My Friend’s Country Chic Shower

Meet: Virginia. My best friend from high school who is also getting married this summer (T-2 weeks!). Our weddings cannot be more different. Virginia’s will be small, mine big. Hers is going to be laid back on her parent’s farm property, mine will be an orchestrated production across the Greater Toronto Area. Her wedding colors are neutral. Mine are colorful. Her wedding will last one day, mine seven, lol.

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Today I attended her lovely bridal shower hosted by her aunt and cousin in the pretty little town of Paris, Ontario.
I pulled up to her cousin’s charming 1920s home (complete with the white picket fence) and went inside to find Virginia in the same dress she wore from our grade eight graduation! (Which really says two things 1) you’re still thin enough to fit into a dress that you wore when you were 13 and 2) you had the foresight to purchase a dress at 13 that would still look nice at 26, on your own bridal shower! Lol).

The hosts were serving fresh lemonade and there was a table spread with toothpicked tomato, Bocconcini cheese and green leaf drizzled with olive oil, a spread of meats and cheeses and a berry compote. After some time nibbling and mingling, all the ladies headed outside into the backyard garden to find a gazebo area with a table full of vintage teacups, and chairs set up around it, next to a blanket full of gifts on the lawn.

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Virginia was showered with gifts by her grandmother, aunts and cousins and then we all had tea and refreshing Lemon cake made by her Aunt via the one and only, Martha Stewart.

Simple and country chic is the best way to describe Virginia’s shower, much like my lovely friend herself!

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Sania Maskatiya 2013 Lawn Collection

When I was in Lahore this past March, designer lawn was all the rage. It seemed like every designer was coming out with lawn print collections, and me being the eager shopper I was made sure to visit some of the top exhibitions. (Of course my cousins made fun of me for this – they thought designer lawn was ridiculous – also, they thought Canada didn’t get hot enough for lawn – they don’t realize that lawn is perfect for hot and humid Toronto summers!) For those that don’t know, lawn = a really thin type of cloth that women in South Asia will make their clothes out of in the very hot season because its light and breathable!

So on my to do list in March in Lahore was Sania Maskatiya’s lawn exhibition at PDFC Mall in Gulberg. We went in and there was a huge tent with a DJ, lots of manicans wearing her latest collection and a bunch of reps from the brand. Prices ranged from 3500 rupees for stitched shirts to 4500-5000 rupees for unstitched 3 pieces suits. Each of the suit packages came with the dupatta materials, the shirt and trouser material and any laces or appliqués. You then would give that to your tailor who would sew it as per your instructions. I was lucky that my cousin is a designer herself so I just gave her the packages and she knew how to make them so they would turn out just like the picture!

Here’s the two outfits I ended up getting from the Sania Maskatiya exhibition – I feel like they will come in handy during iftaars and summer bbqs this Ramadan!

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The Story of My Bridal Shower

The first bridal shower that my maid of honor and bridesmaids have ever attended – and therefore organized -was mine this past weekend. But you would never have known that. Because they absolutely killed it.

I couldn’t have imagined a better shower. The day went something like this: my MOH, Negin, and two bridesmaids, Emilie and Kamelia, drove down to my home town, the dairy capital of Canada, (pausing, for laughter), and no, I’m not joking, you can see them below with the statue of the cow, the Woodstock flag (yes Woodstock has a cow statue and its own flag) flying high above it 🙂 (more laughter can now ensure).

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When they arrived at around 10:30 a.m. I was fresh out of the shower and starting to get ready upstairs. I could hear them scurrying about downstairs and my curiosity was peaked as to what exactly they were doing! Earlier that morning I had gone downstairs to help set up the main table (I couldn’t help it! Call me bridezilla, I don’t care! Lol) but I had only really arranged the fine china tea cups because my sister was making all of the sandwiches for the high tea that morning and would be the one arranging the food.

