Zahida & Thomas met at a music festival in the Saharan desert in Mali. Both of them worked for the United Nations at the same time—and travelled to Africa, Paris, Washington and New York without any knowledge of each other. “All it took was a move to the desert to find each other,” the couple said. On their first date, Zahida and Thomas talked about the intense world of development and human rights advocacy, and the rest was history.
Thomas proposed to Zahida in Santorini on her birthday. On the day after they landed in Greece, and with the blazing sun streaming across the Mediterranean, Thomas popped the question. “He promised to live, love and grow with me and asked if I would marry him. I said yes!” Zahida said.
The couple wanted to incorporate a combination of yellow, orange, purple and blue within their wedding decor. The table runners were stained indigo and were handmade by a friend in Mali. Bright orange and yellow florals added another pop of colour on the reception tables.
The ceremony encompassed a mix of cultures and rituals to reflect Zahida’s Canadian background with her Indian and East African heritage. The groom is an American with Finnish, Swedish and Irish heritage. The Imams of the mosque that the bride’s family attends performed a Nikah ceremony, which is a Muslim marriage contract. Additionally, friends of the couple read poetry and literature on the beauty of discovery during the ceremony. “The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, the water was shimmering and there was not one dry eye at the end of the ceremony,” the couple shares.
Zahida Virani and Thomas Gilchrist, July 7, 2018, Montreal, Quebec.
Photography courtesy of De Belle Photography.
Venue & Caterer: Forest & Stream Club
Bridal gown: Custom sari made in India
Wedding planner: Deka Events
Decor: Deka Events, Le Coeur Boheme, Mademoiselle D and Bravo Rentals
Cake: Patisserie Tillemont
Stationery: Artistry by groom’s brother-in-law and design by Deka Events
Bridesmaid gowns: Custom saris made in India
Wedding sherwani: Custom made in India
Groom’s tux: Maison Cloakroom Montreal
Hair: Kathleen Landry from Salon Espace C
Makeup: Anne Marie Brodeur from Maquileusse
Music: DJ Groove