Two Days, Two Ceremonies an Indian + Welsh Fusion Wedding

 

This week’s final wedding comes in the shape of an epic 2 day wedding. One Indian ceremony, and a humanist ceremony in Wales {in quite possibly the most amazing venue!!!}. I so love the contrast in the days, the colours, the traditions, the religion, and the incredible photography. Bride Katherine has given the most incredible report of their day and all their decision making, it makes for a brilliant read :-)

Thanks so much to the amazing West Sussex based wedding photographers, Janda Photography for sharing their work today, enjoy:

 

Names…. Katherine & Sharad

Wedding Date…. 22 July 2011, Indian ceremony 21 July 2011

The Proposal…. Well, kind of unromantic really as I accidentally fell pregnant before he could propose! Oops! Anyway, I had already agreed to move to the States with him when he was offered a new job. I was very excited because I had been offered a place at Columbia University (where Sharad went to college/law school) to train to be a teacher, this was a big deal for me as I really wasn’t enjoying the legal profession. Anyway, we had leaving drinks on the Friday and on the Monday I found out I was expecting! We moved to the States as planned and it was always kind of assumed/unspoken that we would get married, I had to in order to get health insurance and a green card! Talk about a convenience wedding, though I guess the pregnancy just hastened the inevitable. Anyway, I was not a good pregnant person (well, not in the early months) and it was a never ending winter and I was a long way from home and I was generally miserable. To cheer me up Sharad took me in to the City (New York), to an authentic British chip shop that someone had told us about. It was a Saturday afternoon and we were sat in the window eating and I don’t know what we were talking about but Sharad brought up the fact that he hadn’t proposed properly and so he took a napkin, ripped some off of it and rolled up tightly and made it in to a ring. It was kind of understated but kind of cool, I love chips : ) I still have the paper ring. I also have a rock that he finally bought me after the sale of his apartment went through. I picked the setting myself, it is two tone, platinum with yellow gold hearts in the setting, sounds weird, I think it needs to be seen for it to make sense! He picked the stone. Picking diamonds in the diamond district is a job in itself, and about the least romantic thing you can ever do. We actually had a courthouse wedding on 23 June 2010. I wore a pink dress that Sharad had previously bought for me in London and I picked up a bunch of flowers at the farmers’ market on the way there. I remembered my camera but forgot the battery (which I was charging especially) and so the only photos we have were taken by a man who worked in the court. Sharad was very excited as it was a federal judge that married us. It’s his life long ambition, since he was 9, to be a judge and so he was psyched to meet this guy. It was us and Sharad’s mum & dad, we went and ate fish and chips at a local restaurant afterwards and then Sharad went back to the office!

The Vision for the day…. I can honestly say that I was never the girl that dreamt of a big white wedding. I always envisaged myself eloping or on a beach etc. My family setup never lent itself to a big wedding but Sharad, being Indian, wanted something a little bigger. Mostly we just wanted a party for all of the people we love and care for, and an opportunity for friends to meet friends. Fun was the highest priority. We had to decide which side of the Atlantic we were going to be on and with Sharad’s friends being that little bit older and therefore more financially secure, we decided on the UK. That and the fact that Sharad is obsessed with all things Welsh, including castles. Nothing fascinates Americans more than old stuff! We tried looking at venues over Christmas but it was very snowy and so we never got to see many places. Sharad loved Caerphilly castle, which we almost never saw because of the ice outside, but we agreed that it wasn’t a big enough space should it rain (always a possibility in Wales). We were a little stuck for ideas about the reception and we had kind of run out of time to visit more places. Randomly, the day before we were leaving, on our way to see a friend of Sharad’s, whose family happened to live near Newport, the friend called us to say that they were about to eat and could we delay our arrival. This was kind of annoying as we were nearby, it was snowy and we had a 6 week old baby with us. Anyway, the nearest place to stop was the Celtic Manor. I had always wanted to see it as I had passed it so many times on the M4. We weren’t there with weddings in mind at all, just dinner! We asked about dining options and the lady described The Lodge as Welsh fayre, this obviously appealed to Sharad. We loved the venue and we asked our waiter about wedding options there. He showed us around and I knew straight away that the marquee bit would be perfect as it was totally self contained, had great views, its own bar and plenty of space for kids to run around, rain or shine. We rang the next morning and it was still available on the Friday that we wanted and so we booked it. So we had a wedding that was very traditional (at a castle) and a reception at a massive five star hotel, joining the two in terms of styling was quite hard.