So, upstairs I was while my friends were busy preparing the living room and kitchen for the shower! Kamelia, one of my bridesmaids, came upstairs to do my hair (which she’s amazing at!) she curled it all in a 1950s fashion to go with the dress that I had bought especially for my shower from Cabaret Vintage on Queen West.
La dress:

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After Kamelia finished making my hair look beautiful, and I was allowed to go downstairs I saw: pink and white balloon decor and tissue hanging from the ceiling of my living room, a table spread of old Victorian looking teacups, the tea pots which my nani amma (grandmother) had given my mom in her Jahez (wedding dowry), 3 tiered platters of my sister’s hand-made high-tea sandwiches, two cakes – one chocolate with a pink peony flower as decor and a pink ombré cake – which I later found out was made by Emilie herself (prior to she was a baking virgin, and look how beautiful it is below!) a bouquet of pink tulips, daisies and roses which my mom has bought the morning of, my mom’s tea trolly laid out with colorful craft supplies and a fun table in the kitchen full of candy in martini glasses, and a table in the hallway lined with favors.

Everything looked spectacular. (The pics below we’re taken just after all the tea cups were taken off the table so you’ll have to imagine those on the table!)

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The afternoon started with my normally very undomestic friends transform into Martha Stewart reincarnations, asking all of the girls how they liked their tea, pouring the tea into the pretty floral teacups (we’ve deemed them all ready for marriage), making 3 signature drinks, including: a fun orange drink they adorably named “the mehndimosa”, a chocolate concoction made with ice cream which they labelled “chocolatesaftini” and a lovely pink drink which my mother re-named “the bridezilla” – lol, sigh.

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Yes, the girls took their hosting duties quite seriously, instructing the guests on how to participate in fun competitions they came up with which ranged from cupcake decorating to making a sari out of colorful streamers! (Both of which I was happy to judge!)
Also, given that I work in the field of diversity and inclusion, I was so proud of their cultural competence – taking that white toilet paper dress game to a whole new culturally relevant level!

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It was at this point in the afternoon that my fiancé made his grand entrance, bouquet of flowers in hand, right in time to cut the cake and open gifts together. (Did I send my fiancé the anatomy of a bridal shower by Martha Stewart prior to my shower which discussed how the fiancé making an appearance at a shower is a revived tradition? Lol, why yes, perhaps I did. :D)

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Before my fiancé and I cut a cake, my MOH and I did first – I felt it only right, after all she’s been my life partner for so many years!

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The ombré cake tasted just as good as it looked and opening the gifts together was a lot of fun: my kitchen will now be equipped with cooking aides, lol. One of the girls Courtney brought me the cutest oven mitt – black foam with a huge diamond stone on the outside finger – tres adorable.

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The cherry on top of the cake(s) at my shower was the beautiful video that my bridesmaid Kirsten put together for me, so that the girls not in Ontario could also be part of it all. The video featured many of my girls talking about their favourite memory, their wedding wish for me….all sorts of kind words which brought tears to mine and my mom’s eyes. So, I was very happy to see that the video ended with outakes – featuring one of my bridesmaids, Kamelia, rapping, mine and SM’s love story…. In Patois. And you thought it couldn’t get better!

Last but not least the favours that the girls chose to give away were an ode to my true love for ice cream – ice cream scoops, or as Emilie said, “a scoop of love.”

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All in all, I felt overwhelmed with love at my bridal shower! Thank you to my mom, my sister, my friends and cousins!

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I feel so incredibly lucky and loved to have such amazing women in my life. And this is the thing: it may be hard to find a good guy- but its even harder to find good girlfriends – and I think as a woman if you’re lucky enough to find those first, you’re way way ahead of the game!

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Bridal Party Sari Fitting

I’m blogging as I get a pedicure (note: blogging while getting a pedicure is awesome). This particular pedicure is for my bridal shower tomorrow (yay! And, stay tuned), but today I wanted to blog about taking half of my bridal party (4/8) girls to Gerrard Street East (little India!) to get their measurements taken for their sari blouses to get made.

It was so fun. I took them to “Expert Tailoring” at 1308 Gerrard Street East where Saira Auntie greeted us…well not so much greeted us as much as we went upstairs into her house to find her laying on the couch and another auntie massaging her while she told me (in Urdu – obviously) about all her current ailments and health issues. My four (non-desi) friends observed. It was comical.

