In the enchanting tale of Sameera & Zain's wedding, a divine American-Muslim union bloomed amidst distance challenges and blossomed into a celestial celebration. Andrea Eppolito orchestrated the wedding perfectly, paying close attention to the sacredness of Muslim tradition and ensuring that the values were not compromised. She skillfully blended modern aesthetics with deeply rooted traditions, creating a beautiful wedding that genuinely exemplifies what an American-Muslim wedding can be. The nikkah was honored with great respect, resulting in something straight out of a fairytale! Sameera was the epitome of grace at The Palms, resplendent in Ghazala Khan's creation with an incredible hairstyle by Raquel with Paper Bag Beauty. The ambiance, orchestrated by the artistic touch of Matt with Rental Ave and the floral maestro, Eric with Dolce Fiore, was akin to stepping into an ethereal garden where every petal and hue whispered sonnets of love. The Saturday soirée at Resorts World was a chapter where the illustrious World of HSY fashioned Sameera into a vision. Every strand woven into art by Natalie with Glammed Up was a stanza in their love ballad. Elizabeth Garcia with Glammed Up emerged as the alchemist of beauty with brushes as her wands and palettes boasting the most sublime hues as her arsenal transformed Sameera into a vision of ethereal beauty. Chernogorov Photography, the photography maestro's touch was evident in every frame. Drawing inspiration from their European aesthetic heritage, every photograph curated was a masterpiece of romantic fine art and the soulful beauty of life's unscripted, raw moments.
How did you meet your Groom and when did you know he was "the one"?
During my neurology residency in Oklahoma City amidst the pandemic, I was introduced to an unexpected and delightful chapter of my life. While Oklahoma was an unfamiliar territory, it soon became a heartwarming haven filled with genuine souls and, most importantly, it's where I met Zain.
My training required a year in internal medicine where I collaborated with Dr. Sage Russell, a former classmate of Zain's from Baylor Scott and White in Temple, TX. Sage, noticing a potential match, promptly suggested I meet Zain. Trusting his intuition, I reached out to Zain on Facebook in September 2020. Although he only responded in December, our connection was immediate and intense, characterized by deep, early morning conversations.
Our first official date was in Oklahoma City, beginning with a visit to the now James Beard Award-winning restaurant, Grey Sweater, located conveniently beneath my apartment, and culminating with dinner at Cheever's. This was right after receiving our first vaccine doses. That evening, an unspoken understanding passed between us: we had found something special in each other. Though we held back on voicing our feelings, cautious of rushing things, in our hearts, we both felt it — this was the beginning of a profound love.
Share the scoop on your Proposal Story!
Valentine's Day weekend of 2022 holds a memory I'll cherish forever. Zain and I revisited Grey Sweater, the place where our journey began. Throughout the evening, Zain's serene composure belied any indication of the monumental moment that lay ahead. While I had an inkling a proposal might be on the horizon, his calm demeanor made me focus solely on enjoying our intimate Valentine’s celebration.
As we savored our meal, the soft strains of lounge music gave way to "A Sky Full of Stars"— a song that holds special meaning for us, thanks to the movie Sing 2. Chef Black, a friend, masterfully orchestrated the next moment. Setting down a covered dish in front of me, Zain began to speak about the effortless love and connection we shared. As he lifted the lid, nestled amidst pristine white pebbles and delicate purple flowers, lay a radiant-cut, gold pave ring, gleaming in its beauty.
We had previously discussed ring preferences, and while I had shared my admiration for the gold settings and elongated cuts by Jean Dousset, the final choice was all Zain's, and it was a magnificent surprise. Overwhelmed with emotion, I found myself joyfully repeating "yes" as he asked the pivotal question. From that day forth, Valentine's Day transformed into an even more momentous occasion for us.
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.
