Continuing the Behind the Scenes series from the Wedding Day.
Once I was in the bridal room, our photographer and videographer continued my photoshoot. I pretended to fix my makeup, dupatta and jewellery while they flashed and clicked away. I was constantly being visited by friends and family (yeay!) so I was able to keep myself distracted most of the time.
When Nouman’s baraat (procession) pulled into the driveway, my younger sister came in my room to tell me. I got excited. It felt like a gazillion years had passed before I could finally take a peak at Nouman through the gap between my door. Nouman wore a sehra (a headpiece worn by brides/grooms to cover their face before the Nikkah (marriage) ceremony) so I couldn’t see his face. I’m not going to lie – the louder the dhol got, the more my heart was racing. While everyone was busy with the baraat, I was smiling and crying in my room. Yup, imagine how creepy I would’ve looked if anyone walked into the room.
Nouman showing off
After Nouman made his entrance, appetizers were served (which were THE best – the venue brought me two platefuls and I devoured everything) and we waited for the Shaykh (the person marrying us) to arrive. We were running around 15 minutes behind schedule because the Shaykh arrived late but it definitely felt a lot longer to me. Finally, my mom, sisters and our photographers and videographer came into the room – it was time to make my entrance for the Nikkah. My mom draped a net dupatta on me and we headed out the door. As we exited the bridal room, I was very nervous and panicking as I saw people still entering the hall. At some point, the 2 staff members that were opening the hall doors for me told late guests to stop and wait.
I stood in the lobby with my parents, waiting for the doors to open. As I waited (it was probably only 10 seconds), I looked at the DJ and asked him why it was taking so long. He said he was waiting for a cue from my sisters – at this point I got a little annoyed and said, “I AM giving you the cue. Put on my song – loud!” He did as I asked. As the music started, my heart was pounding and I was extremely nervous. My legs felt like jello, my hands were freezing and I was overcome with emotions. As I waited, hand-in-hand with my parents, my dad asked “Ready?” and exactly 1 minute and 21 seconds into the song (yes, I timed it), the doors opened. We waited at the door for 10 seconds before we started walking. Right before my first step, I remember tipping back slightly as my legs started to shake. I remembered to keep my posture straight and walk slowly but at some point, I lost it. My emotions hit me like a brick and I started crying. My mom realized I was crying and whispered, “Shazaaaa… Kya hogaya hai… Bas Karo (Shaza, what happened… stop crying)” and then started crying herself. My dad also knew so he whispered my nickname in the tone when he knows I’m upset and is trying to cheer me up. Obviously, all of this did nothing except make me cry more. At some point, I looked up and saw my mamoo and he mouthed something about me crying and I laughed. I finally smiled again and then proceeded into my nikkah tent. Yes guys, I had a tent for my nikkah.
Entering the Nikkah tent with my parents
Once I had settled into my seat, my sisters draped the chaapi dupatta on my head and the Shaykh came to take my consent for the marriage. I was crying on and off until the Shaykh came inside the tent. I stopped once he was there because he joked around a little. When he did ask me for my consent in the marriage, I stared at him blankly for a few seconds – I think I had expected him to say a long speech to me but he got right to the point and I hadn’t expected to be asked so directly (don’t ask, I’m not sure what was going on in my head). Since I didn’t answer, my dad repeated the question and I got startled when realized they were talking to ME! I said yes (he also asked me if I agreed to the Mahr and if I have appointed my dad as my Wali (guardian)) and then he congratulated me and went to Nouman.
Signing the papers
While the Nikkah was happening, I cried alot. Alot. I also tried to peek at Nouman – he was directly infront of me across the room. I couldn’t see any of his expressions because of his sehra but I did see him smile once when the Shaykh cracked a joke. Once the Nikkah happened, my mom said, “Finally, Shaza (she said my nickname)!!” and I cried and laughed. Hugs and kisses went around the room and then I was finally ready to walk to the stage.
My parents, sisters and I walked hand-in-hand to the stage. As I walked to Nouman, I remember looking at nothing but the ground and him. I remember looking into his eyes as I made my way to him and trying not to laugh (and cry) as he gave me the smirk that he reserves just for me. Finally, I was holding his hand and standing beside him. I think we said HEY, We’re MARRIED!, I hugged his parents and sister-in-law and said salaam to my brother-in-law. Once we were seated, we took a few family shots and then did the ring exchange. Just like our engagement, Nouman quietly asked me if he was putting the ring on the right hand. He always gets confused.
