My big fat Asian weddingΒ 

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So this week marks THREE years of being married! And we sure have filled a lot into three short years.. moving to London, a month long honeymoon, some fun weekends away,  a month in Indonesia, two pregnancies, two babies, and a move to birmingham later.. here we are celebrating 3 years of being married!

Celebrating our wedding anniversary (not that we do much celebrating with two kids on board) always makes me look back on ALL of the photos and ALL of the videos, and of course Timehop and facebook memories send me daily reminders of what I was doing ‘on this day’ x years ago. So I can’t help but flick through all the memories fondly while I’m stuck under a nursing baby or catching a rare quiet moment while both boys are asleep.

So today when I was doing said above activity,  it occurred to me that I have never updated my blog on my wedding details as I had always intended (I had lots of intentions for this blog when I started it, but that was before any babies popped out and the reality of keeping it up to date and the visions I had in my head have sadly become just that.. ideas in my head).

So here goes.. (I’ll try to keep this as concise as possible). 

My big fat Asian wedding lasted just over a week, with three main events (traditionally a mehndi night occurs before the wedding, then the girls side host a baraat where the bride traditionally leaves her family for her husbands family, followed by the boys side hosting a walima to celebrate the marriage). We also had two dholki nights and a mayoun leading up to the Mehndi. Which are basically held in the homes of the bride and groom and consist of food, dancing, singing, and lots of fun.. Although I’m calling it my ‘big fat Asian wedding’ there’s something to be aware of. My husband is not Asian. So although we had a traditional Asian wedding, we did also have a reception (I guess you could call it the Walima as my husband organised the food as per Asian tradition) which was more of a fusion event of both cultures, and although we adopted many of the usual Asian traditions, the main wedding day especially was more of a mix.

In Asian families, the bride or grooms family very much host the parties, but as this is not tradition for my husbands family, all three events were hosted and organised by my family. So I had 3 big events to plan and prepare for.. (courtesy of my mum).

The Venue’s

The biggest and most stessful part about planning your wedding, is finding the perfect venue and setting a date. We wanted a summer weekend wedding but we were flexible with dates. I started looking for venues in January 2014 for the summer of 2014! Yup, I like a challenge. As we were doing things a little differently than a standard Asian wedding, I knew I wanted a smaller baraat day, and a bigger, more extravagant reception. So, I focused on finding the perfect reception venue, and with the help of my lovely mum and sister, we found the perfect venue and booked it within a week!

My criteria for a venue was:

  1. A country house/ stately home or something pretty with a garden or outdoor space
  2. Must seat 200 guests for a meal (it was a challenge to only have 200 guests as Asian weddings tend to be a lot bigger, but it was a trade off between the perfect enue or more guests.
  3. The venue needed to be licencesed for a civil ceremony (in Asian weddings the civil ceremony is often done as a separate event all together)
  4. Must cater for Asian/halal food or have a preferred Asian caterer.
  5. NOT a marquee.. although marquees can look amazing and are a blank canvas, I did not want to spend thousands to be sat in a marquee. I wanted to enjoy the venue itself, after forking out all that money! A marquee reception was a big no no for me.
  6. Location wise I wanted something within driving distance of birmingham, or between birmingham and Manchester.

Myself and my sister looked at venues online, and called around and any that looked like they met my criteria we arranged a viewing for, but to be honest not many venues did tick all of my boxes so we only ended up viewing 4 or 5. And one of them was PERFECT and had availability in August 2014, which was ideally when we wanted to get married! So we quickly booked the stunning Ragley hall for Sunday 31st August, and hoped we could make the other venues and events work around it.

I had always wanted my mehndi event to be at home, and luckily my mums back garden was a reasonable size to host a good sized marquee, so this was very much my preferred option but we still looked at different options. Dates and availability were proving challenging, not to mention all of the additional costs beginning to stack up. So we made a very bold decision. If we were having a marquee at home for one event anyway, we might as well do the baraat and mehndi both at home and have the marquee set up at home for a longer period, making the most of the cost of the marquee and giving us more flexibility on dates and caterers etc. It was going to take a lot more planning, hard work from me and my extended family, but getting married at home was so personal and I loved the idea.