When planning my wedding, my guiding light was Andrea Eppolito. We bonded instantly on Instagram, and her commitment to only managing five weddings annually ensured that I wasn’t just another client on her roster. She not only creates stunning weddings but deeply understands the intricacies of our Muslim Nikkah ceremony, seamlessly blending tradition with modern elements.
Venue selection was an adventure, but Moon at The Palms Resort and Casino stood out for our sangeet, partly due to our connection with Brendan Theaters as well as the beautiful windows and retracting ceiling to give guests an experience surrounded by lights and stars. Given the aftermath of the pandemic, spacious venues became paramount, leading us to Resorts World’s Lily Ballroom for our main event. Navigating the logistics of planning a wedding at such venues can be overwhelming, but with Andrea and DJ/event planning expert Brian Epling on our side, every detail was meticulously addressed.
Our two primary events, the Sangeet and the wedding day, had distinct vibes. The Sangeet at The Palms Moon space emphasized sound and lighting with the venue’s existing large windows, patio space, and retractable ceiling, with other meticulous details addressed by Brian Epling. Our main wedding day leaned into a “Beauty and the Beast” aesthetic, filled with dreamy crystals, timeless florals, and grand chandeliers. Andrea masterfully brought this vision to life.
Selecting a photographer was daunting, given the plethora of talent available. In the end, Chernogorov Photography captured our main events as they stood out during a friend’s wedding with their Vogue aesthetic. Earlier, I had gotten to know Nicole Hernandez, who captured my engagement and bachelorette party. We, therefore, had her capture my at-home mehndi event and launch her new business, SEEN, which is a glamorous portrait station that ended up being a hit for all our guests. Our videographer, Matt from M Place Pro, was selected by Andrea, who was a delight to work with, effortlessly blending into our events and engaging everyone with a smile and warm demeanor.
For beauty, Elizabeth Garcia of Glammed Up Vegas stood out for makeup, echoing my preference for enhancing natural beauty. Hair was split between Raquel Hightower's Kim Kardashian-inspired style for the Sangeet and Natalie Martinez's sleek elegance for the wedding day, providing a timeless low bun loosely inspired by Megan Markle that stood out with and without the veil. On the big day, Alyssa from Maiden White and Ghazala Khan from Raaz Couture ensured perfection in every detail as they styled me and my family members.
Outfits were primarily sourced from HSY, whom I’ll address further as I discuss the process for my wedding day lehenga, Ghazala Khan's Raaz Couture which features prominent designers like Anamika Khanna. For my bridesmaids, Anamika Tara with Glitterati Event’s designs were the perfect complement. Ultimately, my wedding wasn't just about me; it celebrated every person present, turning the spotlight on our collective joy.
How did you select your bridal lengha or wedding dress? Did you have a favorite color in mind?
Selecting my bridal lehenga was undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating parts of my wedding preparations. The anticipation began almost immediately after our engagement, nearly a year and a half before the big day. While many girls grow up fantasizing about their ideal wedding dress, my dreams were specifically centered around the perfect lehenga.
In today's age of digital media, choosing a bridal lehenga can be quite daunting; we're often overwhelmed with pictures without the tactile experience of the fabric. Furthermore, shopping for such intricate pieces in the U.S. presents its challenges due to limited flagship stores. With the constraints of my residency and the tail end of the pandemic, traveling abroad was out of the question.
Traditional red, while iconic for many brides, never resonated with me. Instead, I was drawn to the subtler tones aligned with Western wedding traditions. While browsing the collections of HSY, one of my favorite designers, I stumbled upon a stunning champagne gold and white ensemble. Even though red is HSY’s signature, this particular combination felt like a perfect reflection of my dual identity as an American Muslim.