So, back to the point, there really was no vision, it was more practical than anything else. Having said that, I knew once I had started looking at wedding invitations that I was going to want something with an older feel. I found two different printers that I liked on Etsy and we narrowed it down from there. Generally how we work is that I pick the general direction and give Sharad a couple of choices, then he makes the final decision from two or three options…..it was the same with our baby name. This guarantees I always get what I want and he thinks he does….; ) The invitations really set the tone for what I was working from. The printer we ended up using was called Smallprinter on Etsy, he has a petter press. I loved the invitations and so many people commented on them, especially with the letter press and heavy card stock. It was hard working with him by email because I don’t think his first language was English, and also colour variations can be significant between screens. I had originally wanted a lighter pink but in the end I went with what he sent because it was getting late in the day! I had been to many of the big stationers here in the states and looked through hundreds of different prints and styles and designers etc. but so many looked similar to each other, that’s why I loved the ones we went with, I hadn’t seen anything like them before.

The Planning process…. I did the big things right away. The first things (after the two venues) were the photographer and the cars. I had Googled Caerphilly castle weddings and image searched, I found many different photographers this way. Same with the cars and buses. Caterers for the castle were recommended by the castle. As I was overseas I didn’t have time to go and hear many different bands and so I went with a recommendation from a friend who had married the previous year. I knew our budgets were similar and that she was very particular about everything (honestly, her home is like a show house!) and so I trusted her judgement, it worked out well as they were a great band and had actually played our venue several times before. A bit later on a few people had suggested I get a videographer. Again, I looked at several local companies and picked out a favourite, the Internet is a godsend. I had a long chat with them about everything that we were doing and they recommended a wedding planner that they knew. I didn’t think I could afford one but she was surprisingly low cost and in the end the savings she got for us more than paid for her. She was the best thing I didn’t think I needed! After that I left everything to her, it was such a relief and I would not have had anywhere near as good a day, or week prior, if I hadn’t had her helping, she was awesome and I cannot recommend her highly enough. The cake and florists were also picked having trawled websites. I actually ended up changing florists the week before the wedding which was stressful (to say the least) but it all worked out for the best. In fact, that was probably the biggest stress of everything that we did.

The Dress + Accessories….. The dress I ended up with was the polar opposite of what I wanted, which is exactly what happened with my engagement ring! I wanted a plain, knife edge cut band with one single stone. I ended up with a band that had etchings all the way round, diamonds along each side and two tone setting. The dress of my dreams was a giant ball of tulle! I ended up with a fitted dress covered in applique lace! I started off by searching many bridal magazines and picking out a few that I liked, I then looked at the Kleinfeld website. I arranged an appointment with Kleinfeld (the biggest bridal store in NY(maybe even America) and I tried on about 20 dresses, the poor girl was running back and forth and I was gradually moving further and further away from what I thought I wanted. With hindsight trying on dresses a couple of months after giving birth may not have been the best thing I could have done, but it helped motivate me at the gym! I found a dress that had the perfect bottom half but as is always the case for me, the top half just wasn’t right. Anyway, I looked at some local boutiques and was very close to buying one but it just didn’t feel right. Anyway, that night I got home and googled the things that, by now, I knew I wanted. Lace applique, sweetheart neckline, strapless, modified mermaid. Up came THE dress! But THE dress was all over Chinese copy websites and it took me hours to work out who exactly made the dress. Having finally figured it out I called the nearest stockist the next morning and they had one in the store to try on. I went there the next day, tried it on and bought it. Job done!

The shoes I bought after I knew I had a lace dress. I wanted a designer pair (the dress actually cost me a lot less that I had budgeted for) and so I Googled Jimmy Choo wedding shoes – up came this pair. I loved them but there was no way I was going to pay $695. I thought I’d try the Jimmy Choo at the designer outlet that’s about an hour away from where I live. I went there and looked but no bridal shoes, tough they had some nice silver ones. The lady asked me what I was looking for and she said that she had a few pairs of bridal shoes in the back. She went and looked and brought out THE pair…in my size…it was fate! Plus they were $300, much more in my price range : ) There were another pair or shoes that I LOVED that I had found online, they were cream leather with buttons sewn up the heel of the shoe in the same style as my dress but they were £800…..I just couldn’t justify it, though I still love them….

