Tips for Brides and Grooms to Create a Dream Wedding

Tips for Brides and Grooms to Create a Dream Wedding

Having a dream wedding is every bride and groom's fantasy and to make it real, they invest a lot of money and time to make everything perfect! When I got married, my family and I spent a lot of money on the different wedding functions to ensure that everything goes well. In Asian households like mine, we have lots of wedding celebrations starting from Mayon and Mehndi to Barat, Valima and some people even extend it to Chauthi (the post wedding function). For every event, we have to choose a venue, and although for the initial celebrations, the guest list is small and includes just the relatives and close friends making the guest list range from between 150-300 people, the main wedding functions have a much larger guest lists ranging from 500-1000 people. 

Talking about my own wedding, it was pretty lavish and the main function was held at a known 5 star hotel in the country, making it definitely a dream and ideal wedding for us. However, things will be pretty different when it comes to my son getting married, as we'll have to ask the family to fly from thousands of miles to come and attend his wedding in the UK, some 2 decades later. I would definitely like to hire a spectacular country house as a wedding venue that would be perfect for family and close friends to stay. Although we have lots of exclusive wedding venues in the UK, I've just recently come across the Silchester House, a stunning house with the option of a stylish luxury indoor ceremony. To cater to the Muslim community, they also provide Halal options and other leisure facilities, which can definitely make it a versatile wedding celebration as one won't have to rely on the vegetarian options or on sea-food. 

wedding bangles

I also want to share some tips for brides and grooms not only to create their dream wedding, but these will also help in saving money.

DIY - This option has helped us save a lot of money during some of our functions. Both my sisters and my sister-in-law are very creative, so they took the lead for the decor and planning of the functions held at home. All the decor was done by them, and they spent very wisely on the materials used to doll up the house.

Cook at home - For the functions planned for lesser number of people (100-150 people), we decided to get some food from a catering company and some was prepared at home. In this way, we could increase the number of dishes, and could stick to the budget. It's normal in my household to prepare food for these numbers as we hold functions regularly, but maybe some people might not be comfortable in cooking for these numbers. In that case, it's best to take a few quotes from the catering companies, and then finalise the best option instead of finalizing the deal with the first choice available. 


Pakistani mehndi dress

Wedding Cake - In our tradition, we generally don't have a wedding cake or you can say that it's not a must. Our wedding cake was provided complimentary by the 5 star hotel where our main wedding function was held. You can liaise with your wedding venue provider to arrange for it, if it's an essential for you, and you never know they might just agree!

Do not waste money on Henna services - Bridal henna and mehendi services are quite pricey  nowadays, and I saved lots of money by not opting for a bridal design. I kept the design normal and it looked pretty decent on me as a bride. 


Pakistani wedding favours

Look for packages for Bridal makeup - I had to get my makeup done from a salon on 2 main events, but one known salon in the city offered me a package and provided a free party makeup which I availed on my Mehndi function. The day I went there for my wedding makeup, I also spotted a very popular actress of the country sitting right next to me, getting ready for a modelling shoot. 

Do not hire professional photographer for all functions - Professional photographers charge too much money, so we just hired them only for the main wedding events. In total, we had 5 events and 3 were covered by the professional photographer while the other 2 were covered by my sister who photographs very well.

If you have any tips for brides or grooms to create a dream wedding or to save money, then please share them in comments below.


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BAKERDAYS PERSONALISED LETTERBOX EID CAKE REVIEW + GIVEAWAY

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

Just last week, an email from bakerdays popped in my inbox advertising about the variety and designs of personalised Eid cakes they’ve introduced this year. I was quite happy that the cake brand is now catering to the Muslim community in the UK, and they’ve not just introduced cakes for Eid, but personalised cupcakes too. 

