As the weather slowly heats up and we finally start to introduce sandals and short sleeves to our daily wardrobe – when it’s not pouring down with random rain – you’ll come to find that wedding season is upon us. It does seem over the last couple of years that so many people have decided to take the plunge and get engaged, and inevitably with their big day approaching I’ve been on the hunt for some wedding appropriate outfits.
The moment I realised I would be going to Valencia for a hen do, the first thing I could think of was indulging in an authentic paella.
You might not think about Valencia as a place for a typical hen party but that was the point – this wasn’t the standard weekend filled with neon pink feathery accessories and drunken escapades. This gorgeous bride wanted a weekend of luxury – Kardashian style.
After being treated to breakfast at the No 1 lounge at Gatwick, our two hour flight touched down in sunny Valencia and we were ready to celebrate, reminisce and explore.
Our first day involved us settling in to our weekend home – a bright and airy apartment located near Plaza de la Reina, where you could eat, shop and easily pick up transportation.
The roads are similar to Sorrento and are lined with the most beautiful buildings boasting uniform balconies. I became somewhat of an architecture fiend, snapping away at any given opportunity to capture the beauty and intricacy of these buildings.
I could spend hours wandering those streets, where lightly coloured buildings pave the way and create an air of romanticism. With every turn, you were likely to stumble across quaint cafes, colourful bars and eateries.
Boarding the city tour bus, we were taken around Valencia where we learnt more about the history of the city and the various influences that is still evident through the architecture and monuments that stand today from both Roman and Muslim rule.
We marvelled at some of the points of interest, taking a moment to really appreciate the life that had walked before us. After our tour we headed back to recoup and were once again out, exploring Valencia by night. Children happily played football as clocks neared midnight and as we freely roamed the streets looking for a good bar to relax at, I loved how safe it felt to be out this late. Of course you must keep your wits with you but as the night life starts relatively late in Spain, there were just as much people around as you would see during the day.
The only downside to Valencia however is the God awful slow service. You appreciate just how good the customer service is in London after you contend with staff in Valencia. Let me tell you, not only are you going to have to chase waiters for drinks, you’re going to have to put up with their blasé attitudes when they really screw up orders. An example of this being bringing me an alcoholic drink when I asked for no alcohol.
Yes. That kind of screw up.
You can’t let that deter you from the rest of the city though. If you want to get away from the rush of it all then why not head to the beach? A 20 minute cab ride from Plaza de la Reina, we pulled up to the bluest skies, towering palm trees and soft golden sand.
Playa de la Malvarrosa is a beautiful spot to lay out, top up that tan and frolick in the sea. Away from the beach, restaurants and bars line the street for those wanting to quench their thirst or satisfy their appetite.
If you prefer to get closer to the water and feel that sea breeze whilst gently riding the waves, then a sunset catamaran cruise will tick all those boxes. My favourite part of the entire weekend, it was good to just lie back, reflect and appreciate. The open sea is breathtaking. I’ve always had a bit of a fear of open water but that completely subsided and you can’t help but marvel at the endless blue right into the distance.
I can’t even describe the mural of colours as the sun began to set.. So I snapped a few pictures which I think explains my loss for words.
The final day of our luxurious weekend was spent at The Westin where we were treated to a soothing 60 minute treatment of our choice at the Caroli Health Club. I opted for a relaxing massage which was the perfect way to end this weekend of indulgence.
In terms of food, Valencia not only boasts dishes that tourists will be familiar with such as pizza and fast food franchises like McDonald’s and Burger King, but they also have more authentic dishes on offer like their traditional paella which I urge everyone to try.
One word of caution though, if you’re after an authentic paella then ensure that you don’t end up ordering arròs caldós by mistake. Although it’s a common dish in Valencia, the name translates to brothy rice. It is served in what reminded me of a cauldron which surprised me quite a bit but even with the mix up, it was a tasty meal.
For those with a sweet tooth, gelato is your answer. There are loads of gelaterias that line those bustling streets and with so many flavours to choose from, chances are you’ll be making more than one trip back.
It’s definitely been a while since I’ve been in Spain, however like my previous visits, I easily find myself not wanting to leave. As we were in Valencia for a purpose our focus was obviously living it up like Kimmy K – which I think we successfully did. Catamaran cruise. VIP access to the club. Indulgent spa treatment. You couldn’t ask for a better hen weekend!
However there is plenty more to explore here and I’m eager to resume my love affair with this vibrant Spanish city – Kardashian ready of course!
