Pakistan Meets Buffalo… in Texas

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I recently traveled to Houston for the wedding of Tanya, a dear friend I met in one of those unique, circuitous ways. In this case, Tanya grew up in Houston, where she was friends with Deepa — who happens to be my husband’s cousin. Thanks to NYC’s gravitational pull, we all wound up on this bizarre island at the same time, and the rest is history.

But that’s nothing compared to how Tanya met her husband, Brian. A few years ago, Tanya went to a bar on the Lower East Side with one of her closest friends. The friends wound up chatting with two rugby players — their future husbands. (Yes! Both women married the men they met that day!)

You can’t make this stuff up.

This wedding is particularly poignant to me because it was a melange of different cultures. Tanya’s Pakistani heritage was celebrated with several ceremonies stretched over the weekend days, and Brian’s upstate New York background was highlighted with celebratory buffalo chicken wings and sing-alongs to the Buffalo Bills theme song.

The night before the wedding was the mehndi — a vibrant, colorful, and festive pre-party filled with music and dance. The dress code called for cocktail or South Asian formal attire, and I wasn’t going to wear some boring old LBD. Here’s what I wore:

Indian Tunic and Palazzo Pants: Bought at Fazal's in Bangalore | Open-Toed Booties: Coach (TJ Maxx)
Indian Tunic and Palazzo Pants: Bought at Fazal’s in Bangalore | Open-Toed Booties: Coach (TJ Maxx)

This black silk tunic is something I bought during my trip to Bangalore earlier this year. While I love LOVE love saris, a tunic like this is infinitely easier to wear. (I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to wrap a sari without the assistance of an aunty, but it’s impossible for a noob like me. They also weigh a ton.)

This black tunic embroidered with dazzling gold thread. I paired it with gauzy palazzo pants, the latest rage in India.

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The shoes were a last-minute TJ Maxx purchase when I realized I had forgotten to bring black heels. (These are leather open-toed booties by Coach.)

But the rest of the outfit is fairly sentimental. The scarf was a gift from Ravi, one of my husband’s cousins. The necklace was borrowed from Deepa, another one of Arun’s cousins. The Me & Ro earrings are tiny gold discs engraved with the Sanskrit word for “devotion.” The cuff is an enamel peacock I nabbed from my mom’s jewelry box 10 years ago.

The party was at the Majestic Metro in Houston.
The pre-party was at the Majestic Metro in Houston.

The mehndi party took place at the Majestic Metro theater in Houston, a charming venue with a vintage vibe. Think chandeliers, balconies and an ornate stage with elaborate carvings and flanked with heavy curtains. The theme was Bollywood, and there were dances, live drumming and a feed of Indian music videos. In the center of every table was a golden branch covered in multi-colored bangles with a note encouraging guests to wear them.

The venue was perfect for Tanya, who has acted in and directed many off-Broadway plays over the years. So it was perfect to see that Tanya had outfitted the hotel with movie posters that imagined a filmic version of her love story:

The custom "movie" posters for Tanya and Brian's wedding.
The custom “movie” posters for Tanya and Brian’s wedding.

The program for the mehndi included Pakistani wedding customs and Bollywood-style music and dancing.

Brian, the groom, led a celebratory parade into the theater.
Brian, the groom (in blue tunic), led a celebratory parade into the theater.

Tanya was ushered into the room surrounded by family members underneath a gauzy strip of fabric that sparkled like stars. The entrance was so jubilant, so dramatic, so evocative, I almost started bawling in excitement.

The bride, Tanya, was flanked my family for her entrance to the party.
The bride, Tanya, was flanked by family for her entrance to the party.

Her magenta dress was covered in sumptuous details, like intricate embroidery, golden tassels and thousands of hand-stitched crystals. Tanya’s mother oversaw the creation of all the outfits for both the bride and her party, and the attention to detail was obvious.

The details of Tanya's dress for the mehndi party.
The details of Tanya’s dress for the mehndi party.

Tanya and I have previously bonded over our shared belief that inter-faith/cultural/racial relationships are the key to world peace. These couplings also tend to make for very beautiful matrimonial parties. (I may be biased, having had a blended Hindu ceremony myself.)

Stay tuned for more details from the wedding day.

The party included a series of ceremonies to class the bride and groom.
The party included a series of ceremonies to bless the bride and groom.