Still do and still will...
A decade has passed since Kal and Matt first became a couple. This is the second wedding I have shot this year where this has been the case and there seems to be something really unique about the weddings of couples who marry after such a long period of time. I would say that they have already carried out most of the declarations couples make when they exchange their vows at the beginning of a marriage. So I believe in many ways this is perhaps a solid testimony of real love and what Kal and Matt declared on their wedding day was "I still do" and "I still will". Marking the beginning of the next chapter in their walk of life together. A simple, simply beautiful wedding….
The entire wedding took place in Nottingham and it all began early (very early). Shooting the bridal preparations at weddings is always one of my favourite parts of the day and on this occasion I was to shoot three. Just to guarantee that I missed absolutely nothing, I awoke at 4am on Saturday 18th July, eyes wide and excited to begin (what I could feel in my bones) was to be one of the highlights of my summer.
This is an absolutely stunning venue that has is steeped in a history that reaches back as far as the 16th century. Thrumpton Hall is still a home that is lived in today and I was lucky enough to be residing for the night. Could this weekend get any better? I think not.
A perfect opportunity
Kal and Matt didn't choose to honour the tradition of not seeing each other before their civil ceremony and so this gave us a perfect opportunity to explore the spectacular grounds and nip off for a couple shoot before the guests started to arrive.
Oops… she forget the flowers.. Best man Tim puts the bride before his own coffee. Now that's dedication. Good work Tim.
Kal and Matt began the day incredibly laid back and as family members gathered and numbers gradually increased everyone was greeted with big smiles and there was plenty of love and hugs to go round.
A breakfast of croissants and pain au chocolaté (YES please) was provided for everyone upon arrival and was served outside the fabulous library.
Meanwhile, outside in the grounds the guests made the most of the sunshine and relaxed atmosphere until...
... it was time for the serious business of a marriage to take place. Which it did simply and perfectly.
Introducing the new Mr and Mrs Stark… hoorah!
Time to slip in to something a bit more..... Indian
After the confetti and congratulations, the Bride and Groom and the rest of the bridal party whizzed off to change in to something more traditionally Indian. Lets have some music to go with it shall we? Hit PLAY
Now for those of you that have never had the experience of an Indian wedding YOU HAVE NOT LIVED and may I strongly suggest that you get some Indian friends and get yourselves on a guest list a.s.a.p. I am such a HUGE fan of everything Indian, so much so I wonder sometimes if perhaps I even have some Indian blood in me somewhere... (my blonde hair and blue eyes sadly suggests otherwise).. However, I can enjoy and appreciate the abundance of colour, the beauty of their ceremonious approach to everything and of course a fine curry. Kal and Matt's wedding was ticking all my happy boxes!
One of the many really wonderful things about this wedding was the effort the non-Indian guests went to with their dress. In fact had I have known the extent of the efforts being made before hand I would have got myself a sari and joined in. Everyone looked outstanding. Especially the Groom. Check him and the best man out in all their garb...
Time for another highlight, drums and... oh of course, some light bulb changing? (when in Rome and all that)..
Traditionally as part of the initial ceremony, the bridegroom is brought to a specially decorated altar called a "mandap". On the way there Kal's Sister's greeted him and carried out various rituals before he was escorted to the altar. (None of this go straight there and wait for your bride malarky- not on Hindu watch).
Matt fully embraced all that was thrown at him and seemed to love every minute, even the part where he had his big toe tied to his head.
Bling and bindis
Meanwhile (while Matt was having his body parts tied up with string) Kal and her bridal party started to change in to something even more FABULOUS and my excitement levels shot up yet another notch. Needless to say, I was in my absolute element surrounded by beauties, bindis, bangles and bling.
The final touches of bling were complete and Kal had gone from a beautiful to a breath-takingly stunning bride.
By now the guests were all seated and Matt was on his way to the altar and patiently awaited the arrival of his now Hindu Bride to be.
Gau Daan and Kanya Pratigrahan
'Gau' means cow and 'Daan' means donation. Nowadays, the symbolic exchange of gifts, particularly clothes and ornaments takes place at Hindu weddings.
Matt was hidden from Kal by a large white cloth and was not allowed to set eyes on her until their hands had been bound together and then it was removed. So exciting!
Every detail is symbolic
Through a little research in to the complexities of Hindu weddings, I learned that the exchange of garlands is called Jaimala. The couple exchange the flower garlands as a gesture of acceptance of one another and a pledge to respect one another as partners.
This is the main and the legal part of the ceremony. The couple walk seven steps reciting a prayer at each step. These are seven vows exchanged. The first is for food and others include strength, prosperity, wisdom and health. In some regions, instead of walking the seven steps, the bride touches seven stones or nuts with her right toe and a symbolic matrimonial knot is tied after.
Sindhoor (red Powder)
The groom applies a small dot of vermilion, a powdered red lead, to the bride’s forehead and welcomes her as his partner for life. It is applied for the first time to a woman during the marriage ceremony when the bridegroom himself adorns her with it.
Oh looks, he's adorning her..
Towards the end of the ceremony, a sacred fire was lit and the Priest recited some Sanskrit mantras. This is the part of the ceremony where traditionally the couple invokes the god of Fire (Agni), to witness their commitment to each other and crushed sandalwood, herbs, sugar rice and oil are offered to the ceremonial fire.
Here comes the sun
Finally the couple look at the Sun in order to be blessed with creative life. They look in the direction of the sun (Dhruva) and resolve to remain unshaken and steadfast like the Polar star/sun. For Kal and her family the sun (hence the intro music choice to this blog) had a greater significance, bringing further comfort and a reassurance that her Father's blessing was upon her marriage.
Without question Kal's Father's heart would have burst with pride on this day and so shone the sun, all day long.
Kal said her farewells to her family and the couple left (after Matt persuaded her Sisters with finance) as Husband and Wife (again). Which could only mean one thing left on the wedding agenda...
Outfit change number 3!! Woo hoo! It was time for Kal to let the hair down (literally) and change in to something more suitable for the wedding reception...
At which time, the guests were given an opportunity to do some relaxing and enjoy a glass of prosecco and some tasty Indian snacks whilst soaking up the late afternoon sun. Perfect pre- wedding reception/shin dig guest behaviour.
It has to be acknowledged that THE BEST best man speech I have heard this year (thus far) came from Tim. It was warm and (relatively) kind but above all absolutely hilarious. So if anyone is giving out any awards... throw one in Tim's direction please.
That really brings this blog to the end. I was unable to hide my enthusiasm and joy on the day of their wedding (I quite possibly verging on slightly crazy even) and so Kal and Matt are fully aware of what an amazing day I had, let alone them. This is a couple who genuinely love whole heartedly, not just each other but their friends and family too and they made damn sure that they were not going to be the only ones having a great time. They are kind and incerdibly generous and man they know how to party and long may they do so as Husband and Wife.
Thank you both for an incredible experience and for the most wonderful opportunity. It was simply, the most perfect day. Congratulations.
It could be you….