Who doesn't love a good wedding story?
And while we're all for mushy expressions of love, we're over destination weddings, OTT weddings and the works. What we're really digging are weddings which encourage intimate settings, environmental conservation, economising, and honestly, couples just breaking out of the mould to celebrate their big day.
We got in touch with a few desi couples who managed to convince their parents to go against the tide. Here are seven couples who have won us over with their wedding stories.
Recircle co-founders Wasma Imran and Mahin Khan tied the knot on 30th December, 2018 and there was one thing they knew they wanted for sure; a one-day, zero-waste wedding, as they're big on sustainable living.
"We asked our catering service to use 19 litre Nestlé bottles, and fill them in metal dispensers so that no 1 litre plastic bottle rested on tables. These big nestle bottles are sent back to the company to be recycled," said Wasma. "As for cold drinks, we did not use plastic 1.5 litre bottles and no straws, instead we used glass bottles that were emptied by the catering service in glasses and sent back to the company for recycling."
They had an afternoon wedding in an open farmhouse in Lahore that they rented and they made sure that everything used was recyclable, like artificial flowers. "All our arrangements were re-usable so that even organic waste was avoided and the artificial flower arrangements can be reused at other weddings too. The organic food waste from our wedding was collected by a solid waste company which they converted to compost."
To conserve the environment, the couple made invites from seed paper so that when buried and watered regularly, grow into basil plants, making them 100% biodegradable.
"We also made very limited cards, and used a web-invite for most people to be as paper-free as possible. Our wedding favour packaging was made of 100% recycled paper, and no packaged stuff went into it. Only nuts and dried fruits. Moreover, our wedding favour includes one pot with a tiny plant for each family."
They even got their rings hand crafted from Europe Wasma said, "My wedding ring is made of recycled silver, with a meteorite in it. My husband’s ring is also made of meteorite and recycled metal. We got them shipped from Norway and Budapest, respectively. As we’re 100% against diamond mining. Meteorites don’t cost a kidney, and they’re ACTUALLY rare compared to diamonds which are artificially inflated. And while it sounds really fancy, meteorite rings are really cheap! 1/50th the price of diamonds. My wedding jewellery is also hand crafted from scrap metal and recycled silver, as I really didn’t want to spend a lot on my jewellery. It was designed by Esfir Jewels and I absolutely love them!"
She added, "Our wedding is just another example of how we wanted to ‘not’ harm the environment while we were taking this really big step in our lives. It was about staying true to our principles and practice what we believe in. This is who we are and how we live!"
And to top it off, both parties split the costs and there was no dowry in the equation.
Food writer and voiceover artist, Aneela Sheikh Bhatti chose to take the path less travelled and had a super intimate ceremony for her wedding.
"Whenever I tell my wedding story to people, especially in Karachi, I am usually met with a few raised eyebrows and judgmental stares. My wedding was very different from the vast majority of matrimonial festivities that take place in Pakistan. For starters, it wasn’t a week of celebrations. I mean, if it’s considered a cultural norm here to have three events just for an engagement, then what we did was not normal," explained Aneela.
"One day, we were sitting in my house, my then-boyfriend and now-husband, took my hand, dragged me to my mum's room and told her, ‘Aunty I want to marry your daughter’and that was basically our engagement. A few months later, we called about 35 people to my house, just the closest family and friends. I signed papers in one room and he did the same in another. After it was over we sat together while people helped themselves to light refreshments of tea, fries, sandwiches, the very basics. I bought my outfit ready made the night before."
She added, "As a wedding present, my friend's mother had my make-up and hair done at her parlour, so I really lucked out and I happened to look stunning on the day. We didn’t even have a professional photographer so all the pictures from my wedding day are pretty much off people’s phones.
"With the money we saved from the wedding, we got a secondhand Alto which I affectionately refer to as Betsy and is the very same car I drive everywhere to date, four years and a super cute baby later! As a wedding present our friends and family pitched in and we went on an amazing honeymoon to Thailand. Both these things were worth far more to us than feeding 400+ people, most of whom would've spent the evening whispering to each other about how they thought I was getting married because I was pregnant. Sure, we upset a few people by not inviting them to our small event, but we still look back and are so thankful we stuck to our guns and did OUR wedding OUR way. "
Aneela continued, "We were 23 with hardly any money in our pockets and did not want to start married life with a ton of debt looming over our heads. As cliché as it sounds and with the spirit of Valentine's Day around the corner, I need to say that although a lot people look to turn their wedding day(s) into this fairy tale, a dream of a perfect day; for me, the fairy tale was always in the happily ever after."
