WWW readers Azra and Stephen wed at Preston Court on 8th June 2019 in a riot of colour in what was a beautifully emotional and multicultural day. The nuptials were even more emotional as our pair were delighted to be there at all after a medical emergency. What a rollercoaster start to your wedding!
Luckily, the rest of the day went much more smoothly and I think you’re really going to fall for all the gorgeous details. I’m a huge fan of the terrariums and the stationery which clever old Stephen designed himself. I’m absolutely loving the ceremony set up too, just brilliant.
Darren Gair of The Last of the Light captured Azra and Stephen’s day just perfectly, don’t you think he has done such a good job of documenting the atmosphere? Thanks for sharing Darren.
We spent Christmas 2017 in Japan, wanting to celebrate with another culture. Christmas day is a normal working day there and rather than a traditional meal they celebrate with KFC. On the second day of our trip we travelled out of Tokyo to the Ghibli museum. We both love Studio Ghibli and were excited to have tickets as they sell out so quickly.
After the museum, Stephen kept mentioning that we should go for a romantic walk in nearby Inokashira Park. Amongst the autumnal colours of the fallen leaves, we found a shrine and a beautiful lake with a stone bridge crossing directly over the middle. From the centre of the bridge we could look back and see the Shrine, nestled between the trees. It was a beautiful, serene moment and we spent some time drinking it in. I was taking a photo of the trees when I realise Stephen isn’t taking one and is just looking at me. I thought maybe he was waiting for me to step aside so I moved away and he follows me. I didn’t understand so I just cuddled up next to him, putting my hand in his coat pocket to hold his. Turns out the ring was in his pocket and he panicked, thinking it had dropped in the lake! A moment later he proposed with a single line, “I had an idea that we could be very happy together forever”.
Everyone asks if I knew it was coming. After all, it was our longest and furthest trip together, and it we were deeply committed. The honest answer is I had no idea. Apparently the ring was in our house for three months before, hidden behind some books!
We wanted our wedding to be full of love, fun and humour as neither of us are very serious people. We wanted people to relax, eat loads of food and enjoy themselves.
Ultimately, we wanted the wedding to represent Stephen and I, so we included lots of personal elements. My family heritage is Pakistani so we made sure the food and the bridesmaids dresses reflected that. My evening Lengha and the bridesmaids dresses were all custom-made in Pakistan as I wanted something from my roots. Deep colours were part of the wedding colour theme as Asian weddings traditionally have bursts of colour.
We are both big fans of Disney, we marathoned all of the Disney animated films six years ago when we started dating. We included subtle glimpses of this throughout the day, Stephen wore Mickey Mouse cufflinks and we had orchestral versions of the hit songs playing in the background during the register signing and wedding breakfast.
The Planning Process
We planned our wedding over 18 months, and we did the majority of it up front in the first six months. In honesty, it was all less stressful than anticipated.
We researched and booked everything well in advance and had plenty of time to iron out any wrinkles. That is, until 10pm the day before the wedding itself when Stephen was admitted to hospital. We won’t bore with the messy details but when the doctor said the words “It could be fatal” we knew we were in trouble and there may not be a wedding the next day. We were in hospital all night then had to drive away from our venue to another hospital the morning of the wedding. Thankfully a specialist was very understanding and after a thorough examination made the decision that we weren’t in any danger and the wedding could go ahead as planned, as long as he came back for a minor procedure the following day.
We were both overjoyed that everything was back on, and thankful that Stephen was going to be fine, of course. So, at 10am on the morning of the wedding we raced back to get changed and made up and arrived moments before the scheduled ceremony! Phew!
Most suppliers we found online through blogs and social media. Though we researched many venues we actually booked the very first one we went to see! Everything just clicked for us. We sat in the car after viewing it and struggled to think of a reason not to book it that same day.
For the wedding breakfast we had the awesome Curry Squad who bought their Pakistani flavours to Canterbury. For the evening food we used a company called Feast It, through whom we hired a wonderful Mac & Cheeese and a Pizza food truck.
Agreed budget £15,000 in January 2018.
Actual cost £31,000 by the final bill..
Your Outfits & Accessories
I was never planning to wear a traditional white wedding dress, my plan was to wear a Pakistani lengha throughout the entire day. This changed only 8 weeks before the wedding when the final piece arrived wasn’t what I had pictured. I started to panic as most places I contacted said it would take months for new wedding dresses to be designed. Luckily nearby our house is a bridal boutique called Love Bridals. I explained my situation and they were incredibly understanding and helpful. Within an hour I found my new wedding dress. I described my ideal dress as earthy and ethereal and together we found this gorgeous dress from Stella York that fit what I wanted perfectly. I am truly grateful to them as I think I would have been very stressed out otherwise. My Pakistani lengha did still made it to the wedding, though with some tailoring and design alterations.
