Who am I kidding with this title? I’m practically on my way to one. No, I kid. Kinda.
At this moment in time there are merely days left till my wedding. This article however, has been a work in process since nearly a year. Many parts of this post were written months ago so things have probably changed since then but just go with it.
Organising a wedding SHOULDN’T be this stressful. When I started so many people gave me advice not to stress and to just enjoy the planning process and that everything will fall into place. They were absolutely right.
However, the kind of person I am means I just automatically stress and when things aren’t anything but perfect I can’t bear it. Recently however, I have tried to become much more relaxed about the whole thing and just enjoy the time I left at home with my family. I have stopped looking for perfect since last year, you will be glad to know.
Since last year I have had endless requests from girls asking me to do a post on how I organised my Nikah/Engagement ceremony which took place in August 2014. Since then I have tried on many occasions to get this post up but it’s such a mammoth task that I’ve been putting it off. However, so many of you appreciated my last wedding related post on PACKING of all things that I thought some of you might gain some ideas from this post also.
My Nikah was bigger than some people’s weddings. By no means was it ever planned to be such a big event but things just kind of grew arms and legs once we started to write the guest list and our final numbers sat at 180. Hence, I have titled this post with ‘wedding’ rather than engagement party but take from it what you will and what works for you.
Now, when it comes to advising about how to start planning my best advice is start by setting yourself a wedding budget and search for the venue. Remember, weddings are expensive and things will crop up that you won’t even have budgeted for so it’s a good idea to have a rough estimate of how much you want to spend on each thing. Have a backup stash of money ready to use during emergencies. Believe me, these will arise as you plan your big day.
My husband’s family officially came to ask for my hand in marriage on the 10th of January 2014 and I was out seeing venues on the 12th of January. Keen bean you say? Organised freak I say.
It took me two weeks to go and view around 10 venues in and around Glasgow and that’s when I realised that I may not get the date that I had in mind. Venues are booked out months, even years in advance so be flexible with your dates where possible. I made a list of venues that I wanted to see and set up appointments. However, before going to see them it is a good idea to ask about the seating capacity. Asian weddings usually have ridiculous amounts of guests ranging anything between 300-1000 guests so don’t get your heart set on a venue after viewing it only then to be told that they only seat 200. This is exactly what happened to me when I asked about the capacity for Mar Hall outside of Glasgow for my wedding this year and was told they could not cater for 450 people. Yes, I was disappointed but you just move on and find something else.
When I went to see the Crutherland Hotel in East Kilbride I instantly fell in love and knew that it was the place I wanted the event to take place.
The grounds were breath taking and I knew straight away that it was perfect for what I wanted because of all the natural light that flowed into the room our guests would be sitting in.
I wanted somewhere with beautiful gardens for photographs but this is often a problem for a lot of venues that hold the numbers suitable for Asian weddings. Thankfully I was able to find somewhere but I know lots of girls who have had to settle for city centre hotels that are beautiful internally but just do not have the space for private gardens etc. A good compromise here is, book yourself into somewhere like Cameron House at Loch Lomond the day before the wedding. Get ready there and have your photographs taken there before you arrive to your wedding venue.
There are two cons with this idea:
1) Your husband will see you on the morning of your wedding before anyone else. This could be a positive too if you would rather he sees you before anyone else privately but if you are like me you might want him to lay eyes on you when you make your big Bollywood entrance. Think about this one, it’s a good compromise if you want nice pictures.
2) The hotel may not allow it. Please ensure girls you get permission to use the hotel grounds you might choose to stay in the night before your wedding. A lot of hotels do not allow their ground to be used unless you have booked their venue for your wedding. Clear this one up before you start your photo shoot and then are told off for it.
Once I decided on the venue and started going through dates I was told that the dates I wanted were not available. Most Glasgow venues do not give Saturday dates for outside catered weddings so that was the first blow. Secondly with Ramadan being during the summer it meant that there were literally 2 possible weekends my event could have taken place and I was told those were fully booked. This is where we compromised and settled on Monday 4th of August 2014.
