I have been to many Indian Weddings over the years and I must say, like Nigerians, an Indian wedding is always a particularly extravagant affair. The invitations alone are some of the most beautiful and ornate pieces of art I have ever seen. You can therefore imagine my excitement when a beautiful purple, gold leaf encrusted invite landed on my door step a few months ago. I spent at least twenty minutes inspecting each individual item within the pack which included two invitations, rsvp card and a number of other pretty sheets of wedding information.
The wedding took place in Hounslow in London at a fairly standard sounding hotel but I wasn’t going to be fooled into thinking it would be a standard wedding. I had been to weddings thrown by this family before so I knew that whatever venue I would be stepping into would have been transformed into an eye-popping display of Indian opulence. As I walked into the hotel I was not disappointed.
The entire room had been draped in white with an adornment of colourful uplighters creating a vibrant ambience. An impressive archway led to a raised catwalk through the centre of room with a water display running down each side. The water had an array of beautiful little flowers and tea light candles floating inside that literally took my breath away. It also took a few parents breaths away when their children tried to dive in and fish the flowers out. The catwalk had beautiful ornate elephant statues dotted all the way down to the bottom of the most magnificent stage I think I have ever seen.
The stage had a golden pillared structure under which the bride and groom sat atop luxurious golden thrones.
The ceremony was not in English but it didn’t matter as everything that took place was very visual and I still got choked up without understanding a word of what was going on. The bride and groom wrapped chains of flowers around each other’s heads and their hands were bound together with some sort of fabric. The sentiment was clear, they were now one!
The assortment of sari’s in every colour imaginable made me feel pretty plain sat in my maxi dress and I felt annoyed that I hadn’t either worn a sari or at least a traditional Nigerian outfit to match the bright colours and sparkles (I will make sure I do next time). Even the little girls wore gorgeous vibrant mini sari’s. The men and boys wore sherwani’s with churidars that were exquisitely tailored. Everyone looked amazing!
Once the ceremony was complete, we were invited to have lunch. It was a vegetarian buffet and was absolutely delicious. I generally love meat but I always find that Indian vegetarian food doesn’t leave me feeling like something was missing. After lunch we went back to our hotel for a sleep until the evening reception.
When we arrived back the foyer area had been transformed into a cocktail bar with champagne, bucks fizz, guava juice and some sort of guava cocktail (which I had one too many of) being served. Waiters/waitresses served canapes which included onion bhajees, spring rolls and chicken tenders. All yummy!
We were called in to dinner and I was blown away by the ice sculpted table plan, the first I had ever seen. Once I entered the main room I was absolutely floored. The space had been totally transformed and looked nothing like the beautiful traditional ceremony space we had left only a few hours before. The lighting, the staging, the centrepieces all had me aghast. I felt like I was at a celebrity event.
I took my seat at the table which had an ice sculpture centrepiece and a spinning mirrored serving centre. This is one of the things I love the MOST about indian weddings. Non stop food. The dinner was served on the serving centres in self serve bowls. You spin the mirrored centre and take what you want. Once the bowls are empty someone shows up and refills them. As someone who loves to eat this is like heaven for me. We were served a selection of curries, rice, naan, dhal all cooked to perfection.
But before the food was served, I was surprised when we were asked to stand for the bride and groom and a hip hop group came bouncing in. It was a fantastic surprise as they flipped and twisted on the dance floor and everyone was on their feet cheering them along. The bride and groom then made their entrance to what I think was funky house music accompanied by a live saxophonist. I was absolutely wowed. It was THE BEST wedding entrance I have ever seen and an absolutely amazing demonstration of an alternative wedding, mixing culture with personality.
The bride had changed from the beautiful white sari she had worn for the ceremony into a textured floor length gown which she looked absolutely amazing in. The groom changed into a three piece suit and looked incredibly dapper.
At some point they had their first dance and cut their cake which was at least 6ft tall and glowed in the dark. It was so unique to them I loved it.
The party kicked off after dinner and I was compelled to get out of my seat when the reggae set began. The music was AWESOME and included a little bit of everything including hip hop, Rnb, Old School Garage, Funky House, Soul and Bhangra.
I particularly loved that during the hip hop set, without announcement three tabla players who played along to the hip hop and then Bhangra. The mood was absolutely electrifying assisted by the dynamic lighting that wouldn’t have been out of place at an Usher concert.
Did I mention there was a free bar ALL NIGHT! I must admit I had one too many Jaeger bombs a drink I will most definitely be steering clear of from now on after waking up with a very sore head.
If that wasn’t enough there was also photo-booth which remained for the entire evening and had a constant flow of guests taking crazy pics (including me obviously).
I will say that this wedding was hands down the best event I have ever attended in my life. I loved the way the couple included their traditional cultures but also injected their own personalities in making it totally unique. The attention to detail was obvious and I had the time of my life.
We at the Alternative Wedding Group look forward to helping to create truly unique experiences like this in the future.