Sarah and Somit’s Hackney Town Hall wedding took place on the hottest weekend of last year – and there is nothing more glorious than London in the sunshine. Sarah and Somit fused their cultures by starting their day with a traditional anglican church ceremony, followed by a very exciting Dhol drummer procession along Colombia Road to their Hindu ceremony at The Tab Centre in Shoreditch. Their family and friends came together at Hackney Town Hall for the mother of all wedding receptions, with mountains of delicious food, plenty of big laughs and general high jinks.
What’s your love story?
We were introduced through our friends. Somit’s school friend Peter had married Sarah’s friend Sian from sixth form college. We originally met at their wedding in July 2010, but it wasn’t until we went for dinner with Pete and Sian at Brawn on Columbia Road the following February that we got together. When I (Sarah) arrived, I didn’t know the area and so Somit had jumped out the restaurant and helped me out the cab on the corner of Columbia Road and Ravenscroft Road. It was after that night that the rest was history!
Later that year in September, Somit moved to Hong Kong for his job and so the future of our relationship was threatened. We stuck it out though, and by February 2012 I had found a job and moved out to Hong Kong to join Somit. We lived in Hong Kong for a year and half and travelled to Japan, China, Malaysia, Borneo, Thailand until Somit was accepted to study for an MBA at Berkeley in California. It was in July 2013 that we flew to California, but after 3 months I had to return to the UK as she didn’t have a visa to stay in the States. But…. if moving to Hong Kong hadn’t broken us, neither would this. I secured a job in London that allowed her to be travel with work to California and eventually spend 6 months there in 2015. We both moved back to London in 2015 and moved to Hassard Street near Columbia Road.
The proposal happened in July 2016, after a cycle ride along the Canal Somit popped the question on Primrose Hill and I said yes! But the surprise wasn’t over yet, in Regents Park Somit had organised all our friends and family to be there for a summer picnic to celebrate our engagement. It was one of the most happy day we’ve ever had (apart from our wedding day since!).
Where did you get married and why did you choose those venues?
We wanted a fusion wedding which combined an traditional English church wedding and a Hindu wedding and we agreed early on that we preferred to have the two ceremonies on the same day, rather than prioritising one over the other. We also agreed early on in our planning that we wanted to get married in East London – which is where we live now and met on Columbia Road. Naturally having two ceremonies and a large Indian wedding we knew we would need multiple venues.
Our parish church was St.Peters Church Bethnal Green which is located at one end of Columbia Road, and the Shoreditch Tabernacle Baptist Church (the Tab Centre) at the other. As soon as we’d visited the venues we had this vision of a procession between the two venues accompanied by Indian Dhol drummers which would result (we hoped) in a fun transition between the two cultures. As it so happens, we met at Brawn, restaurant on the corner of Columbia Road and Ravenscroft Road and so the route for the procession would take us past the location that we first met.
In the early stages of planning our wedding we sat down in Victoria park on a Saturday morning and each wrote down the top 5 things that were most important to us. We both agreed that having all our friends and family that we wanted there was our priority. So we wanted a reception venue that could host more than a hundred guests and that would be grand enough for the occasion. Hackney Town Halls Assembly Rooms is a large, bright space to host our wedding breakfast and we fell in love with the art deco bar area just off the dance floor.
What look and feel were you trying to achieve? How did you go about it?
Our colour themes and decor for the wedding developed from our choice of flowers. The orangey colours of Marigolds are common in India and you often see strings of marigolds. Taking fusion to heart, but wanting a classic look for the church wedding Sarah opted for orange ranunculus with white peonies for our church wedding and marigolds for their Hindu ceremony. At the Tab Centre, we wanted a beautiful backdrop for our Hindu ceremony and liked the idea of introducing strings of marigolds that often find in Indian weddings. We found Daisy Ellen Floral Design our florist via the Rock My Wedding Blog and she absolutely nailed it! We loved the flowers on the day and we so happy with the backdrop for our ceremony. We also liked the fact that the orange colours against the white dress, and Somit’s green suit also looks like the Indian flag!
Our bridesmaids wore blush and we carried the combination of oranges and pink colours through to the Tab Centre for our hindu wedding. On the backs of the chairs we hired from Dress It Yourself, we tied lots of colourful orange and pink ribbons to bring some vibrancy to the hindu ceremony, and we tied bunches of orange and yellow flower arrangements which my Mum created to end of the rows.
On the corner of the street where we met we decided to get an A-frame blackboard to we could mark the spot where we met and it all began. Somit in particular wanted balloons so we bought giant orange and blush helium balloons from the Giant Balloon Company . We also had these in the Tab Centre for our hindu ceremony to fill the space up to the high ceilings.
It had been a mini heatwave in the week before our wedding, and so we knew the walk from the church up Columbia Road might be hot. We ordered Kulfi ice creams from Taj Stores on Brick Lane and our ushers handed these our to guests along the way.
