Petra & Tahir's cross-cultural outdoor peacock wedding

By on Mar. 15th

The offbeat bride: Petra, Anthropology Graduate Student

Her offbeat partner: Tahir, Computer Engineering Graduate Student

Date and location of wedding: Assiniboine Park, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada — July 2, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Tahir and I decided to get married in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Neither of us were born there, but Tahir grew up in Winnipeg and I attended high school there after moving to Canada from the Czech Republic. Both sets of parents still live there, and it was the central location that made the most sense. Tahir has family in Germany and Senegal and my family is in Slovakia, plus we have friends who could not make it to Winnipeg, so of course, a lot of our loved ones were with us in spirit.

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I really wanted to prove to myself that I could pull off a classy wedding on a student's budget. So, we were involved in every single aspect of our wedding: making homemade invitations, crafting fabric flowers for the boutonnieres, corsages/pins, and my bouquet, making vanilla syrup favours, prepping the food, and setting up the tables, chairs, and decorations for the reception tent.

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The peacock was a central theme because I learned early on that one of the first question that a future bride gets asked is, "So, what's your theme?" At first I was stumped? "My theme is… marriage?" Then I figured, heck, why not have a theme? The peacock fit because it has lovely colours, and is also the coat of arms for Tahir's Senegalese family. Perfect!

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We also had an opera singer, henna instead of manicures, and a whole roasted lamb, Senegalese-style! Both the ceremony and the reception were outside, and we had gorgeous weather.

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What I truly cherish about our wedding is that it would not have been possible without the help of our dear friends and family. They pitched in with every single aspect (cooking, music making, set-up, driving, you name it!) and it really was a community affair. So thank you again from the bottom of our hearts.

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Tell us about the ceremony: Tahir is Muslim, so we actually had two ceremonies. We had a nikkah, an Islamic ceremony at his parents' house, which was a lovely small affair. The ceremony lasted only about two minutes, during which a few prayers were said, we exchanged rings (that went back into the box to be used a week later at our other ceremony), and then we ate.

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Our second ceremony was in the Leo Mol Sculpture Gardens at Assiniboine Park. Tahir and I put the ceremony together and wrote our own vows. We walked along a path together to the landing in front of the pond. We had our family members read their favourite poetry as we planted a tree together.

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I vowed to make Tahir Black Forest Cherry Cake for life, and we jumped over a homemade broom at the end.

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Our biggest challenge: One of our biggest challenges was our unwillingness to spend a lot of money on the wedding, coupled with my perfectionism! Tahir was much more laid back than I was, which made my perfectionist, control freak self stress out even more. In the end everything worked out because, while I did a lot of work months before the wedding, Tahir brilliantly took over and handled the machinations of the wedding itself. So, in other words, we are a good team.

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My favorite moment: I loved seeing all our friends and family decorating the tent with us before the ceremony, and greeting our guests together on the path to the pond before the ceremony. An insane amount of dragonflies flew over us during the ceremony too! We loved planting a tree together as our family members read out poems, and taking a break and sitting quietly together after getting our photos taken.

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My funniest moment: Our amazing emcee, Youssef, did a fantastic job entertaining our guests, and he came up with the brilliant idea of going through six traditional ceremonies from across the world. Now, as an anthropology student, this had me in a tizzy! Both moms threw eggs in a box, Tahir threw rice at my head, and I got to smash a plate.

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While blindfolded, Tahir had to choose my hand among many others. At the last second, my sister-in-law and I switched places and tricked him so he chose wrong. Needless to say, we had the whole tent roaring with laughter.

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My advice for offbeat brides: Your wedding is about your family and community, and also about you and your partner! There will always be dissenting opinions and crazy ideas threatening to upend the wedding boat. But if you listen to your heart and trust yourself, you can have the wedding you want. And even if it isn't perfect, it will still be an amazing party.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? Let go and trust your partner! Really, planning a wedding is a good lesson in project management, as well as learning how you work with your partner. Also, a wedding is not the be-all and end-all of your relationship. It is a venue for showcasing how much you and your partner mean to each other, but don't give it (any) more power than it deserves!

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

  • Photography: Modern Pixel Photography
  • Our wonderful officiant: Marry Me Hunnie
  • The greatest rental shop on Earth: Party Stuff
  • Venue: Assiniboine Park
  • Bride's dress: Jessica Bridal in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Henna: Ms. Sumeya Mohammud did a wonderful job for the women in the wedding
  • Baking: April Koropatnik made glorious baked goods
  • Menu planning for the West African feast: Suleiman Diallo

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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