Rasheeda and Naeem
A traditional mehendi ceremony, a nikkah and a formal black-tie event; Rasheeda and Naeem’s wedding in Los Angeles was a sophisticated mix of Indian and American cultural influences.
Rasheeda and Naeem’s affection for each other sparked a romance that withstood time, distance and the unreliable ‘dial up internet’ of the pre-broadband days. Here, Rasheeda tells us how they eventually found their way back to each other and of their wonderful wedding that celebrated their heritage and their lives as they live them today, in LA.
How we met
Rasheeda smiles as she says, “Our story begins many years ago when dial-up internet was a luxury and AIM was cutting-edge.”
The families were friends so Rasheeda and Naeem would meet at family functions usually but, “as teenagers, a spark developed and we became inseparable.” But there was a catch, “life, as it often does, managed to get in the way. We faced the challenges of being separated by 3,000 miles as we went through college, medical school, business school and even in our professional pursuits. But, like most great loves do, we found our way back to one another.”
The bride says the challenges they overcame over the years stands testament to the fact that they are truly meant to be, “I’m blessed and grateful to have married my best friend. I can’t imagine a better person to share my life’s adventures with.”
The couple lives in Los Angeles now, near their families. Naeem is in finance and Rasheeda is a Paediatric Emergency physician.
Though L.A. is their hometown, the couple wanted their guests, especially those from out of town and overseas to enjoy the experience of a ‘destination wedding’. So they handpicked venues that were convenient in terms of distance from the sprawling Los Angeles area.
Rasheeda says, “Our nikkah took place in our community’s beautiful, newly constructed masjid. We had our mehndi at the Omni Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, which allowed for plenty of space to dance and enjoy the expansive selection of food.” For the reception, the couple chose the Millenium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, “Both my husband and myself immediately fell in love with the high-vaulted, gilded art deco ceilings and balconies of the Crystal Ballroom, and knew that it was the just the place for us to celebrate our union.”
The wedding featured three main ceremonies, a mehndi, nikkah, and reception and the couple was eager that the wedding reflected both aspects of their upbringing, “our South Asian heritage and the American culture in which we were raised.”
Rasheeda smiles at the memory of the mehndi, “It was ethnic, festive, and vibrant, and inspired by my visits to Rajasthan. We had a dhol player kick off the entrance of the groom and our family and friends, and I was carried in by my cousins on a dholi, Our fathers sang, and our friends danced. We catered traditional Indian food, had 3 different types of lassi, and a paanwalla (my favorite!).”
In contrast, the reception was a formal and elegant black tie affair. The décor was simple but stunning, and complemented the ambience of the Crystal Ballroom at the Biltmore Hotel. The bride had always envisioned a white wedding with white and blush roses, romantic candlelight and crystal chandeliers and she grins, “So, that’s exactly what we did!”
While most of the trousseau and wedding shopping was done in Mumbai, Rasheeda wore a very precious set of jewellery at her wedding, “The jewellery I wore during the nikkah and reception belongs to my mother, and to her mother before that. My mother wore this jewellery at her own wedding and that made it all that more special to me.”
About the challenges of organising an Indian wedding in the US
Rasheeda says, “Thankfully we didn’t face any challenges organizing the wedding. But I’d have to say that a large credit goes to my parents, who executed so much of the planning, and made trips to India to shop for the wedding and coordinated the printing our invitations abroad. I was also blessed to have a fiancé, who was very involved and helped me plan every step of the way. I never was alone in making decisions or in any of the heavy lifting.”
“We had a stellar group of vendors and I’d highly recommend each and every one of them. Our favorite vendor would be Lin and Jirsa who provided exceptional photography and cinematography. Of course, Jennifer Spingola who played the electric violin during our grand entrance and first dance at the reception brought her own magic to the celebrations.
All in all we had an amazing group of family, friends and vendors and each played their irreplaceable part in making our vision come true.”
Wedding planner: Planning Elegance (Mili Shah)
Décor: 2CreateDesigns (SamanBangloria)
Photo and Video: Lin and Jirsa (Chris Lin)
DJ and Lighting: Special Occassions (Parag Shah)
Hair and Makeup: Dolled up By Lulu (Lulu Nguyen)
Mehndiwali: Henna Dil Se (Nadia Ali)
Catered Indian food: Manohar’s Delhi Palace (Manohar)
Electric Violinist: Jennifer Spingola (aka Spags)
Wedding Cake: Fantasy Frosting (Leslie Maynor)
Photos Courtesy- Lin and Jisra Photography