The weekend before the reception was bank holiday weekend, and so we decided on the Saturday for the Mehndi, and the Monday for the baraat, followed by the reception the Sunday after at Ragley. So, I then called around and asked around and found a company willing to setup a marquee for 200 people in my garden, for the dates I needed… and just like that, by the end of January, our wedding dates and venues were sorted!

 

The Dress (or dresses)

Once dates and venues were all confirmed, the next important thing for me was getting my outfits sorted, as Asian clothes can sometimes take 3-4 months to arrive as they are often made to order. I love traditional Pakistani bridal clothes, which are not easy to get hold of in the UK, so I booked appointments at boutiques in birmingham and London, but being super fussy about the style I wanted I only looked in about five shops in total, and found my outfits super quick. Asian bridals in the U.K. come with a hefty price tag.  Luckily my mum agreed to give me a more than decent budget as it was still cheaper than the cost of a flight to Pakistan and back πŸ˜‚, but I appreciate that my bridal outfits may not suite every budget, but there are more affordable shops out there and now more and more people are offering Pakistani bridals.

1.My Mehndi outfit..

Traditionally brides wear bright colours on their mehndi, yellow, oranges and greens are common. I wasn’t too fussed on my mehndi outfit, I wanted something nice and simple, as traditionally a bride dresses down on their mehndi with little or no makeup, so that they look even more stunning on the wedding day. In the end, I opted for a dress by Lavelle. Although I had 2 options and didn’t pick what I was actually wearing until the night before.. Story of my life I am super indecisive!

 

2. My baraat outfit

Traditionally Asian brides wear red (I’m not actually sure why), and although I was undecided on whether I would, after trying on a few red outfits I decided I would follow the tradition and found a stunning outfit by Ziggi’s Menswear sister brand Mehzabeen bridal.

 

3. My reception outfit.

I wanted something elegant and timeless and I wanted nudes/pastels.. and when I saw my outfit from Gul’s Style (in ilford), I knew I had to have it.

 

The food 

We worked with one of the approved caterers for Ragley for the main reception and they were amazing. The food was impeccable and they helped to organise the whole day and made sure everything ran smoothly and on time, so basically act as wedding planners also. I would highly recommend Five Rivers, and they work with lovely venues all over the U.K. We had many meetings at their restaurant in Walsall, where we ran over the minute by minute plans of the day, they really were amazing. For the two events at home, my family arranged a local caterer based on recommendations, and we made sure we hired caterers with waiters/waitresses and their own equipment as I didn’t want my family to have to do loads at the events. Although they failed to send the waiters on the mehndi so my family had to step up and do it.. I have the best family! (They also did all the clearing up and washing up for both events we had at home).

The venues, clothes and food are the main things to organise, so once this was done I relaxed a little as the rest were all the finer details that I then had months to organise. I set up some spreadsheets, one to manage my budget and keep track of what I was spending, one to list all of the vendors I was using and their details, one to create a guest list which then become an ‘RSVP’ tracker, and one to create an ‘order of the day’ for all three events.. oh and finally one spreadsheet was a to do list of what was needed with dates/deadlines and requirements. Sounds a bit complicated but it was super simple and helped me keep organised.

The Decor 

I wanted a bright and vibrant backdrop for the mehndi with lots of lighting, and hired events company Dream moments for both the events at home. They spent hours setting up and then turning it all around for the second event, where I wanted something a lot more subtle and elegant. They did an amazing job and were worth every penny. Myself, my sister and cousins made the centre prices for both the mehndi and nikkah and they turned out lovely! We also had a pick and mix stand and dessert table, all home made! For the reception at Ragley, I hired a florist to provide candelabras and flowerballs, to compliment the beautiful grand hall and colour theme. Fresh flowers are pricey, but I didn’t need to dress the room in any other way as the room was simply stunning.

 

 

 

The entertainment 

For me, this was the fun part!

The mehndi is full of lots of traditions and singing/ dancing, so the entertainment is pretty easy. We hired a Dj and I forced my cousins and close friends to practise a couple of dances to perform on the day, I even took part in one and I am a shocking dancer! Once the food has been served, the dance floor is cleared and the rest of the night is lots of dancing. So this was pretty easy to organise.

