When Monis Alam, a digital consultant, was on a trip with her family to the Lake Palace in Udaipur, India, she received a Whatsapp message from Corey Burr, a digital product designer, asking her on a date. He had seen Monis on a Snapshot story posted by one of her friends. “Knowing I wouldn’t seriously consider anyone outside of my religion or culture, this mutual friend pitched him as a tall, fit, super handsome guy,” Monis recalls.
She agreed to meet him for dinner in New York City’s East Village, a date night that ended with soft-serve ice cream in Washington Square Park. It was a sweet touch when a year later Corey popped the question in that same park, as a violinist played one of Monis’s favorite Bollywood songs.
For the wedding, the couple decided that their city, New York, would be the backdrop for their multi-day celebration that brought together Pakistani and Jewish traditions. Monis and Corey opted for the New York Botanical Garden because it was important to them to say “I do” outside in nature. They also liked that it allowed for an indoor reception for extended family and reflected the inspiration for the day’s décor: Lake Palace in Udaipur, India.
“It was the most magical place, an ivory palace set in the middle of a lake with bougainvillea flowers growing around each archway,” Monis says.
The couple planned the event themselves, tapping Joanna Solazzo Fertig of The Day Of Company as a coordinator. Ultimately, they combined their cultural heritages: They hosted a mehndi party in Pakistani attire and broke the glass after the ceremony, but possibly the ultimate expression of their fusion was in the custom logo: “An Islamic crescent moon with the Jewish star of David, a representation of Corey and I, was used across all our wedding materials,” Monis says.
Read on for all of the details on Monis and Corey’s multi-day, multi-cultural wedding, photographed by To The Moon.
The couple’s celebration spanned three days, kicking off with the mayoun, a traditional Pakistani event to begin the wedding festivities. It includes singing, dancing, and food.
For the mayoun, Monis wore a traditional yellow shalwar kameez with mukesh embroidering which she purchased in Lahore, Pakistan, and Corey donned a Pakistani kurta from Junaid Jamshed.
On the second day, the couple threw a mehndi party, where guests were adorned with henna. The room was decorated with South Asian lanterns and antique lamps to evoke the Lake Palace, then accented with cascading orange and pink flowers. For this party, Monis opted for an untraditional look: She wore a magenta lehenga choli, customized by Pakistani designer Ali Xeeshan.
The designer has been a friend for years, so Monis knew that she would wear one of his conceptions. After narrowing it down to three outfits, Monis sought her father’s advice, someone who has long shared her love of fashion. “When he suggested I go for the third look, I knew he was right,” Monis says of her final look, which included a custom dupatta.
“There’s a Pakistani tradition in which the mother of the bride gifts her daughter fine gold jewelry to wear on her wedding day, to have as an investment as she enters her new life,” Monis explains of her gold and emerald jewelry. “This tradition was very important to my mother, who has spent years collecting gold jewelry sets so that when each of her children gets married, she can gift them their very own.”
For the mehndi, Corey wore a pink and beige sherwani that he found while he was traveling in Doha, Qatar.
“I surprised Corey and all of our guests with a performance by Pakistani/Indian pop band JOSH,” Monis says. “It was such an amazing moment.” In addition to the pros, Corey’s friends also joined Monis’s Pakistani family and friends in choreographed dances. “It was especially fun to see,” she adds.
I never even imagined having the opportunity to wear the traditional white dress as Pakistani brides don’t get to do this. I was overwhelmed by how perfect it looked.
On the final day, the festivities concluded with the couple’s Jewish ceremony and formal reception. Monis chose a Vera Wang gown, full skirt, strapless neckline, and all. “Bless the fashion gods for this fashion moment!” Monis says. “I never even imagined having the opportunity to wear the traditional white dress as Pakistani brides don’t get to do this. I was overwhelmed by how perfect it looked.”
To complete the look, she added crystal-embellished Manolo Blahnik heels and earrings from her mother. She also wore a Vera Wang veil that the team at the atelier gifted to her. “I cannot sing higher praises of the Vera Wang bridal team,” she says. “They were my saviors, my comfort, and my champions.”
“Corey’s name was hidden in my henna, a Pakistani tradition,” Monis says. “To make it especially unique, the henna artist wrote his name in English, Hebrew, and Urdu.”
Corey’s mother handled the bouquets and boutonnieres for the ceremony, which included the white blooms and delicate greenery of Monis’s bridal bouquet.
“Corey and I worked together on all the creative elements and vendors,” Monis says of planning. She admits it was stressful at times without a planner and does advise other couples to hire one. The hardest part, she says, was “discovering all the details that are involved.”
Before the ceremony, Monis and Corey signed an elaborately designed ketubah.
Corey wrote and read his own vows—he’s braver than I am. I whispered my vows into his ear during the ceremony.
“Corey wrote and read his own vows—he’s braver than I am,” Monis says. “I whispered my vows into his ear during the ceremony.”
After breaking the glass, the newlyweds exited to “Moorni” by Punjabi MC.
“For our wedding, Corey and I really wanted to seamlessly incorporate all our traditions—wearing a red bridal outfit was one of those key Pakistani traditions I wanted to make sure that happened,” Monis says of her reception look. She worked with the couture fashion house HSY for seven months to design this look, and Corey’s corresponding sherwani, that included modern touches. The outfit featured pants under a sheer organza skirt that could be removed for dancing as well as an embellished peplum top and veil. “I wanted the look to reflect who I am, someone who loves her culture but isn’t confined by it,” Monis says. “After all, I was defying all norms and marrying a handsome Jewish boy from New Jersey.”
The couple’s reception included elements of both the Pakistani and Jewish cultures. Beyond their outfits, the couple danced the hora and ate a traditional Pakistani meal. Corey surprised the guests with bottle dancers, traditional Jewish folk dancers, and everyone dug into a chocolate wedding cake designed by Corey’s mother. They capped it all off with a farewell brunch the next morning with an ode to Corey’s Jewish background: bagels and lox!
Day-Of Coordination The Day Of Company
Officiant Rabbi Ziona
Bridal Gown & Veil Vera Wang
Mehndi Attire Ali Xeeshan
Reception Attire HSY
Jewelry Shafaq Habib Jewelers
Hair & Makeup Karuna
Bridesmaid Dresses Nomi Ansari
Groom’s Attire J. Lindeberg
Reception Attire HSY
Groomsmen Attire The Black Tux
Invitation Design Aleena Zaidi
Invitation Printing Paper Source
Catering Tandoor Caterers
Cake Delish Caterers
Accommodations Intercontinental New York Barclay
Videography & Photography To The Moon