Sana & Albar's Hipster Pakistani Wedding at Ovation Chicago
Sana and Albar got married at the industrial loft Ovation in downtown Chicago.
Tell us about the wedding!
We are both Pakistani-Americans who grew up in big cities (Atlanta and Chicago) with boisterous Punjabi families, who share a love of travel, music and food. We wanted our wedding to reflect who we are, by incorporating traditional Pakistani elements, while representing our individual personalities.
We chose modern industrial lofts in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood for our mehndi and wedding venues. We had a bright and colorful mehndi and warm vintage industrial decor with pops of berry and gold at the wedding.
Were any special wedding customs/clothing you had?
Our mehndi and wedding clothes and jewelry were made in Pakistan. Albar’s kurta and sherwani were designed by HSY. Sana had bridal henna done on her hands and feet before the wedding (Henna Craze) and guests got henna done as part of the mehndi festivities (Hennaz Art).
Albar’s mom commissioned an Urdu poem for the wedding about the role his family members have played in shaping who he is today, a tradition in his family. His cousin recited it in Urdu and his brother read the English translation.
We also included the South Asian tradition of the “Joota Chupai” at the wedding, when the bride’s sisters steal one of the groom’s shoes and keep it for ransom. The bride’s sisters, cousins and female relatives haggle with the groom’s until they agree on a price.
What was the inspiration for your wedding?
We love the city of Chicago, especially the industrial vibe of the West Loop—the understated cool setting served as inspiration for the wedding. The venue was beautiful on its own and required minimal decor.
What was the hardest part about wedding planning?
Planning a wedding in a city that we didn’t live in was the biggest challenge. We live in DC but got married in Chicago, so were flying out every other month on planning trips. Also, reconciling our vision for the wedding with what was realistic based on the budget was tough at times – we definitely had to prioritize what was most important to us.
Did you do any DIY (do it yourself) or special projects/things at the wedding?
The whole wedding felt a little DIY since we planned it ourselves! Though maybe not in the traditional sense. Sana’s sister did put together some small floral arrangements for the mehndi, with Sana’s direction on colors, flowers, and vessels over Facetime. ;)
What was your favorite part of the wedding?
We loved the choreographed dances by our family and friends at the mehndi! Our little sisters, cousins, and grad school friends did a series of choreographed dances to Bollywood music that ended in a flash mob on the dance floor - it was such a fun and lovely surprise! The sibling speeches at the wedding were also touching and memorable.
It was truly amazing to see friends and family from so many different parts of our lives in one place together to celebrate with us.
What advice do you have for future brides/grooms-to-be?
If you’re planning your wedding by yourself like we did, it is definitely worth it to invest in a day-of-coordinator! The entire planning process and months and weeks leading up to the wedding can be very stressful, and it was so nice to be able to hand over the reins to our coordinator, Anticipation Events, for the actual events, so that the two of us and our families could be present and enjoy the celebrations in the moment – especially because after all of the planning and anticipation, it really does go by in a flash!
Ceremony + Reception Venue: Ovation Chicago
Photographer: Ed & Aileen Photography
Coordinator: Anticipation Events
Staffing: Carol’s Event Staffing
DJ: Style Matters
Hair + Make-up: Sameen Khan
Hotel: Palmer House Hilton
Florist: Flowers for Dreams
Bakery: Alliance Bakery
Mehndi Venue: Gallery at Latin Rhythms
Mehndi DJ: DJ Prashant
Swing Rental: Bandham Rentals