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Furheen and Emran
|Furheen and Emran
Furheen Chaudhry and Emran Asif Butt told us about their traditional Pakistani wedding, which is officially the first Muslim wedding to be profiled in The Cultural Wedding Planner. Furheen has been using the Planner since 2003 and provided us with details of Muslim wedding traditions.
In the Beginning
Furheen was living in Vancouver when she met Emran through friends. Emran was living in Texas at the time.
When they met at a conference in Chicago, Furheen felt comfortable right away. “He made me laugh and I liked that,” she recalls.
Emran remembers their meeting differently: “I thought Furheen was shy,” he laughs. “But I also thought she was a very likeable person, which I adored. It could have been because she laughed at all my corny jokes—a big plus!”
Parents Get Involved
After meeting, they each went back to their home cities and built their relationship long distance. Eventually they felt they were ready to talk about marriage and about getting engaged in the traditional Pakistani way. That meant Emran had to ask his parents to talk to Furheen’s parents about marriage.
The surprise was that Emran didn’t tell Furheen that his parents were going to ask for her hand. He simply told her that his parents wanted to fly to Vancouver to meet her family.
“When his parents arrived they had brought a ring with them, but I didn’t know,” says Furheen. “I was told to let the adults talk and then some time later they called me into the main room. There Emran’s mom presented me with some gifts and put a ring on my finger. I was really pleased.”
“Our parents were so excited,” adds Emran, “that they felt we should get married as quickly as possible. They had picked a date only four months after we got engaged.” It took some convincing to get the parents to choose a later date that would give the couple enough time to plan properly.
Setting a Date
“With holidays in mind, we settled on a date eight months after our engagement. We decided that spring break would be the easiest time to get the families together considering that our siblings were all in school and families would have to travel to the wedding.”
The couple wanted a traditional Pakistani wedding with all its ceremonies and traditions, including a mehndi or henna ceremony, the barat reception before the wedding, the nikaah marriage ceremony, and a waleema reception after the wedding.
Discovering Pakistani Traditions
Furheen went to Pakistan five months before the wedding to shop for wedding clothes. While there, she bought other traditional wedding things as well.
“There is so much inspiration in Pakistan that I decided I wanted to incorporate every Pakistani idea I could,” she says. By the time she headed home, her luggage was full of traditional items, including special mehndi trays.
The traditional ladies’ mehndii party and then the larger barat reception were held at a hall that the couple rented close to Furheen’s family home.
“We talked to different hall owners but eventually settled on the Riverside Banquet Hall in Richmond because they especially accommodated requests for halal food,” says Furheen.
At the mehndi party, Furheen maintained Pakistani tradition by having matching suits of clothes made for all her girlfriends.
“The tops were red and the bottoms were yellow,”’ she says. “And all the decorations were based on the red and yellow color theme, but I wore a turquoise suit.”
At the Reception
For the traditional barat reception, Furheen wore a fuchsia lengha and had Emran’s shirvani sewn with pink threadwork. The hall colors matched the pink and gold theme.
During the barat reception, the groom and his wedding party arrive at the wedding venue, where the bride’s family traditionally receives them with a grand welcome.
Later in the reception, the couple organized a traditional dhood pillai ceremony during which the bride’s sisters and female friends bring the groom a glass of milk.
“They don’t let him drink the milk until they have decided on an amount of money the groom will give to the girls in exchange for the milk,” explains Furheen.
“We wanted to include the dhood pillai ceremony because it is entertaining to watch. Lots of friendly banter goes back and forth between the groom and the bride’s family and friends as the girls demand more money. The male relatives of the groom stick up for the groom and keep refusing the girls’ offer.”
Reflecting later on their wedding arrangements, Emran considers the traditional waleema reception, which took place the day after the marriage ceremony, to be the highlight of the wedding. It was only at the waleema that the couple could really relax.
Relaxation was exactly what the couple needed after the strain of organizing a traditional wedding long distance.
“I had to make wedding decisions without much input from Emran because he was a long way away in Houston,” Furheen recalls; then a twinkle comes to her eye and she adds: “But in a way, it was kind of a relief, too. I got to pick everything I wanted, and he couldn’t say no.”
“To help with planning, I used The Cultural Wedding Planner a lot,” Furheen says. “I also shopped around quite a bit and got lots of advice from online blogs.”
Her advice to couples planning their wedding: “Plan early! We have yet to still take our honeymoon trip because we ran out of planning time before the wedding,” Furheen says. “Also, don’t be shy to delegate, but when you do, make sure you keep checking up on the people you have delegated. That way you’re sure everything will be ready for the big day.”