Talk about being comfortable at your wedding. Sana Nizamani Nilsson and Vilhelm, who wed in Sweden on 12th March 2012 wanted an "event to celebrate love, friendship and mutual respect for who we are. I wanted the focus on us as people and less on the material things."
After taking an exhausting look at the wedding planning, the couple decided to go the simple route.
"We wanted to keep it simple. Firstly, every time we thought of having to book venues, decide the menu, plan the guest list, etc, we got very overwhelmed. It simply took energy and focus away from each other and into this idea of how a wedding day is supposed to be," Sana said.
"Also, as I am a very private person, I felt uncomfortable having a large gathering on such a special day as we were going to read our vows to each other. Thus, quite early on we realised how we wanted it to be small and intimate. Plus, we wanted to pay for everything ourselves even though both our families generously offered to contribute so a small wedding made it possible to keep it classy within our budget."
When it came to clothes, nothing seemed to be the right fit. "I couldn’t see the point in paying a lot of money for a dress I'd wear once. A few years earlier, my mother had gifted me a sari which I loved. I had worn it to a friend's wedding and had brought it with me when I moved to Sweden. It was simple, red, and it had a history that felt special. Wearing that sari was a way to have my mother at the wedding and I'm so happy I made that decision." She paired it with the only pair of heels she had - bought six years prior.
"All my life, I had seen bride wearing teekas. It was hard to imagine becoming a bride and not have one. Years ago, my parents had gifted me a beautiful and simple gold set of which I always wore the necklace. On the day of the wedding, I casually placed the necklace on my head and realised it doubled perfectly as a teeka," she added.
Speaking of her husband's choice to wear jeans, Sana said that that's just him. "Enduring, simple, comfortable and yet, handsome. My husband is a giver, but he rarely treats himself. As he is a great admirer of country living, I was so happy to see him going to a genuine cowboy shop in Stockholm and getting himself clothes down to the leather boots. I slipped an Ajrak around his neck to celebrate the Sindhi in me on our big day."
The total number of people at the event was less than 20 which included her husband's family and their closest friends. Unfortunately Sana's parent's weren't able to attend the ceremony due to visa delays. "My side of the family could only be there on Skype and in our hearts."
"Within minutes, we were all a room filled with happy tears and crackling voices. This sense of raw emotion and the freedom to express it had been made possible by having only a tight knit of people. Seven years and two children later we still cherish the memory of the wedding day and feel thankful for the decisions we made to keep it simple. The sari, the teeka necklace and my husband’s Ajrak made helped create symbolism. There was a lot of thoughtfulness that day."
On 19th May 2018, Saadia Subhan got married for the second time wearing a simple blue kurti with a dupatta, no extravagance.
"It’s my second marriage after being single and fighting depression for years, so my parents were hesitant and very careful about it," she said. "On the other hand, it was his (now-husband Subhan Aslam) first marriage and he, being the only son of his parents, also faced many questions."
However, once the families met, there was no going back.
"We had our arrangement at a lawyer’s chamber in Islamabad and our parents were well aware and willing for our marriage. We, along with our parents reached court, had our nikah and registration done within an hour's time," said Saadia.
"I wore a simple blue kurti and dupatta to match his blue formal shirt," she added.
Their reason for the basic wedding was simple. "Besides not wasting any money to please people who’ll criticise no matter what, it was done to remove stigmas attached to the matrimonial process in our society. We are not against those who love extravagant weddings, but our choice of a simple wedding was to spread a message that marriages can be done in an easy way too. You don’t have to take heavy loans to meet a set standard just to feel accepted in society."
"Our families firmly supported us in standing against social norms of not marrying a divorced woman, accepting/demanding heavy dowry and taking loans for day long celebrations because of “log kia kahein gay” Our parents proudly stood beside us and respected our choice of simple marriage.
The funniest bit was the reaction of friends and relatives. "They thought it was a prank. Our wedding announcement was a Facebook post with a picture taken an hour after nikah, both in t-shirts and nobody could tell that we'd really gotten married."
After the nikah, Saadia and Subhan dropped their parents' home and drove off to Nathia Gali for a one-night honeymoon and returned Sunday night, to resume work the following morning. Upon their return they distributed food at an Edhi centre for their valima.
"We are both humanitarians and there was no better way of celebrating valima other than distributing food among those who really deserve."
The total cost of the event, including the nikah and valima food came to a roundabout figure of Rs 15,000.
Journalist Annam Lodhi always knew that when she got married, she wanted to wear her mother's shocking pink shaadi dress.
