A scorching hot summer day provided the backdrop for Tom and Anand’s magical celebrant-led wedding day at High Billinghurst Farm in Surrey.
From the moment I met Tom and Anand, I knew that working with them would be a treat. Their love story had me at hello…along with their fabulous beagle, Albie (named after Albus Dumbledore). A few months later, Tom and Anand found themselves sitting by the fire in our living room, quaffing Prosecco whilst we planned their big day.
Like many modern couples, Tom and Anand met online. It was love at first date! Their love has effortlessly grown since that fateful date. They have travelled the world together, unconditionally, supported each other in building their careers and created a home filled with love.
For Tom and Anand, the most important thing about their wedding day was that they wanted everyone to feel loved and appreciated and their big day gathered everyone into a diverse circle of love. It was also important that they carefully curated the suppliers that they included in the day. Just about all were women-owned small businesses. We loved collaborating together!
When it came to the wedding ceremony, Tom and Anand were adamant that they wanted a ceremony that not only reflected them as individuals, and as a couple, but also included all their precious family and friends. They wanted the ceremony to kick their day off on a high note. It certainly did just that!
In a nod to Anand’s heritage, guests were invited to dress up in pastel coloured Indian dress for the ceremony before changing into the dress of their choice for the rest of the day. I am never one to pass up the opportunity to wear gorgeous Indian fabrics full of colour and stories so I wore one of my favourite saris – only it wasn’t pastel and it started to fall off during the ceremony – oops!
Guests gathered on the lawn for the ceremony which had been beautifully decorated with florals by Raven + Ryegrass. The ceremony began with their talented friend Tim serenading the wedding party down the aisle to an acoustic version of ‘Simply the Best’. After the entrance of the wedding party, Tom’s sister’s and Anand’s nieces walked down the aisle followed by Anand holding the hands of his cute nephews. Tom who was escorted by his precious Nan and fabulous Mum.
THE LOVE STORY:
When I start working with a couple, I like to get to know a little about them first by having each person complete a Couple’s Quiz from their own perspective and this helps me to write their story. Let’s just say I could present a huge essay given the fabulous stories both Anand and Tom shared with me. This is testament to the great love this incredible couple share. As I read their words, I found myself laughing and crying in equal measure!
The ceremony began with their love story and Anand’s romantic Christmas proposal which was inspired by Tom’s favourite film – Love Actually. There is an iconic scene in the film where one of the characters declares his love in silence – writing his declaration of love on big white cards on Christmas Eve. Knowing that Love Actually is Tom’s favourite film, Anand ‘actually’ proposed using big white cards with carols playing in the background. Of course, Tom burst into tears and blubbed a yes and they then spent a very special Christmas celebrating with family.
Being massive Schitt’s Creek fans, I also had to drop a little bit of the great Moira Rose into the ceremony. I may not have worn papal robes but I did include of of my favourite quotes from the iconic wedding in the final episode:
“It is all but impossible to explain why things happen the way they do. Our lives are like little bebe crows carried upon a curious wind and all we can wish for our families, for those we love is that that wind will eventually place us on solid ground, and I believe it’s done just that for Anand and Tom.”
Tom and Anand’s great friend Jess also shared a beautiful reading – To Love Is Not To Possess by James Kavanaugh
VOWS + RING EXCHANGE…WITH A SPRINKLE OF COMPETITION!
As utter romantics Tom and Anand were clear that they wanted to write their own vows and keep them as a surprise to each other. I helped them to edit them and ensure that they reflected what was important to them.
Anand and Tom are quite competitive – as evidenced by Anand always winning Monopoly – but not so much at Uno! We injected a little competition into the ceremony to decide who would go first for each element of the vows and ring exchange. Tom won a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors which meant that he shared his heartfelt vows to Anand first – and yes I cried!
In Hindu culture there is a ceremony that takes place at weddings. Anand remembers watching this at weddings he attended as a child, and we thought it would be important to incorporate a little of his heritage into proceedings. Tom and Anand’s perfectly poised niece Anushka, shared the rules of the Aeki Beki game – a fun wedding game played by the newly-wed couple. Traditionally, a large bowl is filled with milk, vermillion, water, coins and a gold ring. The couple has to find the ring inside the bowl using only their right hands. The winner receives token money or a gift from the family.
We adapted the game for the ring exchange, and placed a bowl covered in rose petals in front of Tom and Anand. Emma, their honorary ring bearer placed their rings in the bowl. Then best of three to see who picked out their ring first. This time Anand won and placed the ring on Tom’s finger first before sealing their vows with a kiss!
THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE!
I love the element of surprise so when Tom and Anand’s friends reached out to me and requested to include a surprise Bollywood style flashmob in their wedding I was absolutely on board. As guests congratulated Tom and Anand with a round of applause their friend jumped from their seats into a full blown Bollywood style dance…complete with Tom’s Best Man, Andy, ripping his trousers as he crouched during the dance which was met with lots of applause and laughter!
SO much fun, so much laughter and so many tears too! I’d say that’s the result of a perfect ceremony!
This is what I love about independent celebrant ceremonies – we can totally tailor every ceremony to the unique wishes, culture and beliefs of each couple without any restrictions.
YOUR WEDDING HOST
Sometimes couples ask me to stay for the day and MC/host their reception. When Tom and Anand asked it was a very easy yes! I loved spending the rest of the day curating every element of their wedding activities from the speeches and cake cutting to their fabulous entrance to dinner with more confetti canons, guests waving their napkins in the air and Beyonce’s ‘Love on Top’ blaring out over the speakers.
After the ceremony guests moved to the walled rose garden to enjoy a few drinks from The Albie Arms while enjoying live violin music before the first round of speeches.
Every element of the wedding included family and friends support which was carefully managed by Anand…and his gantt chart to keep us all on track! For example Tom’s lovely step dad made lawn games for guests to play throughout the rest of the day. Their super creative friend Abila made the delicious cake – which included a model of Albie the Beagle! The speeches were peppered throughout the afternoon culminating with both Tom and Anand sharing heartfelt and amusing speeches that could have lifted the roof off the barn with the amount of cheering and laughter!
WORLD CLASS SUPPLIERS
The Little Kitchen Company catered the event while High Billinghurst’s fantastic venue manager, Chris, ensured everything was in place for the evening. Tables were named after some of the places that Tom and Anand have travelled to over the years. Guests were touched to discover that in recognition of their love and support, Tom and Anand had made donations to MIND and Battersea Dogs + Cats Home.
As the light faded, Tom and Anand took a few moments away with Sophie to take some golden hour photos before orchestrating the all important sparkler shot in the courtyard as guests prepared to dance the night away. And as another fun surprise, a Tuk Tuk photo booth made for lots of fun photos!
Working with Sophie to ensure that she got the best photos was a highlight. Your wedding photos are a huge investment and a lifelong memento of your day. It’s vital you work with a photographer who is your vibe and will surprise and delight you with a phenomenal visual record. Sophie’s photos are spellbinding. She understands how to work with light to create incredible images. Plus she’s a fabulous person!
I loved every moment of Tom and Anand’s big day. After so much preparation, the wedding day flew by in a flash – as they always do! There was such an overwhelming sense of love and laughter at High Billinghurst that day and everyone – suppliers included – found themselves swept up in the joy and emotion of the day. Most of all, it was lovely to get to hang out with and get to know their family and friends. I feel like a part of the family now! And thanks for the fabulous review too chaps!
This was a day I will remember and cherish for many years to come. Thank you Tom and Anand for the honour of being your celebrant and wedding bestie!
Ceremony music @timtimyall
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