I wanted my wedding dress to represent the dual cultures in which I was raised. Initially this was going to be one dress that combined both cultures, but I was able to have two beautiful dresses representing both my British and my Pakistani backgrounds.
My necklace and earrings were bought from a store called Tatty Devine. I love their jewellery pieces already but this year they did a charity special with their animal selection. My favourite animal is Pandas so when I saw they had a panda necklace I bought it. However, before I bought it Stephen already bought it for me as a gift for our wedding!
For shoes, I bought wedding shoes from ASOS, but then later changed to my Dr Martins sandals as comfort was key, especially with all the walking and dancing.
We did a solid month or two of research straight after the proposal. We didn’t have any particular requirements but knew we wanted something with a special, relaxing vibe and something unusual to make it memorable.
The first time we saw Preston Court we just knew this was us. The venue is in the bright, spacious grounds of a family home. With fields of grass, a little island in the middle of a lake, multiple buildings (rather than one large hall) so people can move around, and space both inside and outside to hang out.
What made it extra special was the fully restored, working carousel. It looked gorgeous and was probably the most photographed thing on the day. Every guest managed to have a ride, even our parents!
The Details & Décor
The décor at Preston Court was already effortless, we were very lucky in not needing to really add anything else, as the fairy lights, the barn vibe, the plants on the beams, plus the organs on the either side of the room just made it very special on its own.
We added lanterns in the barn with the help of Tiggiwinkle. Tiggi helped us so much in getting the right colours of lanterns to match our theme which were deep rich colours that matched the rest of our vision. She also helped with creating our pic and mix cart. When people were leaving everyone was going to the station to get some candy for the road.
Not only did Jar and Fern do our flowers they also did our wedding centre pieces, which were terrariums. This fitted so well with our theme and the colours just worked so well with the décor. They did a wonderful job with the flowers everyone loved them and just were astonished how big they were and everyone loved that we had terrariums. Everyone kept asking if they could take it home.
We had a guest book based at the bar as we knew the bar area would be pretty busy and people would take a photo there. We loved having a guest book as everyone wrote lovely messages and the photos people took were amazing.
As it was raining during the ceremony part of the day we couldn’t have the wedding outside, we were worried that we didn’t really have the feel we wanted in the barn like we would of outside. We were totally wrong, the team used the wedding centrepieces as part of the aisle, and the flowers from the head table were dotted around. Plus the lanterns that were supposed to be part of our wedding ceremony outside came indoors and just made it look so fitting, we wouldn’t want it any other way. Having a blue rustic organ as your backdrop is pretty special.
Stephen is a designer and created our wedding stationery, including Urdu calligraphy as part of the designs. Each guest had their name in both Urdu and English on their table place card to highlight the two cultures celebrating the day.
For Hair and Make up I found Fenella on Instagram. I loved how effortless she made her clients look. She was so easy to talk and and just makes you feel at ease. She also knows how to get your best features out, plus if you change you mind of the hair on the day she takes it on the chin and makes you look like a princess.
To keep the Pakistani tradition going I also had Henna done on my hands. On my left hand amongst the floral design I asked if Stephen’s name could be hidden, as tradition is for the groom to find their name on the bride’s hand. I also asked if she could design the Ghibli character Totoro on my hand. This was symbolic to me as it was relating to the time Stephen proposed just after vising the ghibili museum plus its his favourite Ghibli character. Hiffy was so lovely, and even my mum was shocked how neat her henna designs were.
The Readings & Music
My entrance music was a famous Bollywood song called ‘Tere Bin’. I love this song and the meaning just fitted our love, plus it was my Dad’s favourite song as well. It was fitting that we could walk down the aisle together to the song we both love.
We had my bridesmaid Bandana recite a song that Stephen and I bonded over – “I belong in your arms” by Chairlift. The lyrics are a little silly, one line simply being “Something, something, something” but we thought it was too funny to pass up.
For our first dance we our band, The White Rooms, play “It’s All about you” by Mcfly, a song that we frequently dance around our house to together. When they started to play the whole world slipped away and it really felt like we were back at home singing away in the living room.
Stephen, his Dad and Brother’s outfits were from Moss Bros. The suits were a charming peacock blue, which looked brilliant in the summer sun with just a hint of iridescence to them. Paired with bright white shirts and bold red ties, everyone stood out and looked very handsome.
Our two year old nephew and page boy, Sebastian, was also fitted with a similar peacock blue suit. He looked adorable.
