I love weddings, but they make me melancholy

It’s unpopular, I think, to admit how much weddings mean to me. As a diehard romantic from a young age, there’s a lot I love about weddings as an aspiring bride — the chance to wear a beautiful one-of-a-kind gown, the attention bestowed upon me, the commitment expressed through vows, the promise of a lifetime of togetherness, the celebratory atmosphere of it all… it’s safe to say I’m obsessed. 

And yet, several weddings I’ve attended in the past few years have left a sad taste in my mouth. 

After one wedding in the summer several years ago, I drove to a parking lot and cried. At another wedding, I sequestered myself to a corner and moped. I felt so alone, surrounded by adoring couples and a celebration of love. I spent a third wedding mourning that my relationship with the bride wasn’t what it once was. 

I’ve always struggled with jealousy. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say that I’ve struggled with comparison, which has led to my feelings of jealousy. I’m constantly holding myself up against those around me, measuring us, and coming up short in my own estimation. Usually, I compare myself to my friends and family — my brother got more Facebook likes on his post; my best friend is more beautiful; a writer friend got a book deal before me. I’m looking for reasons to love myself and have fallen into the trap of comparison, except I always come up short.

As much as I’ve loved watching the couples celebrating their love during those three weddings, I couldn’t help but compare myself to them. I’m 28, and my list of “nevers” in the dating world stretches like a CVS receipt. Never been in a relationship. Never been on a second date. Never been kissed. Never held hands. On and on it goes. The only thing I have done is go on two first dates. Two whole dates! In 28 years! 

And here I thought someday I’d be a bride!

It’s just too easy to feel like a fool, and it’s so easy to resent the people who are getting married while I’m not. When one of my family members married several years ago, I remember attending the wedding and feeling true joy for him and his bride. It was an honor to stand up at the front of the church with the wedding party. I loved the new dress I bought just for the occasion to celebrate with the happy couple and their guests.

After the ceremony and festivities ended, I took off in my five-inch heels and pretty new dress, got into my car, drove to Walmart, and cried. I cried because it dawned on me, at the time, that I was 20 and despite my strong desire to fall in love and have my own forever story, I had never been on a date. All my crushes had been unrequited. I was heartsick and devastated. The high of the celebration was wearing off, leaving nothing but sorrow.

It’s been eight years since that experience. Last summer I went to my best friend’s wedding – this time around I loved celebrating with her. I was emotional throughout the ceremony –  it was beautiful, moving, and I was unspeakably elated for my friend. During the dinner, I managed to forget that I was there alone. 

I’m so grateful I was able to celebrate my friend’s wedding this way. I regret that I got so caught up in my own issues at the other weddings that I couldn’t enjoy the celebration right in front of me. Moving forward, I will try to revel in the love showcased in future weddings I attend and put to rest all thoughts of my own future.

Maybe someday I’ll have my own wedding; maybe I never will. But one fact I’m sure won’t change is that I’ll stay a little bit obsessed with the institution of a wedding.

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No, I will not be taking my hijab off for my wedding and you can’t make me

We often talk about how the hijab is viewed negatively in the Western world. But I don’t think that many people realize that discrimination against the hijab doesn’t only happen in western society. In my experience, it also occurs in my home country, Pakistan, and my own family members are a part of the problem.

My sister and I started wearing the hijab when we were 15 and 13, respectively. For us, it seemed like a natural choice since we’d spent most of our childhood in Saudi Arabia, where the hijab was mandatory. When our family in Pakistan found out we still wore the hijab after moving to Canada in our teen years, they were ecstatic. They thought it was wonderful that we chose this for ourselves and praised us for making seemingly religious choices. 

But that all changed when my sister turned 20 and someone tried to propose to her. Our mother rejected the engagement and it sparked a debate within our entire family. Most of them believed that more proposals would come her way if my sister took off her hijab. I still remember my mother arguing with our aunt who said that hijabs are only meant to look good on girls who are “white, thin, and pretty.” She thought that I was too dark and my sister was too fat, so we were ruining our prospects by sticking to our hijabs.

The worst part about all of this is that my aunt wasn’t entirely wrong. The hijab didn’t make men jump at the chance to marry us. Due to pressure from extended family members, my mother was constantly on the lookout for potential matches for my sister. But every guy who approached would run away just as fast once he heard that she wouldn’t be taking her hijab off for him. 

After a while, my sister did it. She found a guy who seemed accepting of who she was and agreed to marry him after a year. Suddenly, the tune the family was singing changed, but not for the better. Everyone asked if she’d be taking her hijab off for the wedding and discussing how beautiful she would look in this or that hairdo. They tried to talk my mother into making my sister buy lehengas, which would show off her midriff and arms. This completely goes against the very purpose of wearing a hijab.

