A Sikh wedding in Bedford re-arranged with five hours notice
02 Mar 2021
To beat Covid-19 restrictions Manpreet Sehmbi and Ian Da Cunha brough their December wedding forward 24 hours, re-arranging everything in just five hours thanks to help from family and friends
Photography: Abraxas Photography & Video
Tell us about the proposal
We had always talked about having a location wedding abroad, something intimate and ideally on a beach. My father sadly passed away in December 2019. When finding out he didn’t have long to live, Ian asked me if I would like to have a simple ceremony at the local registry office so that my dad would be able to join us on the day. I asked my dad and he requested that we didn’t rush it and that we have a traditional ceremony in the temple, doing it the ‘right way’. There was no ‘official’ proposal but we agreed we would have a Sikh wedding ceremony honouring my late father’s wish.
Tell us about the wedding planning
I had been working in New York on secondment since May 2019. I returned back to the UK in August after the NY lockdown was lifted. Having been separated for six months as a result of Covid-19, we were keen to embark on the next chapter in our lives together as we had a new found appreciation for being together. Shortly after returning back, we decided that we would try our luck in arranging the ceremony to take place on Sunday December 20. Our intention was to end the year on a positive note following what had otherwise been a difficult 12 months and giving both us and our families something to look forward to in the coming months. We were fully aware at the time it meant that we would be restricted to 15 guests on the day meaning most of our friends and family would be joining us virtually via a live feed. Due to Covid restrictions nearly all of our traditional celebrations were not allowed for safety reasons.
How was (if at all) your wedding affected by Covid-19?
Sadly the UK Government announced at 4pm on Saturday December 19 that new restrictions effective from midnight meant we were no longer able to hold our wedding celebration on Sunday morning as planned. So, all of our family and friends helped us spring into action while still watching the announcement and began phoning the temple, photographer, hair/make-up and registrar. Thankfully the stars aligned, all parties dropped what they were doing and made themselves available and we were able to host our wedding ceremony commencing at 10pm that evening. Between the hours of 5pm and 10pm on Saturday December 19 it was crazy, fun and exhilarating all at the same time. Minutes before the clock struck midnight, we were officially announced the new Mr and Mrs Da Cunha (and swiftly ushered towards the exit).
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
There was no theme other than traditional Punjabi wear with 2020 haute couture face masks.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
I chose the Sikh Temple for the ceremony as it’s the temple we have grown up in.
Tell us about the dress
With the impact of Covid-19 on the wedding industry, it was important for me to support a local wedding dress supplier. I contacted a local boutique (close to where we live) to check availability for the one I liked on their website. They had the outfit in stock and in my size. It was the one and only dress I tried on and I’d fallen in love with it before I saw it.
What did the groom wear?
Ian had initially planned to purchase his wedding outfit handmade from a tailor in India. However due to the logistical challenges posed by Covid this was not feasible. In the end, Ian’s now brother-in-law kindly gifted his wedding outfit to him. Thankfully they are both 6ft4" tall and it fit like a glove!
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
It was all a daze and even at that point I still couldn’t believe I was getting married. It’s a day we will never forget. I still look back in disbelief that we all manged to make it happen … all on a few hours’ notice!
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
Thankfully and despite the short notice we are very grateful that our family priest was able to officiate the ceremony as planned.
What was your most memorable moment?
Due to Covid restrictions in the preceding months we had not been able to gather as an entire family and our wedding celebration was the first time we were all able to be together (socially distancing of course). Covid has reiterated how important being with family is for us and this was a celebration not only of our marriage but of loved ones coming together.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
The day-to-day uncertainty caused by Covid and not wanting to jeopardise the safety of those attending our wedding on the day.
Did anything go wrong on the day?
Unfortunately, due to the last-minute change in timings we were not able to communicate the change of plans to all of our virtual guests in time for them to stream the ceremony live.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
You don’t have to overthink every detail in order to have the perfect wedding day.