Initially, Sarah Ansari and Rehan Haque were not sure of being set up on a date through their mothers. “Both of us were skeptical, but we thought to ourselves, why not? We let our friends introduce us, so why not our moms? “ Sarah recalls. The pair quickly hit it off and decided to meet up again each day for the next three days, knowing it might lead to something special. “It really was love at first donut – we got a donut at the very beginning of our date before dinner,” laughs Rehan.
The groom-to-be proposed to his beloved some time later on the lakefront just steps away from a historic Chicago museum: a location that would eventually become the couple’s wedding venue. “I could tell he was starting to get nervous and, all of a sudden, he popped down on one knee and asked,” muses the bride. “Before he could get out what I imagine was a beautiful speech, I said yes and jumped into his arms!” The groom saved some of those heartfelt words for their vows to one another, which gave their nuptials an extra touch of sentiment.
During their five-month engagement, Sarah and Rehan enlisted the assistance of a close friend who works as an expert planner, as well as HMR Designs, knowing they would both execute their perfect vision for their multi-day celebration that honored their Pakistani culture. On July 25th, the bride and groom participated in an intimate religious and legal ceremony in front of a much smaller group of family and friends. A week later, on July 31st, the pair held a Friday night mehndi – a pre-wedding party – in an alfresco space bedecked in bright colors, followed by their shaadi – ceremony and reception – the next day at the location of Rehan’s proposal.
When it came to the first big party, Sarah and Rehan focused on the liveliness and excitement of their culture. “It was important to do a mehndi the night before [the wedding celebration] with lots of typical South Asian colors,” notes the groom. “We wanted to be surrounded by our families and friends as we each walked into the venue; they also did choreographed dances to Bollywood music. [Additionally], we had [henna] artists to decorate the guests’ hands.”
The space featured a sprawling, sunken dance floor with a tall canopy looming above – delicate sheer fabrics in turquoise, gold, fuchsia, orange, and yellow strewn from post to post – as well as four large lounge vignettes with more neutral toned furniture atop colorful, patterned rugs, and infinity tables without any linens finished in gold with tall floral arrangements to draw the eye. The bride wore a stunning, traditional garb that featured the many bright, beautiful hues of the event design.
On the day of the shaadi, the tone of the impending nuptials shifted slightly. “Our colors were ivory, blue, and gold – we wanted it to feel [more] Moroccan/Mughal-esque in design,” tells Sarah. The bride donned a regal, sleeved gown made up of beaded floral designs in off-white, light blue, champagne, and orange, while the groom wore an ensemble comprised of gold fabric for the ceremony, but changed into a tuxedo featuring a white dinner jacket after their vows.
The reception space was opulently adorned; square, round, and long table alike displayed vibrant blue and gold in their design, as well as four different kinds of centerpieces, including a floral kaleera – mogul jewelry ornament – with roses, hydrangeas, hand-strung orchids, and rhinestone accents. The formality of the event did not impede on guests’ ability to get out on the dance floor. “We are both extremely outgoing and love to have fun, so we wanted to ensure the wedding was a great big party for all our friends and family,” Rehan expresses.