Remembering Those Who Have Passed

I love when I can find old pictures! They make me so happy and I love getting a glimpse into a time when I was not even born. Lately I have been devouring many boxes at my parent’s house because I am putting together a special project for my wedding. As we get older, we all know that many of our dear relatives pass on. My Nani (Grandmother) was a very big part of my upbringing and she passed a few years ago.

Nani would have loved this upcoming wedding of mine. She was one of the feistiest women I knew. She didn’t speak a lick of English but would happily go for walks in our neighborhood when she came to visit and, when people would exchange a friendly greeting, she would raise her hand and say “Hi!” and that was that.

Growing up as a first-generation American, I did not get the same experience as many of my friends did with grandparents living here. I knew of them as distant relatives but did not have a close bond with them. I remember one year it was “Take a Grandparent to School Day.” Thanks Dad for being my pseudo Grandfather!

All that changed the moment Nani came to visit. She wore a bright green velvet pantsuit and greeted me at the door one day after school. I felt like I had known her my whole life! Nani was fearless and did not let anything stand in her way. I learned so much about tackling my own fears from her. How could this tiny woman who spoke no English travel all over the world visiting her kids? She didn’t care what people thought of her and she never let her language barrier hold her back.

I will miss Nani greatly at my wedding.

However, I do have a way to honor her and it will be with a very special tribute video that I am putting together. I have found so many pictures of her and cannot wait to have her be part of my special day.

I know that she will be with me in spirit and crying tears of joy for her granddaughter.

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Wedding Planning

Wedding planning is part scary beast with fangs and a scowl on his face and part joyful child shrieking with excitement over a new kitten. It can bring out a range of emotions as well as tons of stress to tons of excitement and anticipation! There are days I just want the wedding to be over and other days where I am excited about all the fun details and creative things we are trying to do.

Bring on the FUN!

 

We finally decided on a wedding date of August 4th and 5th of this year! There were lots of things to decide including if we wanted to go more traditional Pakistani or make it more of a blending of two cultures. Traditional Pakistani weddings can go for 3-4 days with tons of fanfare and details. Day one is usually a henna ceremony. The bride and groom wear yellow and are adorned with a red paste of henna and turmeric! The turmeric is put on the face to give the bride a glow on her actual wedding day. Guests take turns coming up to wave money around the bride and grooms head which is a sign of luck and well wishes. All the ladies sit around and play a huge drum while singing traditional wedding songs. This is my favorite part and I love the cultural aspect of it. There is also usually always a jolly-natured rotund Uncle that is making bad jokes during the whole affair.

All of that in mind, we needed to figure out if we were going to go all out cultural or try to do a fusion wedding. Me and my fiancé are both Pakistani but we are first generation as I was born in Minnesota and he was born in England. After some hemming and hawing we are paying homage to both cultures we are proud of.

Day one is going to be a fun dance party! I have decided to wear a white wedding dress, heck why not?! I have always been enamored with the gorgeous gals in white and tons of lace and I figure if we are not going totally traditional let’s go all out! BUT I do want to keep some aspects that are Pakistani so we will probably still do the drum singing and also have a grand entrance for both the bride and grooms families. There is still the question of food to serve? Taco bar and Curry? I will keep you posted on that! Even things like an open bar had to be considered. Most Pakistanis don’t really drink because of religious reasons but I will have tons of friends coming in from all over the United States and wanted to have the option for them. The solution? A cash bar or drink tickets for them!

The second day will be more traditional. I plan to wear a Pakistani wedding dress but not in the traditional color of red. I am considering several options including maroon and teal together. The DJ will play some traditional music and we will follow many customs that are common to this day. One of those customs is the “Rukhsati”. At the end of the night the bride departs for her life with her new husband and in what can be a somber moment she says goodbye to the life she used to have with her parents. It dates back to when girls would truly leave from one home to another to start a new life. Usually they had never lived without their parents before this and were venturing into an unknown world with a man they barely knew as arranged marriages were common back then. Things have changed greatly over the years and many times it’s now more tradition than it is anything else.

It’s so fun trying to incorporate two cultures into one wedding! Check back on my blog as I continue to navigate the never-ending maze of wedding planning!

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She Said Yes!

Engaged1I cannot believe our little girl is getting married! When I look at her I still see my chubby cheeked little baby that was always smiling.

Engaged2Her fiancé, Tristan, was her high school sweetheart and is everything we could have hoped for in a life partner for our daughter. They met at summer camp when Bailee was trying to set him up with her friend. The more she raved to her friend about how great he was, the more she began to ask herself  “Wait, why am I not dating this guy?”

It’s hard to believe they just celebrated their 7 year anniversary!

We have watched Bailee and Tristan grow up together. After graduating from the same high school and going off to different colleges they eventually reunited to graduate from the same college. They have each started successful careers and have supported each other every step of the way.

Engaged3The big engagement was so much fun! It was full of family and friends, and a moment we will never forget. Thank you Tristan for allowing all of us to be a part of your special moment.

Bailee and Tristan want to share the planning of their big day with all of you and ask for your advice along the way. You can follow my Facebook page for details and to weigh in on some of their wedding planning.  Here are a few of the selections they have made so far:

Engaged4First, who wants to see the ring? Tristan designed this lovely piece with the one and only Sonia Bitton. Tristan worked for months on the design and Sonia added her special touches to make it the ring of Bailee’s dreams. Notice the six pink diamonds on the bezel set to represent the six years they spent together before getting engaged, how sweet is that?

Here is a photo of the lovely industrial style venue of the big day! Its creative, unique and fun, just like the happy couple.

