By the grace of God, Yusef and I had our wedding late last year in Houston, Texas. It was a beautiful night, and we couldn’t be more grateful to everyone in our lives, alhamdulilah. We thank our families and friends for standing with us on our wedding day; to our vendors and our communities for being a part of it.
The purpose of this post is two-fold.
I want to answer some of the questions I’ve received on Instagram regarding our wedding. This is by no means all-encompassing of our wedding; just my take on questions I received the most. Through that, though, I want you to see what our version of a minimal, modern wedding on a crisp day in Houston can look like, between two Muslims of different backgrounds with their families, and their communities.
Hopefully this post will achieve that. We are so filled with gratitude and appreciation for all of the love we’ve received for our wedding; thank you.
Did you have a wedding planner? How long did it take to plan?
We planned it ourselves! I had looked into wedding planners earlier in the year, and after speaking with a few, decided we could do it on our own. A wedding planner can be an expensive route to take, and depending on the size/type of wedding you want, it may be wise to have one.
But I speak from the vantage point of having grown up in the city I was to be married in, and with the will (and similarly-minded husband) to find our way through the contracts and negotiations. We were also extremely fortunate to have vendors who, unbeknownst to us until after the wedding, took it upon themselves to play more roles than we had hired them to do.
The wedding, in full, took 6-7 months to plan out. Yusef and I were still long-distance at this point; both working full-time, both traveling frequently. Our goals with the wedding were the same though some elements changed throughout (the date, the guest list, the menu options, etc). Planning required a lot of advanced scheduling, FaceTime, and back-and-forth emails with our vendors to get us in the door. Our families and friends were great support, and had wonderful advice for us along the way.
On the day-of, we were incredibly lucky to have a life-long friend of Yusef’s coordinate the entire event. She had worked weddings in Los Angeles and essentially ran the show on the day of the wedding (we are eternally grateful).
We had two events prior to our wedding; Yusef’s mom and her close friend threw a beautiful bridal shower for me in Los Angeles, and my mother and aunt threw a henna party at our home.
How many people were at your wedding? How did you figure out your guest list?
About 200 people attended our wedding - this was family, extended family, close friends, and family friends. Everyone there had served a great role in our lives at one point or another, whether they knew it or not.
Who handled the costs of the wedding?
This is an important question to answer. This topic tends to dive deep into cultural practices, and I’ll broach this as frankly as I can.
Some friends have told me that the bride and her family pay for the wedding events; in other cultures, it is typically the groom and his family.
Yusef and I took the route we felt most comfortable with: funding our wedding out of our own money, and making it a point not to take a dime from our parents. Without going too far into this, it is just part of our personalities to be this way. We wanted our wedding to be inclusive of our visions, our independence, our personalities, and standing on our own two feet is a strong part of that.
I received this particular question multiple times, from women worried that their families wouldn’t accept a suitor (or vice versa) under a certain monetary thresholds, or wouldn’t let them pay for anything at the cost of “being taken advantage of” by the other family. It is unfortunate that judgment is passed on young men and women based on how much money they have (or don’t), and it’s unfair, it’s wrong, and I am sorry that it remains a reality today.
I would recommend you do what is most important to you, within or outside of any cultural parameters you operate in.
Did you have a budget for your wedding? How did you manage it?
We did. It was all held in an Excel spreadsheet on Google Drive. We set a baseline number when we first began planning, and broke it out into various categories. We raised the baseline once or twice throughout the process, and along the way, adjusted each category’s budget accordingly to keep our total constant (if one category went up, another had to go down). The categories were:
Save the Date + Invitations
Food + Desserts
Florals + Decor
Dress + Accessories
Makeup + Hair
Photography + Videography
How did you find your vendors?
This was a mix of searching Instagram pages, Google, and reading reviews from TheKnot. We wanted to find “hole-in-the-wall” gems - locals who do what they do out of passion.
We chose our venue for its Mediterranean aura, and the fact that it was indoor/outdoor, and two floors. This gave us a lot of leniency in how we wanted to serve the different needs of our guests. For instance:
The second floor was decorated as additional seating (it looked down into the first floor), and had a large room for prayer.