The bakerdays website has a a few designs for the cakes as well as the cupcakes that can be personalised up to your liking with your preferred text or you can even add a photo on it. I’ve always love personalised presents, and I can clearly remember as a child, that my father used to buy cakes for neighbours, family or friends when we visited them on Eid. It was compulsory for us to visit all the relatives and friends to wish them on Eid, so prior to the occasion we used to prepare lots of money wallets for all the children that my parents gave to them. For the adults, we either took ‘Mithai’ (local sweet treats) from a halwai (sweet maker/confectionist). At that time, I remember we were the only the ones who used to get cakes and it was a nice change for those receiving them because everyone used to have lots of boxes of sweets such as gulab jamun and cham cham already! However, this is a 20 year old story, we didn’t have any personalised Eid cakes at that time except that ‘Eid Mubarak’ was written on them. The trend is now changing, and even though the sweet treats are still very popular, no one minds receiving a delicious cake instead. 

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

I’ve previously tried a bakerdays personalised Ferrari themed cake in vanilla, which I got for my husband’s birthday, and I’m hoping to host an Eid party this year, I thought of adding their cakes on my dessert table too. This lemon drizzle cake with Eid Mubarak written on it had an option for personalised text to be included too, but since it wasn’t for one person, I decided not to add anything else and to keep it simple. 

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

The bakerdays ‘Eid Mubarak’ cake arrived in a white thick cardboard box and the cake is further secured in a nice tin box to ensure the personalised 5'' letterbox cake reaches you in good condition. The package contains a small card for the occasion, information with the date of order and delivery, expiry date of the cake and the ingredients used to prepare it. Moreover, you can also avail a 15% discount on the next purchase when sharing your #bakerdaysmoment on social media.

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

bakerdays is a Personalised Celebration Cake Specialist, providing quality personalised cakes for all occasions. The delicious range of recipes and sizes are available for delivery. The Letterbox Cake is the baby of the bakerdays family. Being just 5” in diameter, it fits perfectly through the Letterbox allowing you to surprise anyone with the most delicious personalised gift. You can check out the bakerdays website for more Eid cake designsIn collaboration with the cake specialists, I’m offering one of my readers a personalised Bakerdays cake and all you have to do is to enter the Rafflecopter to win (Terms & Conditions apply).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WINNER: Laura Z Banks


I wish Muslims all over the world celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr, a very blessed one full of happiness and love!

Bakerdays personalised Eid cake

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Disclaimer:  This is a collaborative post and the competition prize is sponsored by Bakerdays. All responsibility for the competition in terms of the prize is on them. The prize is a  letterbox cake. Giveaway is open to UK residents only & ends on June 14th, 2018.

Experience of trying the Ramadan Menu at Talli Joe - London, UK

Ramadan sharing platter Talli Joe London

London offers a variety of Indian restaurants to residents and visitors alike, and  Talli Joe located in Shaftesbury Ave ensures the diners get to enjoy a scrumptious meal in a relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant has designed a menu comprising classic Indian dishes from all over the country and using different cooking styles from Goan to Punjabi to prepare dishes with a modern twist. The menu at Talli Joe includes chakhnas, small plates, half plates, sides, sweet plates and refreshing drinks including both non-alcoholic and alcoholic options making it one of the most sort after Indian restaurant in London. 

As they’ve come up with special menus for different occasions in the past, this year Talli Joe has introduced the Ramadan menu which is served at Iftaar time to cater to the Muslim community. A dedicated downstairs sitting area at the restaurant is exclusive for diners looking for an Iftaar dinner. The guests can find a prayer area here and also be assured that no music or alcohol is entertained around there. Moreover the proceeds from the Ramadan menu are used to support Curry for Change - run by 2 UK based charities that are currently working in 19 countries to help vulnerable families and to combat their poverty and hunger.

Ramadan sharing platter Talli Joe London

Talli Joe's Ramadan sharing platter for two costs £35 per person, and includes a selection of starters, a good number of mains and a dessert to complete the palate. The thali is ample for 2 adults to enjoy a filling meal. Yet, as per the thali concept, the diners are free to ask for re-fills as they wish during the course of the dinner. In addition free flowing masala chai served with a Parle G biscuit was something nice especially for those who love tea after their long fast. We were quite full after the meal, so did not feel the need to ask for refills except for Bohri chicken, which was for BabyN' as he was enjoying the mildly spiced dish. 