The veil and head piece were made by my make up artist/hairdresser. She is multi talented and makes them herself. The head piece was a vintage necklace and brooch that she picked apart and stuck together. I loved it straight away. I wasn’t sure about what style veil to get as I had a clip on Cathedral train and I also didn’t want to cover the lace too much. I love Katherine Heigel’s style and I saw that she had a bird cage. When I had my hair trial I asked the hairdresser and she had some that she brought with her, I loved it instantly, birdcage it was.

My earrings were my wedding present from Sharad, they are sapphire and diamond. I normally wear pearl studs but wanted a tear drop shaped earring as I wasn’t going to wear a necklace because I had such a big sparkly bit on my dress (no idea what you call that bit, sorry!).

My bracelet was borrowed from my sister-in-law, she wore it to her wedding.

Groom’s attire… Sharad had said from day one that he wanted to wear his military uniform from when he was in the army, that one was his call and I’m so glad he did, it looked great, so colourful. He did actually have a morning suit to match his groomsmen that he put on at about 9pm, I guess he didn’t want to get beer on his military?!

The Readings + Music…. We had decided on a humanist wedding because of the differences in our beliefs, the fact we were already married and the flexibility they offered in terms of doing things the way we wanted. In fact, we wrote the entire service! Incorporated in to the service was a naming/blessing for our daughter. Sharad knew that he wanted “Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Headmaster”, we just changed the words from son to daughter. I loved it when I heard it and it was a hit at the wedding, especially as the friend reading it welled up at the end, very emotional. The second reading was very simple, Corinthians 13, Love is simple…. We liked that it was in simple langauage, very understated but perfectly expressing what we think. The final reading we switched the day before. It was an American Indian blessing that we found in The Knot guide to wedding readings and poems.

Beautiful bridesmaids….. Picking bridesmaids is hard! In the end I had six. It was fantastic and they all said that they enjoyed travelling as a harem, despite the fact that they didn’t all know each other that well. Picking dresses to suit six different body shapes and a rainbow of skin tones is even harder, especially after a couple of them requested no pink! I knew the kind of shape that I wanted for the dress it was just a case of finding it. I found the dress in a local boutique but ended up purchasing it from Bella Bridesmaid in New York. It’s a funky place, one room filled with tonnes of bridesmaid dresses, and nothing else. I narrowed it down to lavender and hydrangea. I actually loved the hydrangea more but we both thought that if it were to be an overcast day that the blue was too bright, especially against the grey stone walls of the castle. I had picked up some pinky/peach shoes that were very neutral and would go with pretty much any colour in a sale at a local department store early on in my planning. Trying to buy shoes for six girls is difficult but trying to do so when the sizing is different and there are no exact conversions of sizes was even tougher. Two of the girls could barely get their feet in! Luckily I also picked up some jewelled flip flops for them in a J Crew sale that were silvery grey, this was a big hit with the bridesmaids and I think they all wore them and hopefully wore them afterwards as well. The necklaces I got at the same time as the shoes, they were $8 down from $55, a massive bargain! I couldn’t get 6 them same so got two in a lighter tone that I gave to the two bridesmaids with the darker skin tone so that it contrasted more, I think it looked OK in the end, though I’d have preferred all the same. I loved the old-world feel of them and despite searching everywhere, I couldn’t find anything similar in that price bracket.

