Harpreet Minhas and Rahim Esmail’s love took more than a decade to blossom — but it was worth the wait. The couple, who first met in middle school, didn’t discover they were meant to be until after university, when they found themselves working at the same bank.Harpreet Minhas and Rahim Esmail’s love took more than a decade to blossom — but it was worth the wait. The couple, who first met in middle school, didn’t discover they were meant to be until after university, when they found themselves working at the same bank.“After I left [that job] to pursue teaching and Rahim went back to law school, we continued to spend time together. That’s when our feelings really started to change,” says Harpreet, adding that, despite their different upbringings (Sikh and Ismaili), they knew their future belonged with each other.“The proposal wasn’t a surprise, at least not for me,” she laughs. “We talked about it, shopped for a ring. We knew marriage was the next step — it was just a matter of telling everyone else.”Under the guise of a birthday party, Harpreet and Rahim invited friends and family over to announce their engagement. Arrangements for a May wedding were soon underway, with just over six months in which to plan the entire affair.“It was a whirlwind,” says Harpreet, who, simultaneously pursuing her master’s degree, hired Milestone Events to help with the planning. Her beau, too, lent a hand.“Rahim was really involved, sometimes too involved,” she jokes. “He’s so thoughtful and big on details. His main concern is that everyone else is taken care of.”With Harpreet’s style tending toward “an ethnic, vibrant, colourful” kind of vintage, she and Rahim set about planning a two-day wedding extravaganza featuring two religious ceremonies and a reception.“Most weddings I’ve attended have been Sikh,” says Harpreet. “The colours, the customs — that’s what I always pictured my wedding to be. But it was really important to do the Ismaili side, too, to celebrate the richness of both cultures.”“It was a bit difficult logistically,” Rahim recalls. “We had a lot of traditions we wanted to incorporate, and that can make for a really long wedding. But once we started pinning things down, everything came together perfectly.”The “wedding marathon,” as Harpreet calls it, kicked off with a Sikh ceremony on Friday, May 10. Preparations, however, had begun two days earlier with a henna artist who covered the bride’s skin in intricate patterns.“The longer you keep the paste on, the darker it gets,” Harpreet explains.“You can use lemon juice and sugar to enhance the colour and, because I wanted it to be very pronounced, I put [Vicks] VapoRub on and slept with plastic bags on my hands and feet.”The first ceremony, at the Akali Singh Sikh Society temple in Vancouver, featured prayers, hymns and four trips around the Sikh Holy Scripture, symbolizing the various stages of marriage. Harpreet wore a stunning red lengha and Rahim, following Sikh tradition, sported a beard. Photos followed, while guests gathered at the bride’s family home for a barbecue. The next day, Harpreet recalls, she felt relaxed as she prepared for her Ismaili nuptials. “I wasn’t as nervous . . . but it still hadn’t fully set in that Rahim and I were married,” she says. “With so much going on, we really hadn’t spent much time together, and the whole ‘marriage’ part didn’t feel real yet.”For their more modern Ismaili ceremony at Burnaby’s Ismaili Centre, the bride donned a fitted ivory gown with a vintage feel. An elegant lace fascinator completed the look. Rahim, a lawyer with a sense of humour, wore multi-coloured socks with his three-piece Indochino suit. Now freshly shaven, he watched Harpreet walk toward him down the aisle.“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous,” he laughs. “It didn’t sink in for me that we were married, either, until Sunday, when it was all over.”After the vows were exchanged, the couple’s 230 guests gathered at downtown Vancouver’s Law Courts Inn, where the spacious Great Hall had been decorated with simple and creative elegance in blue and gold. The centrepieces — which Harpreet had made from old books coated in gold spray paint — were mirrored by sweet paper hearts placed on each dinner plate. In lieu of favours, the couple made a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society to honour Harpreet’s beloved grandmother, who passed away just months before the wedding.“I wanted to be in the moment as much as possible, to connect with everyone,” says Harpreet. “It was important to us to be with the people we loved. As much as it was about us, it was about everyone who supported us, too.”“We managed to honour both traditions; everyone was happy,” Rahim agrees. “The main thing was to try and enjoy the moment, though it’s hard to slow down time as much as you’d really like.”

Photographer Christine Williams Photography | Videographer After Dance Media Productions | Ceremony Venues Akali Singh Sikh Society Temple &  The Ismaili Centre, Burnaby |  Reception Venue & Catering Law Courts Inn | Wedding Planner, Décor & Flowers Milestone Events | Bride’s Dress Sunny’s Bridal (Sikh ceremony) & Marisa Bridal of NYC, from Lisa’s Bridal Salon (Ismaili ceremony) | Bridesmaid Dresses Custom made in India (Sikh ceremony) | Hair Sarah Braim | Makeup Charrisse Mae Leonardo-Parmar (Sikh ceremony) Carla Van Veen (Ismaili ceremony) | Groom’s & Groomsmen Outfits Frontier Cloth House (Sikh ceremony) Indochino (Ismaili ceremony) | Bride’s Shoes Jimmy Choo | Cake Cake Conspiracy | Stationery Spilling Beans Design | Disc Jockey Mike Drew | Music Musical Occasions (guitarist) | Bride’s Wedding Ring Minichiello Jewellers | Groom’s Wedding Ring Diamonds and Design | Transportation Ultimate Limousine