It’s a mystery why it took so long for Saba Munir and Nasser Khan to meet. “There are so many pictures of us at the same events, the same weddings over the years,” says Saba. “In fact, Nasser’s cousin is my best friend from college!” But even with all those connections, it took five years of living in San Francisco for the pair to finally be introduced at a mutual friend’s party in 2014. Once they did meet, though, they were inseparable. “Nasser and I loved to take late-night drives to the scenic outlooks in San Francisco to watch the city at night,” says Saba. One of those drives, in August 2015, was particularly chilly. “Neither of us had a coat, and I kept trying to get Nasser to get back in the car. I thought he was just being stubborn, but all of a sudden he got down on one knee," she says. “It was so romantic—just the two of us, with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.”
Though they live in California, Saba and Nasser knew they wanted a destination wedding. The question was where. “We saw getting married as our next great adventure and wanted to bring our guests along,” says the bride. They first planned to get married in Mexico, but when the challenges of planning internationally piled up, they found Race & Religious in New Orleans. "We immediately fell in love," she says.
With the Nouveau Romantics on board for planning and design, the couple spent eight months executing their May 22, 2016, wedding. Their vision? A whimsical, magical, and surprisingly casual Indian wedding in the heart of the French Quarter. “We wanted it to be playful,” says Saba. “We wanted everyone to be struck with wonder and to really experience the day with us.” They opted for a strolling reception instead of formal seating and found an unexpected mix between Indian tradition and New Orleans’s eclectic vibe. “It was a wedding we couldn’t have had in any other city,” the bride says.
You’ll absolutely fall in love with Tec Petaja’s images of this magical dinner party under the stars.
The soft and romantic color palette included blush and burgundy tones. The invitation suite mixed a floral pattern, delicate henna-inspired details, and modern calligraphy. “I actually completely customized the suite on Minted!” says Saba.
“I knew I wanted to wear an Indian outfit, but I grew up watching Say Yes to the Dress and wanted to find something that fit in both worlds,” says Saba. She worked with a Elan, a Pakistani designer, to create a custom gown covered in beading, embroidery, and pearls. Instead of more traditional red, Saba opted for a palette of blush and ivory, with colorful pops from the hand-embroidered blooms. “I asked that the veil be light and flowy so I could move around during the second line!” she says.
Saba’s hands and arms were decorated with traditional mehndi. “We had more traditional events on Saturday so that on Sunday, for our wedding, we could open it up and be a little less strict,” she says.
Nasser wore a custom blue suit, which he paired with a deep-red tie. “Our venue was full of new places to discover and all sorts of details to look at,” says Saba. “We really encouraged our guests to get up and explore as they visited the food stations."
The ceremony took place around the pool that’s located between the two buildings at Race & Religious. “I didn’t immediately love the ghost chairs, but they ended up being the perfect way to let the venue shine,” says the bride. Fans were placed on each seat, along with a program, to help guests avoid the New Orleans heat.
“I absolutely loved my bouquet,” says Saba, who carried a mix of hellebores, ranunculus, astilbes, sweet peas, scabiosas, and white trachelium. “It was tied in raw silk and was the best thing I’ve ever held!”
Instead of an arch, one of the venue’s outdoor fireplaces was filled with candles and covered with lush flowers.
The ceremony was a fusion of Muslim and Western traditions. “It's not customary to have your father walk you down the aisle, but it was so important to me to have that moment with my dad,” says Saba. She and Nasser had written their own vows and planned to exchange them during the Muslim ceremony, but they ultimately decided it wasn't the right audience. “We didn’t want to make our guests uncomfortable, so instead we shared our vows in private before we headed out to the ceremony. That way, we could really hear what we each had to say. It made for an intimate moment we wouldn’t have had otherwise,” she says.
Any New Orleans wedding would be incomplete without a second line. “We figured, if we were going to New Orleans for our wedding, we had to have our own jazz parade,” says the bride, who loved how the tradition resembles a traditional Indian baraat.
The band led guests for a few blocks as they celebrated. “Even our most reserved family members got into it,” says Saba. “There was dancing and hollering. Everyone loved it!”
Though the pair chose to have a strolling reception rather than a seated dinner, the bride still wanted to design a gorgeous table. So she did just that, setting a table for the wedding party and parents only. The bare wood table was topped with lush centerpieces of dahlias, sweet peas, astilbes, hydrangeas, and roses.
Bundles of greenery tied with silk ribbons were placed on each charger, accompanied by a watercolor place card and a printed menu.
Tables topped with blush linens were scattered throughout the space for guests to perch as they nibbled on an indulgent menu of southern favorites like Louisiana crab and rice fritters, smoked brisket, and buttermilk-fried-chicken biscuit sandwiches with pepper jelly. “Nasser loves soul food, and he was so excited to serve it at our wedding," says the bride. "It was one of the delightful surprises we mixed in. None of our guests had seen an Indian wedding like this!”
While the groom decided to skip the groomsmen, Saba had nine bridesmaids, including her two sisters. “I had my friends wear white and cream and my sisters wear pink,” she says.
The jazz band that played during the second line, Kinfolk, played jazz (and a few instrumental Drake covers!) throughout the evening. “Live jazz, candlelight, and a dance party under the stars surrounded by the people we love most...it was just perfect!” says the bride.
The couple rode away in a vintage convertible, the ideal vehicle for a late-spring evening in New Orleans. “It was a full moon, and we drove through the city after the party was over," says the bride. "I couldn’t believe it was really happening!"
Because of the French Quarter’s noise restrictions, the party at Race & Religious started (and ended) early. But the night wasn’t over: The couple invited 30 friends over for dancing and celebrating afterward in the penthouse at the Ace Hotel. “We weren’t ready to stop the party quite yet," says the bride.
The bride is a huge proponent of strolling receptions now that she’s had one herself. “If your venue has space, doing a strolling reception with just one fully designed head table will let you have the design elements you want without spending money on 135 table settings and a dozen centerpieces,” she describes. Now, that’s a budget-friendly tip we can get behind!
Venue: Race & Religious || Bride's Dress: Elan || Event Planning & Design: The Nouveau Romantics || Florals: Kim Starr Wise || Rentals: Distressed Rentals, La Tavola Fine Linen Rental || Calligraphy: Silt + Pine || Hair & Makeup: Verde Beauty || Ceremony Music: Harry Hardin || Second Line: Kinfolk Brass Band || Catering: Fete by Chef La Mason || Coffee Truck: Petite Rouge || Transportation: Alert Transportation || Photography: Tec Petaja || Videography: Living Cinema