The Muslim Bride Special Wedding Feature: Sana and Shahzeb’s Mehndi-Henna Event
If you are reading this for the first time, please stop and go back to our very first post in this series, which started with Sana and Shahzeb’s Mayoun-Manjha event. Unless you hate the sight of yellow, cultural events, and/or don’t care about wholesome bridal henna application tips. Then it is okay, but seriously we should warn you that it would be like reading the third part in a book series.
For the rest of you that will make us proud and read this, you know the drill. Put on your fuzzy socks and grab something warm (please don’t be self-destructive and touch warm items like hot pans, irons or the firewood. Previous sentence is applicable for cold areas only and yes, giant freezers count if you want to put your fuzzy socks on). If you are in some place sunny and warm like Hawaii, then who are we kidding? You are most probably flying a kite or involved in some extreme sports at the moment and will most likely never read this.
Okay so this is going to be a long read. Ready? Here we go…
It was the day of the Mehndi and the team woke up with the mindset that this is it! It’s do or die time now! We were all worried, some of us about losing our dignity (thinking crazy home productions) and some about never getting any jobs or marriage proposals by the time the night was over. Finally it was the time for the last pre-wedding cultural event (phew!) and perhaps one of the most challenging programs we had to put together. For some reason, it felt like getting ready for a major Broadway production where you are the producer, host and the performer all in one. None of us remember when we signed up for all this. You pause and ask yourself, when did I sign up to be a clown? A performer? You imagine Thespians who enjoyed watching West Side Story during High School bus trips to Stratford, Canada over and over again laughing at you and just like old times you shriek in silence. Do I really love my sister or brother this much? Or what exactly happened to simple Mehndi-Henna events that we witnessed when we were little kids?
For those of you who don’t know, there used to be two Mehndi events that would take place over the span of two days. The first day the groom side would come to the bride’s house with a procession of family and close friends. They would bring gifts, mithai sweets, and fresh flower garlands and enter with decorated mehndi thaals (trays with henna). One of the most fun things about this event used to be the song competition that was held between both sides. It used to be a mixed or females mostly gathering depending on the household. Dances were not common (at least not in our house. Plus, we didn’t want our moms’ and grandmas’ scary gazes to cause spontaneous combustion and kill us). The next day, the whole thing was repeated but this time the bride’s family and friends would go to the groom’s house. It was simple yet fun. We just had to worry about decorating the mehndi-henna thaals (mostly round trays with henna) and dressing up in sparkly traditional outfits (which for some of us was a problem).
Here in the U.S.A., those two days of Mehndi-Henna events have been combined into one day. Most of the time this event is ladies only however, family men and their close friends might be invited as well. Usually though, only a select group of people are invited either because you are on a strict budget or because you honestly believe in small private events with only close family and friends. The program is typically divided into two parts where the first part is not segregated and might include all or mostly boys’ performances. The second part then is segregated and is for women only. So after the first part of the program is over, men are usually asked to leave during the women only part of the program (sorry brothers you can’t have everything in life).
Again, for those of you unfamiliar with these events, mehndi-henna events here normally involve spectacular bride and groom entrances. Later some rasms (customs) that include feeding sweets to the couple, putting garlands around their necks and applying henna and Ittar or Attar (Natural sweet smelling perfume oil) on the bride and groom’s hands while your friends play Dholak (drum-like instrument) and sing songs. Next there is dinner and then the siblings, cousins and close friends of the couple put together a program in their honor (or because you really don’t have a choice and are bound by blood with one of them) and turn into performers. Skits, songs, dances, videos, instruments and acrobatics everything goes! Okay last one is not true but we won’t be surprised if someone right now is secretly mastering their trapeze act as a big surprise for the bride and groom.
So we must start by telling you a little about the selected venue. Sana and Shahzeb’s Mehndi-Henna event was held at the beautiful Farmington Hills Manor. Alhumdulilah we had a great experience working with everyone over there. Roy Oraha, the general manager was so nice and kind. He was really respectful and understanding about all our religious and cultural concerns and helped us a great deal in making our event possible. One advice we want to give everyone is to never assume anything! Good communication and literally driving your vendors mad with your constant updates really helps. And going places with your dad who looks like he has been driven mad by a team of crazy women (think Pride and Prejudice) is a bonus! If you are reading this Roy, we once again thank you and your team for all your wonderful help.