The Flowers… were stressful! As I said, one of the first things I did was to pick the florist. They had asked for me to send images of the kind of things I liked and I stressed that I wanted a vintage feel, with roses and kind of wild flowers etc. The florist even had the exact thing I wanted showcased on their website. Anyway, I went to meet with them and it just didn’t go well. Everything I liked they said weren’t in season or they couldn’t get in the colour that I wanted etc. Obviously they are the florists and know better but our wedding planner, who was with me for the meet up, also thought that the meeting hadn’t been productive and felt that I had ended up settling for flowers that were very far from what I had wanted. Anyway, the wedding planner had several contacts and she got a quote for what I had originally asked for and within a few hours we had a quote back that was over half price of the original quote! I was shocked at the difference in price as well as difference in attitude, they could do all the things I wanted. It was still a hard decision though, I am not typically someone that changes my mind at the last minute, nor to let people down, especially so late in the day when they were unlikely to get another job for that day. Nonetheless, the cheaper quote won out and the flowers were fantastic. We had lavender hydrangeas in pomanders hung from the chairs, the bridesmaids had cream hand-tied roses and I had a mixture of hand-tied roses in various shades of pinks and purples, mixed with seasonal flowers. I had candelabra dressed similarly to my own bouquet and the large table in the castle was similar too.

The Cake… I had a very strong idea as to what I wanted for my cake, I spotted it in an American wedding magazine, Southern Weddings, having spent hours trawling images online. As soon as I saw it I knew it was the one. So I scanned the image and sent it to the cake maker that I had chosen. Sadly, it was not to be. The cake, which was a tiered, round cake with an ombre effect going from light to dark, was decorated with butter cream icing. This, the lady told me, would definitely melt in the heat and she did not want to risk such a problem. She explained that in America the air conditioning is far superior to the UK (and I think she was right as our chocolate cake definitely started to lose its shape after an hour or so!). I opted instead for a triple tiered cake wrapped in white chocolate with thin chocolate lacing effect. Each layer was covered in fresh cherries too. I had seen something similar online and thought it went well with my lace dress. I had three different flavoured cakes, I had black forest, chocolate and orange (I wanted jaffa cake style) and finally coconut cake with mango coulis, which ended up being my favourite. Sadly, the hotel placed the cut cake in a place that no one saw, including me! It was delivered to my room barely touched. Thankfully, the next day we were travelling in a large group to the airport and between ten of us we managed to devour it, it was superb.

Your Photographer…. As I said above, we stumbled upon ours by googling images of the venue. I looked at many others that were local too, but I just kept returning to these guys. Their artistic style and romance stood out, and I also loved the vintage effect that they had on some of their shots too. I loved how they combine the scenery and the portrait, which to me felt unusual. I also loved that they didn’t have tonnes of posed portraits, much of it was off the cuff moments that only an artistic eye would catch.

I also loved the fact that they photographed people beforehand too as I had had a few awkward moments with photographers in the past, it’s very important to gel as you will have to do things that you would never ordinarily do, such as kiss on demand in front of a camera, more awkward than you think it’s going to be. I basically loved them all round and I was over the moon when they were available. Photographs are very important to me, when we recently had a hurricane where we live the only thing I took was my big box of photographs, and my external hard drive! Reminiscing is a favourite past time and I know I will have no regrets as to our choice of photographer. I also like to have a lot of photographs up in my home and I will be very proud to have these, they look awesome.

The Details + Decor…. In some ways this was the most time consuming part. You pick a car, there isn’t much choice as to this, maybe five or six local companies, you see if they’re available and how much they cost. The little things however, these can take over your life for months and months! I was obsessed with chairs. I wanted ghost chairs from the start, I don’t know why, I just did. But they were an extravagance, we didn’t need them and they were expensive. I ummed and ahhed for months, but finally I got my dad to pay for them…..I was so happy with them and how they looked in the castle, the contrast of old and new looked very special (well, I thought so : ))

Wedding favours were hard too, I wanted something that was handmade, with kind of a Welsh feel but also vintagey, also something that I would be happy to keep should there be hundreds left. I opted for handmade soaps shaped as sheep for the guys, and heart shaped draw scenters for the ladies, filled with dried scented roses. I found these on Etsy and the lady was unbelievably helpful. She sent us copious samples of different things, some of which I still have. She tried very hard to accommodate everything I asked for and was very easy to deal with. Each favour cost me less than  1 USD each (about 60p). The wedding planner scented each rose bag with essential oil of rose the day before the wedding, I wanted the smell of roses to be strong in the room.