Now, never in my wildest dreams had I ever considered a Monday for a wedding event but it worked so well. We realised that all the children and students of the family would be off for holidays. All those who were self employed wouldn’t have issues taking a Monday off and the rest we would give them plenty of notice to get the day off. Yes, it wasn’t the weekend event I had anticipated but with it being the summer holidays it really did not make a difference.
When discussing price and packages with the hotel I asked them to reconsider the deal as I was taking a weekday date rather than a weekend date. I managed to get £1000 taken off the entire package for taking the Monday date rather than the Sunday so something to think about again girls. There are some venues that just will not budge on their packages, for example the Hilton hotels etc don’t. However, some venues will and definitely don’t agree to prices straight away. Compare what other venues are offering before you go and agree to anything.
Because I had spent two weeks traipsing around venue after venue I decided to book my wedding venue for the following year as well. This gave me a year and a half advanced notice and thankfully I was able to get the date that I had always wanted for this July. I managed to get the most beautiful venue also but this was through booking a year and a half in advance.
The best piece of advice I can give you is – start with the venue. When you book your venue, you will have a date. Everything else will fall into place.
After this I would say the next biggies are as follows:
Hair and Make Up
Don’t get me wrong there are hundreds of other things you will have to organise but try and get these sorted as soon as your venue is booked because catering and décor companies are inundated with weddings all year round now but especially summer because of Ramadan so you want to ensure that you will get the company that you want.
I was absolutely delighted with both the catering and the décor at my Nikah.
People STILL talk about the food. I must admit, I organised every bit of my Nikah with some help from my nearest and dearest but the one thing I didn’t butt into was the food. That was the only thing I gave full leeway to my brother and dad because food is more their department than mine. We went with Diamond Wedding Services for the food and I honestly can’t praise their service and food enough. My dad knows them very well so it made the whole thing easier. Uncle Azeem from Diamond came round to our house and was happy to answer all my daft questions and together we created a menu that would suit our guests. The package that we took with our hotel included all crockery/cutlery and waiting staff. This meant that we only used Diamond for the food, drinks and table decorations.
I love fresh flowers and really wanted centrepieces that would be filled with fresh flowers. This can be extremely expensive if you are having 40-50 tables at your event. Because it was my Nikah and we had 18 tables of 10 I budgeted for this little detail that I had always wanted. On my wedding, I will have candelabras instead because I got the lovely centrepieces I wanted last year. A wee tip, I hated the idea of all those beautiful flowers going to waste so after my Nikah I asked for each centrepiece to be given to each family that came to the event. Everyone left with lovely flowers to take home and it was just a nice gesture that people appreciated. I remember sending one of the nicest one home for my best friend Camilla’s mum and Aunty Jan was just delighted because they went so well with her living room. We still had so many left over in our house which was just filled with them!
The flowers that matched Aunty Jan's living room.
The morning after the Nikah. So many flowers left over even after everyone took them home.
Opening up all the lovely gifts Atteeq's family bought me. Loves a hamper.
Anyway, back to the catering side of things. For my wedding the hotel are providing just the tables and chairs so Diamond will be doing the food, drinks and everything else basically. Please ensure that you are clear on what your venue are providing so that if for example they won’t be providing tablecloths and napkins, you can arrange this with your catering company and there won’t be any issues on the day. I know this is a very obvious point but I know of someone that presumed this would be provided by the venue and when it wasn’t it just became a nightmare to try and source those things last minute.
My décor was provided by Saffron Events UK. I wanted something simple and elegant that would compliment our outfits but not take away all the attention by being too gaudy or loud. Thankfully, that is exactly what I got. Now, the meticulous (some would say psychotic) planner that I am meant that I hadn’t missed any detail out but Hassan from Saffron messaged me a couple of days before my event to ask if I needed flowers for the top table and coffee table and I realised I had totally forgotten about them. He organised those last minute and they looked SO beautiful. The peach gerberas and roses complimented the champagne theme so well. My advice is if you are having a separate Nikah to your wedding then try and keep the decor simple and go all out on the wedding!