"Her shaadi outfit was hot pink and the valima jora was this mehndi green dress, with a jamavar gharara and organza dupatta. I'd always thought I'll wear her green dress on my mehndi and the pink one on my shaadi. Strangely, my mom was always against it. Her reasons being, “one should only wear new clothes on their wedding” but I couldn't resist, she had preserved her clothes with the utmost care! She'd worn them just on her wedding day and never again and also still has her bangles, shoes and other accessories from the wedding, even hair pins," shared Lodhi.
Fast forward to 2019, it was time for Annam's nikah: "The idea behind me actually using her dress was my attachment to all things vintage and old. My mom told us numerous stories about her wedding day, how her hair was a mess and the nose pin wasn't right and how hard it was for her to walk in a shahrara for the first time. She was only 17 when she got married, she tells us about her feelings about how she was confused yet happy and what not. I just wanted to be able to tell her story by just wearing her dress.
The hot pink shahrara and dupatta have identical work, various handwork techniques have been used, not a sign of machine work and best of all, the work hasn't gone black even after 30 years! The dupatta is just 2.5 meters long. The shirt was plain pink, which I got changed because I wanted it to look heavier and I added an extra dupatta. Even then, everything felt so lightweight because there were no blingy stones on it, it didn't constrain my movement in any way."
She got a shirt made from Liberty Market for Rs 20,000 to go with the outfit and the whole look came up to under Rs1 lakh including shoes, jewellery and makeup!
And there's another cool thing about going vintage; Lodhi adds, "Even though I was very emotional about the dress, in the process I realised it helped with the finances too. With the current market, wedding dresses burn a hole in your wallet. It is great to repurpose old dresses and enjoy your day guilt free!"
Kaghaz's vocalist Amna Nizami caught everyone's attention when she auditioned for Pepsi Battle of the Bands Season 3. She'd taken a flight right after her wedding to Shamayale Khattak and qualified to the next round with henna still unfaded. Turns out this wasn't her first performance post-wedding. She decided to have a concert on her big day as well!
"We wanted to make our wedding our own," said Amna. "It's our big day, why should we be the ones sitting idle and waiting for it all to be over? I should enjoy my own wedding and do what makes me feel alive and happy. We didn't have any Mehndi, Mayun or rasmay. Our main event was a small barat with a nikah so we decided to have a simple event to accompany it and I decided to perform. I'm a musician, that's what I do."
Amna got a few of her fellow musicians on stage and performed for her family.
"My parents knew that I'd be performing and they were okay with it. Yes, the guests were surprised because brides don't do that but I had played at other close friends' weddings before with other musician friends and I felt it would be more personal if I do it on mine because that's who I am."
"We started with two cover songs which I sang. At the end two very close friends played the rubab and guitar. I played darbuka and people came up on dance floor to dance to the music and that was a win for me."
She added, "Also, this was the first time a lot of my family heard me sing. They were pretty impressed!"
Amna put on a show but groom Shamayale had his own fair share of surprises. The groom revealed that the barat made an entry to the theme music of wrestling stars DX. Coming from a theatre background, Shamayale got his troupe together and put on dances for the crowd.
"It was like larki waley vs larkey waley but we were more involved in them than anyone else."
Brides and grooms having a wedding with their own quirks and enjoying it their way, that's a yes from us!
Rizwan and his wife, Palwasha Minhas celebrated their wedding with the least amount of fuss. In the midst of all the wedding madness last winter, Rizwan tweeted the details of their event, all within Rs20,000.
"Guys shaadi season hai so here's my wedding story in a thread so you guys know that having apni marzi ki shaadi (a wedding of your choice) is possible," he wrote.
The couple, who reside in Lahore and are wedding photographers by profession, had a maximum budget of Rs20,000. "My guest list had 25 names: friends and parents. The venue was my terrace. The menu was chicken tikka, seekh kabab, pathoray chanay, halwa, strawberries."
"A friend lent his cooks, I bought the chicken and masalay from the money and helped prepare the food. My wife cooked khattay aloo as the starter. I forgot dessert so a friend brought strawberries and ice cream. He also brought tables for the food."
Decor was kept to a minimum. "My dad bought fairy lights and put them up on the terrace. I borrowed 25 chairs from the neighborhood election committee.
"My wife and I wore plain blue shalwar kameez," he said, courtesy of his mother and sister who bought it as a gift for the duo. "We all ate and talked till midnight when WAPDA cut off the lights. The whole shaadi then moved to restaurant The Manji Munch, DHA and then bas. Khush! Done!"
He concluded by saying, "Sukoon karo. Do whatever you want of course and whatever you can afford. But HAVE FUN. Be happy. Big or small, all weddings should just be HAPPY. Khush raho sab. Bye.”
With additional reporting by Sonia Ashraf.