It’s Wedding Season – What I Wore (Part 1)
It’s Wedding Season which can only mean one thing for a girl – getting dressed up. And boy, do I love it. I enjoy the whole process; from planning and shopping for my outfits to deciding my look on the day.
Normally when we have family occasions, I usually do my own hair and make-up. I experiment with different updos and hairstyles and keep my make-up quite natural for summer weddings. However, when it’s a really close family wedding, I always book a make-up artist (or MUA, as they’re better known). It’s difficult getting ready on time for the various ceremonies and events. There are many early starts and besides, I like to feel that extra bit special. There’s nothing like plonking down in a chair with a cuppa in a hand and letting a MUA get to work. It takes out any stress from the day and it’s a chance for me to feel pampered.Sukh’s first cousin Ricky tied the knot in May. His other cousin Suraj also got married a few weeks later. As these were two big occasions for us, it meant several outfits for each. I went on a work trip to Mumbai in January and decided to tag on two days for myself in the city so I could shop for the weddings. Read all about my time in Mumbai here and read about my stay at Le Sutra Hotel here.
I made a list of the various events for both weddings and calculated how many outfits I needed for myself and for Shalini. I had the time of my life going from store to store in Mumbai browsing lehengas, sarees and different types of salwar kameez. I also bought jewellery and accessories to go along with my new outfits. I ended up buying so much that it would never fit in my luggage home. Thankfully the stores shipped my purchases to the UK and they arrived a couple of weeks after my visit.Ricky married Munveer (lovingly known as Moon to friends and family). She’s a fellow blogger, who goes under the name of The Style Count, and writes all about fashion, trends and style with great tips on where to get your hands on the products she loves. You can check out her blog here and if you want to feel inspired daily, then follow her on Instagram.
The first event on Ricky’s wedding was the Sangeet Night. This is an evening for the ladies to get together to sing, dance and have their hands decorated in henna. Once the ladies finished their traditional folk songs and belting out big Bollywood numbers, the guys all joined in. It was a fun evening spent eating, drinking and dancing.
The weather was predicted to be lovely that entire week leading up to the first Bank Holiday in May and so I planned my outfits accordingly. I had so much to choose from so I was a little spoilt for choice. Lightweight sarees with bold prints and floral designs are amongst my favourite type of Asian outfit. Over the last few years, whenever there is a Sangeet Night, I opt for one of the many in my collection. I can honestly say I have never even worn one of them twice so far.I’ve been to Mumbai a few times and on every visit, I pick up a few more. They’re cheap yet so vibrant and comfortable it’s a no-brainer. On my January trip to Mumbai, I bought five print sarees for sixty-five pounds from a small store in Bandra market. What a bargain! I booked a cut and blow dry that afternoon and asked for big bouncy curls. It meant I only had to apply my make-up when I got home and because the saree is so light, it took no time at all to wrap – with Shalini’s help.The saree itself is bright – lots of splashes of blue, red, yellow and teal. The satin material gives it a classy finish and I teamed it with a contrasting red sleeveless blouse to make the red in the saree pop. It was the perfect outfit for the warm May evening and comfortable to dance in too.
The following morning was an early start and after a late night, I knew it would be hard to get out of bed! But the sunshine and heat was motivation enough to jump out of bed and get ready. Before a close family wedding, I make sure I do all of the ironing ahead of time for me and the kids so that when the day comes around, all I have to do is take it off the hanger. It saves a ton of time and ironing delicate Asian outfits with all of the embroidery and embellishments is time-consuming.
I chose to wear a traditional Punjabi salwar kameez for the Maiyan ceremony. This ritual consists of rubbing a paste on the bride and groom (both in their own respective houses with their families). The paste is made out of turmeric, flour and oil. It’s done a couple of days before the wedding day in order to ‘create a glow’ for the couple tying the knot. The morning usually consists of a Sikh religious ceremony at home too followed by the maiyan so I wanted a dupatta (scarf) which would be comfortable for when I covered my head.As it was a sunny day, I had opted for a peach shade with a contrast fuchsia dupatta.I love colours and the brighter the better. It is a cotton suit so it was comfortable and airy to wear in the prickly heat. My mum had bought this for me on her annual visit to the Punjab. She has a good eye in selecting great materials, colours and then as an added bonus, has them tailored out there too.I didn’t bother doing anything extravagant with my hair as I still wanted to make the most of my blow dry. The curls had dropped a bit but I think having my hair down worked best. I opted for a hot pink lipstick but kept the rest of my face fairly subtle.