Once your food and décor is sorted get that make up artist booked ASAP. Trying to get the make up artist you want for the date that you want is almost as difficult as getting a suitable venue these days. Do your research, book trials and remember to pay a deposit. I recently had to go through a horrible time when I was told by a well known London MUA that she had booked someone else in for my Walima date because I hadn’t paid a deposit. It was a tough lesson to learn but everything happens for the best eh? I now have managed to secure someone whose work looks amazing and she seems like a lovely person.
PUT DOWN A DEPOSIT FOR EVERYTHING.
Seriously, I can’t iterate this enough. Once you have chosen someone and you know you want
to go with them, be it a photographer, DJ or whatever really – offer them a deposit so that you know you have secured them for your date. Make sure you keep a note of all the deposits you have paid and pay remaining balances in advance of your event. If you have to pay people on the day then have their cash in envelopes clearly labelled beforehand and give it to your family to pass on to the person on the day. This is what I did as I was busy behind the scenes and wouldn’t have time to come down and pay different people who wanted paid on the day. Again, a very obvious tip but it’s easy to forget about these things when you are so busy with everything else.
Back to make up.
If you can find a makeup artist that does hair too then that’s an added bonus but just because someone is a good makeup artist it doesn’t mean they will be good at hair too so find people that are good at their craft. For my Nikah, make up was done by Louise Dyet and hair was by Mubheena of ZazoBeauty.
Both kept my look glamorous but not over the top just as I had asked.
Right, now moving on to my most favourite part of the planning.
I went to Shazia of Majestic by Eliza who had my outfit custom made by her team in Lahore. Shazia had previously made an outfit for me so I knew that she was reliable and she knew the types of things that I liked but she went above and beyond the call of duty to have the perfect outfit made for me.
I went to her in February and it took a good few months to get the outfit exactly as I had wanted. The biggest worry I had was the colour of the outfit. I knew that I wanted a champagne coloured outfit and in the end that is exactly what I got!
Shazia works around each client’s budget and is extremely professional.
Just to add here, this post is not sponsored nor am I being paid to gush about any of these people. I have spent hours on this post because I get so many emails and messages from stressed brides who want to know who made my outfit or who did my décor but don’t know if they should trust the people that I went for. I would not recommend people unless I truly received great service. There are some people that I dealt with along the way that I have most definitely kept out of this post. I won’t name and shame them, that is just not me. But bear in mind, there are lots of unreliable people within the Asian wedding market and I had to learn that the hard way.
However, there were many lovely people who made the whole planning process easier and one of them was Shazia. She also was in charge of my mum and sister’s outfits and they also turned out beautiful.
I will refrain from sharing my mother's outfit as she will throttle me for putting me her on social media. Her outfit was a long jacket with underdress in the same colour scheme.
We just couldn’t be happier with the service that Shazia provided us which is why she is making many more outfits for my family and Atteeq’s family for the wedding this year.
Shazia has now become a good friend and I genuinely could not recommend her enough because of how she will keep you informed about your outfits and if something goes wrong, she will offer solutions until you are happy. My outfit was beautiful and I don’t think I will ever look back at it and think what on earth am I wearing?!
Atteeq sure did after I ruined his outfit after attaching myself to his sleeves a million times. The joys of embellishment eh? Whoops.
I had set aside a budget on my engagement party for the ‘little things’ because I’m a sucker for little details. These actually end up costing quite a big bit but it all depends on the kind of day you are looking for. I had wanted to include all the cute ideas I had on this day because when you are having a wedding day with around 500 people it can be really difficult to add personal touches for every single guest. To be honest though, I have kind of done this for the wedding too despite saying I would do it all on the Nikah so I wouldn’t have to on the wedding. Guilty.
One of the things we thought long and hard about were the favours. I had chosen a pastel theme and had asked all close family and friends to wear pastel colours. This worked so well and most people obliged. How nice were the gold and aqua coloured outfit my mum and sister wore? Going with the pastel theme I was keen to find favours that would tie in with this theme. After looking online at various ideas I really liked an idea I found on Pinterest where you would use mini glass jars as favours. The next step was working out what to put inside them. My sister who is a chocolate fiend might I add suggested mini eggs because of their pastel coating. At first I said no straight away for two reasons.
First of all, it was my engagement not Easter.
Second of all, I don’t like mini eggs.
Madiha can be a very persuasive person however so I eventually agreed.
We ordered around 180 glass jars from eBay (I can’t remember the exact size we bought so if anyone would like to know then email me!) and I think this cost roughly just under £70. Now, we started off with something like 8kg of mini eggs but soon had to order more because chief of the supply chain (Madiha) must have eaten about 2 kilos of the mini eggs whilst we were putting them into the jars.
The jars that we had managed to get fit around six eggs into each and the OCD sisters that we are we even had a specific order of colours that had to go into each so that each jar would have a variety of pastel colours in it rather than just the one shade. We had far too much time on our hands, clearly. I won’t lie – I was so organised for the event that I even had gifts for guests in gift bags, tagged with messages a month before the Nikah. I was adamant I wanted everything organised a month before my Nikah because I can’t cope with last minute running around. This meant that we spent the month of Ramadan actually focusing on that rather than running around trying to organise the event.
The only thing we had to do during Ramadan was package up the 180 favours which did take a wee while so girls this is NOT a job you can leave till the last day. As we had DIY favours we saved quite a bit on money. The mini eggs cost around £40 altogether and the personalised tags literally cost something crazy like 8 quid. We got everything from eBay shops so if you are working with a tight budget and have around 200 guests then definitely look into making your favours up yourself after sourcing all the wee bits from eBay. I will admit, this was very time consuming especially the tying of the tags with ribbon around the bottles. It’s murder being OCD. My sister redid so many because my bows weren’t good enough. Cow.
Another ‘little thing’ that we had was a candy cart. I really wanted to do something for all the children that would be attending the wedding and although I toyed with the idea of a bouncy castle, I soon let that one go when I had visions of some cherub splitting their head open on the day of my Nikah. Having them running around high on sugar was the next best thing. The candy cart went down an absolute treat and was a huge hit with the children. Unsure about whether their mothers shared my sentiment. I didn’t want the children to be full on sweets and spoil their lunch so I had a little sign made yet again via eBay. I am such a poet.
Moving on to photography. Another favourite of mine. I’m a blogger so of course, I do love a photo. This is an area which can be very expensive. Yes, for sure. Good photographers can be very expensive and for good reason because of all the work that goes into what they do. A tip here is to ask the photographer you choose to take all your photos, edit them and put them all onto a disk or USB stick for you. This means you will have to have albums made up yourself but it really will save you almost half the money if you do it yourself. Something to think about.
I went with Steph from Berry Nice Photography (search her up on Facebook!) because we went to university together and I knew I would be comfortable around her. Discuss what kinds of photos you like in detail with your photographer. Make a Pinterest account and pin lots of wedding photographs that you like so that you can send them to your photographer to let him/her get an idea of what kind of pictures you like! Just to say, most of the photos within this post were taken by Steph but some were taken by my sister or brother on our own cameras.
The following is all Stephs’ photography with a little bit of Instagram filter by me. She did a fantastic job with the photos.
My beautiful niece Zohra handed me the ring I put on Atteeq. His nephew handed him my ring. Super cute.
Just before my dad walked me in to see my husband for the very first time after our Nikah.
I probably should have said this at the start before writing 3000 words about how to plan a wedding but invest in a good wedding planner/diary.
Clearly I live a checklist. Tick.
I got mine from Amazon and it was a life saver during the planning of the Nikah. I have used a different one to plan the wedding reception this year but I must admit, the planning has been a lot easier this year because I had lots of experience from planning the Nikah. There are so many things I could sit here and write about but I will be here forever.
