Minesh and Priya met and became friends at secondary school. Ten years later, Minesh proposed in the same place they first met, and they had a small intimate wedding in Priya’s parents’ back garden. They live in Watford, southern England, and run a business together stitching traditional saree blouses called ‘’.
With the transitioning to more of a , here Priya shares some handy tips to help everyone navigate through keeping your big day as small as you need it to be. Although they got married before the Covid-19 pandemic, some of her choices and suggestions are still applicable today.
Minesh planned the most meaningful proposal for us, I could not have dreamed of anything more fitting. My high school crush asked me to marry him on our 10-year dating anniversary. We were standing completely alone in the very place that we first met: outside our old headteacher's office, in the foyer of our old school, surrounded by all my favourite foods which had set up ready for a red-carpeted-candle-lit dinner. I was in awe.
A few months of celebrating our engagement later, we sat down to start planning the wedding. As it was such a personal and meaningful proposal, we wanted to carry on the trend and get married somewhere equally as meaningful to us.
Here’s how we went about it:
1) Get the necessary approvals
Choosing the venue was easy for me. My parents’ back garden is the perfect intimate setting and we’d both spent so many Summer evenings there with family, so it meant so much to us both. After getting approval from our parents, doing the necessary measuring of the space and figuring out how many people we could fit, we had started to get the ball rolling…
2) Speak to your friends and family
I admit we were very lucky to have families happy to accommodate our dream of an intimate backyard wedding. They gave us a priceless tips on how not to offend people too – like calling them up and informing them of the situation. It seems too simple, but making it a point to make contact can really make all the difference. We called friends and family before committing to final plans to ask them for their opinion on our idea to have a traditional wedding at home and to check it would be okay not invite everyone we would like in order to keep the wedding intimate. Thankfully, everyone was really supportive and understood that we were restricted when extending invitations.
3) Allocate guests to specific functions
This was hard for me because I ended up having to explain to some of my closes friends that I may not be able to invite their other halves. As a general rule, we invited those plus ones who Min and I had had dinner with in the last year, and that seemed to work out. Again, once you start having conversations with people and being transparent, it becomes easier. Here’s how we broke down invitee lists:
Pre-wedding: we invited everyone that we could, plus 10% of the hall capacity
Indian wedding: Immediate family and our friends
Civil toast: Wider family and our friends
4) Apply for a Temporary Event Notice from the Council
This was approved within a few days of applying online. It's not really needed if you're having your event on a property that you own (i.e. not council property) but it's really helpful for peace of mind and helps when contacting the police and neighbours to get their approval to have a party with loud music at home.
5) Be nice to your neighbours
We went around to all our neighbours (10 houses in all four directions) to speak to them about the wedding a week beforehand. I was very nervous about this but everyone was genuinely very happy and supportive. Plus, the chocolates helped!
6) Don’t forget the loos!
In order to have it at home, we had to hire portable toilets (thank you, ) and a generator (which we hired through ). It took a while to work out where to have both of these without taking up space in the garden and decreasing our venue size. Our next door neighbours were a godsend for offering us their front drive.
7) Don’t fret the small stuff…
Looking back at the wedding photos now, I realise we forgot to cover up the microwave in the kitchen and the hose pipe on the wall of the house in the garden. They have both made some fun little appearances in our photos. Cover them up if you prefer not to see them, but I quite like the way they make our photos and videos look like a real home video.
8) Get creative with the weather
We got married in July in the UK, so even though it was “summer”, the weather is always an unpredictable factor. We put ten umbrellas around the sides of the marquee. They were black so they looked quite stylistic but also came in really handy at night. Thank you to the sun gods who waited until we had started drinking at 9pm to open up the heavens rather than raining all day like BBC Weather had implied. You can't control the weather no matter how many times you refresh the apps and sing the rain song, but just believe that everything happens for a reason and it usually tends to work out.
*Do get in touch with any specific questions &