To reach a compromise with my family, I nominated myself as my sister’s makeup artist and hairstylist for the wedding day and began experimenting with different hijab styles. We naively thought that if we could show them that the hijab could be dolled up, they would accept her decision. They did not. In the end, when the engagement was broken off, they simply returned to their earlier comments about taking off the hijab to score a husband.

The sheer amount of criticism that came with all this has my sister unsure about whether she ever wants to have a wedding, let alone one in Pakistan with our family. It hurt to watch my sister try and deal with the harsh judgment and then come to realize that her opinions hold no value in our community. It hurts more to think that other Pakistani brides might have to put up with the same level of harassment all over one headscarf

My sister was always much more staunch in her love of the hijab. Truth be told, I started wearing it on the condition that it would be pink and glittery. If you asked me just two years back, I might have given in to the family pressure and agreed to take off my hijab for my wedding.

Yet, knowing the struggle and judgment that comes with making a choice has given me an appreciation for the fact that it was a choice. However petty my reason is, it is my choice to put on the hijab, and I will be damned if I let someone else try to make decisions about my body and my attire for that one day in my life.

Now I can say with confidence that I will not be taking my hijab off for my wedding.

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Life Stories Weddings

Being engaged for two months made me realize I don’t want a marriage

The idea of marriage and a wedding was never a question of if, but when. I grew up in a fairly conservative Pakistani household and I was very close to my mother. She has been my idol for all of my life, and I have wanted to live up to the image of the amazing woman who raised me. She came from a complicated family background, but she put her all into giving my siblings and me a stable upbringing and all the opportunities we could ever ask for. Somewhere along the way, I decided that she was the kind of person I needed to grow up to be, a kind-hearted mother who loves her children. Getting married and having children seemed like the future I should work towards, the ultimate goal in a way. 

But of course, it didn’t end there. I grew up, like many young women, in love with Disney princess movies. Something about the fairytale stories of a young woman meeting a dashing prince, going on these fantastical adventures before ending with a huge, magical wedding just spoke to me. I spent most of my life believing in these dreams, thinking somehow that marriage and children would be the big thing I strived towards. 

When my older sister received her first proposal, she was scared. She was concerned if they would be a good fit as a couple and worried over all these details of their life together that I couldn’t even understand. If anything, I was excited for her. This was it, her big wedding! I couldn’t care less about who he was as a person. I went ahead and planned all the details for her potential wedding. I pulled out all the stops for this supposed wedding, despite the fact that she never agreed to the engagement, and later went on to reject his proposal. I still have the document I typed up with pictures and wedding details. Each time some other guy came to propose to my sister, I would pull it out and add to it.

As the younger daughter, I’m not expected to get engaged or married until my older sister does. Add to that the fact that I was a med school hopeful for most of my time at university, and everyone assumed that I would not marry until later in life. I was fine with living vicariously through my sister until then.

Then at 22, I accidentally ended up engaged. It was a stupid move, and every friend I spoke to tried to warn me against it, but I didn’t care. In my family, an engagement is essentially the dating period. We don’t ever enter a relationship without the intention of marriage. But even considering that, this engagement was pretty casual. He was a friend of a friend. He didn’t even live close enough for the two of us to visit or meet up. In fact, during the two months of the relationship, I never once met him in person. We just talked over the phone and texted, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that this wasn’t for me.

We met right around my birthday. He sent me this sweet and sappy message about how he was so glad to have me in his life. I felt so uncomfortable that my only reaction was to laugh out loud when I read it. No one understood it when I tried to explain how the message made my skin crawl. The more serious he got, the more I felt sick to my stomach. It’s not a feeling I can really put into words, but all the talk about our future, living together, and the hypothetical children I thought I wanted didn’t sit right with me when the words and ideas were coming from him.

But I still didn’t want to back out. I pulled out those plans for my sister’s wedding and began reworking them for my wedding. That feeling kept me in this relationship. But I knew it couldn’t last forever. He started getting clingy, he wanted to talk to me more. In hindsight, he was justified in asking for more of my time, but I wasn’t interested in him enough to care about his needs. I only saw him as becoming a hassle, someone I would have to tolerate instead of someone I would happily spend the rest of my life with. I once even told my mother that I’m more interested in trading him for a robot husband instead – I could have my wedding without dealing with another person in the mix.

It got messier after that, with several petty arguments left and right. There was one fight that he thought he could win by giving me the silent treatment. Unfortunately for him, that silence was everything I wanted. The next time we spoke, it fell into yet another argument. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and the whole thing was called off the next day. I happily moved on, packing up all my wedding plans and studying for the upcoming exams.

It’s been over a year since my engagement ended. I’ve spoken to several other potential suitors and it’s always the same. I stick it out for the idea of a pretty, magical wedding where I get to be a princess for the event. But inevitably, things break down and I move on to the next wedding plan.

