Last March, I found myself pacing back and forth in my bedroom, my heart racing. Downstairs, my family and best friend were welcoming my future fiance and his family into our home. In just a little while, I would be wearing a ring on my left hand, and I would be engaged to be married.
Isn’t that crazy?
I loved him and we had made the decision to get married together. And yet here I was, heart racing, butterflies in my stomach, completely freaking out.
Who would have guessed?
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
In Pakistani culture, getting engaged isn’t a man kneeling in front of a woman with a ring in his hand, asking her to marry him. In Pakistani culture, getting engaged is a wholly family affair.
Once Saad and I decided to get married, we told our parents we were ready. Our parents had lunch together and then sort of went ‘Yay! Our kids want to get married. We’re all cool with this, right?’ Everyone agreed and it was settled. #baatpakki
We wouldn’t be considered engaged until we had an engagement party. This could be a small or big affair.
We had a small intimate affair. It was my family, my aunt and uncle (they surprised us by driving from Winnipeg! Bless their hearts!), my best friend, his family and extended family that live here in Calgary, and one family that we are close to. All in all, there were 23 people at our engagement party. It was perfect.
Pakistani culture is not homogenous (it’s too racially diverse for that), so everyone does things slightly differently. My family is what many would consider ‘Urdu-speaking’ and Saad’s family is Punjabi. In his family, the guy’s side sends the engagement outfit for the girl. So we reciprocated by sending Saad an outfit.
Mom cooked delicious food. We did a bit of decoration at home. Bobbi and I got henna on our hands. We bought a watch as an engagement gift for Saad. He bought a ring.
And that brings us to the scene where I’m pacing back and forth in my room. All dressed and ready and DYING to know what was happening outside.
It’s pretty straightforward from that point. My brother came and escorted me downstairs. I was blinded by camera flashes as I entered the room and sat down beside Saad.
I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, but my fiance’s name is Saad. Should have mentioned that earlier, hah.
Saad was wearing a floral garland thing (not sure exactly what it’s called in English) that my family welcomed him with when he came into the house. After I sat down, my mom put a bracelet style corsage on both my wrists. It was super pretty.
Then I presented my hand and Saad put a ring on it. It was a surprise for me and I instantly loved the ring.
My dad put the watch we had bought on Saad’s wrist. I knew from his expression that we had made the right choice. He loved it.
And then every single person in attendance proceeded to stuff my face and Saad’s face with sweets.
This is one of the most common celebratory ceremonies in South Asian culture, to feed something sweet to the people you are congratulating. Hilarity ensued when my brother and one of our friends decided to stuff both Saad and I with 4 pieces of dessert at once – there’s always someone who does that, often it’s me, but this time I was the victim. Not that I’m complaining. 😀
After that, we all had food, hung out, and then the party was over.
It was such a fun day. A tiny taste of what was to come.
So I found myself engaged and planning a wedding. Crazy, isn’t it? In 7 months, I’ll be married. And that’s awesome. The decision to get married and what it took for me to get there is a post of its own.
This post, and in fact, this series, is not about marriage. It’s about a wedding. A Muslim South Asian wedding thrown in Calgary. It won’t be a crazy glamourous wedding. It certainly won’t be like anything Bollywood depicts. But it’ll be real, realistic, and true to who we are.
Until next Wednesday.