Once the ceremony was complete everyone ate lunch and rushed home as there was a pre-party in the evening. This was for the groom’s side only – close family, extended family and friends. It’s a kind of like a stag do but family-friendly! The official stag had already happened in Las Vegas a few weeks earlier. As this was an evening party, I chose a black lehenga saree with gold embroidery, which I had also picked up in Mumbai from a boutique store. I love wearing a lehenga, which consists of a skirt, top and dupatta. This particular outfit has the dupatta already attached to the skirt so it is a simple wrap-around.The skirt is an A-line shape, which means it flowed nicely and was airy enough for the hot weather. The top is velvet with short mesh sleeves and the high collar meant I didn’t need to wear a necklace. That was quite a relief as I prefer a simple look. I usually only wear a chunky bangle or bracelet on each wrist and studs in each ear. A big selling point is that I can get a few wears out of this outfit. It’s quite understated and I can always refresh it by teaming it with a gold sleeveless blouse. I often like to recycle my outfits and match them up in different ways for a fresh look.
I had booked my friend of nineteen years and MUA Preeti Sehmi for this wedding. She is my go-to person when it comes to close family occasions. I trust her work implicitly and I know I can be honest with her about what I want, what I like and what I don’t like. I had asked for big hair as I wanted a different look to the first two events. I have been growing my hair for some time now so I was relieved I didn’t need hair extensions and still managed to have a high and long pony-tail. We decided on a gold smokey eye and bright orangey-red lips.
The wedding day was upon us before we knew it. It was scorchingly hot and I was glad of the outfit I had chosen to wear. The pastel mint green gown – better known as an Anarkali suit – was perfect. It comes with matching leggings which you can’t see as the gown is floor-length. It could have been worn as a dress without the leggings but they’re so thin and light, it worked out better to keep them on. We would be in the Gurdwara (Sikh Temple), so I felt more comfortable with them on.
The gown itself has no embroidery or design. The bodice is plain with transparent net around the waist followed by a full skirt with big pleats. The dupatta is the heaviest item in this outfit and the most standout. It’s made of mint and cream net with gold embroidered circles and pearls sewn into the border. It has strings either side so I could comfortably place it on one shoulder to go across the body and tie it on the opposite side. The gown would look quite plain without this option.
The dupatta is heavy but not enough to weigh down on my head when covering it in the temple. That’s the worst thing about some Asian outfits when you’ve taken the time to do a lovely updo and it flops under the weight of a dupatta. That’s why I’m always careful in what I pick for the actual wedding ceremony. I wore a bit more jewellery on the wedding day than I had throughout the week so far. On the wedding you can afford to go a bit bigger, bolder and heavier. It took me a long time to find a matching rose gold jewellery set with the right colour pearls. I also chose to wear the tikka (headpiece) for the morning ceremony.
This time Preeti and I decided on an updo. I left it entirely in her hands as she swept over the hair from one side to the other with a messy bun with loose curls. My make-up was kept simple except for the mint green eyeshadow. I used to love colours on my lids but recently I prefer a nude look. I trust Preeti when she suggested a splash of colour on this occasion and I think it worked well.
The final event in Ricky’s wedding was the reception, a day after the wedding. It was a gorgeous Sunday and I started getting ready from about one o’clock as we had to be at the Arley Arboretum at four. I allowed a good couple of hours for Preeti to do my hair and make-up. Today I opted for a messy Elsa-type braid. I wanted something a bit more casual than the previous hairstyles and a different look altogether. Again we went for a nude look for my make-up and used minimal colour on my eyes teamed with nude lips. It was sweltering outside and I didn’t want to be caked in products, only for them to be sliding down my face during the evening. Preeti was very careful in the application and kept layers to a minimum.
The outfit I chose for this event was a silk gown in a bold teal with big red flowers and gold embroidery. The back was netted from the neck down to the waist so it was pretty airy. There was a gold zipper right down to the waist too and this was a big selling point for me. A lot of Asian outfits are so tightly-fitted that they’re difficult to get in and out of. In hindsight, I probably could have opted for a pastel outfit in chiffon. We were in the gardens for a couple of hours enjoying canopies and the silk material was clinging to me, although everyone around me seemed to be equally as hot no matter what they were wearing. The skirt was full and flowy. Shalini’s already told me once I’ve got a couple of wears out of this outfit, that she wants to steal it from me. I’m happy to pass it down to her as I think it’s simple enough for a twelve-year-old to pull off.All in all the reception was eight hours long. It was a wonderful night. After the canopies in the gardens, we headed to the huge marquee. The guests enjoyed cocktails and fruits platters and enjoyed chilling, chatting and walking around the lawns. Sukh and I used this opportunity to click lots of pictures as the surroundings were beautiful.We enjoyed a delicious three-course meal before we danced into the night. We shared an amazing few days as a family. We created memories to last a lifetime, even though we were all completely shattered for days after.
Photo Credit: Shalini
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