The Aashni+Co bridal exhibition took London’s Dorchester Hotel by storm over the weekend. Hundreds of soon to be brides descended on Park Lane for the annual show which featured a number of designers who flew in to the capital to help brides make that all important decision.
Zita Elze once again curated the most decadent showcase which transported you to a gorgeous woodland with dresses from various designers hidden among ceiling high trees. Among the designers I got the chance to speak to, Manish Malhotra and Masaba Gupta had to be the two I was dying to get a couple of words with. Manish Malhotra’s careers expands far beyond the cat walk; his work has graced some of the top grossing Bollywood films, while Masaba Gupta’s unconventional prints has kept me on tenterhooks.
Ahead of the show Manish expressed his love for the fashion capital saying, ‘I love London. I was here for almost two months for Karan’s film and then I was here for a little bit for the British Asian Trust, so 2015 has been a lot of London, which I think is an indication to my life that there’s going to be a lot more of London. I love the city.’
The interactive nature of this show allowed visitors to get up close with the designers – one of the unique seeking points that makes the Aashni+Co shows an undeniable success. Have a read of their thoughts on a range of questions below…
On what they were looking forward to…
Sabyasachi: ‘I’m most looking forward to meeting a lot of brides I’ve never met before. You know I do a show on TV called ‘Band Baajaa Bride’ so a lot of girls from the UK write to me saying they want to be on the show. I know a lot of people are coming from Manchester for the show today so it’ll be nice to get to know them as well. It’s nice to put a face to a voice or a name.’
Akanksha Gajria: ‘I love that I’m going to get to interact with so many people. I’ve been speaking to people on email and through Instagram but I’m going to meet them today personally and I love that. I get to learn so much from them.’
On who they would like to dress…
Akanksha Gajria: ‘I really want to dress up Blake Lively. It would be such a thrill to see her in an old white tye-dye lehenga – I mean, how cool would that be? She would carry it off with such bomb. She would look amazing in it.’
Anju Modi: ‘Oh my God, every bride. You can’t name one person. To me every bridge is a unique person and it is her special day. I cannot say Angelina Jolie or Deepika Padukone, they are there of course, but I really give importance to every girl.’
On the collection they were exhibiting…
Faraz Manan: ‘The fall/Winter 15 collection called Casablanca, it’s a Moroccan inspired collection so there’s a lot of handwoven fabrics and embellishments.’
Sonali Gupta: ‘I’ve use a lot of contemporary colours. I’ve used a lot of off whites and blues because I do think these colours are trending now and people have kind of moved away from the reds and the blacks. I mean those are still in fashion and are always going to be there because they’re classic colours. I think what has happened is new colours are taking over. I’ve also done a lot of hand embroided jackets which you can take out in the summer, you can take out in the winter and you can show it off more.’
Anamika Khanna: ‘We’re trying to present an alternative to the traditional bride. For me it’s not necessary to conform as long as we respect the tradition and the sentiments. I’m actually of the opinion that we don’t need to go ‘bride’ in the literal sense as long as we can go ‘bride’ in some way.’
Top tips and biggest challenges
Manish Malhotra: ‘What I sense is a lot of times, the work that I see in America or London and people who are buying these clothes, are not even aware that they’re buying replicas. Maybe they’re paying a high price too, I don’t know about that. But there’s a lot of replicas that I see overseas but Aashni+Co is getting the originals to everyone. So even if you don’t buy, you get an idea; okay so this is what’s happening here, these are the prices, you know? So it helps you to differentiate between the replicas and originals. I would look at it this way, I like the idea of meeting so many people. It’s not about sales and how many sales you’re going to make in one day. Fashion and luxury isn’t just about that one sale, it’s about an association,’ he told Victoria from London ki Ladki.
Anju Modi: ‘To make the bride most comfortable before I start designing for them. I have to win their confidence and they should be comfortable in whatever suggestions I’m giving and I’m open to their own ideas also. The challenge is to make them my friends.’
On how the Asian bridal scene is changing…
Anamika Khanna: ‘Brides are ready to experiment. They come to you asking what can you do and they’re not scared of taking risks. They have better bodies, they’re more confident. They’re not looking at the deep rooted, ethnicity anymore. There is a definite change.’
‘I don’t think they are. I have to say actually, these girls are very educated, they travel, and yet each one of the, especially the brides on their wedding day, the day where they have to do the other rituals, they want to be traditional. They’re not losing touch, they’re just making it more modern, which we need to do. You can’t dress how you use to dress 50 years ago, things need to move on. It’s important and that’s what’s happening but they’re not losing touch with their craft and the traditions.’