I like the idea of love and romance. It sounds beautiful. But somehow, when actually faced with the realities of it and coupled with the responsibilities of marriage, I crack. I’ve never found myself capable of caring about these men the way they claim to care for me; they remain faceless entities I use to check off on my list of goals. It sounds callous, but it’s not that I want someone else to suffer for my little fantasy wedding. I don’t think I have the emotional energy to spare on someone else and I don’t know if I ever will.

And maybe that’s okay. I’m fulfilled by my family and my career aspirations. I am happy with life. And one day I’ll earn enough money and throw myself that big wedding and be my own princess.

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Editor's Picks Life Stories Weddings

Women in my family are cursed to never marry — at least, that’s what my aunts believe

Marriage was never a question in my mind.

I’ve never spent time wondering whether or not I will get married. For me, I always worried about when and who I would get married to. 

On a lazy Saturday when my parents were away,  my two aunts showed up unannounced. It was just my sisters and I left to our devices. My parents had given no warning that we’d be expecting any guests, so we were already on edge. They sat tentatively, the obligatory salutations batted back and forth like a never-ending tennis match. Then, silence.

It cloaked the entire room for what felt like forever. 

“There is something we need to tell you, girls, as aunts,” they said. I thought possibly this was the sex talk I’d never received from my parents. What happened next, I would have never guessed.

“You are cursed. Every relationship you have is doomed to fail. It is the fate of the women in our family.” I couldn’t help but giggle and I was met with a steely gaze. They were dead serious. None of them were happily married but that was down to choices, right?

I could not fathom that I was cursed. My life wasn’t an episode of Vampire Diaries. Yet, the seriousness of the situation echoed in the emptiness of our living room. The way they clutched their purses tightly, their veins visibly throbbing. My sisters’ faces had the same disbelieving look. 

They explained how happiness would evade us, along with love. The men who entered our lives would do nothing except steal, cheat, and lie to us.

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One spoke about her own experience in her marriage how he had simply left and taken all her things. My sisters and I stole glances from each other. We’d been told this story but not like this.

From our recollection, relatives had told her that the man she was about to marry was a con artist, but she went ahead and married him anyway. She’d come home to an empty house with no furniture.

My other aunt, her husband had died. I was too young to comprehend anything they were saying. Would a long-lost ancestor grow so bitter because of her own failed marriage, that she would curse her future generations?

The story was, a long-lost ancestor had grown bitter and angry in her marriage. She’d found nothing but hardship and tribulation that she never wanted the women in her family to feel as she did. So, she’d gone up to the mountains and made a deal with a witch doctor, to curse any women in her family to never get married.

However, the more I pondered on it and went down the list of all my aunts and their marriages, a feeling of uneasiness clouded over me. I began to believe what they were saying. The way they weaved the tale and strung together the evidence of all my aunts who were alone.

In looking at them, I thought I saw my future.

Would I really end up alone? Not just alone, though, but bitter.

Suddenly every interaction I’d ever had with a boy raced through my mind. Had they not liked me because I was cursed? I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions and I could feel the panic in the tension in my eyes. Would I never get to have a wedding?

The thought consumed me, and my aunt’s words were drowned out in a sea of my fated misery. “Don’t cry, it’s just the way things are.”

I drew my attention back to my aunts, saddened by this revelation until I caught a glint in her eye. She was enjoying this. At that moment I realized they didn’t want to inform us, but rather scare us. 

As soon as they left the house, my sisters and I looked at each other. Our confused eyes bouncing between our unsaid words. We spoke about it, confused and barely able to believe it. My sister thought it was true but I was skeptical. I didn’t dwell on it too long, I didn’t want to give power to a spirit that didn’t exist. We went our separate ways both on opposite sides. 

Well, apparently, I’m cursed, and I’ll never be married.

I wonder if it’s true and question myself whenever my feelings aren’t reciprocated, or I get dribbled like a basketball. I can’t help but think that each time I was ghosted, the spirit of my ancestor was cackling. That each night I cried myself to sleep thinking I would die alone, she was rejoicing at her victory.

For a time I bought into it and decided I would fight this curse. I began taking tips from friends in relationships and reading books about marriage.

But then I sat down and thought back to that glint in my aunt’s eye. Not all kin is family. I am the master of my own destiny. No-one, not even my ‘family’ can tell me what my life will be like. I won’t let this curse be a cloud over my life. My aunt’s struggles aren’t mine. They made choices in their lives that led them to were they are.

Men who were liars, abusers and cruel took advantage of them, and for that my heart weeps. However, their history isn’t my future. You don’t inherit failed marriages.

One day, I’m going to walk down a calla lily strewn aisle, in a Pnina Tornai gown, with my face beat, and say ‘I do’.

History Wedding Weddings

Why are couples still choosing to get married on plantations?

When it comes to marriage, there are so many wedding venues in the world to choose from. The list is endless and inexhaustible. Plantation weddings are an enigma to me, more so the people who opt to have venues there. It’s inexplicable to me. I cannot imagine people celebrating atop the bodies of humans who died enslaved, tortured, and in chains. Arguing that a venue is beautiful and perfect for your big day only further negates the atrocities and heinous history that is seeped in that place. It says, ‘I don’t care about what happened here because it doesn’t affect me.’

