December is the official month of weddings in South Asia. My Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat is full of grand wedding pictures and videos. I was just talking to a cousin whose Shadi (wedding) I will be missing because we are not visiting Pakistan this December. All this makes me really miss shadis in Pakistan and especially my own All Pakistani Wedding. Sharing some thoughts, pictures and memories.
I got married in Pakistan exactly eight years ago on December 17, 2008. The days leading up to the wedding were busy. There was the added stress of leaving for Canada ten days after the festivities. I had assumed all my life that my wedding would be about me. However, as the days came closer I realized there was a force much bigger at play: the collective “Armaans” (wishes) of the immediate and extended family and the ever effective “Log kya kahein ge” (what will people say).
The actual days of the wedding were chaotic and the back-to-back functions of milad, mayon, mehndi, barat and valima extremely tiring. My husband and I had not even wanted a big wedding. Both of us had agreed that a small home rukhsati and then one reception would be great. However when the forces of “Armaans” and “Log kya kahein ge” combined, our wishes did not stand a chance.
By the time we sat on the plane to leave for Canada, I was on antibiotics but still coughing and totally exhausted after days of back-to-back dawats (big dinners) that followed the back-to-back wedding functions. In 2008 we did have Facebook but weddings weren’t played live on social media as they are now. Our wedding video was 3 hours long. Even I was yawning in the middle of it and never saw it again after the first time.
Over the years as I watched big and bigger weddings on social media through snippets and filters, my view of my own wedding grew bleaker. I thought of the makeup artist who went missing (yes, that happened), my terrible middle parting on the barat day, and how our wedding portrait poses were so fake/forced/filmy. I never brought the heavy wedding albums with me to Canada from Pakistan (in my defense, they weigh around 10 kg each). The wedding pictures we did get framed in Canada, were soon replaced with pictures with the children on the walls or placed in the basement to catch dust.
Today, I visited my wedding planning group on Facebook after ages. As I flipped through the pictures, I felt transported into a different world. When I was not a mother, or a wife. I was a girl, surrounded by loving family and friends starting a new journey. The best pictures and memories were not those perfectly posed wedding shoots but the random, blurry, out-of-focus pictures. The ones that showed the love, concern and participation of so many of my loved ones. I’m glad I took that journey today. It made me ever grateful for my imperfect perfect wedding and so many other blessings in my life.
So if you’re missing weddings in Pakistan this December or feeling over whelmed by the onslaught of designer joras, nikah masjid poses and Cinderella-themed dholkis on social media, join me as I share my favorite memories from my All Pakistani Wedding through pictures and words.
The wedding card that matched my barat dress through no planning of my own. Looks pretty cool now.
Endless planning sessions around the dinner table that always ended up in more gupshup than planning. I loved how family got together from around the world for our wedding and all of us made memories for a lifetime.
More planning, lots of knitting and many laughs around the heater in cold Islamabad winters. In this picture some ladies who are super close to my heart: My beloved Dadi, my dearest Phupo and my sister’s sweetest mother-in-law.
Even the bride-to-be (that’s me!) gets card stuffing responsibilities.
After years and years of dancing at other people’s mehndis, I got the chance to lash my bride-zilla whip and make these folks do (forced) dance practice.
Being showered with love and duas at the milad before the functions started.
Hershies instead of laddos at the mayon!
Hanging out with the cutest men in the family (my mamoon, my father and my nephew) as the ladies sang on the beat of the “dholak”.
Those priceless hugs. This very special one from my nani.
Forget food fights. This is how you end up looking after the ladies are done with you, if you are the groom’s younger brother.
Smarties instead of methai by the groom’s side at the Mehndi function – yoohoo! I didn’t mind getting my mouth stuffed by these at all.
The beautiful mehndi platters that were a gift by a friend and were flown in especially from Lahore. Thankfully no hair or dupattas were burnt as the ladies brought them in, though that was quite the possibility for a few perilous seconds.
Hanging out with my besties from school, college and work in the hotel room before going out for the mehndi. How I miss them all!
The husband and my Mommy sharing a moment. Maybe she is warning him about me!
The ever important “Luddi”.
And the best dances are the unprepared ones. Dance practice is just to torture beloved friends and family.
I thought my husband was joking when he warned me, but apparently his family takes the tradition of carrying the bride over the threshold of the new house very seriously. I was mortified and clenched my eyes shut. Makes a great picture in retrospect.
The namaz (prayer) of shukrana (thanks) on the bride’s dupatta after the rukhsati, under the watchful eye of a room full of family. How’s that for performance pressure.
Wearing the necklace and earrings my mother wore at her wedding at the Valima.
Farid Ayaz and Abu Mohammad spinning their mystical magic at the Qawwali Night at my sister’s house post the main wedding functions.
And this last one is my favourite picture of the wedding: my siblings by my side as they walked me to the stage on the day of the wedding. My sister like always watching over my shoulder and my brother ever so handsome wearing the sherwani my father wore on his wedding day. These two have always been the pillars of my strength, mashaAllah.
As I reflected on my best wedding memories I realized it wasn’t about the makeup, the hair or the perfect flower arrangement but about family and the simple joy of being with loved ones. And I’m forever grateful to God for giving me these blessings.
Hope you enjoyed these memories. What are your favorite memories from your wedding?