Mahera and Taha’s wedding reception was an absolutely stunning affair! It was held at Navy Pier’s Grand Ballroom (the easternmost point in Chicago, I believe) with a color scheme of royal blue and gold. Because this was a Muslim wedding, their ceremony was held on a different date (Mahera and I are friends so I was lucky enough to get to attend several of the functions). Their July 16th event was STRICTLY about the celebration–and boy did they celebrate!
Mahera and Taha wanted to combine both traditional and American elements into their reception. Before the photos began on reception day, they shared a first look expertly captured by Amna Siddiqui. While, of course, traditional white wedding dresses are beautiful, Mahera truly looked like a princess in her lehenga of deep blues and greens–absolutely dripping in gold beading and jewelry. The mehendi on her hands and feet complimented the look.
The bridal party wandered all around the Pier taking photos (Mahera and Taha had the luxury of riding on a golf cart). When you choose such an iconic spot for your wedding, there’s no need to rent transportation: so many great photo spots are available to you!
Next up was cocktail hour–or, I should say, “mocktail” hour. Since there weren’t any actual libations served at the event, the Navy Pier Catering staff created a delicious drink called a “Maha-tini” that was served in addition to lassi–a traditional yogurt-based drink. Both were DELICIOUS, and helped to cut some of the spiciness from the plethora of amazing dishes India House brought in to serve before the dinner portion began.
Upon entering the ballroom, guests were awed by the sheer grandeur of the space! The tall domed ceiling and view of the lake are unmatched by any other venue in the city. The tables were named after famous landmarks in their respective home cities: New York and Chicago. Behind Mahera and Taha’s sweetheart table was a gorgeous backdrop, complete with chandeliers, created by the talented Sid of Precision Sound and Lighting. Poonam Creations provided the floral design, linens, and chairs fit for royalty.
One of the traditional elements Taha and Mahera included in their reception was the honoring of their relatives. Before the bridal party was announced in, all of their aunts, uncles, and cousins were promenaded into the room to “We Are Family”! They carried flags representing the countries they came from which included India, Pakistan, England, and others. It was really a wonderful way to showcase all of their relatives who had traveled from so far away to celebrate this wonderful occasion.
The bridal party danced in first and then waited at the end of the red carpet to welcome in the stars for the evening: Mahera and Taha!
Rather than the standard method of having the DJ emcee the reception, there was a special guest master of ceremonies for this event: Mahera’s brother, Abeezer! Apparently he does this for lots of friends and family and he did a great job! With all of his quips and skits, the evening flowed more like an awards show than a wedding reception.
One of the (many) special elements that evening, was the Bollywood dance that a group of Mahera’s girlfriends choreographed and performed for the couple! I had the privilege of seeing the instructional videos for the dance moves via you tube ahead of time, and let me tell you–they weren’t easy! These girls did an incredible job, and Mahera and Taha even joined in at the end!
One of the perks of having your reception at Navy Pier on a summer Saturday? Fireworks! It almost felt like their own private display, and was the perfect break between dinner and dancing.
Once back inside, Sachin of Sounds by Sachin got the dancing music rolling and we started one of my favorite parts of the evening: Dandiya Sticks! Probably 100 of these were handed out to the guests and we all circled up. Here is the Wikipedia explanation, since they can articulate the process much better than I can:
In Dandiya Raas men and women dance in two circles, with sticks in their hands. In the old times Raas did not involve much singing, just the beat of Dhol was enough. “Dandiya” or sticks, are about 18″ long. Each dancer holds two, although some times when they are short on Dandiya they will use just one in right hand. Generally, in a four beat rhythm, opposite sides hit the sticks at the same time, creating a nice sound. One circle goes clockwise and another counter clockwise. In the west, people don’t form full circles, but instead often form rows.
It was a great time and the perfect way to get everybody on the dance floor moving around.
The rest of the evening was spent dancing, celebrating, and munching on the delicious desserts which included wedding cake and pastries from Central Continental as well as a chocolate fountain that India House provided.
Mahera and Taha, I hope you enjoyed your last hurrah in Chicago before the big move to NYC! Lots of love to you both, and thanks for letting me be a part of it all!