Abi and Ajay followed up a colourful Hindu celebration with a classic English do
It wasn’t quite love at first sight when Abi met Ajay, aged 10, at their Manchester primary school. Instead it took a chance meeting on a night out 15 years later for sparks to fly. “I was actually on a date with someone else!” Abi remembers. “So I told my date I wasn’t feeling too well and off I went with Ajay and his friend to continue the night. Something just clicked, and that was it. Even though I’d known Ajay for years, when we started dating, I saw a completely different side to him. He’s not only the cleverest and most thoughtful man I know, he’s also the most stylish – my perfect accessory!”
Photography by Katy Lunsford, katylunsford.com
“I’m very comfortable with the bridezilla tag,” jokes Abi, a self-confessed control freak who planned not one but two wedding days when she and Ajay tied the knot.
Part one was a Hindu blessing with 250 guests – all bold colours and mouth-watering curries – held at Chadderton Town Hall in Oldham. “The Indian wedding was a full-on Bollywood experience,” Abi says. “We went to a specialist in Bolton and worked out the outfit designs together.”
Abi stuck to traditional red and gold for her bridal look. But, she adds, “I did go against the norm of simple slip-ons with gem-covered heels from Kurt Geiger. To me, they really said, ‘Indian wedding’.”
Nearly nine months passed between the two halves of the couple’s nuptials due to limited availability at their dream venue for the English celebration: Rookery Hall in Nantwich, Cheshire.
The pair held their civil ceremony and reception in February – and in the end they were thrilled they did. “The gap in time allowed us to give each celebration the concentration it deserved, and we love that our photos from the days reflect two very different seasons,” Abi says.
“My gown was by Alan Hannah, which I found at The Wedding Shop,” Abi says. “I didn’t initially have my heart set on any type of style, but when I tried ‘The One’ one, I not only fell in love with it but I knew Ajay would too.” Her veil was by Joyce Jackson.
“As a man with a keen interest in fashion, Ajay was never going to hire his outfit,” Abi says. “He worked with Manchester designer Richard Smith to produce a black made-to-measure suit with Liberty lining, a Liberty ascot tie and a bespoke shirt.” He accessorised with black braces and shoes by Jeffery-West.
As a cool personal touch, Ajay had the wedding date embroidered on the lining of his suit jacket.
Abi wore pretty white closed-toe shoes from Monsoon – “perfect for the snow,” she says. For her bouquet, she carried simple white tulips from Baytree Flowers (0161 653 7007).
Abi’s flowergirls channelled a snow-princess vibe in floaty dresses and textured shrugs from BHS – “mini versions of my dress,” Abi says.
The bridesmaids wore black, one-shoulder evening gowns from John Lewis, and minimalist over-arm bouquets of white lilies provided the perfect finishing touch.
Décor-wise, Abi and Ajay focused on a monochrome colour scheme and simple but impactful touches.
“I spent hours glueing black feathers onto the place cards, and Ajay spent hours writing the guests’ names on them – he has gorgeous handwriting,” Abi says.
Black goblets and flutes added a modern edge and contrasted well with the crisp white linens.
Other sleek monochrome details included a four-tiered wedding cake, made by a family friend using layers of chocolate and carrot.
“All our tables were named after Hindu gods, which was a great opportunity to bring in the Indian culture,” Abi says.
Stationery by I Do Designs (idodesigns.org.uk)
To fit the winter mood, the couple used candles to decorate tables and kept flowers to a minimum.
“Sitting next to my new husband on the top table, with snow falling gracefully outside and the candlelit reception room filled with friends and family, was one of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever been a part of,” Abi remembers.