This Elegant Wedding Blended Pakistani and British Cultures
While the world stopped to marvel at Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding in April 2011, Londoners Momina Awan and Jack Watton were sowing the seeds of their own. The pair, who were working together at the time, celebrated the new royal couple with a quick after-work drink that turned into a seven-hour first date. During a weekend getaway about four years later, Jack was down on one knee at a country manor in Oxford. Momina, a beauty public relations professional, had a sneaky suspicion that Jack, a financial analyst, was thinking about proposing, but never expected that "he'd been down on one knee for almost 10 minutes!" she says.
After an 18-month engagement, the couple married in Syon Park on July 8, 2017, London's last dry and sunny weekend of the summer. On the big day, 127 guests (some from as far away as Pakistan) attended the ceremony in the park's Syon House, a sixteenth-century building that is currently the London home to the Duke of Northumberland. For a couple who really hit it off over a royal affair, it was a fitting location. An additional 40 guests arrived for the reception, held in the park at the Great Conservatory, where you truly can dance the night away under the stars and moonlight thanks to the large glass dome. Momina planned the wedding, which paired the richness of her Pakistani culture with the event's neutral and elegant palette. The bridal fashion and a portion of the menu reflected her upbringing, while classic lawn games and ceremony gave a nod to Jack's British roots.
Their Dazzling Ensembles
Momina flew to Pakistan to find her wedding dress, but because she had just a limited amount of time, she could only try on a few different gowns from a handful of designers. Luckily, that was all the time she needed. The bride-to-be chose a wedding dress by Faraz Manan, a Pakistani designer she admires for his stunning couture pieces. Rather than the traditional red color worn at Pakistani ceremonies, Momina wanted "something in a cream tone to reflect the blend of Eastern and Western culture," she says. She selected a cream-and-gold sleeveless top and skirt set, each piece fully embellished by hand. A pair of cream-colored Jimmy Choo heels peeked out from under the skirt—which weighed about 70 lbs.—that had a small train. Momina chose not to wear a veil but accessorized with pearl-and-diamond earrings and a diamond tennis bracelet that were gifts from her parents.
Momina's white bouquet of peonies, sweet peas, roses, and lily of the valley was designed by Vanessa Penston and Poppy Frost of Rosehip London Flowers, a design pair Momina was familiar with from work events. Fittingly enough for a bride who bonded with her groom over a royal wedding, Poppy Frost was part of the team that created Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's flowers.
Once Momina suspected that an engagement was on the way, she let all of her nearest and dearest know her ring preference. Since she knew Jack would seek their advice, she wanted to be sure everyone understood what she liked.
The Bridal Party
Four bridesmaids accompanied Momina at the ceremony: Pip, a friend who suggested Momina give Jack a chance; Miriam, her best friend; Megha, her oldest and dearest friend; and Sarah, her sister. They all carried bouquets of white peonies.
Designing the bridesmaids dresses, which were hand-sewn in Pakistan, was one of Momina's proudest achievements. "I had so much fun imagining the designs, going to the vibrant fabric markets to buy pure silk, organza, and beautiful embellishments," she says. "I thought they looked absolutely beautiful, and the biggest compliment to me was that one of the bridesmaids rewore her dress to a recent event where everyone was asking her who designed it. New career path perhaps!"
A Classic Ride
Momina arrived to the late afternoon ceremony in this vintage dark green Jaguar XK 120.
The Ceremony in Syon House
Clear chairs provided ample seating for guests without covering up the beautiful interior during the civil ceremony at Syon House, which included a reading by Jack's father. Momina's father walked her down the aisle to a bridesmaid singing "Kissing You" by Des'ree, accompanied by a pianist.
The First Look
The first look was left for the ceremony, and "seeing Momina walk down the aisle in her beautiful dress," was Jack's most memorable moment of the day.
One-year-old Hugo had just learned to walk when his uncle got married.
Momina and Jack shared a private moment and took a few additional photos with photographer Zosia Zacharia in the Long Gallery.
Cocktail Hour Guests
A drinks reception in the courtyard followed the ceremony and included Champagne hand-selected from Jack's brother-in-law's vineyard.
As it was a formal wedding in England, many of the women donned fascinators.
The full guest list gathered for a group portrait. "It's such a precious photo for us as we had so many people that flew in for the wedding who will not likely all be together again for a very long time," Momina says.
Jack chose to have croquet, chess, and kubb set up for the second half of the cocktail hour, which took place on the lawn in front of the Great Conservatory (where the reception took place). "This was the first time they would have seen the beautiful glass domed structure," Momina said of the conservatory, "and I know a lot of our guests were blown away, just like we were the first time we saw it."
An acoustic band played while guests were on the lawn.
This feta, watermelon, and basil appetizer was one of the many options served during the cocktail reception. Guest also enjoyed bites like Malai chicken and chili prawns.
The Reception Venue
In addition to the glass dome having a clear view to the sky, Syon Park's Great Conservatory also has a cactus room—that made Jack happy, as cacti are his favorite plant.
Sundari Ferris helped execute Momina's vision for the reception space. The cream table linens and napkins were supplied by caterers Maiai Events by The Admirable Crichton. There was delicate glassware for wine, engraved champagne flutes with gold rims, gold and glass charger plates, and brass cutlery by Helene Millot. One of the bridesmaids supplied candles for fragrance, alongside the flowers by Rosehip London Flowers, which were cream blooms with green foliage. Calligrapher Lizzie Matthews wrote the place cards, and Momina and Jack chose cream Louis style chairs from GreatHire for something a bit more stately than the traditional seat.
A large part of the menu was influenced by Pakistani flavors and classic dishes, including the dessert: kulfi, which is a traditional ice cream. Guests chose between pistachio, cream, and mango flavors.
The Cactus Lounge
The cactus room became a lounge area, furnished with Moroccan lamps, poufs, sofas, and embroidered cushions from Raj Tent Company.
The Bouquet Toss
The sister of the bride caught the bouquet, which was tossed from the stairs outside.
Butter Beautiful created this four-tier dessert, which included top and bottom layers of coconut and passionfruit cake, another filled with chocolate ganache, and a single layer of carrot cake. Coconut shavings on the bottom tier of the cake were offset by fresh peonies. The couple cut the cake outside of the conservatory while everyone lit sparklers. "It was just magical," Momina says. They then made their way back inside for dancing.
The First Dance
Momina and Jack chose Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" for their first dance. "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" was the first song played by the band during dinner. "This is M's favorite song of all time," Jack says.
The Fire Dancers
"We wanted a bit of Pakistani flair," Momina says, so this ending entertainment "set to Arabic/Pakistani music was perfect."
In lieu of favors, Momina and Jack donated money to the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire that occurred in west London the month before their big day. Notes were handwritten by Beautifully Lost Studio and sealed with a gold wax seal and a silk flourish. They read: "We hope you don't mind but we've replaced your favour with a favour to us. In light of recent events so close to our home, in place of traditional wedding favours, we have decided to make a donation to the victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy on your behalf. Thank you for sharing our special day."
Photography, Zosia Zacharia
Location, Syon Park
Styling, Sundari Ferris
Flowers, Rosehip London
Videography, Happy Wedding Films
Stationery, Leeming Brothers
Calligraphy, Lizzie Matthews
Cake, Butter Beautiful
Groom's tuxedo, shirt, and menswear J.Crew
Favors, Beautifully Lost Studio