There is never a dull moment when my dear Edita from Pret a Reporter and I get together.
A day out at an Asian wedding show was the best way to catch up while oohing and aahing at what this year’s exhibitors had on offer.
The problem with wedding shows like this is ensuring a balance that satisfies both the mainstream market and the couturiers within us. If you haven’t checked out Edita’s blog then I suggest you do. She’s forever mixing and matching, creating the most obscenely beautiful outfits.
So back to the show, I was gutted that the lighting played havoc with my camera, resulting in not so great pictures which I will reluctantly share. I think the general consensus for next year is, go equipped with a DSLR of some sort.
Exhibiting on the catwalk were Este Couture, Heritage Jewels, Bibi London, Zarkan of London, Seema Silk Sarees, Pink Paisley London, Kalki and Colour Sarees. Maybe it’s the Asian within me, but I have such a weakness for detailed embroidery, exaggerated designs and bold colours. However, I do feel there are brides who like to be different, who appreciate tradition but would love to incorporate a certain individuality. This is very relevant where dresses and gowns are concerned. If there is to be a sense of innovation and forward thinking within the Asian bridal scene, it starts within the fashion this industry is producing.
It can be somewhat overwhelming for brides to be when tasked with checking off all aspects of their wedding, but having so many vendors within the wedding industry under one roof takes a huge weight off their shoulders. These shows aren’t just great for discovering new and creative ideas, they’re ideal for networking and solidifying final touches to your special day.
Or in our case, the perfect day out.
(Personal shout out to Prime Burgers who served up an AMAZING burger. Sadly I was famished and didn’t get to snap a picture of their amazingness. I suppose that’s a testament to how good their burgers are… right?)
Married at First Sight has generally split social media with one half declaring participants as “crazy” and “insane”, whilst the others feel fascinated by the entire social experiment.
If you haven’t caught an episode yet, the premise of the series on Channel 4 is to use science in order to match singletons looking for love. Through vigorous tests and analysis, a pool is formed where relationship and psychology experts match couples based on their results and other findings. Couples meet for the first time on their wedding day where they exchange vows in a legal service attended by family and friends. Following this, they embark on a honeymoon and then move in together for six weeks, living together as husband and wife. At the end of the six weeks, they have to decide whether they would like to continue their relationship or split up.
There are several types of arranged marriages, which have become synonymous within the South Asian community. However prior to the 18th century, they were common across most parts of the world. Before the 20th century, arranged marriages were the norm in Russia, where these would mostly be endogamous. In China, it is said that “marriage was a negotiation and decision between parents and other older members of two families. The boy and girl, were typically told to get married, without a right to consent, even if they had never met each other until the wedding day.”
Fast forward to today and you still find arranged marriages taking place. However, with the addition of online matrimonial sites, the definition of an arranged marriage has completely changed. Nowadays a mere introduction is all the input external individuals have and it is down to the couple themselves to decide whether they like each other enough to spend the rest of their lives together.
This particular experiment isn’t based on family input, but science. Relationship experts, psychoanalysts and psychologists have all come together to find out as much as they can genetically and personally about candidates. Using saliva samples, personality questionnaires and even facial symmetry, five experts will all work together to narrow down a pool of people who are suited to one another. Taking careers, values and future aspirations into account all plays a crucial part in determining who they match.
Scientifically speaking, all of these tests and analysis should produce near perfect matches for candidates who make it to the final pool. However, there is an argument that because these candidates are looking for a committed relationship, they’re more likely to try and make their marriage work – even if it means compromising on some elements, whether that be physical attraction or mutual interests. Having dated or gone through failed relationships, most of these candidates are at their wits end when it comes to trying to find their other half. You could say Married At First Sight is their last resort and they’re up for the experiment to see where it leads, but at the same time, could it be that those who conceived this social experiment are actually exploiting individuals who are emotionally vulnerable because they long for a committed relationship?
The end of the experiment does give the option for divorce, should a couple find that they cannot or do not wish to continue the marriage. But who really wants to be married and divorced in the space of six weeks? The Australian version has seen both successful relationships and couples who choose to call it quits. Although getting quite emotionally involved as episodes went on, I couldn’t help but feel slight scepticism. You can’t help but wonder whether participants feel a certain fear of being set back free into the single world and feeling like they’re back at square one, if they end the marriage.