With excitement brimming, I reached out to the HSY team. Given the uncertainties of the pandemic and the usual time lags associated with international collaborations, I wanted to get an early start. My consultation with Hassan Sheheryar and his lead stylist, Talha, resulted in the creation of a bespoke lehenga tailored to my tastes. Entrusting such an integral part of my wedding to a designer overseas, without any in-person interactions, was undoubtedly nerve-wracking. However, HSY's reputation for unparalleled craftsmanship and professionalism put my concerns to rest. True to their word, they delivered a perfectly fitted, mesmerizing lehenga well ahead of schedule.
The collaboration didn't stop there. HSY crafted an elegant coral pink ensemble for my mother, a rich purple attire for my aunt, and a harmoniously coordinated traditional piece for Zain, which he wore for our nikkah ceremony. After the sacred vows, Zain transitioned into a suave Armani tuxedo, seamlessly blending tradition with contemporary sophistication.
What was the most enjoyable part of the planning process, and why?
My favorite part of the wedding planning process was undoubtedly the last six months, as ideas transformed into tangible realities right before our eyes. The food tastings were an absolute delight, especially considering the challenge for vendors not specializing in Indian cuisine to craft such complex entrees. We were truly dazzled by their ability to stay authentic while introducing their own unique twist, resulting in an array of delicious dishes. The dessert spread offered a delightful blend of Indian favorites and a playful nod to Disney with "the grey stuff...it's delicious" from Beauty and the Beast. And the pièce de résistance? Our wedding cake features a delicate almond base filled with rich dark chocolate. It was truly a gastronomic adventure that captured the essence of our union.
What did your guests particularly love about your Wedding?
Selecting just one standout element that guests loved most is challenging, given the overwhelming positivity of their feedback. A particularly unforgettable moment was my entrance, with my long, trailing veil. Many guests drew parallels between my entry and iconic moments like Princess Diana's and Meghan Markle's weddings. To be likened to such moments was an unparalleled compliment, not just to me but also to HSY, Glammed up Vegas, and my dedicated stylists, Alyssa and Ghazala.
Furthermore, numerous guests were captivated by the fragrance and beauty of the real flowers gracing the tables, all masterfully arranged by Eric of Dolce Fiore. Among the many renowned floral design companies, Dolce Fiore truly stood out for us. Eric transformed the venue with a variety of floral styles on each table, using stunning neutral tones. The enchanting tree tables designated for family honor were particularly eye-catching, as were the mesmerizing candle-lit entrance with its floral arch and the show-stopping floral design for the DJ booth. Generously, Eric and Andrea added several floral touches as their personal gift to us, further elevating the room's ambiance. To make the floral experience even more memorable, I designed customized butcher paper, allowing guests to fashion their own bouquets to take home.
Was there a really special moment in your wedding that constantly replays in your mind?
Choosing just one moment from the day is nearly impossible. The sight of my parents, tearful and full of pride as they saw me as a bride, is an image forever imprinted on my heart. Reciting my vows to Zain felt like the culmination of our journey, a sacred bond being sealed. The entrance of the bridal party, and my own, was nothing short of breathtaking. Additionally, the heartfelt speeches from our loved ones touched our souls and made the day even more unforgettable. Each of these instances continues to resonate deeply with me.
For events other than your ceremony, please tell us as much as you would like about the decor, style, dances, and all the special details.
Our wedding weekend was an enchanting blend of traditional and modern celebrations, beginning with our Mehndi on Thursday, 9/28. Set in my backyard, Anamika Tara from Glitterati Events in Las Vegas brilliantly transformed the space into an immersive Indian street festival. With 78 guests in attendance, the evening was alive with hand-made paan stations, delectable street food, a sumptuous dinner, and dedicated mehndi (henna) artists. All of this took place under the nostalgic tunes of 90s Bollywood, making the colorful night a walk down memory lane infused with tradition.