Stephen also bought his Mickey Mouse cufflinks off Etsy and he bought his shoes from Timberland.
I am obsessed with succulent plants, and the idea of terrariums for our wedding centrepieces. I really wanted to do them as they last forever and would make great gifts for our close family the following day so they were able to take a piece of the wedding back home. Jar and Fern ran workshops at both of our work places and we were inspired. Will and Madeline are so lovely to collaborate with, we gave them the idea of the style we wanted with both flowers and terrariums and blew us away.
Jasmine flowers were something I wanted to incorporate into the bouquet and hair as it’s the national flower of Pakistan. I wanted the bridesmaids to have corsages as it meant they were able to be free with their hands. The buttonholes were mainly branches of Jasmine, but Stephen also has a red rose on his. For the hair we had Jasmine and peonies around my hair.
My Bridesmaids were four beautiful women from different stages of my life.
Bandana represented my life from Primary school.
Jenny represented my life from Secondary School.
Mehnaz represented my life from University,
and Yasmin represented my stepping into the working world after University.
I wanted a bridesmaid from each era of my life coming as one and celebrating the next chapter of my life as they walked down the aisle with me.
In Pakistani culture the bride will traditionally wear red, but as both of my outfits were white I wanted to make sure the colour was represented in the bridal party. Their dresses were a rich red, both to match the wedding theme and groomsmen’s ties, and to ensure I had my culture with me throughout the day.
Darren was a star. He’s more of a documentary style photographer but when my mum grabbed him to take family photos whenever she saw him he didn’t say no and was ever so lovely. Stephen found Darren online and was in love with his style of photography. We wanted someone to bring our the colours in our wedding and he did that so well. On the day we sent Darren an email of what was happening as when he was going to arrive to the hotel I wasn’t going to be there. He was so calm and professional and carried on like nothing was going wrong while hoping we were coming back. He was part of the day and was there to make sure everything went to plan for both of us, while we were both trying to stay awake.
We found Lukas and Laura online. We couldn’t be happier to have them record our day as their style is documentary. By the end of the night we felt like they were part of our wedding group as they interacted with our guests and just were so lovely through out the day. Lucas and Laura are an amazing duo and just helped us feel natural even though we had cameras pointing at us throughout the day.
You can watch the teaser here.
To say we both have a sweet tooth is an understatement, so choosing our cake was doubly important for us! We looked back at weddings we’d been to and thought how few times we had room for a big, heavy cake in the evening. I always loved the idea of a croquembouche and were lucky to find Neil at La Papplion. When we ordered we were counting down the days until we could eat it. We and some of the bridesmaids had it for breakfast after glamping the night away at the venue.
We’ll be visiting Hong Kong, South Korea, Okinawa island, and Japan in December. We wanted to wait to have our honeymoon later on the year as we wanted to celebrate Christmas and New Year somewhere different. However, we did have a mini-moon to Italy where we went to Venice, Bologna, and Florence. We had pasta, pizza, and gelato for every meal. Best two weeks of our lives.
10am on the morning of the wedding, when we were officially allowed to leave the hospital. That moment was when it finally hit us that we were getting married – in three hours!
Arriving at the hotel where everyone was hugging and cheering because we made it to our wedding.
The last ride on the carousel where everyone jumped on and we started singing.
My Dad’s speech where you can see and hear people shedding a tear.
Dancing with Stephen to our first dance. It felt like no one was there and we were just dancing in our living room.
Stephen getting confused what finger to put the wedding ring on and asking where my engagement ring was mid ceremony. Everyone was in stitches.
Stephen’s speech. He was worried that his opening joke would fall flat, but he managed to have everyone on the edge of their seat with the hospital story (as nobody outside of our family and close circles knew until we arrived!)
Advice For Other Couples
Make sure you have a bite to eat and drink, when moving around so much it’s easy to get lost with catching up with friends and family, taking photos, etc. I remember Az from Curry Squad letting his team know who Stephen and I were and they made sure we were always fed.
Do what makes you both happy. It’s easy to get lost in making sure everyone else is happy at your wedding day but honestly it’s your day and you shouldn’t feel obligated to accommodate anyone else. Your friends and family are there to celebrate with you and will be happy because you are.
Don’t worry if things don’t go to plan, they make really good stories for wedding speeches!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
The Last of the Light
Mac to the Future & Antonio’s Pizza Truck from Feast It
Make up and hair
Fenella’s Make up
Stella York from Love Bridal
Wow! What a day Stephen and Azra! Thank you so much for sharing all the details of your beautiful wedding with us today. Rachel x