Only people in privileged positions forget about the horrendous events of slavery and take pictures where families were torn apart.

If a person were to have their wedding at Auschwitz the outrage would be gigantic. So, why isn’t the same level of respect given to plantation weddings? People vehemently speak out against concentration camps and history, but they have a tendency to remain silent on the history of slavery. No trauma is worse than the other, yet the disrespect is shown when one is honored over the other.

It’s 2020 now, can we please cancel plantation weddings?

How can you relive antebellum times and ignore the horrors that came with it? The Antebellum era was marked by slavery, the Civil War, and tension between abolitionists and supporters of slavery. That’s why Lady Antebellum changed their name.

It is impossible to find a stunning southern mansion that didn’t house slaves or hold a harrowing history that remains so pervasive. The legacy of slavery still echoes in our systems. So, I wonder what the desire is to have a wedding on a plantation. A place where not only the picturesque mansion still stands but slave quarters are also around the corner.

In 2012, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds got married at Boone Hall plantation, where black people were forced to harvest peaches and make bricks. They have shown support for Black Lives Matter by pledging $200,000 to the cause but have never publicly apologized. Their support is appreciated, but how can they move forward if they haven’t openly addressed past mistakes?

Pictures of their wedding can’t be found on the internet and Pinterest has put in place restrictions on plantation weddings on their site. Though they are still searchable you may be found in violation of their guidelines. Pinterest commented on this decision and said, “Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things.”

“Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things.”

Plantation houses promoting these sites of human rights violations as ‘the best day of your life’ is a slap in the face. It’s insensitive, disgusting and perpetuation of the legacies of slavery that run rampant in institutions. These places should be relegated to purely historical sites. Museums that tell the story of what really happened in these places. Not just southern propaganda of a time when people drank sweet tea and courted one another.

A wedding venue may seem inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But, these actions are offensive, ignorant, and hurtful to the Black community. The disregard for the tragedy that was slavery rings loud when people say ‘I do’ at plantations.

Love Life Stories Advice Weddings

PSA: Getting married shouldn’t be your only goal in life

“Mom, I am a rich man,” replied pop icon Cher, when her mother suggested she should settle down and marry a rich man. I’ve rewatched Cher’s interview in which she shares this anecdote many times. It resonates with me, although I can’t say the same for myself.

I’m certainly not a rich man, and, “Mom, I’m a starving artist,” doesn’t have the same defiant ring to it. But, money isn’t the only thing that buys you freedom, and there are many reasons that marriage is not a priority of mine.

1. “Mom, I’m a child of divorce.” 

This is my primary reason. Watching a marriage crumble from the inside is not alluring.

It’s difficult to watch two people who, presumed to love each other, appear to hate each other for more than a decade and then part ways. What worries me is the “forever and always” nature of marriage.

As many girls do, I grew up reading fairytales, and yearning for happily ever afters. And although I believe many people have happy marriages, I’ve learned that “happily ever after” is a myth.

Fairytales end at the start of a relationship. They chronicle two people falling in love, and end as they have their first kiss or get married.

They seldom show the nitty-gritty of the relationships they represent. The disintegration of my parents’ marriage shattered this illusion for me at a fairly young age.

Since then, I’ve never really placed much importance on getting married or finding somebody to marry.

2. “Mom, I’m young and my career is my focus.”

In my early twenties, I dated a boy who stifled me.

I’ve since described the experience as, “dating a handbrake.”

Once he was out of my life I excelled – my grades went up, I ran my first half marathon, my freelance career took off. I recently rewatched The Devil Wears Prada – a classic in my eyes. Shocked by how Andy, played by Anne Hathaway, has friends who guilt-trip her for prioritizing her career over her boyfriend.

When I first watched it as a teenager, I remember thinking that Andy was selfish for putting her work before her boyfriend. The narrative is often skewed to make us feel this way. In this common film trope, women become villains for putting their work first, whereas men are often glorified for the same thing.

While striking a balance between one’s personal life and work life is important, I don’t ever want to feel held back by another “handbrake” relationship.

3. “Mom, I’m a feminist.”

Don’t get me wrong – there is an overlap of people who love marriage and people who identify as feminists. There are many marriages that are equal partnerships, and if I ever do get married, mine would be that way. But, the idea of marriage, as well as the values upheld by marriage originated from patriarchal value systems.

I don’t like the idea of being “given away” by a man to another man, as if I were ever anybody’s property.

At wedding receptions, typically, only men speak, while the bride is silent. The bride sits, looking beautiful, wearing white – white, of course, being the color of purity. What I will look like on my wedding day is the least exciting thing about me. 

Wearing white as a marker of my purity speaks to a time I’m glad I was not born into.

4. “Mom, if it happens, it happens.”

