ISLAMABAD: Weddings are Pakistan's jam. It is what it is, and we own it with lots of love and some eye-rolls. We take our weddings very seriously and the people who put them together for us have no easy climb ahead of them.
There is a list of people who bring to life dream weddings of couples – or their parents – and no one ranks higher on it than photographers and event planners. What is demanded of them is often magical skills. Arab News spoke to some of these magicians and asked them about their most memorable client stories.
Qamar Anwar, who shoots weddings in Islamabad and Dubai and has been a photographer for nearly a decade, said the number one request he gets from everyone is “make me thin.”
“So many things go down at weddings, and some I have seen multiple times. Full-on fights during joota chupai. I have seen grooms storming off the stage and not coming back,” Anwar told Arab News over the phone, referring to a South Asian custom in which sisters and friends of the bride hide the groom’s shoes until he pays them money.
He remembers one peculiar situation in which the client was angry that he took pictures at all.
“At a recent wedding, I was hired by the groom’s side. After the event, when the pictures were released, his sisters were extremely angry at me and demanded to know why I took pictures of the bride!” Anwar laughed.
“I was blown away if not her pictures, then whose would I be taking! But they argued that they had called me to only take pictures of their side, quite literally them and the groom, and no one from the bride’s side, including the bride herself.”
Ali Khurshid, who has been a photographer for 14 years and had his work featured in Times Magazine, said that at some weddings the bride and groom “just get it.”
“I am able to get in there and do all the weird stuff like hiding behind corners, laying on the ground, and they respect and understand your work and let it happen,” he told Arab News in a phone conversation.
Khurshid’s wedding photography has taken him all over the world – from the US to Iceland and Norway – but one of his most memorable weddings allowed him to enter India.
“I must have shot three to four thousand events and sometimes things do not go as imagined, you plan so many things, but come to the day things happen as they will,” Khurshid said as he shared the story.
“I have always wanted to go to India, see my ancestral cities and home,” he said.
At one wedding he took a photograph of India's ambassador to Pakistan. Apparently, the ambassador was happy about it and invited him to his office. As he arrived the diplomat stamped in his passport entry for four cities of his choice, “no questions asked. It was pretty amazing!”
Taha Memon who leads Dawat, a wedding planning, management, and catering company based in Karachi, laughed as he remembered the craziest demand from his client.
“One time, a client told me that he wanted to come in on a train like Shah Rukh Khan famously did in the song ‘Chal Chaiyan, Chaiyan.' ”
Another event that stayed in his memory was carefully prepared on a beach.
“We started our work, got everything ready, it was all custom bamboo work, we made lounges, stalls and even custom chairs and bamboo hangings for this luau theme,” he said.
But suddenly a large wave annihilated all their efforts! “Everything was ready on time, sleepless nights, my team worked really hard, and then a huge wave came in and took everything.”
They started to swim to recover all they could. They panicked when the client arrived. “He saw us wading out and making this for him, and he was generous and appreciative of our efforts. It was an unexpected occurrence, one of the most memorable and wildest things I have dealt with.”
Shazreh Khalid of Zareen and Shazreh Khalid events in Lahore, who has been a cornerstone of high-end, stunning weddings and events, told Arab News of a request from which she had to discourage her client.
“I once had a client who wanted to enter her mehndi on a real elephant. She wanted me to get in contact with the Lahore Zoo and make it happen! Of course, I had to convince her to change her mind, but she had so much conviction and was dead serious.”
While she was proud of her dissuading skills in the elephant case, she is far more proud of another event, an enormous wedding that did take place.
“One event that I’m extremely proud of was Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s son Zain Qureshi’s walima in Multan. It was a 15,000 people event that my team and I pulled off meticulously. My clients were super happy and really acknowledged our hard work.”
Fahd Nassr of The Social Squad also shared a memorable intercontinental story.
“It was a multicultural wedding, the groom was from India, the bride was from Pakistan, and the wedding was in New York. It was about six months of planning and just a few hours before the flight she brought it to our knowledge that we would need to bring pink chum chums because her fiancé is obsessed with them and she wanted to have a whole pyramid of chum chums in the middle of the dance floor,” Fahd said referring to sweat treats often featured in wedding boxes.
“We got that arranged, got it sorted out, got a full load of chum chums with us. As soon as we landed in Istanbul for our transit, she told us about her love for mango lassi.” And the mangoes had to come from Pakistan.
“So now we're three hours away from our flight to fly to New York, and I am sitting at the Istanbul airport calling Pakistan and we are trying to get 30 kilograms of mangoes from Karachi to New York, with the event being just five days away! We made sure it got done and mango lassi was prepared for the event on time.”