A Traditional Hindu Wedding at a Former Royal Residence in London
Laura and Eeswaran met through work and began a relationship in 2013. Fast forward five years later, when Laura was surprised by a proposal in Eeswaran's home country of Malaysi. The happy pair immediately began planning an intimate Hindu wedding for their 50 guests, which unfolded on July 11, 2019.
The pair envisioned plenty of traditional Sri-Lankan Tamil elements on their wedding day—and loved juxtaposing these ideas against a traditional English setting. They chose Queen's House in Greenwich, London (the locale is a former royal residence!), for its stunning views—and the fact that the venue had recently started hosting Hindu weddings. They worked with Abi Mahathmakanthi from MK Weddings to create a bright, bold celebration with a red, yellow, and pink color palette. "I had no idea there were so many detailed elements involved in a Sri Lankan Tamil wedding, but thankfully Abi was amazing," Laura says of her planner's invaluable assistance.
The Hindu ceremony was followed by a brief mocktail reception (neither alcohol nor meat was served at the event) and celebratory lunch; the couple hosted another civil wedding and party two days later. And since Laura had never been to a Hindu celebration, even as a guest, Eeswaran took the lead on all of the traditional elements, including hiring musicians and priests, choosing the mandap, and advising on the color scheme (which resulted in a bold array of multihued blooms). "I think we achieved the result we wanted," the groom says, "where the traditional elements were very traditional, but it did feel like an English wedding at the same time!"
The couple's wedding invitations, created by Mount Street Printers, were simple and traditional; they featured a gray font, a gold custom monogram, and an illustration of Ganesh, a Hindu deity.
The First Sari
Laura wore two different saris on the big day, both of which were purchased and tailored in Malaysia by Umayal Textiles. She donned the first ensemble, created with tonal shades of gold, for the ceremony.
And the Second
Her second look was an explosion of color: The raspberry-hued sari featured an intricate diamond pattern in pink-and-gold tones. She accessorized both ensembles with jewelry that belonged to members of Eeswaran's family, including pieces that had been passed down through several generations. "Eeswaran's mum was kind enough to take me to see all the jewelry and pick what I would like, which was hard because there were so many beautiful pieces!" she shares.
A Traditional Groom
As for Eeswaran's ensemble? The traditional Tamil outfit included a dhoti and silk top.
Glowing Maid of Honor
Eeswaran's sister, center, served as Laura's maid of honor; she, too, wore a traditional sari, but in shades of orange and gold.
The Bride's Debut
Surrounded by two friends, her mom, her aunt, and Eeswaran's sister, Laura processed into the ceremony space—a large translucent marquee tent on the rear lawn of Queen's House—to a religious chant. "It is a prayer asking for Lord Ganesh's blessings for a smooth and blessed journey ahead," Eeswaran explains.
Laura didn't carry a bouquet for her ceremony; instead, she held a silver Lakshmi lamp that the groom's grandmother and mother both used at their own weddings. "The carrying of the flame by the bride is very symbolic in Sri Lankan Tamil culture," Laura notes.
Here Comes the Groom
At a traditional Hindu wedding, the groom often makes an elaborate entrance at the start of the ceremony—and Eeswaran's debut was no exception. He walked into the ceremony space to the accompaniment of musicians, who played an Indian drum and flute, instruments commonly heard in Hindu temples.
A Colorful Aisle
Along the aisle, tall clear plinths held four Ganesh statues; these were decorated by the couple's florist, All for Love, who added bright arrangements to the bottoms. Petals were also scattered around the traditional décor and along the aisle. "The results were amazing; it really looked and felt like an outdoor garden wedding!" the bride says.
Laura and Eeswaran wanted to create a jovial mood on their big day, something they hoped to achieve through flowers. They were incredibly happy with the end result. "Our florist did an amazing job on the design. We started with this vision for the day and we knew it was very difficult to achieve," Laura says. "But she just got it, and the whole wedding looked sensational!"
The couple's mandap was decorated with tons of greenery and pink, yellow, and orange flowers—it was placed on an elevated stage for an even bigger "wow" factor.
An Inclusive Ceremony
The Hindu ceremony included Laura's parents, as the parents of the bride traditionally offer their daughter in marriage.
Over the Fire
Laura and Eeswaran incorporated many more Hindu traditions into their service, including a sacred fire ritual (the flames flicker in a metal vessel as a symbol of purification).
Mocktails for All
Although the duo's reception was alcohol- and meat-free, their caterer created several mocktails and served non-alcoholic Champagne and beer during the reception. Guests also enjoyed small versions of Sri Lankan Tamil food, like miniature dosas (the bride's favorite dish!), as well.
It was important to Laura and Eeswaran to spend time with their guests, but they also made family photos a priority. "Our photographer was amazing and really understood what we wanted and got the perfect balance for us!" Laura says. At the start of the drinks reception, the couple stepped away to take family and group portraits. Then, they posed for portraits, just the two of them, as their guests began sitting for lunch.
The Lunch Reception
The couple hosted their formal lunch reception in the great hall of Queen's House, where a harlequin-patterned floor acted as a bold focal point. Circular tables were set up for guests, while the couple and their family sat at a long rectangular station.
Here They Come
Sitar and tabla musicians played a mix of traditional Indian music and English selections during the party. The sitarist played John Legend's "All of You" as the couple made their entrance in the great hall—husband and wife at last.
The Elephant in the Room
Laura and Eeswaran decided to take advantage of the venue's unique floor design by creating a centerpiece for the room. "Our florist suggested creating a life-size Asian elephant, decorated with fresh florals and foliage to match. Given the symbolism to the wedding, we were immediately sold," the bride says.
The Head Table
The head table featured flowers and petals arranged artistically down its length, while a large arrangement of pink, yellow, and orange flowers was placed on the floor, just in front.
A Taste of Sri Lanka
Menus resembled the couple's invitation suite and included their custom monogram. The newlyweds served a three-course lunch, which involved a traditional Sri Lankan wedding meal as the main, along with a selection of curries and vegetable dishes served with rice and Indian roti. "Our caterers were amazing, and they really managed to deliver really typical dishes from the north of Sri Lanka, where Eeswaran's culture comes from," Laura says. "This type of food isn't very common in London, and all our guests appreciated the different flavors that they got to enjoy!"
The couple sped into married life in a white vintage Rolls Royce as guests waved them off. Their three-week honeymoon included a week in the Galapagos Islands, followed by a week in Ecuador, and a week in Costa Rica.
Their best words of wisdom to couples considering blending traditions on their wedding day? "Although it would have been easier to pick just one of our cultures, or make a lot of compromises, by trying to keep the traditions of our roots it really made our wedding special to us," the couple says. "It meant there was a lot more symbolism of who we are, and made it really meaningful for our families!"
Photography, Gyan Gurung
Venue, Queen's House
Event Planning and Design, Abi from MK Weddings
Flowers, All for Love
Invitations and Paper, Mount Street Printers
Bride's Saris and Groom's Attire, Umayal Textiles
Hair and Makeup, Roshni Ladva
Catering, Laguna Event Catering
Music, Jonathan Meyer
Rentals, Exquisite Mandap; Lewis Marquee
Transportation, A.T Beauford Wedding Cars