Perhaps, someday I’ll meet somebody who makes me so happy that I push these reasons aside.

That would be a welcome surprise.

But until then, marriage won’t be a priority of mine, and my life will continue to be full, and exciting regardless.


5 things I learned from planning my wedding – when I was in a long-distance relationship

My husband and I were in a four-year-long-distance relationship before we got married. We were only able to spend two weeks together before the wedding, so essentially all of the planning was done long distance, by me.

Apart from the fact that I was living in Vermont while my fiancé was in Texas, our wedding was going to be in Colorado. I had to do the bulk of the planning over winter break when my fiancé and I were both in Colorado.

I didn’t want it to be just my wedding. I know the stereotype is a crazy bride obsessing over the smallest details and a groom who could care less about the big day, but I didn’t want to throw a party for myself, I wanted my wedding to be about me and my groom.

The problem was that my groom happened to be studying Mechanical Engineering and was incredibly busy during the months leading up to our wedding. He wanted to share his input, but the wedding day was not his top priority.

He chimed in on a color scheme and approved my ideas, but I didn’t get to involve him as much as I wanted to.

[bctt tweet=”I didn’t want to throw a party for myself, I wanted my wedding to be about me and my groom.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Here are five lessons that I learned while planning a wedding long-distance:

1. Planning a wedding is harder than you’d think.

[Image description: A gif of a girl looking at her engagement ring and screaming.] Via giphy
When I got engaged, I was ecstatic and unconcerned. We were engaged for almost two years, so I knew I would have plenty of time to plan. Plus, I wasn’t the bridezilla type, so everything would be a piece of cake.

Boy, was I wrong.

2. Friends and family don’t quite get it.

[Image description: A gif of four women crowded around a table, making wedding plans.] Via giphy
I had amazing friends who tried their best to keep me sane through the wedding planning. However, I could tell that by the end of my engagement I was starting to bore them. All I could talk about was whether we wanted chocolate or vanilla frosting on our donuts. I could tell they were trying to be interested but, let’s face it, they’d heard it all before.

My mother-in-law lectured me a couple times about how terrible her detail-obsessed friend’s wedding was. She was trying to help and trying to keep me from getting stressed, but I hated hearing that I couldn’t pay attention to details that were important to me.

3. Weddings are expensive.

[Image description: A gif of a pair of hands counting dollar bills.] Via giphy
That’s an understatement. Since we were getting married immediately out of college, we had no money. Our wedding had to be under an incredibly tight budget, and every big cost felt like a waste. I wanted to have a beautiful, dream wedding but I also wanted to be able to afford food as a married woman.

My groom understood that I wanted things to be nice, but he had to help me through conversations like:

“We really can’t afford $200 rings, how about we start with silver rings and get better rings later?”

4. No matter how much you try, there will always be something left for last minute.

[Image description: A gif of a man moving his head from side to side and freaking out.] Via giphy
I found a dream dress at a little shop in Vermont and bought it, though it was the only dress left in the store and two sizes too big. We couldn’t afford to get it professionally altered, so my mom offered to hem the skirt and add some beading to the back of the dress to keep the straps from falling off.

[bctt tweet=”I could have walked down the aisle of my parents’ backyard wearing jeans and a t-shirt with only 10 guests, and it would have still been the best day of my life.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Despite our best efforts, these changes didn’t happen until three days before the wedding. In the end, the dress was still too big. But, hey, it really wasn’t a big deal.

5. In the end, the wedding day was about getting married to my best friend, but the planning wasn’t useless.

[Image description: A gif of a bride and groom kissing on their wedding day.] Via giphy
I could have walked down the aisle of my parents’ backyard wearing jeans and a t-shirt with only 10 guests and no food for the reception, and it would have still been the best day of my life.

That being said, I loved the details that made our wedding feel personal and important. I noticed that our paper plates were the right color and that the lights strung across the ceiling were diagonal instead of horizontal. Plus, it was important for my husband to notice the details and to see the ways that I combined both our shared interests into a day that was beautiful and fun and more so, one that represented us.

Planning our wedding wasn’t easy, and it didn’t end up being perfect. But it was the perfect conclusion to four years apart: a symbolic mix of the things that make us both unique.


7 extraordinary wedding traditions from around the world that you probably never heard of

You know it’s real when a bride and groom slaughter a chicken together on their wedding day.

Weddings are as old as society itself, and their traditions differ within every culture, religion, or ethnicity.  What makes a ceremony auspicious or memorable can be anything from having a religious cleric officiate the event to looking for lucky signs in a chicken’s liver like some Mongolian wedding couples do.

Here are a few wedding traditions from around the globe that you may not have heard of.

1. Beating the groom’s feet (South Korea)

M2 Photography
M2 Photography

Falaka, or beating the groom’s feet with an old cane or dried fish, usually occurs right before the newlywed can leave with his bride. It’s not malicious and is usually done in good fun, with wedding guests taking turns and even quizzing the groom’s knowledge as he’s beaten.

