Raheem didn't know his life was going to change that day. He got up like any other day. Brushed his teeth. Packed his lunch. Headed to school. Went to his first class. Headed to recess.
And then, he saw her.
"It was 15 years ago that I first saw her in the courtyard of Khane during REC, and from that first moment, I knew. I was in love." Her name was Aliya.
The excitement of middle school love, those butterflies of having a school crush, followed Raheem for several weeks. He knew that his feelings were not a momentary lapse, a spur of the moment thing, and they were definitely not hunger. Yet, despite knowing that he had a crush on Aliya, it took him several weeks to work up the courage to introduce himself. It was an instant connection.
There are certain things in life that just go together. Sand and ocean. Rain and clouds. Mithais and festivals. And from that moment in the playground, Aliya and Raheem. They became inseparable. Their conversations always made Raheem very happy. Their discussions, talks, and even jokes made Raheem feel like he had found a piece of a puzzle he had been missing. He knew he could talk to her about anything and everything and often did. He felt comfortable. He felt at home.
Despite knowing that he had found something special deep down inside, Raheem and Aliya remained friends their entire childhood. They were family and knew that they had each other no matter what.
But Raheem knew that time had caught up with him. The friendship that started in the middle school playground had evolved, and he didn't want to wait any longer before heading to college to pop the big question.
"Would you go on a date with me?"
On June 4th, 2011, Raheem took Aliya on their first date. He took her to do all the things they loved to do together - basketball, movies, canoeing. She looked so beautiful that day, and once again, Raheem knew. He was in love.
"It was a day I'll never forget because it was the day we shared our first kiss. And here we are now, standing side by side, celebrating with our families the love I discovered more than 15 years ago."
Aliya and Raheem got married at the luxurious Royalton Riviera Cancun. Their wedding was nothing short of a dream. The couple's loved ones gathered in the beautiful Mexican Caribbean for a ceremony filled with tradition, color, and joy. Aliya and Raheem were ecstatic to find Shaadi Destinations, an agency specializing in Indian weddings in Cancun run by Milan and Shree, a couple from India that understood their customs and vision.
Every tiny detail was crafted to perfection. The planning and design were taken care of by top South Asian wedding planner and designer, Juan Carlos Castillo, who worked beautifully to create an unforgettable event for Aliya, Raheem, and their families. The flower arrangements throughout the wedding were made by Pistilo Floral Design, who beautifully captured the couple's essence and translated it into gorgeous flower arrangements and pieces. The flowers played a vital part in Grupo Gama's decorations, experts in Hindu weddings and decor.
The festivities began with a traditional bridal Mehndi beautifully ushered by Loto Mehndi. Their work is truly a work of art. Aliya was living one of her dreams.
After the Mehndi was done, it was time for the welcome night, the Pithi ceremony. This joyful, playful, and fun occasion brings together the couple's closest friends and family as they bless the couple with good wishes, luck, and fortune. The traditional pithy paste is rubbed onto the bride and groom's arms, neck, face, hands, and legs. For Aliya and Raheem, the pithy paste quickly became a medley of foods and condiments that will surely bring the couple many years of health, love, and abundance.
The following day, the couple joined their friends and family for the traditional Nikah ceremony on the gorgeous Royalton terrace. Dressed in crisp white and gold, Aliya and Raheem listened to the blessings from their family as they embarked on a new adventure. After the dowry ceremony, the bride and groom were covered in a festive, colorful cloth that represented their union.
For the traditional Sangeet, Aliya and Raheem chose the stunning beach at Royalton Riviera Cancun. Aliya chose a striking lehenga green dress with pink details that harmoniously blended with her Mehndi. As tradition dictates, the musical night celebrated the union of the couple and the bonding of both families. There were no more barriers, and everyone came together for a fun celebration in a beautiful destination. The show and Baraat were gracefully handled by Drums in Paradise and added the heartbeat to a lively night.
The final celebration before the reception was the wedding ceremony on the beach, where Aliya wore a traditional white wedding dress, and Raheem waited for her at the altar in a gorgeous, crisp tuxedo. The bridesmaid and groomsmen stood by the couple dressed in a light lilac that danced perfectly off the stunning blue turquoise sea in one of the most beautiful wedding locations, the Royalton. Aliya and Raheem said, "I do," and exchanged their vows in front of their loved ones.
"In the past decade, I have gotten to know you and love you infinitely more each day. We've learned to keep a foundation of trust, respect, and communication, three essential pillars of our relationship. Aliya, today I vow to keep these three pillars alive. There will be times in our lives when my dedication to those three pillars will be tested, but my promise to you is never to waiver and never give up on what has given us so much. I love you."
After the ceremony, the family, friends, and couple walked to the ballroom for a night of good food, dancing, and full-on celebration. The music was arranged by DJ Anis Ali, and the AV was taken care of by Weddings Encore. The couple was ecstatic with the amazing facilities, accommodations, and service provided by their hotel venue. They knew they had made the perfect decision by choosing the Royalton.
Throughout all of the ceremonies and celebrations, Aliya looked flawless in perfect makeup, thanks to Sara Tamargo's hair and makeup. She truly expressed herself as a makeup artist while highlighting Aliya's natural beauty.
Raheem couldn't stop smiling. He married the beautiful girl he met 15 years ago in that playground.
Location: Royalton Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa.