There is only one word to describe this wedding. EPIC. Yes that’s right, these nuptials are just amazing through and through. It’s always a great way to start a Monday morning surely?
WWW readers Hannah and Dalraj were married on the 9th August 2015 at the stunning Elmore Court in Gloucestershire. They tied together both of their cultures for a glitter filled pastel coloured party extravaganza. Kate Cullen Styling brought to life the dreamy décor, Acacia Flowers floral arrangements were sublime and Vogue Wedding Films created a spectacular film.
Hannah chose an Allure Bridals gown which she accessorised with a classic veil, while Dalraj went down the bespoke route. How very gorgeous.
Many thanks goes to Laura Power Photography for sharing these divine images.
THE PROPOSAL | Was in a little town called Positano in Amalfi, Italy. Dali knew I wanted him to use my mother’s engagement ring since she passed away, so this meant asking my dad to hand it over before we left. The trip was fantastic, lots of eating and sightseeing, one night in particular we had a lovely meal at a restaurant overlooking to town which is on a secluded cove. After dinner Dali insisted we walk down to the beach, but it was very late, busy, which nearly ruined his plans, but his hand was forced by a text from his sister asking if he’d done it yet, as there was a bottle of champagne waiting in our hotel room to celebrate! He ran off ahead, and waited for me to catch up on a bench overlooking the beach, where I joined him and he popped the question!
THE VISION | We’re not particularly traditional or religious, and wanted something that really felt like a celebration that would make everyone really happy to be there. Dalraj’s family are Punjabi and Sikh, but we knew we didn’t want to do a temple ceremony, and wanted a secular registrar service somewhere that could accommodate a large number of guests for a big party. Although we wouldn’t be doing any religious aspects to the wedding we both wanted to recognise and honour Dalraj’s Punjabi heritage, there was undoubtedly going to be a lot of his family travelling from far away to attend, and they LOVE to eat, drink and party, so we always aimed to embrace colour, sparkle and some indulgence.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | Once we had our venue and date sorted that made it a lot easier to start with everything else. Seeing Elmore and the Gillyflower really inspired a lot of that, the more we looked at other events there I started noticing vendors who’d worked there before, so I booked Laura Power Photography and Vogue Wedding Films based on a stunning photo/video shoot they’d done there. We also found Kate Cullen Styling this way; booking her was a great decision that took a lot of pressure off of chasing decorations and suppliers, we had a couple of great meetings, exchanged a lot of email and pinspiration and she simply presented us with options, sent through invoices and set everything up on the day like some kind of fairy-godmother!
I knew I wanted to have a change of outfit into an Indian dress (but not a super-traditional one) for the evening, and this fit well with mother-in-law’s wish to feed and entertain extra guests attending for the evening only. She and Dalraj arranged Indian caterers and a DJ especially for the evening, as well as some more traditional pre-wedding events at their home in Swindon.
BUDGET | Since Dalraj’s family is huge and mine is tiny we split certain major items based on whether they were or were not dependent on the large numbers. So the bride’s side paid for photographer, videographer, flowers, décor and bride and bridesmaids, whereas the groom’s side paid for the venue, food, drink and entertainment.
THE VENUE | We looked at a few barn-type venues around Wiltshire and west towards Bristol (where Hannah is from) but as soon as we found Elmore Court we were blown away, it’s an incredible venue, and as soon as we visited and saw the Gillyflower reception building and met Leesa (who organises events and runs the day) we knew their easy-going party attitude was perfect. We enquired and reserved a date on the first visit, and as soon as we were driving away my dad confirmed it was his and my mum’s anniversary!
We had the whole venue exclusively on a Sunday, and booked the eight guest rooms for the bridal party and some guests who travelled from abroad.
We both arrived there part-ready on the morning of and dressed in rooms far apart! The ceremony was in the gorgeous main hall, which we didn’t want to do too much to dress, since it’s so stunning, we just opted for some petals along the aisles and a floral arrangement behind the registrar.
After the ceremony we had cocktails and pictures on the side lawns, before entering the Gillyflower for the wedding breakfast and evening reception. We really enjoyed having everything on one site and the ability to nip back to the house and change, and to stay there overnight.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | I found my dress on my first and only shopping trip with my bridesmaids to Cheltenham where we made appointments at three shops. I was nervous about finding many options I would think looked good on, as I’m fairly curvy, but actually I liked a lot. However as soon as I tried on my Allure Bridals dress they all said I didn’t stop smiling! I went back to order it with my dad a month later, and when it arrived just added a jewelled belt for a bit of sparkle.
I added a super-simple veil and some gorgeous Nick of Time heels from Irregular Choice.
For the evening outfit change I had an Indian gown custom made by Karishma at Yuvish Boutique in Datchet (a family recommendation) – it was based on a dress in-store (which are all her original designs and made bespoke) from which I customised the colours, some borders and neckline. I added jewellery including some cute diamanté bangles with my and Dalraj’s names in from one of the many Indian jewellery stores in Birmingham where I also got accessories for the bridesmaids.
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Dali loves his fashion and really enjoyed the opportunity to go for broke with dressing himself for the day. He had a bespoke suit (including shirt and bowtie) made at Thom Sweeney, a top tailors in London – he really enjoyed making a day of it with friends, drinking whisky and learning all about different cuts and fabric weights. He paired this with some ultra-swanky Crockett and Jones shoes and also wants me to tell you his beard/grooming was taken care of by The Bearded Barber :)
We both liked slightly more eclectic groomsmen attire so mixed and matched trousers and blazers with braces and bowties from various high-street stores.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | Both the music and readings and ceremony content were very important to us as we both wanted (and had to) avoid any religious content, and wanted to stay authentic to ourselves amongst those we care about most.
We love our indie rock, but soon after we got engaged I was listening to one of my favourite bands – Sigur Ros and when I heard Ara Batur with that in mind it just felt heart-stoppingly perfect, it’s grandiose and classic-sounding yet actually totally modern and unusual. The downside was it’s like, 9 minutes long so I had to cut it in half, and that was still a really long processional! To leave we had a much more upbeat and celebratory Sigur Ros song, Inni Mer Syngur Vitleysingur (Inside Me a Lunatic Sings – not that either of us can understand Icelandic but the lyrics are totally adorable!)
We had two readings which we found in one fun internet searching session one morning:
Nothing is easier, author unknown.
Nothing is easier than saying words, and nothing harder than living them day by day. What you promise today must be renewed and re-decided tomorrow.
At the end of this ceremony, legally you will be husband and wife, but you must still decide, each day that stretches out before you, that you want to be married.
Real love is something beyond the warmth and glow, the excitement and romance of being deeply in love. It is caring as much about the welfare and happiness of your marriage partner as about your own. But real love is not total absorption in each other; it is looking outward in the same directions together.
Love makes burdens lighter; because you divide them. It make joys more intense because you share them. Love makes you stronger, so you can reach out and become involved with life in ways you dared not risk alone.
“The Game” by BJ Falken.
“It appeared to outsiders that they were at odds. He would test her patience and try to charm his way out of it. She would try to impose her will through loosely crafted arguments based on creative feminine logic. He would put on magnificent displays of rhetoric and manipulation, because he liked it when she caught him trying to get away with something. She liked it too.
Over time though, it became obvious that this was not a fight, or a contest. It was a game. Two sides, back and forth. Advance and defend. A game that was almost as much fun to watch, as it was to play.
In this game, however, keeping score was never necessary. It was like children playing tic-tac-toe. The minute one round was over, they’d scrawl out another cross-hatched board, barely paying attention who had been victorious only seconds earlier. Even if they had kept score, it would have still been tied after a hundred years of play. Sometimes he’d win, sometimes she would. And sometimes, when it was needed, they’d remind the spectators that they were actually on the same team all along and would do anything for each other.
Before each other, they hadn’t discovered anybody who could play the game at their level, nor anybody who wished to. But they found each other… and in each other a worthy adversary, a constant companion, and a best friend.
And they played the game for years and years, until one of them died. The person left standing being defeated by the heart’s greatest loss… and yet, still victorious because every day they had spent together, the game brought into their hearts the greatest joy and love. Again, it was a tie.”
That second one really reflects our relationship, which after nine years together is still playfully argumentative, but the ending gave everyone some awkward laughs in the ceremony!
Before the ceremony we had the following music:
- Home – Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
- Keep the Car Running – Arcade Fire
- Anyone Else – The Moldy Peaches
- Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
and during the signing the register:
- First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes
- You & Me – Penny & the Quarters
- Wedding Song – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | I knew immediately that I would have my sister and Dalraj’s sister, and quickly decided on two close friends from university. I also knew I didn’t want them to look too identical, and that I hoped they’d also change to Indian for the evening.
When considering décor and style ideas I knew that with so many Indian family guests there would be a lot of bling and colour, so the bridesmaids would need to stand out. I love sparkle and after seeing some mismatched sequin dresses in varying metallics I knew that was what we were going for. Some were easy to find quickly, one we had made especially, and one was actually a budget spare I got just in case and ended up being used. (The January sales were great for finding these after the Xmas party season!)
For the evening they all chose and wore different Indian outfits as long as they were navy and gold. There were a whole range of different combinations, a crop-top and full-skirt, a custom design from the boutique where I got my reception dress, a borrowed sari and a comfy tunic-style dress; they all looked fab and chose their own jewellery to go with them.
THE FLOWERS | Kate the stylist recommended and introduced me to Jodie at Acacia Floristry, and after a great meeting and exchanging some pins and ideas she came up with some stunning arrangements, including an incredible mat of blooms surrounding the cake, and vases to reuse the bridesmaids bouquets as arrangements at the entrance to the reception. She was super easy to work with, and made adjustments to fit in with our budget whilst focusing on some show-stopping pieces that really wowed us and our guests.