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The dress…NO WAY! Bailee won’t allow any sneak peeks at her dress for the big day, but she did suggest we ask all of you to weigh in on helping to pick my dress. The color will be a dark berry shade.

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Do you like option A or B? Leave your comment below and remember to follow my Facebook page for more fun wedding updates and to help them plan their big day!

 

 

Congrats Bailee and Tristan. We are so excited for the wedding!

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Me? Married?

It took me 36 years to find the right guy and I still have to pinch myself when I think about the fact that I am actually engaged to be married! Bouncing from state to state, I was always so focused on my career that love was not really something I even thought much about. Sure, I dated here and there and have enough horror stories to fill a novella three times over, but as far as an actual real relationship that just was not in the cards.

When I moved to Alabama I started thinking again about possibly trying to meet someone. I had great friends and a great job, but something was obviously missing in my life. I had just gotten out of a rocky relationship and was not sure I wanted anything too serious to happen (Plot twist-that is always when it DOES seem to happen)

So I did what any other 30 something woman in a small town would do, I went online.

Next came the prospects of various men. Some were too old, some were too young, some lived as far away as India and others were just plain too weird.

I was trying to narrow my search to Atlanta which was just about four hours away from me. I figured that would be the easiest way to meet someone without it being terribly far away.

Sohail messaged me one day, and quite honestly, I didn’t think too much about it. I accepted his request and moved on with my life. True he checked the box as far as living in Atlanta but there were many guys who were messaging me from there and at the time he just seemed to be another one!

But there was something different from the get go. One night after going out with my friends I happened to log on to the dating site and there he was online! He asked if we could Skype and we did. I thought he was cute and funny.  We had a great, relaxed conversation and I ended up giving him my phone number. He started texting me after that and I looked forward to hearing from him daily.

This was one of our fist official dates!
This was one of our fist official dates!

We finally arranged to meet and I didn’t think too much of it. I wasn’t nervous in the slightest and I was in the process of moving to a new place so I had a ton going on! Boxes were everywhere and I was scrambling to get everything done in one weekend. I guess that is what happens, right? When you are busy with your life is when life happens to you!

Sohail showed up with flowers and a present. He had driven the four hours from Atlanta and dressed to impress. In the meantime I had thrown on some lipstick and threw on the only clothes I could find that were not in a box. What I noticed before anything was how easy he was to talk to. He had me laughing the entire time. We had a few glasses of wine and got to know each other. He was a Software Developer and seemed like he had a lot of his life together (ladies we all have dated those guys who don’t!).

I could have sat there for hours talking to him but I had moving to do. The poor guy drove back to Atlanta another four hours at the end of our date. From then on we set another meeting and another. He always showed up with flowers and a present and it was always him coming to meet me. I appreciated that he was such a gentleman and I started to learn more about his caring nature. He had that old fashioned way about him where he always opened doors and texted me to make sure I was home safe.

Soon I knew I didn’t want to be dating anyone else. I took my profile down and focused on him. We had the BEST time together. After a few months I decided it was my turn to drive to Atlanta to see his life and he planned the most amazing weekend for us with a stay at a beautiful hotel in Downtown. We started taking weekend getaways together and life was amazing! I felt safe with him and I was falling for him hard.

We had been together only a few months when I was offered the job at Evine. My how crazy life can be?! There I was with a man I could see myself with forever and here was this job I had dreamed about for years. What would I do? I thought long and hard about the decision and knew that I had to move forward with my life. If me and Sohail were going to work then we would find a way to be together. When I finally told him I was moving I braced myself for his reaction. He was silent for several minutes before he said very matter of fact, “Well, we will have to work this out won’t we? Because I can’t be without you.”

Just what I needed to hear.

After I moved I worried so much about our connection staying strong and it has beyond my wildest expectations. He came to see me in Minnesota several times and eventually even met my family!

He asked me to marry him!
He asked me to marry him!

We decided to take a magical cruise vacation together and to my complete and utter shock he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him!

I will never forget the date: May 21st!

Now we are planning a wedding and Sohail is moving to Minnesota next summer. I never would have thought my life could have gone in this direction. I truly thought for many years that I would never find someone to spend my life with, but life always seems to surprise us, doesn’t it!

Life may not happen how you thought it would but it always seems to happen just how it should.

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My Parents

I celebrate my parents every day but even more in August since their wedding anniversary is August 31st.  They’re celebrating 53 years this year!  What a gift of love to have that melissa-blog-3-mom-dad-1many years together.  My husband Lewis and I, along with my brothers,  hosted their 50th Wedding Anniversary in Ohio a few years ago and it was an amazing celebration with family and friends traveling from MN, FL, WV, KY and of course Ohio to celebrate their love.

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They met on a blind date in January 1963 and were married in August of that same year! My brothers and I always loved hearing that story of how my dad’s sister Betty met my mom and said, “Are you dating anyone?”  My mom said, no – and my aunt went on to say “well’ I have this brother who I think would really like you!”  Life is funny – you never know who you will meet on your path who will change the course of your destiny.

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My parents were blessed with four children –  1 daughter, 3 sons, and 6 grandchildren! We have so many memories as a family and I can’t thank them enough for their unconditional love and support that they always show us.  They are always there, a phone call away to celebrate with us or give us advice on raising kids.  Trust me – there have been many emotional calls over the years and my mom, in her patient wisdom, always says . . . this too shall pass. It seems they have always been spot on with their advice and I consider myself so incredibly blessed that I have them as my parents and I’ve been privileged to celebrate their 53rd wedding anniversary this year!

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