Photography by Casto Photo and Cinema.
Today’s real wedding is all about color! Bride Hibah honored her Bengali and Indian heritage while also including their love of nature. With dramatic fall colors of deep green, burnt orange and crimson everywhere you look, their day featured ornate jewelry and saris, DIY pomegranate escort cards, and a cozy dinner and dance party deep in the woods. Plus, they’ve shared with us the full interfaith ceremony script with us!
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Don’t second guess your gut! When we first got engaged, we kept trying to find a venue in the city because it would make logistics so much easier. But nothing felt quite right for us, and in my gut, I knew that I really, really wanted to get married in a natural setting that reminded me of my childhood. If I had just trusted my gut from the beginning instead of trying to convince myself that I could be okay with a city wedding, we could have saved ourselves months of agonizing and searching!
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? I grew up in Kansas and Tim grew up in Texas. Although we love living in Washington DC, we really miss our home states’ expansive views and wide open spaces. Both of us had our hearts set on an outdoor ceremony, and we fell head over heels in love with the sweeping horizons and the wild, untamed natural beauty at Riverside on the Potomac.
Your ceremony in three words. Musical, multi-cultural, heartfelt.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? Planning our ceremony was by far my favorite part of wedding planning. Music was my top priority. I had a pretty rough teen-hood, and I coped by spending a lot of time discovering new bands, hunting for old records, going to local shows, and so on. When I got to college, music became more than just escapism. I became very active in running the college radio station and the campus music venue, and music became a way for me to heal and grow into the person I am today. It was also important to both of us that our ceremony reflect my Bengali heritage, and we worked with my mom to understand and incorporate Bengali wedding traditions. Once we nailed those two aspects, we wrote the ceremony text ourselves, cutting, pasting, and adapting from various templates we found online.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? I loved how natural it felt, in every sense of the word. Standing next to the pond at Riverside, surrounded by trees, water, tall grass, and greenery, I could really focus on Tim and all of our incredible friends and family members — there were no distractions and nothing superfluous.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? One of Tim’s closest friends, John, officiated. Tim felt confident that John would be able to set the tone for a meaningful and spiritual ceremony while also blending our cultures. I feel so lucky to be married by someone who knew us so well and who brought such a vibrant, open-minded approach to our ceremony.
What were your ceremony readings? I’m an only child, but my cousin’s wife has always been like an older sister to me. She read Unending Love by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. Despite having read it a hundred times, I definitely got teary when I heard her read it during our ceremony – it’s a timeless, beautiful poem.
Did you include any traditions in your ceremony? We drank from the same glass of water, symbolizing our willingness to share every aspect of our lives moving forward. We also exchanged garlands, signifying our acceptance of one another exactly as we are, and our promise to not seek to change one another, but to help one another grow, thrive, and become truer versions of ourselves.
What were your vows like? We wrote our own vows separately, and we didn’t share them with one another ahead of time. That said, we talked at length about general structure and tone so that our vows wouldn’t be totally mismatched. Our approach ended up working really well; it turns out that we’re both super sincere saps, and our vows were very emotional and heartfelt.
What was your ceremony music?
Pre-ceremony music as guests were seated: Ragas by Ravi Shankar
Processional (wedding party and groom): Bluish by Animal Collective
Bridal processional: The Dreaming Moon by The Magnetic Fields
Recessional: This Heart’s On Fire by Wolf Parade
How would you describe your reception? An uninhibited, multicultural party. We fell in love with our venue because it felt so removed from our stressful lives in DC. Our guests must have picked up on that same vibe, because they kicked back, laughed, cried, met new people, and danced their hearts out. Things got a bit wild towards the end of the night, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Throughout the planning process, I had a vision of a lush, romantic, multicultural party with a natural vibe but a few elegant details. In addition to gold accents, I loved the pomegranates that we used for decor and escort cards – they added a sort of mythical, fairytale twist while staying true to our natural vision. Plus, I made them myself. They led to some strange looks at multiple Whole Foods stores in Washington, DC, and my bridesmaids had to come over late at night on the Thursday before the wedding to help me finish them, but it was totally worth it!
Are there any other DIY details you’d like to tell us about? My mom made these amazing chair signs with our names written in Bengali. My Bangladeshi heritage is hugely important to me, and it was so wonderful to have that touch. We also had an artist make a custom crest with our two cats, Appledore and Haruki. Instead of signing a guestbook, our guests signed a poster with the crest on it, which we’ve framed. Seeing it everyday is a wonderful reminder of all the love our guests shared on our wedding day.
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? We had a mango and pistachio cake as well as ras malai and kheer (traditional Indian/Bengali sweets). They actually paired really well together!
What was your first dance song? Father/daughter or mother/son dance? Our first dance was to I Found A Reason by the Velvet Underground.
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Take a moment to sneak away together and let it all soak in. We went out into the fields by our venue, and we could hear our friends and family laughing and dancing in the distance. The venue looked just magical all lit up at dusk, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that moment.