We held our cocktail hour on the patio of our venue, outside, and brought in heaters so it wouldn’t be too cold. We had our grand entrance down the stairs into the cocktail hour.
Dinner was indoors, as were speeches/etc. As soon as dancing began, guests who did not want to partake could go upstairs to hang out, or outside for coffee, guest book, photobooth, etc. We placed additional seating out there as well.
For our DJ, photobooth, and coffee, this was truly off of their reviews. We found our photographer and florist off of Instagram. My hijab stylist and designer was easily the go-to, as she’s hired by many hijabi brides in the US. We catered from a popular world foods market in Houston, and our desserts, from a local artisan.
What kinds of food/dessert did you have at your wedding?
Mediterranean food. We both aren’t too passionate about cake, but felt pressured to get one anyway (Iman, my sister, provided the pressure). :) For dessert, we ordered macarons in various colors that aligned with our theme, as well as mille feuille, which is a popular pastry in Algeria.
The Dress, Turban
Where did you find your dress?
I found a vendor on Etsy who was based in Russia. She had a dress I loved - minimal, sleek, and it felt like me. She was very kind, and I made specific adjustments on the dress for my purposes - a higher neckline, a longer dress, longer sleeves, and completely opaque all the way through. I gave her my measurements and the rest was magic. I found the sash online, and my mother sewed it on.
If you order online, please remember to have your measurements taken and on hand, and to be slightly more liberal with your sizing. It is not easy to have a dress made larger after it is already sewn, but fairly easy to have it altered to be more fitted once it arrives. I added about 3/4 of an inch to some of my measurements (waistline, arm circumference, etc) just in case, and when it arrived, had alterations done in Houston. I’m very happy that I did that.
How did you choose between a normal hijab or turban?
I don’t usually wear turbans on a regular basis, but I wanted to do something special. My vision for my bridal look was to be seamless; for my dress and hijab to complement the other, without overwhelming the entire look. I was super lucky to hire a hijab stylist/designer/makeup artist that is renowned for bridal looks, and I felt beautiful in the turban. Bear in mind that people have different takes on turbans and hijabs on wedding days, and in fashion worn by Muslim women in general. The bride’s opinion on her wedding day is what ultimately matters.
How did you merge elements of your cultures into your wedding?
This is a good one. Culture is what you make of it; having our family and friends all in one room, celebrating with us, was all we wanted.
I am ethnically Algerian - Yusef is Persian, Turkish, American. At a quick glance, we had Andalusi Algerian music playing during our cocktail hour; walked into our wedding to the theme song of Ertugrul, our favorite Turkish show; and opened the dance floor with Cheb Khaled. We incorporated elements of our cultures in the food, in the desserts, in the music, and in the outfits that some of our guests wore.
What were some very “Noha or Yusef” elements to your wedding? How did you make it personal?
I love this question.
A big part of my life is in pursuit of minimalism - using what I need, and no more. We kept our design elements very simple - neutral colors, white florals surrounded with greenery throughout the venue. My dress was also rather simple, which I loved. Yusef is in the United States Marine Corps, and wore his uniform. There’s a longstanding history and tradition to the Marine Corps, and Yusef represented all aspects of his passions - being a Muslim, being a Marine, and getting married to me (duh). (Yusef just said: “You think you’re funny, huh?”)
Yusef and I are avid coffee drinkers. We found a vendor in Houston that set up a full-service coffee and tea bar at our wedding - open all night, serving any drink you could think of (and they even made a custom menu for us). Our party favors were reflective of this as well; we created “The Perfect Blend,” which were coffee beans for each of our guests to take home. Our families helped us put the favors together in the days leading up to the wedding.
I love photography, and the art of capturing moments. We placed a disposable camera on every table and asked our guests to catch our wedding through their eyes. (It was particularly funny watching younger guests figure out how a disposable camera worked.) We also brought in a photobooth company that printed two photos - one for the guest, and one for a scrapbook they created for us.
Anything you would’ve changed?
Not for the world. Alhamdulilah, alhamdulilah, alhamdulilah.
It goes without saying that none of this would have been possible without our vendors. Thank you, again and endlessly, for the work you put in to make our day so memorable.