The baraat day is traditionally sad for the brides family as they ‘lose their daughter’ to their husbands family. This is not really the case in this day and age, but it still symbolises the change in dynamic as you leave with your husband and his family. So, there’s usually a sombre mood and not much singing/ dancing. We did have a Dj to provide nice background music for the event.

So basically, all of the entertainment was saved for the main reception. We had:

  • A harpist for the civil ceremony and drinks reception
  • A live singer during dinner
  •  Dhol players
  • A photo booth
  • DJ for the after dinner fun
  • Fire throwers in the beautiful gardens
  • And finally a lovely fireworks display to end the night

 

We managed to squeeze ALOT into the day as it really was such a lovely day. In fact, I loved all of my events so much. The months of planning, ALL of the spreadsheets and the stress all paid off and our guests enjoyed it as much as us (so I’ve been told repeatedly). I could not have done it without my mum and sister, and of course my husband! I think I was a relaxed and organised bride, which came down to my attitude, my spreadsheets, an the help of my family. I absolutely loved my wedding events, and loved this little trip down memory lane.. I hope you enjoyed reading, and just in case you arent already sick of our faces, I’ll leave you with some more images below..

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Happy 2nd birthday to my biggest, littlest man..Β 

And just like that.. my little monkey is 2 today πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰πŸŽ‰.

 This second year has gone crazily quick and I can’t believe what a funny, kind, smart and happy little boy he has become.. and did I say funny? He is such a little character and makes all of our lives happier. I love how he articulates himself and it still shocks me that my little baby can talk in full sentences and demand what he wants, and more often what he doesn’t want. We are certainly saying goodbye to the baby days now and I’m so excited to watch this little man grow. 

We had big plans today as Bugaboo had invited us to the Henley Royal Regatta but my youngest boy isn’t well so we had to cancel our plans but we still had a lovely family day together. And the boy got his cake! 

His second year has been taken over by mummy being pregnant, and becoming a loving big brother. It honestly melts my heart how kind and loving he is to his brother and I just can’t wait for them to be able to interact more. Of course we’ve had the odd moments of jealousy (in the early days these were considerably more), but I was really suprised by how well he took to mummy having a baby attached to her 24/7 particularly as he was such a clingy baby before. 

He also learnt to crawl in his second year (13 months), and finally took his first steps at 19 months, and went from being able to say a handful of words to speaking in proper 7-8 word sentences! You can’t blame him for this though as mummy and daddy BOTH like to talk lol. 

Another highlight for him was getting on the plane for our first family holiday to the other side of the world to attend his Aunty Holly & Uncle Tom’s wedding. And he became a cousin to his darling cousin Ava, and is due another cousin very soon! He is slowly gathering a full on gang around him and I can so see him being the ring leader in the future! 

At 13 months we finally got this very headstrong little boy to eat a full meal, and at 15 months old we said goodbye to mummy’s milk in prep for his brothers arrival. He then had a new found love for food and all things acidic! He is slightly obsessed with blueberries, grapes, raisens and oranges! He still calls his water ‘tea’ as he truly believed he was drinking the same tea as us when he started drinking water and the name has stuck since. 

His favourite activity is cutting the grass with daddy and he has an obsession with airplanes! He spots them before me and his first ever screen time after his first birthday was watching planes landing and taking off on YouTube.. this soon switched to watching nursery rhymes but I still think we may have a budding pilot in the making. 

He is just so cheeky and funny I really don’t know where he learns it all from. He is currently in bed singing ‘oh my god’ to himself as I type this! The cutest part is he knows when he is being cheeky and making us laugh. 

Anyway, this was meant to be a short birthday post and it’s turning into an essay already! Every year around his birthday I plan to take some photo’s for him to look back on as kind of a birthday gift from us. So last year I did a Cake smash in our back garden, and this year I took some cute pictures in our garden again but this time with his little brother… 


My DIY cake smash

I have been meaning to publish this post for literally ever. But life has got in the way.. Oh and we’ve been away for a month, yes a MONTH. But more on that another time. 

