Puja Parikh & Saad Rizwan
August 18, 2018. New York, New York
As a first-year student at Cornell Law School, Puja Parikh attended the school’s South Asian Law Association’s orientation. There, she met Saad Rizwan – a second-year student and co-President of the organization – but the two left the meeting only as acquaintances. After a similar second meeting, Puja and Saad crossed paths again in their apartment complex, realizing they were neighbors. Even though the signs were there, they still didn’t connect until the following semester, when they attended a conference in New York City. Somewhere over bonding about their shared cultural identity and penchant for the law, Saad and Puja became friends.
Over the next four years, the two students grew from friends to best friends, keeping in touch daily even after Saad moved to NYC for work. After graduating the following year, Puja also moved to New York, where she reunited with Saad and reminisced about their law school days over dinner and Broadway shows. Due to different religious backgrounds, however, it wasn’t until Puja’s 26th birthday that they realized their special bond could blossom into something more.
At her birthday party, Puja invited two acquaintances with the intention of matching one of them up with Saad. Later that night, they told her, “He seems like a great guy – but Puja, he’s in love with you.” Puja insisted they were just friends, but her mind began racing and she couldn’t resist asking Saad himself if there was something more between them. Over the next month, the two discussed how their relationship could work out with their different religious; and eventually, they realized neither of them could imagine a world in which they weren’t together.
Two years into their whirlwind romance, Saad gifted his girlfriend with a Venus Et Fleur flower arrangement as a hint as to where he was taking her for a surprise vacation. Of course, Puja guessed correctly (Paris), and the two ended up on a tour of the Palace of Versailles. It was early in the morning as the couple meandered through the iconic palace garden alone. Once they reached a secluded area of the garden, Saad knelt down for a fairytale proposal.
With the engaged pair sharing a common South Asian ancestry, they wanted to host a traditional South Asian wedding in New York City. Festivities began on a Tuesday with an intimate Muslim wedding ceremony, followed by Hindu pre-wedding prayers and a mehndi party on Thursday. On Friday, they held a colorful Sangeet and Raas Garba on a private chartered yacht that circled the Statue of Liberty. The Hindu wedding ceremony was held on Saturday in the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental, followed by a reception.
“In the months leading up to our wedding, we learned a great deal about our religions’ wedding practices,” says Puja. “One would assume incorporating divergent practices would be difficult. But for me, this actually made me fall in love with Saad even more. When we reminisce about our wedding, we are filled with a sense of completeness.”
Puja and Saad had long been planning to travel to Ibiza when they were just friends, in order to see their favorite DJ, Armin Van Buuren. It was fitting that the two traveled to Ibiza on their honeymoon and spent an evening dancing the night away at his concert.