‘tune’. We therefore did a comical piano duet which consisted of plenty of hand swapping and running around.
The evening party kicked off with a wrestling match between the men from both sides (a bit unexpected, but thoroughly enjoyed) egged on by our Dhol players, before we went onto a Bhangra workshop (again provided by Apnabeat entertainment). We then danced the night away with a DJ and the band Funk Conspiracy (who were particularly good sports as we were running very late and their drum kit almost got destroyed by two people wrestling!).
All in all, it was a two day wedding full of contrasts, surprises, colour, tears, laughter, love and a hell of a lot of fun!
Our photographs were captured by David West of David West Photography along with Kristin Moat who were simply astounding in their commitment and enthusiasm. Their pictures are just beautiful and their professionalism and hard work were just amazing.
Our video was captured by hdmoments.com and can be found here. I had not met the team until our wedding day and was highly impressed with their work in capturing all those special moments. If your budget can stretch to a videographer, I would definitely recommend one!
Our honeymoon was to Bali where we literally lay and baked for ten days; after that weekend, we certainly needed it!
We were so delighted with how our wedding went. There were lots of small things that went wrong, but the reality is that none of them spoiled our days, and things that would have bothered me at the time I cannot even recall now. My top tip for other Brides Up North is if you have plenty of food and drink, good suppliers and most importantly awesome family and friends, then everything else will just fall into place.