09 January 2024

# Our Mixed Marriage

My Big Fat Pakistani Wedding

Just kidding, that never actually happened.

I don't like weddings, never have. Not even as a guest.

A big, traditional Polish wedding, would be my absolute nightmare. It's normally a lot of people (because "it's polite" to invite relatives you've barely met in your life), a lot of drinking, rubbish music, awkward dancing, and even more awkward wedding games. 

I can't say I would be too keen on a Pakistani wedding either. The couple usually just sits on stage, the bride looking sad like it's the worst day of her life, and the guests basically just enjoy the party until it's time to take some photos with the couple. In most cases, men and women sit separately, so if, like me, you rely on your partner for company when you're at a wedding where you don't know anyone, you're out of luck.

When I was in high school, my youngest aunt got married. She didn't have an extravagant wedding - instead, they booked a local restaurant, invited only the closest family and friends, and that was it. I loved this idea and at that time decided, that if I ever got married, this was what I wanted to do. 

Luckily for me, my husband was on the same page, and perfectly satisfied with just a small wedding. Just as well, because at the time we were rather skint, living in a tiny bedsit, getting by. You may ask - why plan a wedding then, why not wait until we could afford something more? Truth be told, we decided to formalise our relationship to make our life together easier - while Mr I. was already legally residing in the UK, being married meant a lot less issues later on. At this point I can imagine people go "Ohhh so he married you for the visa/passport/whatever" - can someone remind him then, as I'm still stuck with him in spite of the fact that he already got the British passport? ;-)

Anyway, because of that we didn't want to go too far into the future, and settled on a date that only gave us a few months to plan everything. That sounds absolutely mental, when you think that people plan these things years in advance - the reception venue, catering, photographer, music, flowers, even the wedding dress. 

One thing I knew, despite deciding on a small wedding, that I wanted it to include both our cultures. I definitely wanted a traditional white dress for the ceremony itself, but for the reception I went for a Pakistani outfit.

I was never into big, typical wedding dresses, plus I really was on a budget, so it was definitely a task to find a dress I would love. I came across mine completely by accident, tried it on, and it was the one - quite plain white maxi, with pearl embellishments, which my friends later described as "something out of the Pride and Prejudice". 

Unfortunately I only seem to have that one photo on my own in my wedding dress, that shows it in full, but here's a little close-up of the detail on it ^

While our actual marriage ceremony was the Western part of the day, there was one Desi element I had - the mehndi, traditional hand decorations drawn with henna. Done by our wonderfully talented friend, who was so committed that she was with me from 6am creating this intricate design.

For the reception I decided to embrace the Pakistani style - the outift, bangles, matching jewellery and khussa (shoes), full works.. Looking back, after learning more about Pakistani wedding fashion, this was definitely a really simple choice for a bride, but at that time all the embroidery and embellishments felt SO over the top for me, especially considering the very simple style I chose for my wedding dress.

What did the actual wedding day involve then?

We booked ourselves a slot in the local registry office, on a sunny Saturday in September. We had all of Mr's family who live there, and some of mine flew over - my parents and sister, and my godmother with two of my cousins. My godfather who lives in London came over as well. Apart from the families we invited some of our closest local friends, maybe 30 people in total.

For the reception we booked a small local Pakistani restaurant, just to have a dinner and sit around with our guests for a little. Due to the majority of our guests being Muslim we opted for a place that was fully halal and didn't serve alcohol - we were debating a couple of other places, but finally decided to choose that particular one to make sure everyone would be happy to attend and celebrate with us. My family sorted themselves out afterwards ;) 

Even though we both come from cultures where big weddings are more of a thing, I'm happy we both agreed that it wasn't something we necessarily wanted for ourselves. We both felt that what we did was perfectly enough for what's just one day in the end. There might be a few details I would change, because hindsight is 20/20, but overall our wedding day was pretty much everything we wanted it to be.

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