We recently stumbled upon an Armenian wedding in the Bay Area and we knew we needed to know how the bride and groom were able to plan a full Armenian wedding with such limited Armenian vendors. Shant and Maral recently got married and since they live in the Bay Area they knew they had to work a little bit harder to find their Armenian wedding vendors in order to have a traditional Armenian wedding. Maral told us the whole story from how they met, wedding planning, and of course the wedding itself.
The way we met is a funny story. In 1999, we were part of the same wedding; Shant was the ring boy and I was one of the flower girls along with my twin sister. We ended up going to the same Friday night Armenian school, but didn't talk to each other much because we were in different classes. Then on July 5, 2012 we ended up at LAX airport headed on the same trip to Armenia with the group Christian Youth Mission to Armenia (CYMA). Shant randomly started talking about the wedding we were both a part of and I was like "Woah...wait a minute. You were the ring boy?!" So, we spent a month in Armenia together. When we got back Shant continued his studies at UC Davis where my twin sister went as well. After seeing each other so often at joint Armenian Students Association (ASA) events, we knew that this bond was more than a friendship. We started dating on February 22, 2015 and while we were dating Shant sent me on a scavenger hunt around my school campus (UC Santa Cruz) to give me a promise ring once I reached the end. On December 23, 2016 he sent me on another scavenger hunt, but this time at the end he got down on one knee and proposed. It was a rainy day, my first day of break from work, and freezing cold by the water under a gazebo, but it was so perfect. We then went back to my parents house where my family and his family surprised us!
We started planning a year before the wedding date since we had an engagement party as well. Throughout the wedding planning process I had a vision for our wedding. I wanted to incorporate many Armenian traditions, which meant we would be having a BIG wedding. We also did Henna Bandoon, which is when the groom's family comes to the bride's house a few nights before and they place some Henna in the bride's hand. Everyone has to give the bride money and she won't open her hand until she is satisfied. We did the bride's house traditions as well as breaking the plates at the reception. I also wanted everything to be classy and white/ivory. We found inspirations from Pinterest, other people's wedding photos, our wedding planner, and Instagram. Of course we also used Harsanik.com!
Overall, the wedding process was a bit stressful. Living in the Bay Area and not having a lot of Armenian vendors really made the process longer, but forced us to do our research as well. We reached out to our wedding planner and friends aside from doing our own research to find different Armenian vendors. Through all that stress though, our favorite part of planning was being able to choose what we wanted and not care about other people's opinions! It was nice spending more time with each other too, even though sometimes it can get very stressful, you still treasure those fun moments. Especially when we had very trying experiences. For example, we had family friends telling us who should be invited and trying to bring people to events leading up to the wedding that were not invited. I had a bridesmaid drop out 5 days before the wedding! Those people missed out on being a part of a very special day and it did not change the mood of our wedding at all! In fact, it made it better! No need for drama on your wedding day.
Dress shopping was a breeze for me. I went to Trudy's in Campbell, CA and tried on 5 dresses! I had already done research on different designers and knew the style I wanted, so it made dress shopping a little easier. I went with my parents and my twin sister. I only wanted my immediate family to be with me because I felt as though if I valued any opinion, it was theirs. The dress I chose was the 2nd one I tried on. Another huge reason as to why I chose the dress I did is because my whole family said they loved that one on me too!
One unique thing we did for the wedding was dance a traditional Armenian dance that I choreographed. We knew we wanted to do a surprise for our guests, but it took a while to figure out what the surprise was going to be. All our guests loved it and it will always be a special memory they will have of our wedding.
After our wedding many people have asked us what advice we would give couples planning their wedding. I would say the best advice we can give anyone is, DO WHAT YOU WANT! IT IS BOTH OF YOUR DAY. We seriously cannot stress this enough! Do your research and don't rush into saying yes to your vendors! Make sure you're getting your money's worth and be thorough with them. And of course, have fun and enjoy your big day.
We want to thank Shant and Maral for sharing their beautiful wedding story with us. We wish them a lifetime of happiness and success in their new lives together.
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