HOW DID YOU MEET?
Anil and Bela met in 2001, however their version of events is slightly different. It’s definitely apparent who caught whose eye first!!
BELA: My version of how I met Anil is completely different to his! I remember we had gone bowling with a large group - it was part of a community event. Everyone was having a really good time after, and everyone ended up at Anil’s Mama’s house, in South London, where we all carried on playing games! Anil was in university at the time, and his university house was 10 minutes from where I lived in North London, so next thing I know, we’re dropping Anil home and all he’s going on about is how fat he thinks he is!
ANIL: I don’t remember bowling and games ever happening, but the first time I remember meeting Bela - also at a community event - at Garba! My Nani had asked me to come to Garba, and it was extremely difficult to say no to my Nani. Although garba wasn’t my thing, saying no to my Nani wasn’t either… so I went. I was awful, as expected, injured some peoples hands, annoyed some people, but overall not as bad as I thought.
As the garba was coming to an end, the ‘youngsters’ always used to stay in the garba room and continue playing and I got talking to a young lady that goes by the name of Bela. We talked, we laughed, we joked and we exchanged numbers… but I’m still pretty sure she didn’t want to exchange numbers!! From that day on, we became really really good friends and eventually she became my best friend.
WHERE WAS YOUR FIRST DATE?
ANIL: I took Bela out for an Italian meal in 2002 or 2003. Obviously, answering this is a little complicated, because we were like the best of friends.
So if we had to say we had a first date, it would be this! I’m pretty sure out of the two of us, only I thought it was a date and Bela definitely didn’t!!
ANIL: So, after 13 years of knowing Bela, I finally realised… Bela is the one. I had this perfect proposal plan, one that I thought was FLAWLESS! I thought this was going to be the best proposal ever (other than one abroad).
I said to Bela, “let’s meet after work on Friday, and we’ll go for dinner”.
Now at this point, I had completely forgotten that I was planning to marry the most inquisitive woman I had ever met.
So it gets to Friday and I’ve met up with Bela and I’ve got my gym bag in my hand (which I thought was actually quite natural), and she asks ‘where are we going for dinner?’…I hadn’t thought this far. So I tried to just brush the question aside and say it was a surprise! That led to question number two, “why have you got a gym bag?”, which of course I responded, “I went to the gym”. Bela wasn’t having any of it and even the mention of smelly gym socks wasn’t putting her off wanting to look inside the bag!
I put the bag behind me and I said let’s go. We got on the train to Embankment station, and we head to the Golden Jubilee Bridge. When we got to the bridge, I put my bag down and I opened it up and pulled out a heart shaped box… Bela immediately reacted, ‘Are you mad?! I can’t take that home!’. I avoided the question, got down on one knee and opened the box, revealing the Millie’s Cookie saying ‘Will you marry me?’.
In most relationships, that’s a very romantic moment, where the girl sheds a tear and says ‘of course I’ll marry you’, but not Bela. Only once Bela had confirmed I’d got permission from her Mum and Sister, did I get my yes!
She put out her hand, and I looked at her thinking… this doesn’t look right. Bela had put out her right hand! I said ‘Bels, that’s the wrong hand!’ and she very sweetly said ‘Anil, I don’t know, I’ve never been married before!'
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MOMENT OF THE WEDDING?
BELA: My family and Anil’s family have obviously known each other for years as we are all within the same community. So it meant a lot to me, and made me extremely sentimental, that both our families and our friends put together an incredible show for Anil and I at our reception. With some narrative and dances, they performed our entire story and when I look back at our wedding week - that was definitely my highlight!
ANIL: Mine is a little less sentimental! My favourite moment definitely has to be walking in to the Reception and feeling like I finally had my celebrity moment. The doors opened, all the family and friends are there clapping for us, taking photos - completely surreal!
WHAT WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO YOU WHILST PLANNING THE WEDDING?
ANIL AND BELA: The most important thing for us was definitely sticking together. We had to make sure we both had the same vision for our big day. Planning a wedding is not easy, so having that support from each other, was really important!
IF YOU HAD TO GIVE SOME ADVICE TO A NEWLY ENGAGED COUPLE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
BELA: If I’m honest, planning a wedding can be quite overwhelming. Your family are just as excited as you for your wedding, and they’ve been imagining your wedding for as long as you have. You want to add the things they like, and do the things they want, but without diluting what you want deep down. Anil and I both have big families! Although they all want you to have the most special day, and the best for you… everyone has a different way of going about it.
So like we said in the question above, make sure you, as a couple, stick together and you’re both on the same page as each other. That way you can make that vision clear from the the word ‘go’. It is completely natural to want to make everyone around you happy and do things for them. At the same time, you only get this day once, so make sure it is the day you’ve been dreaming of!
ANIL: Normally you get engaged around a year before your wedding. Don’t take that year for advantage. Be engaged for a month - and enjoy that month. But when you set a date for your big day, make sure you set realistic goals and plan from day one. A year goes by really quickly and there is a lot to do.
IF YOU COULD DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
We wouldn't change a thing!
Mehdni Venue: Marquee at home
Wedding Venue: Hare Krishna Temple
Reception Venue: Wembley Hilton
Caterers: Ragamama Ragasaan
Decor: Shagun Weddings
DJ: Musical Movements
Photographer: Bharat Photography
Videographer: DB Media
MUA: Roshni Hair and Makeup Artist
Cake: Only Eggless
ALL PHOTOGRAPHS USED ABOVE HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY: BHARAT PHOTOS
Lots of love,