2. La Soupe en la Toilet Bowl (France)


Have you ever wondered what to do with all those wedding leftovers? Well, look no further because in some French weddings, guests will gather leftover food and drink, and serve the concoction to the newlyweds to help “boost their performance” on their wedding night. Yet another example of how the French continue to be leagues ahead of everyone else when it comes to romance.

3. Spitting on the bride (Massai Nation, Kenya)

Nothing bonds a father and his daughter better than a little spittle. The father of the bride will usually spit on her head and breasts as a means to ensure that he doesn’t tempt fate into ruining his daughter’s special day by being too supportive himself. The bride then goes on with her husband and is advised not to turn back lest she is turned to stone.

4. Zaffe (Arab cultures)

Zaffe or zaffah is the ultimate pre-wedding hype up, as friends, family, musicians, and professional dancers shout, dance and make merry as they escort the groom to his bride’s home. It announces that the wedding is about to start as the entourage joyously claps, shouts and the throws flower petals on the happy couple.

5. Kiss and Don’t Tell (Sweden)

At any point during the wedding, if the bride isn’t in the room, the ladies at the reception are free to steal a kiss from the groom. This work both ways of course, so if the groom isn’t present, the bride is also free to be smooched by any of the groomsmen.

6. Crying Prep (Sichaun Province, China)

For about a month in advance, the brides of the Tuija people spend an hour a day crying in anticipation of her wedding. Each week, she is joined by her a mother and grandmother gradually until all the female members of the family are weeping with her. They’re tears of joy though, no worries.

7. The Blackening of the Bride (Scotland)

A day before the wedding, the bride and groom are captured by friends and family, covered head to toe in all sorts of things from flour to rotten eggs to curdled milk to even molasses and then paraded around the town. Although it’s done in good fun, its original purpose was to ward off evil spirits.

So go forth with your new knowledge and ideas for your future weddings. These wedding traditions are the threads that bind cultural and personal memories together on your special day. Even if they seem a bit unconventional.

Love Life Stories

This is how our dream wedding changed the world

Presented in partnership with Penny Appeal USA.

 I mean, there I was, just 22 years old and about to marry the love of my life.

The moment I got engaged, I was ecstatic.

We had been together for almost six years, and life was as sweet as could be. The two of us couldn’t take our eyes off one another as flashbulbs burst before us. My mother cried, while my father smiled like he never had before. It was a moment straight out of a Gary Marshall film.

But that’s when it hit: society’s wedding expectations.

Before I knew it, I was being told that I needed wedding colors, bridesmaids dresses, centerpieces, flower arrangements, wedding favors, photo-booths, chalkboard signs… the list was endless.

Pinterest was my nightmare.

And the whole time I couldn’t help but wonder what all this money was really being spent on. Sure, it felt great to be planning a giant party for our family and friends to celebrate this new, important step in our relationship. But thousands spent on a photographer could go so far for someone else. I found myself closing Pinterest down, and began researching other ways to help those in need.

I live in South Africa and the problems we face in terms of education, economic disparity, gender-based violence, and so many other issues are dire. We’ve come a long way since apartheid, but the economic and social struggles my country faces are insurmountable. So when I found Penny Appeal USA, an NGO focused on addressing the root cause of poverty (among their many other initiatives!), I knew that I’d found the perfect alternative to an event that would only make a select group of people happy for a select period of time.

Courtesy of Ariana Munsamy

Because why plan a wedding that won’t help anyone but yourself, when we could work to support the efforts of Penny Appeal USA?

I regularly see calls for aid coming from people in my community, and my family does what we can to pitch in. So when it came time to fork over thousands for food for a few hours at my wedding, I just couldn’t do it.

That’s when my family and I had to have the talk. I’d made up my mind: sustainable giving to help those in need rolled better off my tongue than a Pinterest-perfect floral decoration.

Of course, my parents were both frustrated and confused. Why on earth would their daughter, who just moments ago had donned her rose-tinted glasses, be pulling them off and demanding a redo of the entire wedding? I still remember the look on my mother’s face when I told her that I would be doing my makeup and hair myself: death.

But the more I explained Penny Appeal USA’s work to them, the more they softened to the idea of our making a real difference with a reputable NGO.

My mother is an active member of a women’s community group in an impoverished area near our home. She works day and night organizing events that bring awareness to health issues. My father also does his part, conducting free business management classes for uneducated, young people to give them the tools to move upward in life.

So when I explained to my parents that the money we were spending on the wedding could be better used for the positive empowerment of people around the world, they began to understand that we had forgotten about what our family stands for.

Property of The Tempest, Inc.

My partner and I decided that, instead of spending exorbitant amounts of money on designer clothes, jewelry, shoes and bags, we’d instead use the money that would have gone towards those things to uplift people who were in need of life’s basic necessities: food, clean water, and sustainable income. Being able to do so with such a progressive organization was incredible, and I made sure my friends understood just how possible it was for them to do it, too.