As we were actually having several events over the three days (an Indian ceremony, the big wedding and Sharad’s 40th) there were a lot of logistics. We wanted to give everyone staying for the three days a gift bag with some Welsh goodies in, plus a schedule of events and a keepsake itself in the bag. We were very lucky in that I used to work for a small local printers and they were very, very helpful. We had a schedule of events printed up, with contact information, a list of local sayings and some thank yous. They also printed out our large table plan, the place name cards, table names and even designed and printed the canvas bags that we had bought. I had paid the printer we had used for the invitations and he sent us some of the artwork that we had used in our invites and so we ended up with a style that ran through everything we did. I had never planned for this but I was so pleased with the end result, everything looked great.

The gifts that we put in the goody bags included a miniature bottle of Welsh Penderyn whisky (which Sharad loves), some welsh choclates, Barry Island rock and a guide book on Caerphilly castle. The wedding planner sourced all of these (apart from the rock), and the bridemaids packed the bags up. Getting them delivered to the rooms was the hardest part as we didn’t know who was staying where, and the hotel didn’t know who was in our wedding party and who was in the other wedding party that were also there. I think they went through our list of names manually! I say think because I was not involved, the wedding planner dealt with everything.

I had asked a friend to sketch a picture of the castle for me to go on the cover of the order of service, this he did beautifully. We had this scanned and put not only on the order of service but also on our goody/gift bags, it looked fantastic.

For our ring pillow I wanted something personalised that I could keep maybe on my bed. Again, I found a great shop on Etsy that made personalised cushions. This had our names and the date etc. as well as a little saying, I loved it.

I had seen personalised wedding dress hangers on Etsy too, I thought it made for a nice picture and a great keepsake of the day. I had Mrs Samy in the wire and a Tiffany Blue paint. This was such a cool thing and I may buy it for all my friends who are still to be married.

I also had some blue Converse to wear under my dress in case it rained, and I had them embroidered with Mrs Samy too.

Sharad got (well, I found) these unusual gifts on Etsy that were vintage books that had secret hip flasks hidden inside of them. When they opened their gifts they thought Sharad had just given them a book, this was more amusing given that some of the books were a little bit random, such as The Bible!

I had heard form a friend (the one who recommended the band) about candy buffets, and I knew right away that I wanted one. Lucky for me I have a friend that owns several shops on Barry Island and he was able to get the sweets for me at a very low price. This was a big hit and it was great getting to eat all the leftovers too, I still have a large jar of rhubarb and custard in my kitchen, it’s a great reminder of the day. I had a strong idea as to how I wanted it to look and I wanted old-looking apothecary jars. I looked all over online in the UK but to no avail. Instead I had to ship them over in my case when I came for my hen party, it was ok as I stuffed them with clothes, only one broke in transit. I did, however, end up leaving them there.

For our first dance we wanted to do something a little up-beat that was personal to us, we picked Paolo Nutini’s Pencil Full of Lead as this was something we listened to incessantly when we were first dating, and it’s such a happy song. Needless to say, Sharad is really no Fred Astaire, and I’m hardly Ginger Rogers! Luckily, our wedding planner knew a wonderful girl that gives First Dance instruction. We booked a three hour session with her and by the end we were very happy that we would confidently be able to walk on the dance floor and bust some moves! We did, kind of, but my dress train definitely hindered our movement and it kind of fell apart a bit at the end, but this was totally the dresses fault and nothing to do with the teacher, she was fab.

As we weren’t getting legally married we were a bit stuck as to how to ‘pad out’ the wedding service. We ended up doing a hand-fasting, the symbolism of which I love, as well as signing our vows. The celebrant found someone that did calligraphy and she wrote up our vows, and we had two good friends witness the signing, it was another good way of incorporating more people in to the service, as well as a great keepsake that we can look at everyday.

We also had an afternoon tea in the castle, as well as a guided tour. We arranged for sandwiches, cakes, strawberries and cream, teas and bicks fizz for immediately after the service as the service was at 1pm as we were concerned people would be very hungry from not having a proper lunch. This was very popular and also allowed those who wanted to the chance to go and explore the castle. We hired a blue badge tour guide, CADW recommended her.

We had a harpist play the music, this is very traditional and really suited the venue. I was surprised just how many people commented on how much they liked it.

The hotel supplied a Master of Ceremonies and he was fantastic, utterly professional and he really ‘joined things up’, if that makes sense? His fantastic uniform also added some grandeur and I think it was novel to many of the overseas visitors.