Nimbo Pani Talli Joe London

Masala Chai Talli Joe

After being assisted to our table, we were served with some Medjool dates and water as the traditional items taken to end the day's fast. There were some seemingly refreshing drinks on the menu as well. From a choice of 4 non alcoholic mocktails (cost £6 each), we tried a few including Nimbo Pani and Tutti Fruiti which were so good to sip on given a slightly warmer day this Ramzan. 

Kale chaat Talli Joe London

This was my first time trying a kale chaat, so I wasn’t too sure about the taste. However, this popular Dehli street food served at Talli Joe as a starter was quite palatable! One can hardly guess the flavour and the ingredients just by looking at it and so the best way is to simply dive into it. With a base of sweet yoghurt and potatoes cut in cubes along with mint and tamarind chutney, some pomegranates tossed in and topped with crispy fried kale leaves, this was a wave of flavours in every bite. Definitely one of the must-try starters at Talli Joe and an excellent rendition of a savoury snack.

Fish Kempu Talli Joe London

Fish Kempu was the next dish that I tried - a classic Mangalorean crispy fish that was served on a bed of crispy fried okra and finished off with some dessicated coconut, served with tadka mayo to dip before eating. 

Halwai ki mattar kachori

From all the dishes I tried, the Halwai ki mattar kachori was the spiciest. The ingredients included a spicy pea-stuffed bread in butternut squash and potato curry. If you've had the experience of trying out a samosa chaat before, then I can say that the idea of the dish was pretty much the same. In India, Halwai is referred to the community with primary occupation related to either confectionery or sweet-making. The halwais also sell freshly fried matar kachoris that taste delicious especially if eaten when still hot. It was one of the favourite dishes for my husband.

Chicken 21 Talli Joe London

Chicken 21, also included in the platter was given this name because of a particular reason, and I was quite intrigued to know about it. The chef at Talli Joe was satisfied with the dish after 21 iterations. The tender chicken had been stir-fried with south Indian spices and curry leaves giving the dish an aromatic and zestful taste.

Gol Baari Kosha Mangsho Talli Joe London

Lamb roast is definitely one of my favourite dishes, and Gol Baari Kosha Mangsho (lamb roast on the bone), cooked with a classic Bengali recipe was rich with spices, a gloriously deep flavoured dish with the right balance of richness mainly inspired by Gol Baari of Kolkata. I would definitely like to recreate Kosha Mangsho at home and enjoy it with a hot homemade paratha or naan bread. 

Bohril chicken Talli Joe London

Bohri chicken was also one of the items in the Ramadan platter. Having lived in Dubai, I’ve been lucky enough to interact with people from lots of different cultures and one of my colleagues at my previous workplace in Dubai was also from the Indian Bohri community. This chicken dish created with a secret combination of masalas from their community was was enlivened with gentle yet effective spices. The sharing platter had a mix of dishes with variations in spices and this was a little mild, so it was even perfect for BabyN' to try.

Ramadan sharing platter Talli Joe London

Naan Talli Joe

The platter also had some boiled white rice served on a banana leaf alongside two green chillies, for those wanting an extra kick, sliced lemon and tomatoes. The hot and freshly made  Truffle Ghee Kulcha had been filled with generous amount of cottage cheese and brushed with ghee, also served alongside the rice. We paired the rice with the chana daal served in our platter, which gave a very homely feeling just if like we were eating a home cooked meal. 

Chana daal Talli Joe

The first bite of the black gajar ka halwa, one of the most popular dessert at Talli Joe instantly reminded me of the carrot halwa my grandmother used to make when she was alive. I’ve been eating the carrot halwa made with our family recipe since childhood and my mother and aunts still follow the same recipe. I’ve never cooked the halwa using our family recipe myself yet, because it takes quite some time to prepare it but it was BabyN’s first time trying it and I’m glad he enjoyed it.