Immediately after the ring exchange, my dad said a few words and then dinner was served. Nouman and I went to do our photoshoot while everyone was eating. Again, we were swarmed by people as we made our way out – we were happy that so many people could attend our special day. While getting our pictures taken, we were in a completely different world. I was giddy and the two of us couldn’t stop smiling. When our photographer asked Nouman to put his arms around me, I thought how strange it felt for us to be so close while our parents and families looked on (every now and then, I would catch my mom, his mom or my sisters walk by with a smile on their face as they looked at us). The whole night felt surreal.
Our very own paparazzi – this one was taken by a friend’s camera
As we made our way inside the hall from the lobby, the server designated to us repeatedly asked us if she could set up a dinner area for us. We told her not to worry about it. I saw the dessert table and couldn’t resist – I told her I would have a little bit of dessert inside. Unfortunately, I could only have a few bites before we were ushered back on the stage for the slideshow.
My younger sister made the slideshow and it was amazing. She even included a short video of me acting like a bride at the age of 2. After the slideshow, we had speeches and dhoodh pilai and then it was time for jootha chupai. After the jootha chupai, it was time for the rukhsati. I can’t even start to describe how I felt during the rukhsati.
I started getting emotional from the moment that I realized it was time – Noumans dad came on the stage to put his haar back on and I think I had a blank look on my face. As we both stood up, Nouman took my hand and tried to give me a smile. I think I smiled back but it was one of those ugly smiles – lips trembling, your heart in your throat, and fighting to keep back tears. I maintained my composure until we were almost at the lobby.
I was a jumble of emotions - I was happy and yet so, so, so sad. I felt I was leaving a part of myself behind. I was embarking on a new journey; one that would not always include the people I am used to seeing everyday. Up until that day, my family was always with me when I received bad news or got excited about something good. From now on, Nouman would be that person. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy that Nouman and I were finally together but my family is a big part of me. Leaving my parents home felt like I was leaving everything I know. The fact that I was starting this new phase of life was daunting – living with a boy for the first time (I have no brothers), trying to maintain good relations with my inlaws and hoping that I could keep everyone (including myself) happy. All these emotions, while knowing that I am only moving 1 hour away from my parents AND marrying the person I want to marry. Yeah, I still don’t get it. Trying to describe rukhsati emotions in words just cannot do justice.
Once we were outside, my mom was nowhere to be found. Turns out, she was trying to stay away so that I don’t get emotional – geez. I hugged everyone and cried like a baby. My mother-in-law and Noumans aunts were also crying – they get emotional whenever they see a rukhsati. Nouman’s mom joked with me between her own tears and I stopped crying for a while. I then hugged someone else and the water works started all over again. I remember my dad patting my hand as I hugged my mom, my mom telling me to stop crying, me telling my younger sister that I knew she’d have to cry (leading up to the wedding, I had told her that if she didn’t cry, I would pinch her until she does) and my older sister telling me that she loves me.
In the car
Nouman helped me in the car and I asked my mom if she had put my bag in their car. I cried and waved as we pulled away. I cried on and off throughout the car ride home. Nouman’s parents were in the car with us and they did their best to distract me. Nouman was trying to console me/whispering things to make me laugh.
At Nouman’s house, we took pictures with the rukhsati car and then proceeded inside for some rasms and gift giving. We did the rasm of looking for a ring in the water to see who will wear the pants in the relationship – unlike the movies, the game did not go on for ages. Nouman found the ring within seconds. Nouman had told me that the youngest devar (brother-in-law) sits on the brides lap and she gives him money. For us, Nouman had told me it would be his 6 month old nephew but unfortunately he fell asleep. By the time he woke up, he was slightly cranky and we didn’t do the rasm.
Although Nouman found the ring first, Nouman’s cousins yelled out that there was another ring. I dug in and pulled out the second one
The two most vivid emotions from the wedding day are happiness/a sense of peace and feeling shaky/nervous.
*All the images used in this post are via Big Al Studios unless stated otherwise.*