Bernice & Bhavisha didn’t have a proposal per se. They both knew we wanted to get married, so instead they planned an engagement weekend away together. They packed their bags, went to Winchester, which isn’t far from London, for the weekend, booked themselves dinner in a Michelin-star restaurant, and just kind of returned together to London as an engaged couple.
They’d spent the months before designing Bhavisha’s engagement ring at a local boutique jeweler, so it was a really collaborative effort.
You had a stressful time leading up to the wedding, what happened?
The most stressful thing in the lead up to the wedding was that our reception venue canceled on us five months before the day! We had booked the private member’s bar at a central London cinema several months beforehand, and then they realized that the day of our wedding clashed with the final day of the Sundance Film Festival. They were so apologetic, but it was the last thing you want to hear only a few months from the big day. Thankfully we hadn’t sent the invitations yet, and by some miracle, we were able to find a replacement venue at a similar price as the original.
Before we could send out our invitations, Bhavisha had to tell her grandparents that she was not only gay but also getting married to a woman! That was a massive challenge for her as she didn’t know how they would take the news. In the end though, even though they were shocked, they were really supportive, which meant so much to us both.
The day of the wedding was also the Champion’s League final, and Liverpool was playing. Bhavisha and her family are all massive Liverpool supporters, so we knew we had to somehow incorporate the game or half the guests would all sneak out to a nearby pub in the middle of the celebrations! In the end, a cousin was able to project the game onto the wall in one of the rooms, but just in case we brought a TV with us. We intended to drop the TV at the venue in advance but totally forgot so you could see one of our guests carrying it at the ceremony and it was at dinner afterward, too.
What was the inspiration behind the vibe of your wedding?
We knew that we didn’t want a traditional Indian or Western wedding but rather something more low key. Neither of us had grown up with dreams of wearing a big white gown, so we really didn’t have any particular expectations to meet. We knew that we wanted the day to be relaxed and fun for all our friends and family.
The vibe of our wedding was just that, low-key and fun. We had no speeches or first dances or cake. We just wanted all our loved ones to come and have a good time with absolutely no faff at all. We had cupcakes and nibbles and loads of cheesy tunes from our teenage years.
We tried to do as much as we could ourselves primarily to save money!! Bhavisha’s dad owns a corner store, so he bought us all the bar snacks we served. We put fairy lights in Mason jars and had tea lights around for ambiance. Thankfully, the venue itself met most of our decor needs, so we didn’t have to do a lot of decorating to do ourselves.
Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
B: I really struggled to decide what to wear on the day. I swung between a more traditional wedding dress and something like a tux. I found a website called Little Black Tux that sold amazing tuxedos for women and, for a while was very tempted to go with that. A traditional wedding dress just didn’t feel very ‘me,’ but at the same time I wanted to feel pretty, so it was tough to find a middle ground. In the end, I found my dress by chance while trawling through dresses online. I loved that it was bridal but straightforward and a bit the 50s as I’ve always loved rockabilly style. For my shoes, I had been looking for an excuse to buy a pair of Ruby Shoes for years, so leapt at the chance to finally get myself a pair and with a matching bag too!! These also added to the slightly 1950’s vibe I was going for.
Bhavisha knew she didn’t want to wear traditional Indian bridal colors of red, gold, and cream/white but wanted to wear a sari. In the end, she settled on the gorgeous turquoise sari after a day out shopping with all her aunties. The sari was a gift from her mother’s side of the family, as is the tradition.
And, the wedding day, how was it?!
For something we organized ourselves the day went off without a hitch! We almost got stuck in traffic on the way to the registry office, but made it just in time to be hustled up the stairs and into the room for the ceremony. It was an incredibly hot day, and Cicero (the pug) wasn’t terribly impressed at being dragged out into the heat!
The ceremony itself passed in a blur, but one of our favorite pictures of the day was of us signing the registry with both our mothers as our witnesses. It meant so much to us to have them both by our sides. My mother, who doesn’t particularly enjoy flying, came all the way from New Zealand, so it was really special.
Dinner was amazing, although we were both terrified of dribbling food on ourselves, so we had napkin bibs throughout.
The party whizzed by. People say your wedding day is a blur, and it’s true. You want to talk to everyone, especially people who have traveled to be there with you, but it’s just impossible to give everyone the attention you’d like to! Midnight rolled around in no time at all, and before we knew it we were gently herded towards the exit by venue staff.
One of my favorite parts of the night was at the very end. I love oldskool/rave/jungle music, so Bhavisha had agreed I could have a ‘rave hour’ at the end of the night. There was a core group of us left, all aging ravers, and every song was a classic tune. We were all just dancing and being silly and having so much fun. It was a really fantastic moment. Watching one of my friends teaching Bhavisha’s aunt to skank will be a fond memory that stays with me forever!!
And lastly, now that you are married, what does your marriage mean to you?
Marriage for us is about making a public commitment to one another and about becoming a family. We also know that if we want to start a family one day, legally, it’s easier to be married beforehand, so that was something we had also discussed. We also felt that, as a same-sex couple, it was essential to do something visible that included the whole family so that the younger members can see same-sex relationships normalized.
Photographer Lee Meeks Photography