A memorable wedding with an intimate feel in Hertfordshire
16 Mar 2021
Rajdeep Jaswal and Varinder Sahdra held their wedding ceremony at Guru Nanak Gurdwara in Hitchin which went from 400 to 15 guests
Photography: Abraxas Photography & Video
How was (if at all) your wedding affected by Covid-19?
The wedding was postponed from the original date of May 23, 2020 due to Covid-19. We had considered rescheduling for the bank holiday weekend in August, however the guest limit then was only 30 and we felt that by holding out longer, the numbers may go up. In fact, it declined. On October 25 after much discussion, we decided to go ahead with the wedding on December 5, only for the announcement of another lockdown which would be lifted December 2.
How many guests did you have?
We both come from very large families and have a large circle of friends. Originally, we had 400 guests (even that was no easy feat), which had to be whittled down to 15 people due to restrictions in place at the time of the wedding. 400 people you may ask? We may not have known them all, but our parents sure did, after all in Asian weddings it’s the parents' day as much as the bride and grooms.
What restrictions were in place at the time of your wedding?
With the ceremony venue being based in a Tier 2 area at the time, marriages were allowed across the country with a total of 15 guests for the ceremony and the reception. However, those from Tier 3 were not allowed to stay overnight. This posed some issues as the groom’s parents lived in the Midlands (Tier 3), and one of his sisters in Kent (also Tier 3).
Did you have to change venue/suppliers?
The wedding ceremony venue was kept the same but we decided to forego a reception with it being so limited in numbers.
Did you change the theme/ethos of your day?
Under the circumstances our ethos was to have a memorable day with a more intimate feel.
Did you still wear your planned wedding outfits?
Yes – so much time, effort and co-ordination had gone into them, we wanted some kind of normality on the day and so chose to stay with the planned outfits. I knew the colour I wanted was maroon - I’m not a fan of bright traditional red but I know darker colours suit me more. I tried on so many lenghas and found the one in India.
Did you hire a wedding planner?
Having attended literally hundreds of Asian weddings between us, we thought we had all bases covered and knew what had to be done. The reality of this was very different when it came to the organisational aspect of it. Pre-pandemic, visiting various venues, liaising with various companies regarding flowers, cars, DJ etc. was very time consuming especially taking into account opinions of family. Luckily our siblings were able to assist with quite a lot.
Tell us about your floral arrangements
As we had no reception, the only flowers required were the buttonhole flowers and those decorating the wedding cake. We chose to go with a local florist, who were able to do some bespoke floral arrangements with a quick turnaround.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
We had so many ideas and planned a great deal further to discuss with several companies for the reception; a photo booth with props and fancy dress, a mobile bar for cocktails, a decadent dessert table, dhol players, dance floor, screens and much more. All of which we sadly could not go ahead with.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
There were mixed emotions, walking into the almost empty temple, which should have been full of the hustle and bustle of family and friends. It was the day any bride dreams of. That mixed with a rush of anxiety at the thought of being beamed across the globe via zoom, with eyes watching my every move. I took comfort in the fact that my brother and father walked me down.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
The pandemic put things into perspective for us, the fact that only our closest family members could attend in person made it a more intimate day. The fact that our photographers were able to ensure a zoom link was available to family and friends near and far was incredible so that they could share our day.
What was your most memorable moment?
The weather itself on the day was incredible for December. Plenty of rain in the days leading up to it with snow forecast, thick fog and mist on the days after; on the day itself there was an abundance of sunshine. That and being able to see faces and interact on the zoom link and being able to say hello to family abroad.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
The constant alterations and the unexpected meant that navigating the ever-evolving scenario proved challenging. The announcement of the lockdown restrictions easing from December 2, without an extension, a week before the wedding meant that a lot of the work had to be done in such a short time frame as were not sure that we would be able to go ahead with the wedding and assumed that the lockdown at the time would once again be extended. This put together with the groom’s parents and bride’s grandmother all being in the vulnerable category (over 70’s), meat that extra caution needed to be taken.
What was the most important investment for you?
Initially it was the food, it had to be spot on. Luckily our venue (Auction House) had in house caterers and the food tasting did not disappoint. Sadly, that did not go ahead, so attention will be diverted to our forthcoming honeymoon, when we can.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
Our first dance is not what we had planned all those months ago. We did not have a reception so did not envisage having a dance on our big day. Our photographers, however, had other ideas. Their creativity and imagination in getting the perfect shots had us both dancing outside in the dark, on a cold December evening to the sound of…silence. A moment we can always look back on and have a giggle at.
Tell us about your wedding cake
Our ideal cake was a traditional tiered wedding cake. As we were not going to have an evening reception, we decided to have an eggless cake at the Gurdwara for our 15 guests. It was difficult sourcing someone to do this at short notice to fit the eggless criteria. We discussed with our friend at Cakes and Delights who very kindly agreed to make a cake for us, we gave her a spec of what we wanted and they did not disappoint, we barely got a look in as everyone wanted a second slice.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
Probably not much. Failures and obstacles in life and how we deal with them are what shape us and determine the core of who we are. It is best not to live life in regret and ponder on the what-ifs. Apart from some delays, the day itself went according to plan and we wouldn’t change a thing.
Will you be holding a celebration at a later date with those who couldn’t attend?
We are hoping to hold a one-year anniversary party for all those that could not attend; obviously this is dependent on the state of affairs at the time.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Go ahead and book your big day, we continue to live in uncertain times and know not what the circumstances will be from one day to the next. It may not be the day that was once planned or dreamed of; however, do they really matter in the grander scheme of things. There is a confusing mix of emotions in celebrating something so exciting whilst there is so much sadness in the world, with so many loved ones lost. However, humanity is resilient and however difficult life may be right now we will get through it. We thought it best to not wait any longer and to start looking forward to our future together.