The Honeymoon…. Long, boring story but we ended up going away with all of Sharad’s family. This sounds bad but when you have a baby going away alone sounds worse (well, to me at least!). This meant we had plenty of baby sitters and opportunities to go out alone. We booked a beautiful villa in Grimaud, near St. Tropez in the French riviera, it was absolutely stunning. As the newly weds we got first dibs on the bedroom, and so had the master suite, which was great. There was also a little cottage in the garden that we contemplated, but it was a little small for us and the baby crib so we opted to stay in the main house. The owner was on hand whenever we need and she gave us plenty of tips on where to go for meals etc. We had some wonderful meals, lay ins and days out. I highly recommend the region, but not necessarily in July/August as the roads are jam packed and what normally would take 15 minutes takes about two hours!

Memorable moments… The entire day was like the best but haziest dream I ever had because it went so fast. From the moment I woke up to the moment I went to sleep, the entire day was perfect, but if I had to choose I would say sitting down during the service and looking out at all the people I love being together, looking so happy and also thinking wow, my bridesmaids look hot, and I love the ghost chairs! Also, dancing with tonnes of people for the music video thing that the videographers made for us. It was such a great feeling of togetherness and I think that is reflected in the video.

Advice for other couples… Get a wedding planner. If you think you can’t afford one then you probably need one even more. Ours got us so many discounts on things that she totally covered her own cost. It also makes the day and the run up much much much less stressful. Admittedly, we had a lot of things going on, people flying in from all over the world, family members that weren’t on speaking terms etc and a baby to take care of, but nonetheless, a wedding without all these can still be stressful and you’re supposed to be enjoying yourself.

I would also recommend getting to know all the ‘key players’, such as vicars/photographers/hotel management etc. as best as you possibly can in the run up, the better you know each other the more comfortable you will all be and the more you will enjoy yourself. Also, they will have a clearer idea of what you are hoping for on the big day.

Finally, it’s important to make sure that you have time alone together at some point during the day. Make time in your schedule to ‘check in’ with each other. We had the car journey from the castle to the hotel, during which we consumed an entire bottle of champagne (!) and also our during our wedding breakfast. With complicated families we opted for a sweet heart top table, where we sat just the two of us. This worked out really well for us as we were served first and had plenty of time to visit tables etc. in between courses.

Credit where credit’s due….

Wedding Favors – CedarTreeFarmSoapEtc http://www.etsy.com/shop/CedarTreeFarmSoapetc?ref=pr_shop_more

Invitations – Smallprinter http://www.etsy.com/shop/SmallPrinter?ref=pr_shop_more

Printer (UK) – Hi-Plan Copyprint, Penarth www.hiplancopyprint.co.uk

Sweet Supplier – The Rock Shop – Barry Island

Ring Cushion – Freshline http://www.etsy.com/shop/Freshline?ref=pr_shop_more

Personalised Wedding Dress Hanger – Deliziaire http://www.etsy.com/shop/deliziare?ref=pr_shop_more

Shoe embroiderer – Thestoryofkat http://www.etsy.com/shop/thestoryofkat?ref=pr_shop_more

Groomsmen’s Gifts – SecretSafeBooks http://www.etsy.com/shop/SecretSafeBooks?ref=pr_shop_more

Celtic Manor: www.celticmanor.com
Celebrant: Humanist Dee Phillips  http://humanist.org.uk/deephillips/
Castle Caterers: Cresta www.crestacaterers.co.uk
Groom’s Camper Van: http://www.lovebugweddings.com/
Cake: Dragons & Daffodils http://www.dragonsanddaffodils.com/
Flowers: Rolfes The Florist http://www.rolfestheflorist.co.uk/
Hair, Make Up & Head Piece: Kate Petersen http://www.katepetersen.co.uk/
Photographers: Janda  http://jandaphotography.com/
Videographers: Orchid Films: http://www.orchidfilmcompany.co.uk/
Band: Platinum Gold: http://functionband.com/
Children’s Entertainer: Shine Creative: http://www.shineparties.co.uk/
Harp: Harp Wales: http://www.harpwales.com/
Thanks so much to Katherine and Sharad for sharing their beautiful weddings with us today :-) are you combining two different ceremonies into your wedding celebrations? xoxo
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