The Sangeet, our pre-wedding welcome party, was orchestrated by the talented Andrea Eppolito. Held at the illustrious Moon at The Palms Resort and Casino, the theme revolved around music under the moon and stars. This venue, with its retractable ceiling and expansive windows, perfectly encapsulated our "whole new world" vision. The evening commenced with the captivating Sahlala Dancers, who gracefully blended Indian and Middle Eastern rhythms. Jeffrey Iqbal then took center stage, serenading guests with an energetic fusion of Bollywood and American hits. A highlight of the night was my surprise duet with Jeffrey on Zayn and Zhavia Ward's rendition of "A Whole New World." The astonishment on the faces of many, including Zain's, was unforgettable as they heard me sing for the first time. This was a cherished moment for me, reconnecting with music in such a poignant way.
Each event had its own unique fashion statement. For the Mehndi, I donned a vibrant yellow ensemble adorned with mirror work from Studio Elite in Chicago, IL. My look was complemented by beach waves, subtle makeup, and multi-hued jewelry by Rohit Jain, reflecting the lively and festive theme of the evening.
The Sangeet saw me in a modern, glamorous avatar. I wore a stunning lavender lehenga featuring an ornate mixed metallic choli, courtesy of Ghazala Khan with Raaz Couture. The delicate sparkle appliqué details and the mixed metallic waistline enhanced the outfit's elegance. I paired this with my mother's jewelry, which matched perfectly and went for a neutral makeup look with voluminous Hollywood-inspired hair. Zain, my groom, was dashing in a deeper purple ensemble with similar metallic detailing designed by Ghazala Khan. Together, we unintentionally mirrored the iconic duo of Aladdin and Jasmine!
Do you have any words of wisdom for Brides-To-Be?
Start by allowing yourself to daydream and create a comprehensive dream board. While it's essential to remember that your wedding day is a shared celebration with your family, it's primarily about you and your partner. Discuss your vision with your family to ensure mutual understanding and harmony. Prioritize your must-haves and recognize the areas where you can be flexible. In my experience, due to uncertainties around the pandemic, I began planning earlier than most. Therefore, I'd advise taking ample time to explore vendors and solidify your ideas before the 12-month mark. This approach ensures that as you discover new inspirations, you're confident in your choices and can minimize potential roadblocks or limitations. Remember, opinions and preferences can evolve, and feedback from family can introduce new considerations, so it's vital to allow time for reflection and adjustment.
Anything else you want to tell us? We'd love to hear all about your other details! (jewelry, mehndi, venue, cake, bouquets, etc.)
There's an abundance to reminisce about when reflecting on our wedding. Beyond the expected luxuries like exquisite jewelry, stunning outfits, and sheer glamour, our wedding showcased the essence of a contemporary Muslim celebration. Zain and I are truly blessed to have found one another. Our journey began as two diligent medical residents navigating different specialties and cities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. A mutual friend bridged our paths, leading to a profound connection anchored in love, professional aspirations, culture, faith, and shared values. Finding such profound love is rare, especially one as resonant as ours.
Our wedding masterfully intertwined key Muslim traditions with modern elegance. We owe a debt of gratitude to Andrea Eppolito for crafting an event that not only radiates beauty but also serves as a beacon for what modern Muslim weddings can embody.
A heartfelt shoutout to my sister, Zara, our remarkable maid of honor. Her dedication to ensuring everything was perfect, even at the cost of her own peace, was unmatched. Zara, as petite as you are, I have some big shoes to fill when it's your turn to be the bride.
A hearty thank you to our bridesmaids, groomsmen, and the entire bridal and groom party, which included both our biological and chosen family. Their unwavering support and joy have been pillars of strength for both of us and our families.
Furthermore, a special acknowledgment and gratitude go out to Zain's family. Their support and the effort they made to travel from afar added immensely to our celebration.
Above all, our deepest gratitude goes to my parents. Their meticulous attention to detail, unwavering involvement, and commitment to ensuring everyone's joy and comfort have been unparalleled. I can only hope that Zain and I can emulate even a fraction of the love and dedication you've shown us.
We hope you enjoy today's feature, darlings. Cheers to love and the endless possibilities it brings!