The concept of using science to determine life partners is an interesting one. The matches that have come about as a result of this approach have been realistic and carefully thought about. However, throwing a couple straight into married life and essentially fusing the dating stage, where couples get to know one another, with marriage, places them in a very peculiar scenario. Using science to match couples and allowing them to go on dates seems like a less scary and much more sensible prospect than walking them down the aisle. The pressure of taking vows, meeting families and friends and then having an entire nation watching can weigh very heavily on a person’s mind, forcing them to settle and train themselves into thinking that perhaps this is the very best the world has to offer them.
In reality though, they’re potentially sacrificing true happiness for the sake of televised entertainment.
When it comes to Asian wedding season – yes there is such a thing – you can bet any money that bridal shows will leave even the most independent woman slyly snapping a couple of pics for “inspiration.”
Asiana pulled out all the stops once again and held their annual Bridal Show at the Lancaster Hotel in London last weekend. Adorning every twist and turn were intricately designed gowns, jaw dropping decor and show stopping cakes.
For most of these exhibitions, the fashion show is well and truly the highlight for most visitors. However for me it was all about meeting the exhibitors, speaking to them about their venture, how they got started and what it means when they’re apart of someone’s special day.
Asiana have pulled together some familiar faces but also some new businesses who bring with them fresh, exhilarating offers that no doubt set trends alight within the Asian wedding sector.
BIBI London, Kyles Collection, Ziggi Menswear and Mehzabeen were there representing the best in Asian bridal-wear and jewellery. A common thread amongst the designers was the flexibility to adapt and tailor your dream wedding dress to your taste. Whether you’re changing the colour, lengthening or shortening, the designers and owners of the brands exhibiting were on hand for one to one talks and suggestions on how to achieve that ideal wedding gown.
Decor has a very special role to play in any wedding. It sets a scene, creates a buzz and ambiance. It takes real talent and creative flair to interpret and produce a truly memorable setting. Spectrum, Zara’s and Maz Events blew me away with their displays at the Bridal Show. Without delving into my thesaurus to describe just how decadent they were, I’ll let the following pictures do the talking.
Spread across a few floors of the Lancaster it really was a well thought out exhibition with surprises at every twist and turn. Will couples planning to marry find this exhibition useful? Absolutely. And even if you’re not getting married, there’s no harm in exploring what the Asian wedding market has to offer.
There are two things I’ve learnt since attending my first Asian wedding exhibition; One, how to navigate amongst slow moving crowds. Two, how to gracefully tell people I am not getting married (though it is quite flattering that they think I look like a blossoming bride to be).
The Asiana Bridal Show is one of the most notable exhibitions in any Asian bride’s diary. This year the anticipated event was held at the Riverbank Park Plaza Hotel and drew in crowds of people eager to see what 2014’s line up of exhibitors had to offer.
Spanning across four floors, exhibitors ranging from fashion, to venue hire, catering, cakes and beauty, lined every twist and turn. All of them were happy to make your acquaintance and were enthused to share a mutual passion.
Most brides will of course pay extra attention to their dress, make up and hair. I’m more of a venue-table setting-centre piece kind of girl. For me, Maz Events put together such a rich showcase demonstrating how far their creativity can go. Stepping away from light, whimsical colours, their peacock themed display was full of drama and stopped everyone in their tracks. Some may say it’s an overdone theme, but I personally reckon the sharp purples and striking blues have earned their place as a classic theme for Asian weddings.
An important aspect with all wedding exhibitions is to offer something for all the elements that go into a wedding and sure enough, Asiana delivered this. Designers straight from India set up stalls and showrooms of colourful bridal wear, intricately designed and completely bespoke. If you wanted a one of a kind dress, this was the place to snap that offer up. I did exactly this, though I should stress, my purchase was not a wedding dress (come on..no groom and a purchased wedding dress… Umm, just a little odd)!
More familiar fashion brands such as Bibi London were also exhibiting who were a delight to speak to.
I was particularly drawn to Kaniz, a make up artist who’s knack for perfection was applaudable. I loved the way she created a polished finish that not only showcased the beauty of the model but also complimented the outfit she was wearing. As for Kaniz herself (pictured below,right), she too looked absolutely amazing.
Ambreen Make Up was also exhibiting and had two lovely models showcasing yet again flawless make up artistry. Down to earth and lovely to speak to, I wished my job consisted of sitting and looking absolutely immaculate for the day! *Sigh… to be a model…*
Food is always an important aspect (duh, have you been to an Asian wedding?!), so it was refreshing to see new spins on traditional dishes. Kadiri’s Events did just this, transforming the all too familiar gajar ki halwa with – wait for it – popping candy! (I’m so having that at my wedding!)
I can imagine the complexity of running a seamless operation in a hotel filled with over 2,000 people. Organisation is never going to be the easiest of tasks but I think Asiana handled it relatively well considering the full scale of the event. Whilst the weather was a bit of a washout, and went some way in sabotaging my attempt at looking like the “quirky lifestyle blogger”, the Asiana Bridal Show was far from that. I highly recommend attending at least one of these if you’re looking to tie the knot soon. If you’re not, then you can just spend the day staring at these beauties…
I can’t tell you how much I have been looking forward to 2013’s National Asian Wedding Show, which was probably the case for the crowds of people queuing well before the shutters opened at the London Excel.
There was no such thing as Asian timing where guests were concerned and as this year’s hotly anticipated exhibition got underway, brides-to-be armed with their wing-girls and fiancé’s were eager to see what inspiration they could take away with them.
With over 100 exhibitors plus a much anticipated fashion show, there was plenty to see, do and experience all in one hall. Included within the mix were car hires, lighting, photographers, pop up bars, which served some delicious mocktails, hair and make up, decor and of course, bridal wear.
I quite liked the fact that I appeared more as a bride-to-be dithering around on her own, rather than Press to most people I spoke with, but for those brides that hoped to draw inspiration for their big day, this event well and truly spoilt them for choice as exhibitors from all areas within the Asian wedding industry were out in full blast.
With notable sponsors such as the BBC Asian Network, Roshni Hair and Make Up and the City Pavilion, the organisers truly went to town when putting together an eclectic selection of specialists.
Not only that, guests who attended also got the chance to witness the International Asian Fashion Show.
Attracting what felt like the entire exhibition hall – I literally couldn’t move – designers featured the very best from their collections, drawing oohs and aahs and plenty of smartphone action. Of course the BBC Asian Network’s Noreen Khan was there to introduce the featured designers who would be wowing us with their collections.
Giving us a preview of what was to come in her gorgeous outfit from Fusion, crowds were definitely not left disappointed. I now personally want about 6 dresses for my wedding after seeing the versatility from those Asian designers.
So after attending both the National Asian Wedding Show and the National Wedding Show back in September, which was the better show? In all honesty, there is no clear winner. It’s genuinely down to what you have in mind for your special day.
If you’re looking to incorporate traditional elements then of course a specialist event like the National Asian Wedding Show is the perfect niche exhibition where you can find the right vendor and work with them to create exactly what you have in mind. Similarly, the National Wedding Show boasts the same type of vendors, but of course without that cultural influence.
Would I recommend that brides attend this wedding exhibition? Absolutely. In fact, the National Asian Wedding Show may have swayed it that bit more with me when it comes to the thought, effort and warmth exuded by everyone that I met.
Many of the exhibitors I spoke to have been in the Asian wedding industry for an average of 10 years, so they are well versed in the service they’re offering and are fully aware of emerging trends, which they incorporate and embrace.
The National Asian Wedding Show will be returning in 2014 at the Bradford Hilton on Sunday 12th January, 2014, the Midlands National Motorcycle Museum on Sunday 2nd February and London Heathrow T5 on Sunday 2nd March 2014. The London Excel Show will be back next year on the 18th and 19th October.
I had the pleasure of attending the National Wedding Show 2013, at Earl’s Court on a lovely Saturday morning and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. After receiving my press pass and acquainting myself with the friendly PR staff, I set out on to the main floor and was met with an abundance of ideas that would send any Pinterest addict into a frenzy.
Flowers, table settings, lighting, photographers, invitations, and accessories adorned the long exhibition hall that seemed never ending with every twist and turn offering yet another element to consider for your big day.
Warm and enthusiastic exhibitors chatted away with visitors and press, truly passionate about their niche and contribution to wedding ceremonies and receptions. Making my way deeper into the hall, I then came face to face to what the National Wedding Show really is all about – the dresses.
Soft lighting brought these gorgeous gowns to life, stopping brides to be in their tracks to admire and fawn over their individual beauty.
Though some exhibitors were somewhat protective of photographs being taken, others were more than happy to showcase their pride and joy and encouraged spectators to come up close and admire the detailing and connect with the array of fabrics used.
The real showstopper was the delightful catwalk show that drew in hoards of people excited to see the very same gowns in motion.
Though not an Asian influenced event, more and more Asian brides are incorporating modern and mainstream themes into their big day. Macaroons and a sweet station are also current additions that are very much in trend at weddings. Whether you choose to incorporate a white dress for your reception or a wedding cake that defies tradition, the National Wedding Show definitely featured stand out gems that would truly add to any wedding day.