THE CAKE | The cake was actually gifted to us from an amazingly talented and generous friend of my dad’s. She’s made cakes for weddings before but I think she thought I was slightly mad when I showed her how I wanted to combine soft sloppy watercolour layers with intricate gold mehndi lace patterns! But she did an unbelievable job, when I saw the sugar flowers she made to dress it I thought they were real flowers she’d bought as a sample at first, dad took some convincing they were actually made of decorative sugar paste!
As well as the three-tier cake she also made cupcakes topped similarly to the cake design which guests loved and were snapped up quickly.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | I can’t praise Laura enough, she was really the key to capturing the day and making all the time and effort planning so worth it. We had a blast with her from the first Skype consultation, to our engagement photos in Bristol. This was even more important on the day, when despite being pregnant and having over a hundred and fifty guests to navigate she did an amazing job of balancing all the beautiful still details and busy moments.
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | This was definitely where a lot of thought and planning went in, and where Kate Cullen was definitely the best investment we made in the whole process! Right from our first meeting she totally understood what we wanted, and helped us refine and understand this more ourselves. After starting with a bit of a ‘more is more’ mantra she was great about giving us options and accepting what we realised we could do versus what we had to dismiss. For example, giring gold cutlery and chargers got dropped, but gold animals dotted around the tables were very much a thing (a combination of 150 little plastic animals and some larger paper mache tigers and elephants – most of which ended up going home with guests!) We really wanted to avoid having too much of a heavy or rigid palette, but really wanted lots of sparkle to complement the extravagant outfits we knew we could expect from guests. In the end we ended up leaning towards a range of peach-coral and light turquoise shades mixed with white, gold and rose gold; which actually mirrors the décor in our apartment – which I guess makes sense?!
THE HONEYMOON | We knew we wanted to balance two different kinds of trip, both a city break and somewhere tropical. We looked at lots of different combinations of places and considered some booking companies, but in the end we quite enjoyed the control and doing the leg-work ourselves. We ended up booking three nights in a lovely apartment in Paris (via AirBnB) then six nights in the Maldives at what we still insist must be the absolutely ultimate island resort. We chose Kandolhu because it had all the luxury features of some of the larger resort islands, including a water-villa with our own mini infinity-pool on their stunning house-reef, but it’s absolutely tiny. The care and attention from the staff for such a small number of guests was really intimate and personal and there were some amazing honeymoon perks like the sunset champagne cruise and candle-lit dinner on the beach. We were able to make use of their ridiculously extravagant ultimate-inclusions package and a private scuba session thanks to the generous gifts from our friends, which really helped make it even more unforgettable.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | We re-entered the reception to Oasis – F*cking in the bushes! As long as you can’t hear any words to it it sounds super badass and as Dalraj put it – like a boxer entering the ring!
Our first dance was to Sam Cooke – That’s Where It’s At.
Since my mum died I’m obviously especially close to my dad, and since I now live in Swindon with the in-laws I really wanted a special moment with him, so we had a father-daughter dance to Bruce Springsteen – When You Need Me who he loves, but he didn’t actually know that song!
On our honeymoon, we made friends with another British couple who were also on honeymoon (doesn’t everyone?!) – and one night Dali and Mark (the other groom) stayed up at the resort bar (where most of the off-duty managers and scuba school staff were relaxing) and ended up chatting to the new head-chef, who had only just arrived on the island and been tasked with re-inventing some of the menus. The chef knew that we were all due to have our special honeymoon dinners the next day and asked if he could try out a special new menu and get our feedback! Dali’s a bit of a foodie so this was a no-brainer, and we all ended up enjoying an amazing Michelin quality meal using incredible fresh local produce that nobody had tried before!
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | When faced with wildly uneven numbers from each side of the family be frank about how this affects budget and plan realistically. This affected how we planned and budgeted, but we didn’t let it influence things on the day, people sat anywhere for the ceremony, and we arranged wedding breakfast seating simply by using three big long benches so it felt a lot more social and inclusive.
A stylist was absolutely a saviour, I’ve even recommended my engaged friends have just a one-off meeting with her to clarify ideas, and Kate is so helpful and reasonable she’ll be as involved as you want or need.
Just because one of you might have a very identifiable culture with an aesthetic, it doesn’t have to overpower, you can have touches of it without having it feel totally one-sided.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photography | Laura Power Photography
Film | Vogue Wedding Films
Venue | Elmore Court
Stylist | Kate Cullen Styling
Dress Shop | Simply Bridal
Dress Designer | Allure Bridal
Shoes | Irregular Choice
Suit | Thom Sweeney
Groom Shoes | Crockett and Jones
Custom engagement ring | Deacons Jewellers
Papercraft stirrers, cake topper and tassels | Things By Laura
Balloons | Giant Balloon Co
Florist | Acacia Flowers
Hair | Stacey Jade Hair
Make Up | Jessica Mills Makeup
Sequin Runners | Gilded Linens
Hannah and Dalraj, thanks so much to you both for sharing your amazing wedding story xo Lou