The first thing we did in the morning (besides the panic and realization we mentioned earlier) was to go and set up. After a few hours of set up, rehearsals and dashing back for a long makeover (we are seriously not that ugly but the bride was going to disown us if we didn’t control our mane) we finally rushed back to the hall to make sure everything was still in one piece. One of the best feelings for a designer or artist is to see their vision or art work come to life. Thanks to the amazing and wonderful Florist and Designer Sawsan and team who helped bring our stage idea to life. Their beautiful drapery and decor work made the stage look simply “majestic!”
In terms of colors and design we decided to mix it up and incorporate colors and décor in Moroccan, Bollywood and traditional Mehndi style. Just like the previous pre-wedding cultural event, we wanted to continue our theme of ‘magical’ but make it really colorful this time. We don’t mean crazy rainbow style (although they are pretty) but more like focusing on rich primary colors like red, blue and green plus gold. Since Sana was wearing dark green, we didn’t really want to use any color that would clash with her outfit and give a horrible busy background where photography was concerned. Yes, as designers we think about this quite seriously and quite frankly as a planner you should too. To further extend the visual frame, we created the sitting area for singing purposes right in front of the stage so that everyone could be near the bride and groom as well as be part of the visual frame.
For hors d’oeuvres we decided to go with mini vegetables samosas and the delicious papdi chaat (an extremely popular non-meat street snack that hails from Pakistan and India). Just writing about it makes our mouth water! Another tip by the way if you are planning a family wedding is to make sure you keep all the hors d’oeuvres aside in advance because trust us, you will miss it in all the running around or someone will call you as you finish your only two spoons of chaat.
Once all the guests had arrived and settled in we started Sana and Shahzeb’s Mehndi-Henna event with the groom’s entrance first. Our amazing all in one DJ, Karan turned into a Dhol guy and lead the team of boys, the groom with the bride’s brother and his friends into the hall room. They all entered doing bhangra to the music only version of the Dhinka Chika song with the beat of live Dhol. It was loud and quite fun for the brothers but perhaps a little too much for our shy groom. In fact we must use this opportunity to thank the groom for being a good sport and entertaining our audience during the program (the guy is gifted with an amazing voice MashaAllah, which he used to surprise the bride later) and letting us make a complete spectacle out of him and not running away!
Once the groom took the seat at the stage, we then had the bride enter to a Pakistani song “Mehndi rache gi tere haath, dholak baje gi saari raat” by Hadiqa Kiani. (Translated: Mehndi will leave a good color on your hand, dholak will be played the entire night). A long procession of girls lead by little nieces with mehndi henna trays entered first. Following right behind them was the bride with her sisters and cousins.
We all know that there is usually a team of people that work on making any event possible including turning a girl into a gorgeous bride. We have to give a shout out to the very sweet and beautiful Houda Bazzi who took care of the hair and makeup. MashaAllah she did a great job of making the bride and her entourage look like models (we honestly wasn’t expecting too clean up this much and provide joy to so many). This girl especially has some magic fingers when it comes do doing amazing hairdos! By the way in the following two photos of the collage and the close up of bridal henna hands, you can also see the beautiful color of bridal henna stain (done by Sumeyya of Henna Craze) as it appeared a day after the henna application day (see previous post) and a day before the main reception.
After the couple had taken a seat at the stage, family and friends did rasms (customs as mentioned earlier). In the next couple of pictures you can see the couple adorned with MashaAllah beautiful fresh flower garlands that were especially handmade by one of our mom’s dear friends Humaira aunty. If you are reading this, we thank you!
One of the last rasms (custom) included getting money out of the groom. In fact, there are quite a few wedding rasms or ways in which the sisters can extract money from the groom. It’s basically giving threats like, “give us some money or we won’t let go off your hand, your way, your shoe etc.” Well, us siblings didn’t really care for all these rasms or want to really bankrupt the new groom. Just for fun though we decided to do one of the most popular Mehndi rasms where you put a little henna on the groom’s finger and hold it tight. Usually the groom will try to take his hand away so you have all the team hold his hand until you get something out of him. There are a lot of negotiations and that’s usually the fun part of the whole thing. It all seems a blur now but we do remember asking for a month supply of burgers from I-Burger (Dearborn) and something about entertaining us with sweet melodies when we are bored. Finally, once you do get something, you split the money between all the sisters and cousins that were part of your money extraction team.
