The bride: Henal Patel, 26
The groom: Munir Somji, 28
Married: 5th July 2015
Venue: Quendon Hall, Parklands
Photography: Zurihsia Studios, +44(0)7786 433 907
Munir and I met on the 26th June 2010 at a BBQ. My mother pointed him out to me, but I ignored her efforts. It turns out Munir had spotted me way before that and sent his sister to befriended me, who then organised a night out. I had absolutely no idea I was being set up.
We got chatting and I ended up giving him my number. Munir was leaving the country for his elective (as he was still a medical student) and would email all the time from Singapore and New Zealand – messages which I mostly ignored. I was too busy partying with his sister!
But Munir wouldn’t give up. Once he was back home, he would drive hours to see me, even if his placements were miles outside London. I felt myself falling for him.
A month into our relationship, he told me about his five year plan. We would be married by 2015, he vowed. I didn’t know if he was being serious or joking, but I found out four years later when Munir came good on his promise. Just before our four-year anniversary, he popped the question at my favourite London restaurant, Sketch.
I was overwhelmed, and so excited that I was finally going to marry the man of my dreams. I couldn't wait to spend every day of my life with him.
Our civil ceremony was held at Wandsworth Registry Office in south London. It was my only choice of venue because it has so many lovely places for pictures, such as a gorgeous marble staircase. Also, it was the only venue close to my house with room for all 70 of our guests.
I wore an elegant cream gown and veil, while Munir cut a very handsome figure in a blue suit with a pink tie and boutonniere. Our guests wore a mix of Indian and western occasionwear, reflecting our British Asian culture.
I had my mehndi the same night as the registry, marking the start to my wedding events. We danced, ate and partied until the early hours, it was perfect.
The Hindu Ceremony
I’ve always dreamed of an outdoor wedding, so when I found Parklands while researching online, I knew it was the perfect place for Munir and I to tie the knot. With plenty of land, a beautiful deer garden and space for more than 600 people it ticked all the boxes. It even offered overnight accommodation for our families! Luckily my mum’s mama (uncle) was already in the wedding industry working at Ritz Events, so he set up my wedding mandap and handled all my reception décor. I was thrilled with the look he created, and everybody commented on what a fantastic job the company did. I wanted the very best priests, so Kamal Pandey and Shiv Gopal conducted my wedding. I first saw them working together at my cousins wedding - I had never been to such a beautiful wedding ceremony in my life. They took a lot of convincing, as they were apprehensive on taking on such a huge wedding, but I chased them until he agreed!
I wanted a pastel colour palette for my reception so I plumped for peach and it went perfectly with my white marquee as well as my pale pink gown. For a bit of extra glamour, I brought in Las Vegas-style showgirls to greet my guests at the entrance as they enjoyed a selection of cocktails.
I also hired a photobooth, which my friends and family loved! I would recommend the idea to any couple looking for great all-round entertainment for their reception. Everyone loved pulling funny faces and we were left with lovely snaps for our scrapbook.
The Décor and Food
After finding my venue and photographers I looked for my caterer. All the wedding suppliers I used were from word-of-mouth recommendations.
I chose Gujarati caterers Annapurna to cater my Big Day choosing a vegetarian buffet menu for the Hindu ceremony and a meat and veg seated dinner for the reception. The food was impeccable and the service faultless throughout the day. I met wedding cake designer at an exhibition and instantly fell for her cakes - they were works of art! I knew I had to have the company make my wedding cake. Ritz Events handled the décor for the ceremony and reception. We went for a classic, vintage theme, with lots of pretty pink touches and gold highlights.
Ritz went the extra miles for me by doing things such as shipping in matching table cloths especially as I didn't like the standard white ones, as well as the napkins. I also had a magician who performed a tricks during cocktail hour, which went down very well with guests.
Munir and I spent a few months practicing our first dance with our choreographer, a lovely lady called Veena. She was so patient with us, despite our two left feet! She was a phenomenal teacher, helping us with a routine that completely wowed our guests on the night. We chose a traditional Indian dance, with a bit of Cuban salsa for extra flavour. The reception party was one of the best nights of my life. It didn’t end until gone 1am, and Munir and I went to bed an hour later, exhausted but happy.
I’ve been a fan of the award-winning Zurihsia Studios for years and follow them on social media. However when I actually met Anil and Beena in person, it was the icing on the cake. Not only are they extremely talented, but they’re amazing people who are so much fun to work with, and treated us with such care. I knew my wedding pictures would be in safe hands with them.