An Essex Wedding - March/April 2023 (Issue 109)

The sun shone for Olivia and Neel Raja, who kept all things sustainable and recyclable at their marquee wedding in Hazeleigh Images courtesy of Harriet Hall Photography An eco wedding Olivia and Neel met at university in London, through mutual friends as well as both playing sports for the medical school. Olivia reveals, “After one particular ‘sportsnite’, we shared a McDonalds on the way home and ever since then we’ve been inseparable, sharing everything we do. What first attracted me to Neel was his very social personality and easy ability to make me laugh…he’s also very handsome which may have helped!” Neel adds, “It was looks that first attracted me to Olivia, but getting to know her, her sense of humour and how kind she is, were what made me want to marry her.” Neel proposed on the couple’s fifth dating anniversary, it was a complete surprise. Olivia explains, “We were working hard during Covid (myself in A&E and Neel in ITU) so decided to take a week off in late November to explore some of the local hikes in our area. During our hikes Neel had been using his camera to take photos and videos, telling me that he was going to make a video at the end of the week. Little did I know, he was just practising each time to be able to record the proposal without me noticing! On the day of the proposal, I was cooked breakfast in bed and Neel then went off to pick me up a large bouquet of flowers from the local florist – the first flowers he’d ever got me, (I’d previously told him I wouldn’t marry him unless he’d bought me flowers!). On his walk to get them, Neel rang my dad to get the ‘okay’ to propose that day – no issue. “Me none the wiser, Neel set up the camera to take a selfie at the highest point overlooking the wonderful countryside, like we’d done on previous hikes, only when I turned round to smile for the camera, he’d dropped down on one knee to ask if I would marry him – obviously I said yes! He’d picked out a beautiful ring from a local jeweller which was the icing on the cake.” On 20th August 2022, the couple said their wows at All Saint’s Church, Purleigh followed by a reception at a private field they hired in Hazeleigh. Here, the newlywed’s share some of their favourite moments from the day... 31 REAL WEDDINGS