We committed ourselves to planning our wedding in a way that we knew would empower the world, simply because we had the opportunity to do it.

Courtesy of Penny Appeal USA

Instead of giving in to societal expectations of the perfect wedding with extravagant spending (which distracts us from its true purpose, love), we decided to share our big day with Penny Appeal USA by supporting some of their numerous programs. It doesn’t take much to contribute to a cause that helps thousands of lives around the world.

Because, really, where would my soon-to-be-husband and I be without organizations like Penny Appeal USA who work so hard to create a safer space for all of us?

My wedding won’t be the lavish event that we originally intended it to be. It won’t be at an expensive establishment, with hundreds of guests, and handmade flower wreaths decorating the stage.

Instead, my wedding will be a celebration of the things we can achieve when we marry our lives with social justice.

It’ll be a celebration of a better world- and it’s something that you can do for your special event, too.


These 5 couples made the world a better place through their weddings – you can, too

Not surprisingly, one of the largest celebrated occasions in a person’s life is their wedding day. But something which is less common, but very admirable is when we hear of stories of two people starting their new chapter together by helping those who are suffering in some shape or form. Though we are bombarded with negative news 24/7, it is refreshing to hear about the good that is going on in the world.

Whether it’s hosting a wedding at a different venue in order to help feed the homeless, or even just simply donating all of the wedding money to charity, there are various ways in which you can use your wedding to benefit the greater good.

I present to you 5 lovely couples from around the world who inspired many others and I am sure caused a ripple effect, in a positive way:

1.  Fethullah Üzümcüoğlu and Esra Polat


Back in 2015, these Turkish newlyweds decided to feed 4,000 Syrian refugees instead of hosting an expensive wedding reception. Hatice Avci, the international communications manager for KYM (Turkish Relief Organization) stated: “It’s like sharing a dinner with your friends and family who have this kind of thing on a daily basis—or sharing something with people who don’t even have the most basic things.” Watching the flood of Syrian refugees waiting in line for the food trucks was very moving – the video is available here.

2. Shehzaan and Zainab Chunara

Derek Wintermute Photography

In 2016, this Indian couple felt that the cost of the multiple wedding events would not be worth it in the long run. They would rather spend that money on something which would have a positive impact for others who were less fortunate than them. And so they did.

They chose to donate their money to Agha Khan Foundation, which helps eradicate poverty around the world. The 24 year olds were generous enough to ask the people who attended their small wedding ceremony to donate money to this foundation, rather than buying them gifts. Both Shehzaan and Zainab had seen the poverty in India and that made them realize how truly blessed they were. It’s easy for us to say we are grateful, but our actions speak louder than words.

3. Samantha Jackson and Farzin Yousefian


This Canadian couple decided to cancel their large scale wedding after they saw an image of a lifeless body of a small Syrian child washed ashore. The child’s name was Alan Kurdi and he was only three years old, drowning with his mother and brother while trying to flee Syria. Samantha and Jackson felt a deep sense of empathy and compassion so decided to skip the extravagance and instead spend that money on sponsoring a Syrian family of four. Samantha stated: “After our civil ceremony, we felt like it was very true to what we wanted our marriage to symbolize and how we wanted to start new life as a couple.”

4. Sarah Dixon and Todd Rump


These two started a trend in which they decided to donate to a worthy cause instead of handing out party favors.  Most people just stuff the wedding favor in their homes which accumulate dust. This couple chose to donate to a nonprofit for wounded veterans, but there are hundreds of different causes which people can choose, based on their values.

Additionally, there is a nonprofit which assists couples planning their wedding in setting up charitable registries. “The I Do Foundation helps couples raise donations for the charity of their choice and is working to change the culture of weddings so that giving back becomes an accepted and expected part of weddings.” Sarah and Todd remind us that you don’t have to completely sacrifice everything to a good cause, even the small acts such as substituting party favors for donations can go a long way.

5. Christopher and Deirdre Culver

This couple decided that there was not anything that they really needed or wanted in terms of gifts for their wedding, so they had a better idea. Because they had a shared passion for sailing and had initially met on a yacht, “they decided to put just one item on their registry: a link to Sail to Prevail, a charity that teaches disabled children and adults to sail and in the process imparts life skills.” Their story was featured on the New York Times in an article called For Those Who Have It All-Charitable Wedding Registries

These are just a handful of people who decided to use their marriage for the common good of humanity.

At the end of the day, how you spend your money is a choice which is up to you. But it is important to think of the consequences of our actions before we take them. Spending a huge chunk of money for one day may be fine for some people, but for the majority, it causes newlyweds to start their new life in debt.

I also believe that it is crucial for us to question our intentions, not just for decisions in terms of marriage and weddings, but in every aspect of life. To be honest with ourselves and ask why we feel the need to do X, Y, or Z. Is it for attention? To look good to our Facebook friends and Instagram followers? Or to simply do what everyone else in our social circle has been doing?