After she was “fresh”, we went into her tiny, congested shop downstairs in the store front area and she proceeded to take each of the girls’ measurements, recommending how the sleeves should look, how deep the back should scoop, and what was a good length for the blouse (13-14 inches – fyi). She’s promised them to us for right after Eid (mid August) but I’m hoping they’ll be done sooner!

After the fitting, I took the girls (for their first time ever!) to my favorite Pakistani restaurant: Lahore Tikka House. 3 plates of sizzling beef ribs, kebabs both chicken and beef, chicken tikka, butter naan and a complimentary butter chicken (as you might imagine the LTH staff loved my friends) and of course the famous Lahore kulfi later…we went back to the Saira Auntie to get their measurements re-taken…hahaha jk. All in all it was great times and I loved being able to share this part of my culture with my friends, I feel like they know, more intimately, a part of the culture that so strongly influences who I am, and I can’t wait for them to soak up more of it during all of the big fat pakistani wedding festivities!

Here’s some pics of our evening!:

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Long Distance Love

Sure, SM and I are together now, (well, in the same city at least…living together only comes post-marriage in big Fat Pakistani fashion) but once upon a time this was not always so.

For three long years we dated via long distance ( London, England to Toronto, Canada) and I think it made us the solid pair that we are today.

Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all roses and rainbows; long distance is hard work and we sure as hell worked hard at it. And having made long distance work (the proof is in the…ring?!) here are some tips I can offer for the rest of you far apart love birds:

-Technology. Technology will be your best friend. Starting with…

Facebook. Use Facebook to create “private albums” that only the two of you can share and comment on (but please, double, triple check the privacy settings -no one wants to stumble upon an album full of comments of you lamenting on your love!); Send each other random messages (a little red mail flag notification can be awfully exciting); Share inside jokes on each other’s walls….as minor as they may seem, it’s really these little things that bring a smile to you and your partner’s face in the absence of you being able to do so in real life.

Skype. The long distance lovers haven. Free voice and video chat. How else do you have online dates where you watch the same movie together?

Apple. Ah, yes, I-phone will help U-love (get it? The “I” and then the “u” …hehe sigh) FaceTime is fun, I message is free and the app viber just makes long distance calling so easy!

Online shopping/shipping. Ok you may not be able to be there for his birthday, but you can google a cupcake company that will deliver personalized cupcakes to him on the day of. Yes, he may not be there for your graduation, but he can send you a bouquet of chocolate covered fruits which recognize the “fruits of your labour” (yes, these particular examples may not be so fictitious 🙂

Now as key of a role that technology plays, there’s something to be said for good ol’ fashioned snail mail. Who sends hand written letters these days? No one. So if fate has it that you must be miles apart from your lover, then make the most of the situation by infusing in it some old-school romance. The excitement of actually receiving a letter, card, parcel or care package sent by your special sometime who is so far away, brings with it a joy unparalleled to receiving an email or text. It’s the next best thing to a hug when all you really want is a real one.

So we’ve covered correspondence, but then there are the actual trips in between that if you can make happen are what keeps you going. It’s what you constantly look forward to and what you constantly reminisce over afterwards. So, make airlines and airline websites staples in your daily web-browsing habits. My favorite site was TripAdvisor – I always found that they had the lowest rates. Always via AirTransat – so much cheaper than Air Canada!
And make sure you get a good credit card to accumulate travel points – how they will come in handy!

The final tip that I would give is: be creative. For example, one time SM created a valentines day date where he sent me the link to a playlist of love songs he had assembled on YouTube, a link to an art gallery we were going to peruse (google art project where you could see museums around the world), a link to a Bollywood movie he had streamed, and then mid way through our Skype chat asked me if I was hungry (yes, naturally). He instructed me to go downstairs and open my front door…I do and there I find a Pizza Hut pizza and a heart shape box containing Ladoos. I return to the laptop happily with food in hand, and a look of wonder, and SM simply says: it’s not valentines day without dinner”. Yeah, SM is good. (Shout out to SM’s best friend).

