The Muslim Bride Special Wedding Feature: Sana and Shahzeb’s Wedding Reception
We continue with Sana and Shahzeb’s wedding feature and share some words and visuals on Sana’s Rukhsati wedding reception. For those of you who have been following this series, we love you and welcome you back. Those who are new, you are most probably confused and wondering if you have accidentally just walked into a South Asian wedding site. We want to assure you that such is not the case. Alhumdulilah, we cover all Muslim American ethnic weddings and you just happen to join us in the middle of an ongoing special Pakistani American wedding series.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Pakistani wedding traditions, we just wanted to point out that in the Muslim Pakistani tradition, there are usually two wedding receptions. The bride side gives the first one, which in many cases might also be the day when the Nikah ceremony takes place (either earlier at the Masjid or later at the dinner reception venue). This is usually the day when the bride officially leaves the parents house and is properly given away by her father. If you have ever been to a South Asian wedding and have had the strength of staying till the end (because things can be fashionably late), you must have seen the bride and family cry up a storm and leave with her groom in a very intense dramatic way (imagine really sad music in the background). Not making fun just pointing out that it can be a tearjerker so if you cry easily then you might want to avoid eye contact when all of this goes down! We, however, personally think everyone should rejoice during the goodbye (save the tears for Nikah time) and blow bubbles or better yet light up firecrackers! This way both parties will feel a little light hearted and not get too depressed when the couple is supposed to be starting a new journey in their life. Just one heads up about the firecrackers though, make sure you don’t hand over a firecracker to the serious uncle who thinks you are burning up your money in smoke because then you’re just asking for it. Come to think about it, the man would have a point.
The second wedding reception is then the Waleema/Valima, which is the marriage feast given by the groom following the Nikah ceremony. We called Sana’s event the Rukhsati (giving away of the bride) reception because she already had her Nikah (reasons mentioned in the first Mayoun/Manjha event post) before but had yet to be given away by our father or leave her parent’s house officially.
So now that you understand the background, sit back, relax and follow us as we highlight some special moments and take you through a visual journey of the reception.
The reception in comparison to both the pre-wedding events, which were fairly small and private, was for about 320 people. We wanted to keep it simple and basically just share a good wholesome meal with some family and friends.
Unlike the Mehndi day, the reception day was slightly more relaxing for all of us especially since our running around didn’t involve any theatrical performances! For the bride and all the girls in the house, the day began with a series of appointments with hair and makeup being the most important ones. Sana got her bridal updo done first by the very sweet and talented Houda Bazzi. Next it was makeup, which was done by the absolutely amazing Amanie Mokdad. We were so happy and blessed to have both of these ladies helping us out since both of them are good professionals and really nice people (bonus point, they know how to take care of nervous wreck crazy brides and calm them down as well!).
Sana and Shahzeb decided to go for traditional Pakistani outfits. Sana wanted something really intricate and sparkly with red and gold colors. She wore a traditional gharara suit (classic super wide pant style bottoms). Her entire dupatta (shawl style piece that you see on her head) was filled with floral and leaf motif and had delicate kora and dabka embroidery work. Similar embroidery and rhinestones were done on the border of the dupatta, neckline, the shirt, sleeves and gharara as well. For accessories she had pretty gold sparkly sandals, matching fabric clutch and jewelry. Shahzeb on the other hand wore a traditional white silver sherwani outfit with embroidered work on his collar and sleeves. His shoes were the traditional khussay with white and red safa (the headdress).
When it came to décor and design, the bride had a specific concept and colors that she wanted us to keep in mind as we planned. A lot of that, however, evolved when we worked with our amazing and sweet floral designer for the event, Sawsan Alwazzan. When you put a lot of experience, crazy dreamers and a couple of realistic people together the outcome is usually awesome teamwork. So after a lot of pre-wedding discussions, funny sketches, gestures (think lost in translation) and getting distracted by all things sparkly in Sawsan’s store, the end result was simply beautiful. In the bride’s words, the place looked like “the palace of Shahzeb.”
For centerpieces, we went with a combination of candelabras, floral silver and chandelier vases, and floating candles with flower branches in clear vases. This was to make it interesting as well as to stay within a certain budget. The flowers used for centerpieces were simple yet beautiful and consisted of red roses, white hydrangeas and baby breaths. The paper that you see on the tables and in someone’s hand in the collage is called a Sehra. It is a genre of Urdu poetry traditionally written in the praise of the groom and read during the wedding reception (at least that’s how it is here in U.S.A). This ritual according to our grandma and online search originally hails from Hyderabad Deccan and Utter Prasdesh in India where it is a common tradition to have the sehra read in the Indian Muslim weddings.
There was fruit punch and different delicious traditional Pakistani and American food items for hors d’oeuvres. Some of the main items included mini veggie samosas, coconut chicken and sesame chicken wings (yay for chicken little!). By the way, if it is your immediate family wedding, one advice is to make sure you request the caterer to pack you some leftovers. Either talk in advance or assign a family member for this task. Once you get busy with the program and hosting there are chances that you might not end up eating anything on time along with the guests especially during hors d’oeuvres.
