Azra and Shawn's story started on the volleyball court at a college tournament. She was representing Illinois and he was playing for Michigan. Both were extremely competitive and were wholeheartedly focused on winning the game. However, their eyes met across the net, and the rest is history!  (Also FYI, Maharani Azra's team won!) They became teammates for life, and haven't looked back since! As the newly engaged couple began wedding planning, they became a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choices available to them. Thanks to the help of planners at Washima Inc. at My Wedding Assist, event managers at Regine Danielle Events, and floral and decor execution by Professional Party Planners, the couple's vision was transformed to reality! Both Azra and Shawn are nature lovers and love to travel, so they wanted their events to be colorful and outdoors-inspired, while also playing homage to their Pakistani heritage and traditions. All events were beautifully captured by the always innovative Maha Studios. Their resultant Mehndi at Garfield Park Conservatory was a natural event filled with flowers, their Pithi at Westin Northshore was Moroccan-themed, and their Dholki at Shalimar Banquets was more formal, honoring the traditions and dancing of Pakistan. Also, guests couldn't stop raving about the 30 foot dessert bar by Sabri Nihari at the Dholki event! Read our interview below for more details from the Maharani herself, and check out the complete gallery by the incredible Maha Studios while you wait for our coverage of Azra and Shawn's amazing reception event!

How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?

Shawn and I met in 2012 during a college volleyball game held by our community youth and sports board. He was representing Michigan and I was playing for team Illinois. During the first game, our eyes met. According to him, it was love at first sight. But it wasn't our time just yet. I creamed him in the game, and that was the start of an amazing friendship. He became someone I could always lean on, a listening ear. He was always there for me no matter what the circumstance. That's why it took some convincing, but when we took our first steps together, we haven't looked back since!

Tell us how you went about planning your wedding, and your overall experience with the Venues, Hair & Makeup, Outfits, Decor Theme, and all of the other important details.

I remember the first time Shawn and I went to Starbucks to try and start planning. It was extremely overwhelming and we could not figure out where to begin. We would not have been able to navigate through all the venues and vendors if we did not have a starting place. We decided to work with Washima Inc. with My Wedding Assist as our wedding planners. They really took our vision and made it into a complete reality. I told them the raw/Pinterest ideas we had for each event, they came up with venues, themes, and most importantly vendors for us to look at. They accompanied us to each venue, to each meeting with staff and management, and really pulled the entire wedding together. They got me into contact with people who did hair and makeup and dupatta settings that had bookings into the next year. We started with our vision for each event. Because we love to travel and Shawn loves nature, we wanted our wedding theme to be around the world. That inspired the Mehndi to be a more natural event with lots of plants and flowers at a conservatory, the Pithi to be a more colorful Moroccan themed event, the Dholki to be more formal representing the traditions and dancing of Pakistan, and the reception to be over the water on a boat, which is the ultimate representation of travel. The best part was, Washima Inc understood how to incorporate our family traditions and culture into each event, really making our dream wedding vision into a reality.

What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?

The most enjoyable part of the entire process was two-fold. First, it was extremely fun having our families come together to practice dances, work on favors, and put together our gift bags. None of this would have been possible without our parents spending night and day standing next to us to make our special weekend into a reality. The other part that was amazing was to see all the decor, food, ideas, planning, hair, makeup, outfits and dances come together, and to come together perfectly.

What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?

The guests raved about a few things. They loved how unique each venue was, especially the Mehndi and the Boat reception. The food was fantastic at all the events, and especially during the Dholki, we had a 30ft dessert bar that people could not stop talking about. Our DJ kept the party going every night with lots of dancing which was especially important to us and our guests! I think one thing that everyone appreciated was that all the events started on time and were extremely organized, all thanks again to our wedding planners, Washima Inc and event manager, Regina Brooks.

Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?

When we were on the boat during our reception, we were cruising over the Chicago River near Navy Pier, and the fireworks started. The band was playing amazing music, we were all dancing and enjoying the fireworks. It was the perfect end to a perfect wedding.

Join us later today for more from the couple's reception event!

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Sangeet
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Catering: Sabri Nihari | Photography: Maha Studios | Maha Studios: Cinematography | Mehndi Venue: Garfield Park Conservatory | Pith Venue: Westin Northshore | Dholki Venue: Shalimar Banquets | Nikka Venue: Glenview Jamatkhana | Reception Venue: Chicago Classic Lady Cruise Line | Event Manager: Regine Danielle Events | Wedding Planner: Washima Inc with My Wedding Assist | Floral & Decor: Professional Party Planners - Henna Raza | Mehndi Hair & Makeup: Noor Farhan | Pithi Hair and Makeup: Sadaf Bhimani | Dholki Hair and Makeup: Mehwish Khalid | Nikka Hair and Makeup: Deanna Ballauer with Faces by Deanna | Hair: Nicole Ohara | Hair Dholki: Mehwish Khalid | Catering: Indian Garden and Restaurant | DJ: DJ Naveed Kumar |