When I told people I was doing a cake smash for Sami’s first birthday, my friends and family didn’t really get it. They’ve obviously been living on another planet, because everyone is doing them these days. I however did not want to fork out Β£150+ to get a professional photo shoot done.. So I decided to do it myself, and here’s how:

The outfit:

I originally picked a mint green bow tie and nappy cover from Etsy to go with my colour scheme, but daddy was not impressed when I brought Sami downstairs on the morning of the cake smash. Luckily I had an outfit for his first birthday BBQ ready, so quickly changed him into that and thank god it went perfectly with the colour scheme.


The setting:

I decided to do the cake smash outdoors for a couple of reasons. Firstly, less mess in the house and less to clean up after, and secondly I felt I had a better shot at getting the photos right. Also, I wanted to keep the setup simple and felt this was a lot easier in the garden with lots of greenary as a natural setting, with a few added touches. I ordered a couple of props online, a hessian canvas cloth, a wooden crate and some wooden letters/numbers. I also digged out some leftover wedding party decorative balls and a banner. My main aim was to keep it simple, I didn’t want it to look overdone or cheesy. 


The cake: 

I initially looked to order one, but couldn’t justify the cost for a cake that was going to mainly go to waste. The whole point of a DIY cake smash was to save money so I just couldn’t bring myself to spend fifty odd quid on one. Thankfully my sister stepped in and she did a marvellous job of icing her first cake. 


Then all I needed was a happy baby.. And here’s the bit I didn’t plan for. My baby just was NOT interested. Whatsoever. Any photos of him touching/eating/ playing with the cake had to be staged. This got me thinking, do any one year olds really go for the cake or are they all staged?? I’d love to know.. Answers on a postcode please.. 

I’m really pleased with how my pictures turned out and so happy I didn’t fork out loads of ££.. Here’s some tips on doing your own:

  • Keep it simple, and I mean SIMPLE. Too many probs and objects can make the photos too crowded and tacky. Less is definitely more in this case. 
  • A happy baby makes better pictures.. I did my shoot straight after Sami’s morning nap so I knew he wouldn’t be tired or grumpy. 
  • I also picked morning as I didn’t want too much sun in the pictures. In the end it was a pretty miserable day but you can’t tell in the photos. 
  • Increase the ISO on your camera as your baby will not sit and pose nicely, you will be taking moving action shots, and if the ISO is too low you will end up with blurry photos. 
  • Lower your expectations. I really thought my baby was going to have so much fun, I wasn’t prepared for how he actually reacted. Be prepared for this, so that you are not too disappointed. It’s maybe not a good idea to do it at their birthday party with an audience incase of a negative reaction. 
  • Don’t over worry/ over think things like the cake or outfit. The cake doesn’t have to be perfect, minor blemishes won’t show in the pictures. In hindsight I am so glad I didn’t stick to my original outfit (well half naked baby) as it just wouldn’t have looked as good. 

I’ll leave you with some photos to enjoy.. 


    Happy 1st birthday..Β 

    I can’t quite believe that my little monkey is one today! It feels like just yesterday we brought him home and moved into our new house (yes we did both on the same day). 

    It’s been the best year watching him grow and learn. He’s so cheeky and loving, and such a happy little boy. He is so precious and is loved so much by us and all his family. 

    Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been the easiest of years, the lack of sleep, constant tiredness, and hard work and commitment that breastfeeding takes, has all been worth it to see that smile and hear that giggle every day. 

    I could go on and on all day, but my intention was not to write an essay today, so I will leave you with a few pictures of my DIY cake smash.. I will post more about this at a later date..

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAMI xx πŸ°πŸŽ‰πŸŽŠπŸŽˆπŸŽπŸ’πŸ‘Ά

       
       

    Happy Fathers Day..

    It was Daddy’s first Father’s Day this year.. He isn’t big on these days of mass celebration but I thought we would do something special for him anyway. This is what we needed:

    1. Three white letters: a ‘D’, an ‘A’ and a ‘Y’. I got these from Etsy and found many places do them
    2. A sunny day and a nicely cut lawn 
    3. A happy well rested and well fed baby 
    4. A couple of aunties to make said baby smile
    5. A camera 
    6. A multi aperture photo frame

    And this was the result.. (Have cropped my monkey’s face out of the images below, but his face was priceless)..

     
       
     

       
     I popped the first three in a frame to read ‘Dad’ and made a card with all five to say ‘Daddy’. I was really proud of how it turned out but not sure my husband loved it as much as I thought he wouldπŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚.