Our next event, two days later, was the Big One. A mammoth day which included not only the white wedding in the morning (10am - gasp!), but also the hindu ceremony in the afternoon.
We arrived at the Chelsea Harbour Hotel early so that I could shoot Simi's bridal preps. Up in her room I said hello again to lovely Ben from Wetherall Photography (we'd met at the Mehndi), and I met Raji, Simi's make up artist who was an absolute delight, really bubbly and a true artist: Simi's make up was stunning. She was a whizz with hair too and gave Simi's sister an amazing 'up-do' in no more than 3 minutes!
The atmosphere was calm as various family members popped in and out and I managed to get some nice shots of both the white wedding dress and the hindu ceremony outfit, and some really awesome slo-mo footage of the make up application. Love a bit of slo-mo and it looks great in a wedding film, really builds up the anticipation for the arrival of the bride.
Things got hectic when the numerous page boys and flower girls arrived for their photo session so, after getting some footage of them looking adorable, and a little sneak peek of Simi's dad seeing her in her dress for the first time, I crept downstairs and got ready for the ceremony. Bill was down there already, darting around, twitchily checking cameras and mics and so we had a quick debrief and got into position and waited. And waited. And waited. The wedding registrar was late! I think it was nearly 11am when we eventually got underway, but these things happen and it didn't faze anyone.
Once the pianist started playing Nessun Dorma, we knew it was time, and the bridal party entered. First Luiz and his mother and father, padrinos and madrinas, then the flower girls and page boys, the bridesmaids (Simi's sister and Luiz's sister) and finally Simi and dad. It was a lovely bridal walk and soon the ceremony was underway.
Once the registrar had announced them husband and wife, there was amazing opera singing from a wedding guest, the signing of the register and a bubble filled aisle walk to 'Dream a Little Dream'. Champagne and nibbles followed with family photos being announced by the wonderful toastmaster Jim.
Then it was back upstairs for Simi to get ready for the second ceremony, not before us all being stopped in the foyer of the hotel to let the Chelsea football team pass through - apparently that's where they stay before matches as it's not far from their stadium. So while a bunch of unrecognisable (to me) 14 years olds (I'm sure they're not but they looked it!) trooped past (I did actually recognise Frank Lampard so all was not lost), we waited excitedly and then dashed back up to the room.
Everything was again calm. With John Mayer playing in the background we chatted about the day so far while Simi got her new make up look. Make up for a hindu wedding ceremony is much more dramatic than for a white wedding and all the beautiful colours and jewellery make for some dramatic film footage too.
Once Simi was ready, I ran downstairs to meet Bill and we awaited the arrival of Luiz and his family for the Milni ceremony. This is where the two families meet and Luiz and his family are welcomed by Simi's family. Garlands are exchanged and blessings given and there were some really heartfelt hugs. It was lovely.
Simi's arrival was captivating, the music chosen was gorgeous - we are working on that in the edit right now, actually. The priest was a delight, if he ever considers a career change he should definitely think about nursery school teaching - he was so kind and gentle and sang beautifully, making sure it was clear to everyone what exactly was happening.
The hindu wedding ceremony involves a lot of rituals: feeding each other sweet treats, exchanging garlands, taking your first symbolic steps together as husband and wife, and ending with the throwing of rose petals and blessing the couple.
The doli (or bidaai) at the end of the ceremony is a bittersweet moment for the bride's family as it signifies the bride leaving them to be with her husband. But the family were not sad for long as after a short rest break everyone was invited back downstairs for cocktails, canapes and some bossa nova to mark the beginning of the evening's entertainment!
More guests arrived at this point and soon everyone was invited into the grand room to find their table and await their newly married husband and wife's entrance. And it did not disappoint. Simi and Luiz came into the room to a fantastic song called C'e La Luna Mezzo Mare by Roberto Alagna, a comic Neapolitan song which had a real tarantella bounce to it and got everyone clapping wildly, they then cut their cake straight away - this was to Frank Sinatra's Love and Marriage, and this entrance and cutting of the cake really set the tone for the rest of the evening. Everyone was in great spirits and throughout the meal, speeches were given to rapturous applause and then it was time for the first dance to The Wonder of You by Elvis Presley.
Then, like the mehndi party only two nights ago, everyone was straight onto the dance floor and there they stayed. We got some great footage of various aunties and uncles cutting loose, and they were still going when we started packing up at, gosh, I think it was around 10.30pm.
What a day, we were buzzing. It was a long drive back to Whitstable but we had a lot to process and reflect on in the car. Hard work but hugely enjoyable and we loved it all the more because Simi and Luiz AND their families are such lovely people. Can't wait to send them the finished film!