I recognize that long distance is not ideal, and for some impossible, but it has its real perks. My favorite part about long distance:

-the build up before you get to see your significant other; the anticipation, the excitement, the consistently renewed butterflies works to create a time warp effect on the so called “honeymoon stage” (read: it’s constant honeymoon stage)
-you really cherish each moment you spend with each other because you know they will be fleeting
-travel is exciting (at least when you get to go to a cosmopolitan city)
-the backdrop to your dating gets to be in cosmopolitan city
-it’s ok if your wax appointments become a little less regular
-you have your space but you also have each other, it can be a nice balance
-you really learn how to communicate

I say all this with the recognition that SM and I started off doing long distance, fully committed to the reality of our decision and situation. It would be a lot harder to go from dating in the same city or living together to having up do a LDR!

That said, if both parties are committed you can totally make it work and its definitely worth it in the end!

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In Honour of Father’s Day – Wedding Planning While Grieving

Dear Dad,

You left me thirteen years ago, exactly half of my life now. I had no idea I would be getting married thirteen years later.

Without you.

I miss you. I miss you so much. I miss you like I’ve never missed you before.

You were supposed to be here. You were supposed to be here to ask SM about his math grades. You were supposed to be here to over indulge in food with his dad. You were supposed to be here to witness my nikah. You were supposed to be here to give me away during the rukhsati.

But you’re not. And it breaks my heart.

I’ve never felt this pain before. It hurts so much. All I want is for you to be here.

To see me as a bride. To meet him.

When I took him to the graveyard that cloudy day, and the sun came out of nowhere, I knew that that was you, telling mom and me, through the rays of light, that you approved. That was so special.

When I went to Pakistan, your sister took me sari shopping. She threw a dolki for me. Your nieces showered me with wedding gifts. Your brother seemed apologetic. He says he’s coming to the wedding. I know you would want me to forgive him. Seeing them all, after so many years, made me miss you even more.

I don’t know how I’m going to get through the wedding. Tears are streaming down my face as I write this.

I’m trying so hard to bring you into it all, as much as I can, even though you won’t be there physically.

We put your picture and bio on the wedding website. Instead of giving favours to the wedding guests, I’m making a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society in your honour. I thought you would have liked that. I’m going to have your picture on our receiving table.

I want all the guests to see you. I want them all to know that you made me. After you died, my biggest fear was that I would forget you, because I was so young. Now I’m older, and I know that’s impossible. I can’t forget you because you are a part of me. You will always be a part of me. And you will be a part of my children. I promise you that I will make sure they know all about you. That they know what their nana-abu was about.

This is all so hard without you. Planning my wedding is hard without you. I know it’s supposed to be a happy time, but the void I feel because you’re not here makes even this happy time a little bit sad.

I love you. I wish I had told you that more when you were here. And you mean so much to me…I wish I told you that more when you were here, too.

I know that on the day, you will have the best seat in the house. But all I will really want is for you to be sitting next to me, and my husband-to-be.

Thinking of you.

Love,
Your Tonoo/GooseMoose

Ghias Mahmud Zaki. 1942-2000.
Inna lillahi wa innah ilayhi raji’un.
GhiasUncle

Related links:

This post was inspired by Sidra Ruby Ahmed of Rubies and Ribbon. She authored a beautiful letter to her late father about her wedding, and inspired me to do the same.

Canadian Cancer Society Wedding Favour Donation Program

The 10 Best-Dressed Brides of All Time

Vanity Fair’s recent article by Mattie Kahn, “The 10 Best-Dressed Brides” is just so…vanilla. In yet another Eurocentric article on weddings, the coverage has failed to include bridal beauty beyond the white dress (and white girl in it). I’m looking forward to the day that mainstream media coverage of weddings (not to mention everything else) reflects the diversity of its readership.

‘Til then, I have my own additions to Kahn’s article; 3 celebs that I think should be right up there in any 10 best-dressed brides list.

1. Famous Pakistani model Mehreen Syed, stunning in her Mehdi wedding dress.

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2. Actress Kareena Kapoor, showing off a stylish pink lengha by renowned Indian designer Tarun Tahiliani.

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3. Actress Kalki Koechilin in a colorful mango, fuchsia and orange lehenga pink with lots of gota work, designed by Mumbai designer Laila Motwane accessorized with simple yellow gold jewelry.

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