Once all the rasms were over and the dinner was served. It was buffet style. Since we planned for Middle Eastern for Mayoun/Manjha event and then Indo-Pak style halal Chinese for the henna application day, we went with traditional Pakistani food for the Mehndi-Henna event day. Sorry for some reason we don’t have any food photographs but we can assure you that the food was delicious! The best part was the live tandoor meaning, Naans were being made fresh in the kitchen so they were hot and perfect. We want to thank our caterer Mr. Rana Khan for the tasty food plus for surprising us with the Kashmiri Chai that was simply amazing! Believe or not we even got a chance to sit down and have some food before the Mehndi program started which, as a host and a planner can be a big challenge.
Following are some detailed shots of the table set up, different centerpieces and stage décor for your inspiration.
And MashaAllah here is one of our favorite Mehndi-Henna bridal portrait shots of Sana taken by our very talented and amazing wedding photographer Ayesha.
Alhumdulilah, the program turned out good but that pain stricken feeling that you are about to take some crazy final exam or jump of a building was not that good. It was like a surprise talent show that included a crazy video and a lot of singing and dancing. The groom surprised the bride with his singing and Karan a.k.a DJ King dedicated a song to the couple as well. A dear Indian friend of the bride sang a Bollywood song for her and our cute little nieces did their first dance ever with dandia sticks. In all, the whole thing was a big surprise for the bride and groom. After this we had the female only part of the program. We actually searched a great deal for a local Indian or Pakistani female DJ but we couldn’t find one anywhere. Ultimately, we decided to go with Karan who did an amazing job including playing the dhol. He, by the way, also did a fantastic job hiding behind the curtain and doing his first blind Djing job for our strict female only part of the event. The guy is super talented MashaAllah and was so nice and respectful. He even brought his own safety pins to assure the curtain was tightly sealed. We’re just glad it all worked out because neither of us wanted a mob of women throwing tomatoes or sparkly shoes at us in anger!
At the end, the bride and groom were extremely happy with everything and that made our team and all the vendors really happy. Alhumdulilah we were thankful that everything worked out in the end and that after extensive training and planning for months, the Mehndi-Henna event was liked and enjoyed by all our family and friends.
Mehndi-Henna Event Resources:
Venue – Farmington Hills Manor, Farmington, Michigan
Design and Decor – The Muslim Bride Team
Stage and DJ Table Curtain Frame Setup – Sawsan Alwazzan of Wazzan Floral Design Dearborn, Michigan
Appetizers, Dinner, Desserts and Kashmiri Chai – Quality Catering, Hamtramck, Michigan (Our Contact Person: Rana Khan (586-222-7500)
Bridal Hair and Makeup – Houda Bazzi, Dearborn, Michigan
Henna Artist – Sumeyya Rehman of Henna Craze, Detroit, Michigan – Will travel up to 2 hours into surrounding states generally. Chicago, Windsor, Ohio and Indiana are included.
Photographer – Ayesha Khan Photography – Michigan based but open to travel.
Videographers – Sabah Ali Khan of Qalam Productions , Naperville, Illinois
Music and Dhol – Karan Singh (DJ King), Canton, Michigan
For anything else you wish to know, please email us and we’ll try to help you out. Please note that all the photographs in the Sana and Shahzeb series belong to The Muslim Bride family so please give credit to the artist and The Muslim Bride when you use them for the purposes of your ideas and inspiration.
Next in the series: The Wedding Reception!
All the photographs on The Muslim Bride site are either taken or provided by the artist or the photographer for The Muslim Bride LLC. Any photographs with The Muslim Bride logo were taken by The Muslim Bride team and are hence the property of The Muslim Bride LLC. If you use any photographs from The Muslim Bride website for ideas and inspiration, please cite the source of your inspiration (The Muslim Bride) and give credit where it is due (the photographer or artist who took those beautiful photographs). We will all give you a good dua Insha’Allah. Thank you.