I hope I have covered the basics. Some of you may feel I am just stating the obvious but I am just going by the things that I am asked about frequently.
Here is a list of things that I had included in my wedding planner of things to do for the Nikah. It might be a good starting point for you. Again, I am writing these out as they are in my planner so some may not be relevant for you!
In no particular order:
· Book Venue
· Book Caterer
· Order my Outfit
· Mum and Dad’s Outfit
· Siblings Outfits
· Presents for Atteeq’s Family
· Table Covers
· Candy Cart
· Teeth Whitening (Only me…)
· Legal Documents/Marriage Certificate (Remember all those getting married in Scotland must fill in forms and register intent of marriage BEFORE your Nikah. You will then pick up the marriage schedule a few days before your Nikah. After it has been signed by witnesses, you and your partner and most importantly the approved Imam, you will return it back to the registry office and will be posted out a marriage certificate within a few days)
· Music – As it was the Nikah we went for instrumental music. My sister downloaded lots of music and made an ipod playlist. The hotel had a music system where we could plug in our own ipod. Check with your venue if you can do this because you might save money by doing this instead of having a DJ.
I will have missed so many things out. Lord knows, my wedding to do list has been twice as long as there are so many things I have had to organise just because of it being a much bigger event. A lot of planning went into my Nikah and it truly was the best day of my life. The only thing I regret though is just how much I stressed over it. I enjoyed myself so much but watching the DVD back I can see how on edge I was. My family have all been commenting on how much I am fake smiling because I was so worried about everything running smoothly. I guess this was natural because I had spent six months planning something that would be a reflection on me and my family and I wanted it to go well.
But now, a year later and literally days before my wedding day I know I won’t be making the same mistake twice. Sure, I have been bridezilla many a time since. But I am not going mad over little things. I am not bursting into tears at the mention of little things going wrong. I am bursting into tears every time I find a childhood photo of me and my sister or my brothers whilst packing. I am bursting into tears every time my mum says what will I do without you? I am bursting into tears at the thought of leaving my brothers and sisters and things never being the same again. These are the things that SHOULD be making me cry right now. Not the thought of my wedding stage not being perfect or my outfit turning out ugly. Yes, these things are all important and FYI my outfit is anything but ugly.
But, in the grander scheme of things – your wedding day is one day. Your marriage is for a lifetime. We as girls get so caught up in the wedding that we forget about the marriage. I am guilty of this more than anyone.
I am determined to not make the same mistake twice and plan on enjoying every moment of my big day when it comes. Sure, there will be a part of me having kittens because things might run late or the chair ties might not be the exact shade of gold that I wanted. But there will be a bigger part of me thanking the Lord for blessing me with so much more than I deserve and for making me the happiest girl alive because of this specimen right here.
Good luck to all those of you getting married in the next few weeks. I know there are so many of you! I wish nothing but happiness and luck for you all and pray that your big day is stress free. Remember, it is ONE day and things just have a way of falling into place. If you are well organised and have organised everything then things WILL go well. Involve your family and delegate jobs for the big day. Other than this there is nothing else you can do other than to relax, look pretty and smile for that camera.
I have been warned by my sister and close family that I am not allowed to smile on the wedding day. Okay, I am allowed to smile but not the psychotic smile that I do. Basically, I am not allowed to show teeth because Pakistani brides are supposed to be shy and demure and I looked ‘too happy’ last time. Shy and demure I can’t do so I have agreed to TRY and not look deranged with joy. My sister has tried and failed on many occasions to show me how to do the ‘resting bitch face’ and has failed. I sometimes try and look moody for my blog shoots and look so daft.
To hell with it, it’s my day and I’m going to look happy if I want! The Pakistani community is known for loving a gossip so I will forever be known as the girl that was happy on her wedding day.
Oh the horror. Oh the scandal.
Good luck my lovelies.