Black gajar ka halwa Talli Joe

Although parking is not available exactly outside the restaurant, there are options to park at the nearby streets, especially near the Covent Garden. We parked on the Wild Street (Drury Lane) and opted to walk to Talli Joe. It was just an 8 minute walk, and the weather that day was quite pleasant. 

All prices of the items at the restaurant are inclusive of VAT, but 12.5% service charge is applied on the bill. Also, gift vouchers ranging from £10 - £75 are available, and are ideal for giving them to family or friends. 

We had a great evening at Talli Joe and although the restaurant was open till 11:00 pm that night, we decided to take an early leave as we had to head back to Kent and reach home before suhoor. However, I’d definitely like to return to try some of the other dishes served at Talli Joe and if I'll be asked to order a few of these dishes from the Ramadan sharing platter, then the Kale chaat, Gol Baari Kosha Mangsho and Black gajar ka halwa would definitely top the list. 


-------------------------
Rating: 8/10 
Pricing: Mid-Range 
Halal Options: Chicken & lamb are Halal
Child-Friendly: Yes! We left the stroller upstairs before going downstairs for Iftaar. Not sure about baby changing station, as the need didn't arise.
Alcohol Available: Yes
Location: 152-156 Shaftesbury Ave, London WC2H 8HL, UK
Contact: 020-78365400 
Website: www.tallijoe.com
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Tips to keep the surrounding environment better with Foobot - Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor


The most important step for making the environment better is to know how it is as without knowing, one won’t be able to take any corrective measures. To fight pollution, it’s necessary to measure it and with Foobot, families can make their household breathe in fresh air as the device immediately informs the user in case attention is required.
Foobot - Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor

It’s perfect to keep an eye on the air in your surroundings as Foobot enables the users to know about the air quality by analysing the level of humidity and carbon dioxide around the device. The device not just calculates the indoor conditions, but is also able to tell about the outdoor condition and the quality of air. Based on fine particles and volatile substances, the user gets notified about the status of the surrounding and any change in the atmosphere is also evident by the change of the light on the device which changes the LED display from blue to orange if any attention is needed. Not only can the Footbot smell the invisible pollutants in the environment, but you’ll get to know whether the surrounding air feels like that of the one in the Alps or like a freeway in a busy metropolitan. 

Foobot - Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor

When the Foobot arrived, it was very well packed and I simply had to take out the device out of the packaging and plug it within 5 feet of my WiFi device. The next step was to install the Foobot application and follow the steps as told. It was an extremely simple process installing the Foobot in my house and as advised, I waited for 3 days for the device to adjust to the surroundings and to start functioning properly. Now every time, there’s any change in the environment, I get notified about it on my mobile. With the Foobot, I’m now in a better position to understand the environment in which I’m living. 

Measure the indoor pollution easily with Foobot, and improve the air quality as it results in various benefits such as lesser allergies, low probability of respiratory issues and better sleep. Indoor pollution can be a result of anything - the major causes are the combustion by-products released by cooking or heating appliances and the volatile organisms compounds such as cleaning agents used in the kitchen or any other part of the house or even personal care products and hair dyes. 


In order to keep my house smell fresh and away from any unwanted odours, I burn the wax melts which spread a very subtle smell in the house. Also, I sometimes use air fresheners or scented candles to make the house look and feel cosy. 


People can also breathe cleaner air by keeping indoor plants as they’re great natural solutions to get rid of pollution. I love plants and they also add a nice touch to a corner setting of any room. Spider plants have to be placed in a well lit area and needs watering just once a week. Peace lilies are another option, and according to NASA, they help in filtering toxins from the air. I also have an aloe plant in my house which was gifted to my by one of my aunts and it's still flourishing since more than 3 years. With that said, I can definitely say that it's not just a low maintenance plant, but it can also last quite long if well taken care of.



I always avoid opening windows on windy days as that might bring in dust particles or any unwanted particles in the house. However, it’s also essential to open the windows to let the carbon dioxide and the harmful substances out of the house. 

