These Grooms Incorporated South Asian and Iranian Traditions Into Their Wedding in Carmel Valley
Ahmed, right, and Samir, left, met in New York City in June 2015 through an app called Coffee Meets Bagel. They spent the next four years making memories in the Big Apple, when both Ahmed and Samir started to talk to their loved ones about proposing. In the spring of 2019, the couple's sisters helped orchestrate a double proposal.
Samir tricked Ahmed by creating a fake airline reservation that showed him arriving in New York a day later than when he actually arrived there. To "fill the time," Samir's sister invited Ahmed to go on a walk through Washington Square Park—where he found Samir waiting with two dozen red balloons. After Samir proposed and Ahmed said yes, the couple went home to their apartment, where the living room was lit with dozens of candles. Ahmed stuck notes he had collected over the course of their relationship into their houseplants for a special touch and proposed right back to Samir; he received the second yes of the day.
The couple initially planned their wedding for July 5, 2020, but they had to postpone the wedding not once, but twice, due to the pandemic. Ultimately, on July 29, 2021, Ahmed and Samir hosted their wedding with 102 guests at Holman Ranch in Carmel Valley, Calif. "Holman Ranch seems to glitter under the Carmel Valley sun, and the venue is an extraordinary combination of a natural, yet refined setting," Samir says. Wanting their wedding to represent both of their cultural backgrounds—Samir's Iranian culture and Ahmed's Pakistani heritage—the couple worked with Atlas Design Studio to execute their vision of a warm celebration with a refined aesthetic representative of their personalities. Although their wedding was delayed, the extra time was used to consider every detail of their big day, inspired by a neutral color palette with pops of citrus hues.
Invites with Pops of Citrus
The grooms designed and printed their invitation suite, which included a map they illustrated of the Monterey Peninsula and a hand-embossed custom seal. The olive green envelopes were lined with a citrus drawing, as a nod to the venue.
The grooms wore sherwanis to reflect Ahmed's South Asian heritage. Ahmed donned an organic cotton ivory sherwani that featured a floral pattern embellishment hand-stitched in an olive tone. Samir opted for an iteration with geometric stitching details. Both ensembles were made by TISA Studio, which the couple came across on Instagram.
A Warm Welcome
As guests arrived at the ceremony, they were greeted by a mirrored welcome sign. They also grabbed white parasols to stay cool in the July heat.
Setting the Stage
Ahmed and Samir's ceremony took place on the lawn overlooking the mountains. The platform at the end of the aisle was decorated with florals in a semicircle around the grooms, and the walkway's entrance was flanked by organic arrangements of greenery and blooms in the couple's citrus color palette.
The Sofreh Aghd
The couple's ceremony was heavily based in Persian and Punjabi tradition, with the sofreh aghad—a traditional ceremony spread with items that represent the couple's union—as the focal point.
Music with a Historical Flair
The couple had a South Asian sitar, sarod, and tabla—instruments with a long history in South Asia—at their ceremony and cocktail hour.
Ahmed was accompanied by his parents and Samir was joined by his parents for their walks down the aisle. Their poodle, Mango, delivered their rings down the aisle as a Bollywood classic "Chalte Chalte" played.
A Sweet Ceremony Blessing
During the ceremony, the couple's family members held a gossamer canopy over them and ground kaleh ghand (sugar cones) into it as a blessing to shower sweetness upon the newlyweds. Ahmed and Samir's cousins read two readings—one in Farsi and the other in Urdu. One of the cousins officiated the ceremony.
Ahmed and Samir wrote their own vows, some of which evoked some happy tears. "Samir promised to kill all the bugs," Ahmed remembers.
A Second Look
After the ceremony, Ahmed and Samir changed into three-piece suits in earth tones from Suit Supply. Their boutonnierès incorporated a mix of ranunculus, roses, and jasmine in citrus shades.
Along with German beer and Holman Ranch wine, four signature cocktails were offered at the outdoor cocktail hour. The drink options included an old-fashioned, spicy margarita, Pimm's Cup, and "Pomm's Cup"—a nonalcoholic pomegranate Shirley Temple. The passed appetizers included vegan rainbow spring rolls and mini spicy chicken masa tamales. The couple took some portraits and family photos and were able to join the cocktail hour with some time to mingle with guests.
Meaningful Cocktail Napkins
Ahmed and Samir designed cocktail napkins featuring quotes from Obergefell v. Hodges, a landmark 2015 supreme court decision on same-sex marriage.
The perfect sized and shaped oranges were selected from various grocery stores in the Monterey Peninsula to use for the escort cards.
Guided to the Table in Style
Guests found their names and table numbers on the escort cards that were printed in carefully selected fonts and pinned to oranges.
The Elegant Reception Setup
The reception took place on the venue's patio, where long tables were dressed in ivory linens and paired with wooden cushioned chairs.
Low compote centerpieces were placed at the center of each table, along with bud vases holding single vibrant dahlia blooms.
Place Settings with a Personal Touch
Ahmed and Samir's family members hand-stitched a rope trim on each napkin that they pressed and folded for the wedding day. The napkins were placed on top of white chargers with a printed menu tucked in, and a sprig of rosemary served as the finishing touch. Ahmed and Samir sat at a rustic wood sweetheart table decorated with a garland of roses and dahlias. Gold lanterns on the ground framed the couple. The grooms hand-poured candles with custom scents like Monterey rose and Texas hearth as nods to their California and Texas upbringings and included them in the tablescape.
A Grand Entrance with Drumming
A Dohl drummer led guests to dinner and later to the dance floor. The drummer also accompanied Ahmed and Samir as they made their grand entrance through an oversized gate to the reception area.
The Festive Dinner
For dinner, a California garden-to-table menu with a grill buffet was featured. DJ Aykut played Iranian and Punjabi wedding songs during the meal, and family members shared speeches full of humor and love.
Dancing in the Carriage House
The Dohl drummer led guests to the venue's carriage house for dancing. The entrance was draped in fabric and decorated with dahlia arrangements and greenery. Above the dance floor, a chandelier decorated with greenery created a focal point for the space.
In addition to their wedding cake, Ahmed and Samir offered a dessert spread that included a donut wall, macarons, berry Chantilly cake, and an assortment of Iranian desserts baked by their family.
Dancing to the Hits
After Ahmed and Samir shared their first dance to Alicia Keys' "No One," DJ Aykut kept everyone on the dance floor.
Together at Last
After the wedding, the couple enjoyed a mini-moon with their pup, Mango, in Aspen. To those planning their wedding day, Ahmed and Samir say, "Assemble a top-notch vendor team—our best-in-class team was spectacular at every turn and accommodated us through pandemic-related challenges."
Photography, Michele Beckwith
Venue, Holman Ranch
Wedding Planning and Event Design, Katie Ray and Chelsea Howells
Videography, Amy Hung
Flowers, Seascape Flowers
Grooms' Ceremony Attire, TISA Studio
Grooms' Shoes, 3DM Lifestyle
Grooms' Reception Attire, Suit Supply
Ceremony Music, Joanna Mack and Gurdeep Hira
Reception Music, DJ Aykut
Catering, Paradise Catering
Cake, Whole Foods
Donuts, Red's Donuts
Rentals, Chic Event Rentals
Transportation, Main Event Transportation
Bar, A Twist of Lime
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