Following a six-month engagement, Abu Sahid and Azmeena Iqbal married on January 6, 2022 with 64 guests in attendance
How did you meet?
It’s rather simple, highly romantic and somewhat unexpected. I met my husband at the bank. He would deposit my business takings and we would converse for a couple of minutes each visit. Until one day, he added me on Instagram and while the world was locked away due to the pandemic our love story began to take shape.
Tell us about the proposal.
It was a traditional and religious proposal. My husband came to my home with his parents to honourably ask for my hand in marriage from my mother.
How was your wedding affected by Covid-19?
We had to keep the numbers low but admittedly it had been my dream all along to have an intimate gathering of the closest friends and family. Culturally speaking, a wedding in the South Asian community would be a larger affair with hundreds of guests. However, keeping with the theme of breaking all traditional notions as my fiery personality would normally dictate, Covid became a convenience that allowed my husband and I to have the smaller, romantic and intimate event that we had always envisioned for ourselves.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
The theme consisted of a romantic garden setting entwined with a rich Mogul vibe created by First Impressions. A cascade of beautiful cherry blossoms surrounded the hall with the grand chandeliers of the Princess Suite at the London Chigwell Prince Regent Hotel, making for a royal fairytale.
How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?
I always knew I would break the tradition by not wearing the expected red dress on my wedding day as my cultural background would dictate. I have quite a minimalistic and elegant style and so I wanted my wedding dress to also carry the same character. It was the easiest decision for me because as soon as I placed the antique gold on I saw the whole look come to life in my head. I could picture myself lighting up the wedding aisle in the gold gown with accents of red to please the traditional crowd. It took me around 20 dresses to find the winning piece but we got there and I felt like a queen on the day.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
My two aunties and cousin were my bridesmaids for the day and their dresses featured antique gold embroidery to match my dress combined with navy blue.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
My mother followed the colour scheme of the bridesmaids with navy blue and antique gold but she differentiated her look with very Mogul-style grand jewellery which gave her the 'mother of the bride' edge.
Did you hire a wedding planner? How did they help?
We used a local business who had organised previous events for my business. It was Peter Baxi from Kanchans who brought my vision to life and took immense stress off my mother by paying close attention to detail to deliver exactly what we wanted.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
The wedding favours and all gifting to the groom’s side was executed by a small local business and creative genius, Raj from Picture Perfect Design.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I never understood why brides would feel so nervous walking down the aisle and, as I quite rightly found out, nerves were the first emotion I felt followed bya wave of happiness when I looked up and saw my husband and my mother standing at the end of the aisle ready to receive me. It was a feeling of anxiety (because heels and I are not friends!) as well as endless love, happiness and joy. It was my moment, the one I had dreamed of for a while and it was finally manifesting into a reality.
Also, something that dawned on me and lingered in the background was how hungry I was, as I'd forgotten to eat all day.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
Being an Islamically spiritual individual, the reading of the ceremony was the most important part of the day for me. The Imam read the wedding scriptures in English so it could be understood; a personal touch which made the religious Nikah reading so special and personal to us.
What was your most memorable moment?
The most memorable moment for me personally was the Islamic reading of the Nikah that officially made my husband and I a married couple. Parted by the beautiful flower curtain and the Arabic recitations from the Imam made for the most important and emotional moment of the day.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
For my mother, I could say it was the uncertainty of the pandemic because everything else was perfect. We had an amazing team who were so professional and delivered exactly what we wanted, but the only constraint we were working against was the uncertainty of a potential looming lockdown.
What was the most important investment for you?
Food! My husband and I come from a culture which enjoys food and good food is normally central to any celebration. Peter Baxi from Kanchans really made sure all guests were well fed with an array of delicious dishes.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
The song I chose for my first dance is Baarish Ban Jaana and it’s a hindi love song which is a conversation between a man and woman in love and how they feel for each other. It’s all about their unity and I thought it was sweet and would work well for the first dance. It also helps that I had been obsessing over the song for months prior to the wedding, so it was no surprise that it would be the song I would choose to twirl away to with my happily-ever-after.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
We didn't have any entertainment; just good food, great music and a room full of people who love each other.
Tell us about your wedding cake
The wedding cake was very Western and minimalistic, created by Jade from Sweet Nelly's Co. It consisted of four tiers with ivory pearls placed on a bed of red roses and petals, which matched my bridal bouquet.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
As trivial as it sounds, I would probably listen to my mother and eat more prior to the ceremony. It sounds so minor, but a bride-to-be must always make sure she eats.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
Honeymoon plans are pending as the pandemic has made travel a seriously tedious mission, but we shall be getting away later on in the year. For now, exploring the city of London, where we live, and lots of stay-cations are the motive.
Steal their style:
Venue: London Chigwell Prince Regent Hotel
Photography: Richard Barker
Décor: First Impressions Ltd
Event planning, design & catering: Kanchans Events
Hair: Shaista the Hairstylist
Make-up: AZ London Beauty
Wedding favours and gifting: Picure Perfect Designs
Cake: Sweet Nelly's Co