Shaista and Ali had the quintessential grand wedding that was held at venues in UAE and Pune. We loved their sweet romantic love story and how the couple managed to pull off celebrations in India, all the way from UAE. Here’s a little about how they met and how they planned their wedding.
Shaista is originally from Mumbai and Ali hails from Pune, they both migrated to Abu Dhabi, UAE for work assignments. In their own words, they are poles apart in terms of personalities and behaviour. Ali, who works as a Senior Business Associate in the Oil and Gas industry is quiet and reserved, and a glimpse into his mischievous streak is reserved for a select few only. Shaista who works as an Associate Producer for TV shows and commercials, is bubbly and extroverted and a Bollywood fanatic.
The Love Story
Having graduated from Indiana University,Shaista first moved to Los Angeles for work. She tells us how the two happened to first cross paths (virtually). “One day after I returned home and upon switching on the computer, I saw a notification that one ‘Ali Rampurwala’ has been checking my profile on Orkut (which was a rage a few years back).I went on to check his profile and learnt he was in Indiana University too! I was confused as to how I didn’t meet him before because all the desis there knew each other! I messaged him, asking if I knew him and he replied innocently saying he was new to Bloomington and just wanted to get a better idea of the place.”
Helpful by nature, Shaista gave Ali lists of places to visit and soon they became pen pals of sorts. “One Halloween weekend, my friends forced me to come back to Indiana to celebrate. Plus,I needed to close a few bank accounts before I packed everything and moved out to Los Angeles, so I decided to go. Ali broached the topic of meeting up and honestly I was a little scared. What if he turned out to be a stalker or a weirdo? But I decided to go, along with a few friends” says Shaista. Ali brought a few friends along for the meeting as well. Shaista admits that the first few minutes were a bit awkward but soon the entire group got along and were dancing and having loads of fun. The evening ended with Ali holding Shaista’s boots for her and the damsel was walking bare feet on the streets of good ol’ Bloomington, Indiana.The connection was undeniable and they became great friends.
Ali asked Shaista out again, for dinner the following day. Shaista jokes that since she was convinced he wasn’t a serial killer, she accepted, and once again, they had a great time dancing and letting loose. Their tom foolery attracted a lot of stares from Americans but it was in these moments that the full depth of their relationship started to become clear. Two days after they met in person, Shaista left for LA, but the two kept in touch. They started getting closer with each passing day and soon made plans to take a trip to New York for Christmas to spend time with some friends. That, says Shaista is where the sparks flew and they just couldn’t avoid their feelings for each other. “A great friendship turned into greater love in Manhattan.”
Their wedding was a big, fat celebration. Shaista’s home base is Dubai while Ali’s is Kuwait but they decided to split the wedding celebrations between Pune and Dubai. The reason for choosing Pune was that the families had several relatives in Pune. So it made sense to manage the commute themselves, rather than flying all the guests in and out of the country. Four days of celebrations in Pune and three days in Dubai, with around two functions on each day, the entire event was a logistical nightmare for the duo. Being new to Pune, Shaista found it difficult to adjust to the hair and make-up styles. Her comfort zone was in Dubai, but she managed to let go and place her trust in her make-up artist. The mehendi ceremony for the groom took place at his home, whereas the bride’s side rented out a beautiful boutique hotel ‘Cocoon’.
The Nikkah was conducted in Husainy Baug and the reception took place in Turf Club, Pune. In Dubai,the Sangeet took place on a Dhow Cruise which was a night full of fun and dancing! The reception was held at the magnificent Atlantis! A Masjid function was held soon after and the festivities did tire the couple out. So much so that they literally had to drag themselves for their honeymoon to Maldives, it turned out to be a much deserved break though!
Apprehensions and Challenges
Yes, the bride had her share of apprehensions about the arrangements. “I was harrowed with questions like, what if my bridal ensemble is not ‘perfect’? Will our guests like the cuisine?” recounts Shaista. But her family members in Pune came to her aid and gave impeccable suggestions that helped make the wedding ceremonies a success. “Things fell in place for us, but I strongly suggest that if you are having a reception in a place you are not familiar with, then hire an expert planner or take opinions from someone who has strong local contacts,” says Shaista.
Having spent a considerable amount of time behind the camera, Shaista found it awkward to be in front of it for a change. “Sometimes I can see the tension on my face in the wedding albums,” she laughs. Her advice to brides: “The whole point of the pictures is to capture those precious moments. So don’t pretend or pout just because the cameras are there- try to relax and concentrate on the wedding and what’s happening around you rather than thinking ‘I need to suck my tummy in and look good for the pictures’.”
Shaista’s wardrobe was done in Mumbai, by designer Asgar Munshi. “His line is called AGASP and he has a great sense of style,” she says. The photography was done by Taher Husain K who runs Pune based Amour Affairs. Says Shaista.“One of the things I was most apprehensive about was photography, because photographs and video is something I do for a living and I was quite picky about getting it right. I remember being on the phone with Taher, making sure he knew what I wanted, I sent him lots of reference links and he delivered much more than what I expected. Shaista has one last piece of advice to calm down nervous brides-to-be:“The wedding period can be quite hectic but it’ll get over before you know it so enjoy each and every minute of it! It’s been one year since I tied the knot and I couldn’t be happier!”
For our new blog post series, ‘Planning a Long Distance Wedding’ we’re featuring couples living abroad who planned a wedding in their hometown in India. We want to hear your story, how you shortlisted venues and your experience with the wedding planner (if you hired one) and other vendors. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your wedding photo and required details (below), and we’ll get in touch if you’re selected to be featured.
Name of Bride and Groom
Where you’re based or where you were based when planning the Wedding
Where (venue + city) you got married and when (date)
Photos Courtesy- Amour Affairs