The Coast - Halifax Weddings Guide
Anisa & Hazem
For Anisa Awad, life is a balancing act of tradition and newness. Hailing from Palestine and living in Halifax, the engineer sees the duality show up in every detail of her world—even in her engagement gown, an old-Hollywood number she found at a Bedford bridal salon: “It was a struggle to find something fully covered—I gave up on that after about a month and a half of looking. I flew to Montreal, I spent a weekend in Boston, nothing. I ended up finding it in Halifax. I tried it on and really fell in love with it. The only problem was it was off-the-shoulder,” she remembers. The solution came easily: “I really like to draw and sketch,” she continues, so she took drawings to a tailor of an elegant high neckline and long sleeves, both crowned with soft gathers and a dust of sequins. It made the gown appropriate—and even more princess-like.
It was a fitting outfit for what she calls “the most perfect night of my life,” the night she and Hazem Ajlani threw a traditional, Arabic celebration of engagement. In her Palestinian and his Syrian culture, the path to marriage is more formal, with a roaring party marking the intent to marry two years before what Awad calls “a white-dress wedding.” Their official engagement fete—with a guest list of 200-plus people—came after a talk with their parents, and an introduction to their future in-laws. “We were really close friends for about five or six months before he came to me and was like, ‘Listen, I know we can’t date-date like the culture around us, so let’s do it right and take it to our parents if you’re OK with that.’ I really respected that,” she remembers.
A legally binding ceremony preceded the engagement party. Having the legal ceremony first was atypical, but as Awad puts it “we are a long way from tradition now. Another way we broke from tradition was marrying from another country. I’ve loved getting to know his culture.”
The engagement party was a huge part of this, she adds, especially finally getting to know his family better. That night, with a tiara atop her hijab, Awad says, “It really hit home, looking at my family and knowing I’m with a great guy and for them to be happy seeing us that way. It was awesome.”