After our hindu ceremony, we needed to transport our guests to Hackney Town Hall for our reception. We opted for a London red bus from Traditional Travel – a somewhat institution now for London weddings. Our guests absolutely loved it, and it made for perfect photos.
Our Table Plan we create our selves – a world map was perfect to represent our the journey our relationship took around the word, and for the table names we choose the street addresses of every where we lived, from Hassard Street in London, to Robinson Road in Hong Kong to Cherry Street in America. The table names themselves included a series of photos of us in each country.
On the tables, we bought and created lanterns using terrariums bought from La Redoute, and added small cactus and strings of fairy lights.
Our friend Casey made some beautiful origami elephants in orange and pink.
Our favours were homemade too, Sarah’s Mum created traditional favours for the girls which consisted of a hand sewn bags tied with ribbon, containing 5 sugared almonds to represent Happiness, Health, Long life, Wealth and Fertility. For the boys, we made small origami spice envelopes using original Bengali newspapers from Kolkata and we filled them with Somit’s Mum’s Garam Masala spice mix (a family secret recipe!)
Our cake was handmade by Somit’s Aunty Pishimoni. The flowers on the cake were all sugar work and took more than 6 months to make – it was absolutely incredible!
As Hackney Town Hall is so large we also hire Kentia Palms to help decorate the hall and make it feel more intimate. As we live right by Columbia Road, we hired palms from a couple called Vicky and Pete who have a stall on Columbia Road Flower Market. They were brilliant and delivered and collected the plants from the venue for us meaning we didn’t have to worry about a thing.
Tell me about your ceremony!
Our church ceremony was relatively traditional. Our Vicar Heather Atkinson was wonderful and created a relaxed and joyful ceremony.
Sarah wore gold and diamond jewellery gifted to her by Somit’s Aunty, purchased from P.C. Chandra in Kolkata.
Our hindu ceremony was swift 50 minute cut down version of a Hindu Begali wedding ceremony. The Bengali Hindu wedding is an elaborate ceremony rooted in Vedic tradition. Every step signifies a different aspect of life that we will experience as a married couple. Sarah wore a traditional Banarasi Silk Sari purchased in Kolkata and was adorned with gold and jewelleries gifted to her by Somit’s Mum and Aunties.
In Hindu Bengali wedding it is tradition for the mother in law to gift her new daughter in law a gold bangle, mine was from P.C. Chandra Jewellers in Kolkata (this jewellers is somewhat of an institution in India).
The best moment had to be our impressively Sarah’s Dad chanted in sankrit having had no preparation or practice at all. Everyone was so impressed.
What was your first dance and why did you choose that song?
Our first dance was to Jackie Wison’s, Higher and Higher. We choose the song as it was one we’d danced to a friends wedding soon after we got engaged and we loved it. As neither of us were amazing at dancing, Somit arranged for us to have lessons before the day. Jess at Start the Dance was amazing, and so patient. In just 3 one hour lessons we had a whole routine including a lift, and a bollywood dance section.
Our fondest memories in the lead up to the wedding were our dance lessons. It was such a welcome break from the planning and organisation, and was so much fun! We practiced outside in our carpark until 10pm every night in the lead up to the wedding.
What advice do you have for other couples?
Our advice to other couples would be, that if you have a vision of what you want to achieve, stick to it. Our families weren’t always sure of what we had in mind, and we managed suppliers and logistics to manage (I even wrote a 24 page guide for our suppliers and ushers to follow on the day!) but the effort and personal details you add are worth it on the day. We were so happy that our guests were having a good time , and that was what mattered to us.
And finally…what did you think of the photography?
We were so happy with the photos of our wedding, so much so we haven’t been able to cut them down! Rowan was recommended to us by a friend and we immediately fell in love with her warm, reportage style.
The way that Rowan engages with clients is extremely professional, from the detailed descriptions of what to expect, how to prepare and what to consider, but yet she balances an personal approach which is essential to get to know her. We were touched by the little surprises she gifted us in the lead up to the wedding. On the day Rowan played the role of a third bridesmaid! Always on hand with a glass of water or calming words she was a massive support on the day, and integrated into the day like one our peers. We couldn’t have expected or wanted more. Thank you!
Hackney Town Hall Wedding Photos
Hackney Town Hall Wedding Suppliers
Bride’s dress: Rembo Styling
Bride’s shoes: LK Bennett
Grooms Suit : Thom Sweeney
Grooms Shoes: Church’s Shoes
Bridesmaid Dresses: BHLDN
Ceremony venue: The Tab Centre
Reception venue: Assembly Rooms at Hackney Town Hall
Catering: Saffron Caterers
Flowers: Daisy Ellen Floral Design
If you’re planning your own Hackney Town Hall wedding and looking for a photographer that’s not going to make you do boring and cheesey stuff then get in touch with me! You can see my prices here, read what other people think of me here and contact me here.