The program for the evening was kept short and simple so that we could give Sana away as soon as possible and go home and party! All right not really (shhh…actually yes really). The program began with the recitation of a passage from the Holy Quran, which was then followed by an English translation. Next we invited Imam Shiekh Ali Suleiman Ali, one of the most beloved Imam and scholars in the Michigan community, to say a few words. We, and especially Sana, were very happy that he accepted our invitation to speak at her wedding since he was Sana’s teacher in Middle School as well. MashaAllah his speech for the couple was really wonderful and had a valuable message. Then it was the turn for the father of the bride who gave a short touching thank you speech (In Urdu and English). He thanked all the family members who traveled from near and far to attend the wedding as well as all our wonderful friends who were able to join us. The most touching part was when he especially thanked our Dadi Ami (grandma) who we all love dearly (perhaps the climax of the speech). Alhumdulilah the short program went well.
There were a few things we decided to take out which we think worked out for the best if you want a short and sweet program. A couple of the main things we skipped were reading the Sehra and long Oscar speeches. We didn’t exactly have an English translation ready and since the reception was on a Monday and people were coming from work we didn’t want to extend the program unnecessarily either. It worked out (so we think since no one threw horrible evil glances at us) and those who were interested and could read the Sehra in Urdu, just read it while enjoying their feast. As for Oscar speeches, we are an emotional bunch and we don’t do well with long sentimental speeches so we decided to opt out of it as well. Plus, none of us really look good when we cry! We also dropped the idea of doing any kind of slide shows since we completed our quota of embarrassing the bride on the pre-wedding event of Mehndi.
After the little program, the dinner was served which included a mix of American, and mostly Pakistani food items. Adil of Kazi Catering, who was recommended by the venue, and is also another popular caterer in the community, worked with us on the menu (Tip here is to call Adil first and let him know that you are interested in the Pakistani menu and then tell the venue that you are interested in the ethnic menu). Ideally, we had imagined only four dishes but most caterers or venues provide you with a couple of different menu package options that are based on per head prices and may include like 12-16 dinner entrée options. For desserts, we decided to do a little dessert table, which included different small size cakes and pastries as well as mango Ice cream, and the traditional South Asian favorite dessert Kheer (rice pudding). Doodh pati chai (black tea made with milk and loose tea) and paan were offered as well.
Once the dinner was over, the bride and groom quietly cut the cake (they literally were very shy and quite). Sweet Heather Anne, one of Sana’s really talented classmates from University of Michigan Fine Arts School, made the beautiful and delicious cake. It was a four-tier cake with two layers of Chocolate Praline (Bride’s favorite) and Raspberries and Crème (Groom’s favorite) each. Some people told us they thought the cake was so beautiful it looked fake! Not sure why that thought came about since the bride and groom, Sana and Shahzeb, actually served each other a slice (can you imagine serving fake foam or cardboard to each other and posing for the camera?). Yes it is true that fake layers are added to cakes to give them height but we can guarantee you not in this one since we wanted the cake to be cute and small. Our own theory is that if you spend money on a special cake, it is meant to be eaten and if it looks beautiful (added bonus) then yes take pictures first by all means but still eat it all up! Now that we ponder on this further, maybe some people thought it was fake because the cake was never served. Since there were already enough sweet things on the dessert table for the guests, the wedding cake was meant to be used for just cake cutting and photography purposes and then eaten up by the family and friends staying with us post reception.
Finally when all the picture sessions with family and friends were completed, it was time for the bride and groom to make an exit and Sana to have her official Rukhsati moment. We were expecting a lot of drama and tears (Bollywood and Star Plus soap operas style) except what we witnessed was a walk of laughter. As the bride and groom started walking towards the door and then to their Limo, two things happened. One, no one including the bride walked in slow baby steps and second the bride and groom were laughing so much we all started laughing in confusion as well. It was definitely not the traditional exit that we expected but it was definitely one of the most cheerful ones Masha’Allah. It was a great way to end an action packed weekend full of fun wedding festivities.
Here is a photograph of the venue, Crystal Gardens where we had the reception. Alhumdulilah it was a great night in terms of weather since normally we are covered in snow. We wanted to mention a couple of good things about the venue for those of you seriously searching and working on a budget. One good thing about them is that they offer different halal ethnic foods. They collaborate with different caterers (could be just one) and their own chefs to bring you an extensive and good tasting menu. We went through a lot of venues that cater to big parties and in comparison Crystal Gardens prices overall seemed quite reasonable and within the given budget. There is definitely other couple of good ones too but this venue and location worked the best in our case.
As we approach the end of this special wedding series (one more to go), we just want to say Alhumdulilah! In all we had a great time wedding planning for all of Sana and Shahzeb’s wedding events. It was challenging, crazy and good creative fun! We are very thankful to each and every person from family, friends and to all of our vendors that stepped up and helped us out when necessary. We also hope that this wedding feature series was helpful to those of you planning a wedding around the nation or especially in Michigan and for those just looking for some ideas and inspiration.
Rukhsati Wedding Reception Resources:
Venue – Crystal Gardens, Southgate, Michigan
Event planning and designing – The Muslim Bride Team
Floral Decor and Design – Sawsan Alwazzan of Wazzan Floral Design, Dearborn, Michigan
Stage Decorative Chairs – Hemsu Decorations and Rentals, Rochester Hills, Michigan
Appetizers, Dinner, Desserts, Chai and Paan– Adil of Kazi Catering and Crystal Gardens, Michigan (Our contact person for menu details was Adil).
Wedding Cake – Sweet Heather Anne, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Bridal Makeup – Amanie Mokdad, Canton, Michigan
Bridal Hair – 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
DJ & Music – Karan Singh (DJ King), Canton, Michigan
Limo Service – Aristocat Transportation, Warren, Michigan (Our contact person was John Kretsch and he was awesome!)
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 and last in the series: The Wedding Cake!
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.