Anna and Bilal met two months after he moved to San Francisco from the East Coast, and they’ve been inseparable since.
They dated for two years, got engaged and then married six months later in a traditional, three-day Indian wedding celebration.
The guest list was extensive—250 people attended the wedding festivities with more than 100 of those attendees traveling internationally, including many from Canada, U.K, India, Pakistan, Dubai and New Zealand.
There were four main gatherings: the first day’s musical event known as mayoon, which was held at the bride’s parent’s home in El Dorado Hills; and a dance party known as mehndi, held at White Orchid, where the bride got henna tattoos. On day two, the traditional ceremony called shaadi, was held at Catta Verdera Country Club, followed by a reception at the country club. On day three, the formal reception, called walima, took place at Fairmont San Francisco.
Anna had different dresses for each occasion, including wearing her mother’s ceremony dress for her ceremony, too. “This dress was 30 years old and made of tissue with beautiful gold detailing,” she says. “Wearing your mom’s dress isn’t so much of a tradition, but it is a tradition that I have now started.”
For the wedding, she chose a blush color custom dress from Pakistani designer brand, Republic Womenswear. “It was exquisitely made with intricate details and heavily embellished with pearls, crystals and embroidery—making the total weight of the dress 35 pounds,” she says. “The back of my dress looked like I was wearing jewelry. It was beautifully made.”
The groom’s ivory outfit with gold and coral accents complemented the bride’s. He also wore a headpiece designed by Pakistani fashion designer, Deepak Perwani.
“My favorite memory is when my husband lifted my veil after our ‘I dos,’” says Anna.
At the reception at Catta Verdera Country Club, everyone played ice breaker games, including one called Jootah Chupai, which means shoe stealing. “This is where the bride’s siblings steal the groom’s shoes as a prank and promise to give the shoes back only if they get a handsome fee in return,” says the bride.
The couple and their guests enjoyed a four-course dinner, followed by a six-tiered cake. “I wanted elements of my dress to be incorporated in the cake, which had a lot of intricate lace design with different shapes of flower and gorgeous pearl detailing,” says Anna, noting the dessert had five flavors. “The cake itself was divine!”
Immediately following their last of the three days of events, Anna and Bilal honeymooned in the Greek Islands: Santorini, Naxos and Athens.
Anna’s henna tattoos represent her love story. One of her arms featured the San Francisco skyline, since that’s where the couple met. She also had a chandelier, a nod to a “modern Victorian-themed wedding” and to her cake cutting song, Sia’s “Chandelier.”
“I also had my husband’s name written in Urdu,” she says. “It’s a tradition for your husband-to-be to find where his name is written.”
The other arm had a silhouette of the couple during their proposal with their dog, Khaleesi, as well as a bird cage with doves flying, signifying the dove release after the “I dos.” The henna artist decorated Anna’s hands with images of a traditional South Asian bride and groom.
Anna’s wedding advice to couples-to-be? “Enjoy the moment!” she says. “Don’t think about the details that were overlooked.”