The 120-year-old Bowes Museum was the setting for horses, helicopters and sports cars yesterday as a glitzy wedding with a difference rolled into town. Duncan Leatherdale was among the onlookers

The Northern Echo: Bengali Muslim Wedding

FOR all that they were getting married yesterday, Nazmin Begum and her new husband Shumed Saddique barely saw each other.

It seemed like the occasion was a chance for each to spend a final few hours with friends and loved ones before embarking on their new life together.

And both were determined to make the most of their special day, which made for colourful theatrics and scenes unlikely to be seen again at this historic landmark, and ensured that any notion of schedule swiftly went out the window.

Clare Robson, a friend of the bride’s family and expert in organising Bengali Muslim weddings, said with a resigned sigh: “Time-keeping is not very important on days like this. It is all about spectacle and opulence, and not so much about keeping to a schedule. We just have to get on with it.”

The Northern Echo: Bengali Muslim Wedding

The 24-year-old bride, from Darlington, whose family run the Spice Island restaurants in Darlington and Barnard Castle, arrived shortly after 1pm in a gleaming white, open-top carriage pulled by two large white and grey horses.

The rest of her party followed in a giant, stretch Hummer, which had some difficulty negotiating the cars parked along the museum’s sweeping driveway, before coming to a stop outside the main entrance where pictures were taken.

She was then led to the stately Jubilee Room, where she would eat and spend the next few hours before joining her husband and the rest of the guests for a final ceremony of cake-cutting and posing for more pictures.

If the bride’s arrival was about elegance and refinement, the groom’s was about flash and noise.

The Northern Echo: Bengali Muslim Wedding

The 22-year-old from Bedale , North Yorkshire, arrived by helicopter at neighbouring Barnard Castle School and drove into the museum grounds in a procession of sports cars, wheel spins and loud music.

Two dhol drummers dressed in exquisite robes then led the groom to the marquee where 500 guests were waiting – but barring his way were the bride’s family.

Traditionally, there would have been a dowry paid by the groom for his bride, and while the financial element is long gone, the ritual is still followed which sees the groom bartering with his soon-to-be in-laws.

The Northern Echo: Bengali Muslim Wedding

Once agreement was reached, they whooped, threw confetti and went in for their feast, before later being joined by the bride herself.

The women were swathed in silks of the deepest, richest colours, all finely embroidered and glistening with golden jewellery, while the men wore suits, some conservative, some shiny.

The happy couple will never forget their wedding day – and neither will any of us who saw this tranquil museum become the setting for this beautiful and bold celebration.

Sheila Dixon, of The Bowes Museum, said: “We’ve had quite a few weddings here, including some from the Asian community, but never quite on this scale.”