Abeer & Imran

Feb. 25 & 27, 2011 at The Governor Hotel in Portland

When Abeer saw her future husband’s social networking profile, she thought he was the perfect match—for her friend. Imran said he was too busy to date, but he continued to chat with Abeer. And when the long-distance friends finally met in person eight years later (he was in Florida, she in Oregon), they realized Abeer’s matchmaking had been a success after all. “There was always a mutual interest,” explains Imran. “The Pakistani culture doesn’t allow for ‘dating,’ per se. We knew if we agreed to meet, it was for the purpose of seeing whether we would...start the process of getting married.” Seven months later, with their families’ approval, they wed in a small Islamic ceremony.

When they were ready to celebrate, the couple decided to bring the party—make that parties—to Abeer’s hometown of Portland. Their wedding weekend honored the couple’s Pakistani heritage with two lavish events at downtown Portland’s historic Governor Hotel.

The busy couple (Abeer is a resident physician in New York, and Imran is a law student in Massachusetts) enlisted the help of Bridal Bliss’ Nora Sheils to pull off their wedding double feature: a mehndi dance party on Friday and a formal shaadi reception on Sunday. The décor of each event was based on the bold colors of Abeer and Imran’s outfits custom made in Pakistan.

The mehndi, or henna, ceremony is traditionally just for the ladies, but Abeer’s family invited everyone to attend. On Friday, Abeer and Imran, dressed in vivid turquoise and yellow, processed into the Governor’s Grand Ballroom with their families and took their places on the stage. After a dinner of Mediterranean fare and traditional Pakistani sweets, friends and family performed choreographed dances before all of the guests got on the floor for what planner Sheils describes as “a crazy Bollywood-style dance party.” After the celebration, guests found a fragrant surprise: The couple conspired with hotel staff to leave a stem of flowers on each car’s dash.

For the Sunday shaadi (wedding) reception, Imran donned a traditional Pakistani wedding cap and long formal suit; Abeer wore a stunning hand-beaded dress that weighed in at 30 pounds. Their rich burgundy, red and gold hues were echoed in the table linens and flowers. Again the couple had a formal procession into the room, this time for a ring ceremony presided over by Abeer’s childhood imam, a Muslim spiritual leader. Dinner, toasts and, of course, more dancing followed. During the cake cutting, the newlyweds fed not only each other, but their new in-laws as well—a reflection of the Pakistani tradition of moun meetha, when families share sweets with loved ones to celebrate happy occasions. The night ended with the emotional custom of rukhsati, or “sending off,” in which the bride’s family gives her away to the groom and his family. Once their tears had dried, the partied-out couple couldn’t wait to curl up in a suite at the Governor.

Post-wedding, Abeer and Imran are looking forward to finally living in the same place—West Palm Beach, Florida, where Abeer will finish her residency in internal medicine while Imran prepares for the Florida bar exam.

Bridal gown: Custom made in Pakistan | Cake: Dream Cakes | Catering: Jake’s Catering at The Governor Hotel  | Desserts: Tahoora | Flowers: Geranium Lake | Groom's attire: Custom made in Pakistan | Hair and makeup: Erum Tahir (family friend) | Invitations: Wedding Paper Divas | Music: Qasim Syed (family friend) | Planner: Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss | Rings: Bride's from Blue Nile; Groom’s from Hannoush Jewelers in Holyoke, MA | Videographer: Steady State Studios

Get more from Oregon Bride! Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.