May we become more intentional in our actions and be a source of good in our communities.


10 adorable DIY decorations that will make your wedding look like a million dollars

Time has come and you are thinking about putting together the perfect wedding. Aside from your stunning outfit, the beautiful venue, and all the other magical things you have planned for your special night, you cannot forget about the decor. What other way to personalize your wedding than by DIY-ing the little things?

Not only is this incredibly fun to do, but it will add a special touch to your perfect day. Your guests will leave remembering all the hard work and effort you put into carefully specializing these crafts.

1. Illuminate your reception with a little bit of glitter: 


You can even add them to your centerpieces! Candles always look elegant and classy, while the glitter adds a bit of personality.  You could also coordinate the color of the glitter you use with your wedding colors and the reception will be even more beautiful. Find out more about these here.

2. Share your most dorky moments, which will also be the perfect icebreakers: 

Table numbers:

These are adorable as they are easy. It’s a simple task to just print these out at your own home and it’s a fun talking point for each of your guests.  Table numbers are always something of a hassle, and then people don’t sit where they are supposed to half the time.

This idea makes the table numbers much more fun and gives your guests some more cute information about the bride and groom.  This is completely unique and will leave a memory with your guests.

3. Keep your wedding going months after it happened with this adorable guest activity:

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Another fun way to entertain your guests is with a date jar. You can buy chalkboard and mason jars and just provide a box for the ideas. A simple and fun way to get date night ideas as well as to enjoy a laugh or two with your guests. This is a cheap and elegant way to keep your guests entertained, and it leaves you and your partner another great gift that can last a lifetime. It will also help keep the magic and fun of being in a relationship.

4. It’s easy to get creative with centerpieces with simple arrangements: 

blog centerpiece wine glass 12 Wedding Centerpiece Ideas from Pinterest:

Easy, simple, and elegant – what else could you want?  Just look at how beautiful this arrangement is, and everything is functional. After the wedding, you have an entire bar set ready to go for your new home with your partner, instead of just hundreds of flower vases that will most likely sit in a closet for the rest of your marriage.  Also, this way you would spend less on flowers and therefore save money.

This is an adorably elegant and cute way to save money because you’re buying fewer flowers and more functional pieces.  You could even use the plate holder mirror as a beautiful mirrored collage in your home afterward! For more DIY ideas for centerpieces look here.

5. Keep your invitations personal and elegant with a simple tweak: 

DIY Gold Leaf Prints | Photography by Wesley Vorster | DIY and Design by White Kite Studio:

Stop paying for expensive wedding invitations and make these instead. Send something that says I specifically want you to come to my wedding, with a more personal touch.  These are so fabulous and cost significantly less than it would be to pay a company to send our your invitations.

This works especially well for smaller and more intimate weddings because each invitation is unique and could be tailored towards the person receiving it.  More information about how to do these can be found here.

6. Give guests the perfect way to give you a send-off: 

Check out these DIY wedding confetti tubes for your ceremony toss!:

Remember how guests used to throw rice? This is the next best thing!  Make sure you get paper that is compostable or biodegradable, so you are in the clear.  These are an easy way to make your wedding more of a celebration than a formal affair.  Find out more information about this DIY project here.

7. If you’re really adventurous, make your own beautiful boutonnieres:


Why buy it when you can make it yourself? This is an easy and classy way to put your creativity to the test.  You can personally coordinate your wedding colors into the boutonnieres and make each one unique. You can even use flowers from your own garden and save money while adding an intimate touch.  Or you could use fake flowers so the memories could last forever. Check them out here.

8. Add some themed flair with beautifully handcrafted flowers: 


Check out these awesome paper flowers to decorate on your special day. These are cheaper and easier to discard than twinkle lights or anything else. These flowers can coordinate with your wedding colors or just hang on their own.  This is a great way to make your wedding personal and adhere to your personal taste.  Find out how to make these here.

9. If an open bar isn’t your thing, make it a mini bar:


If the open bar concept is too daunting of an expense for you, here is a cute replacement. On the wedding invitation, add a section for preferred alcohol and have these little airplane bottles waiting for your guests at their seat.  This would be less expensive than a typical open bar and this is an easy way to make sure nobody is drinking too much. Originally this post was presented as a wedding favor for the groomsmen, which also works. There are endless possibilities when you put drinks into a little mason jar! For more info go here.

10. Keep the memories of the wedding going for your guests this summer:

20 DIY Wedding Favors Your Guests Will Love and Use - Jason & Anna Photography:

If you’re a gardener, then this idea is absolutely perfect for you. Just set up a box or wheelbarrow with packets for seeds that your guests can use and plant in their own gardens and the memory of your wedding day will last even longer. I suggest getting perennials so you and your guests really can remember the day for years to come.  This works especially well for spring weddings.