Get an air purifier for the house for a cleaner environment. The device gets rid of the contaminants from the air and are beneficial for those suffering from allergies or asthmatic problems. It removes the impurities from the air, making it cleaner and healthier for everyone living in a house.

Foobot - Smart Indoor Air Quality Monitor


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175 Years of Family Adventures & Bear Hunt Adventure Weekends

175 Years of Family Adventures at Isle of Wight

The country park has ample free parking and covers a massive area so it can easily accommodate lots of visitors at a time. We had actually planned to visit the Robin Hill Country Park in Isle of Wight for the Bear Hunt, but we did manage to take out some time to explore the rest of the park too. It was a pleasant surprise watching the peacocks roaming around freely at the park. I’m not too sure why they were left open, but I had earlier observed a peacock on the park’s logo. It took us a little under one and a half hour to complete the Bear Hunt and since the afternoon was quite warm, we managed to finish two bottles of flavored sparkling water that we had brought along. 

Robin Hill Country Park Isle of Wight

The friendly staff guided us to the start point of the Bear Hunt, where we were provided a card and a pen to be used on the trail. Besides the Bear Hunt that we attended at the Robin Hill Country Park in Isle of Wight, there are many other ‘We’re Going on an Isle of Wight Bear Hunt’ Adventure weekends on the island. These trails enable children to create their own Bear Hunt Adventures on the Isle of Wight and the idea is to enable families to enjoy simple family activities in nature landscapes. 

Robin Hill Country Park Isle of Wight

Robin Hill Country Park Isle of Wight

We also decided to visit the Freshwater Bay at the Isle of Wight where BabyN’ enjoyed splashing in sea water and playing with sand before hunting for some sea shells. Another Bear Hunt trail is at the St Helen’s Duver which is also the official National Trust location where they’ll be hosting the Bear Hunts (2-3 June & 8-9 September).

Freshwater Bay Isle of Wight

Freshwater Bay Isle of Wight

Freshwater Bay Isle of Wight

Freshwater Bay Isle of Wight

Published by Walker Books, 'We’re Going on a Bear Hunt' has been adapted by Lupus Films and was broadcast on Channel 4 in 2016, watched by more than 8 million people. Based on this best-selling children’s picture book, Isle of Wight along with the makers of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt have arranged some special Isle of Wight family adventures in 2018. 

Alum Bay Isle of Wight

The island is offering visitors ‘We’re Going on An Isle of Wight Bear Hunt adventure trail guide’ in which they’ve highlighted the similarities between locations in the story and places on the island. Visitors can get more information on this from ferry ports, information points, hotels, attractions or can download it, here. It is all to provide a fun-filled, family adventure holiday break. Children can enjoy rock pooling or look for dinosaur print casts, go for cycling or spend time enjoying a picnic at one of the sandy beaches of the Isle of Wight. As in the book, the children can experience the long wavy grass, splash in the cold river and jump in muddy puddles. 


“swishy swashy through the long wavy grass; splish, splosh through the deep cold river; and squelch squerch through the thick oozy mud!”

Bear Hunt Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight

Bear Hunt Isle of Wight

The National Trust cares for more than 10% of the island including the areas of natural beauty and historic attractions. There are still some upcoming Bear Hunt events at the Isle of Wight.  Official Bear Hunt Adventure Weekends with the National Trust will be at the St Helen’s Duver on Saturday 2nd & Sunday 3rd June and Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th September. The next one has also been scheduled at the St Helens Duver on Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th July. St Helens Duver has the largest areas of sand dune sandy beaches along with rock pools and coastal woods. a cliff-top fort, a 300-year-old windmill and an old rocket testing site.

Bear Hunt Isle of Wight

Supported by Walker Books, the Bear Hunt themed Isle of Wight Literary Festival Youth Zone has also been scheduled from the 19th till the 21st of October.

I've also posted earlier about the fun things to do with kids at the Isle of Wight in case you're looking for more things and activities to do when on the island. My family and I had an amazing time at the Isle of Wight, we stayed at the East Afton Farmhouse and we're really looking forward to going there back again for some more fun!



Bear Hunt Isle of Wight


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