diya. a lifestyle blog

shedding light on south asian beauty

wedding season

My husband and I married a little over six years ago at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel in my hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. It was an intimate affair of 300 or so of our closest family and friends (intimate in the South Asian community is anything shy of 500 guests). That day, I married my wonderful husband whose kindness and humility never ceases to amaze me.

While my husband is awesome and all, the process to getting married wasn’t quite as peachy and straight forward as you would think. With our strong cultural heritage, respected rituals and families, we had built a laundry list of ‘to dos’, wishes, and a multi-day extravagant affair. Our key functions alone spanned over a week and a half between Boston, MA and Chicago, IL. While I’m grateful for my big fat and lavish Pakistani-American wedding (thank you ammi and abbo), I do not miss wedding planning.

Over 13 months of planning, more than 1,000 unique guests at one of the many ceremonies/receptions, countless reviews of invitation and program text, bridal consultancy and a wedding website, we really have lovely memories and photographs to look back on. I invested a great deal of time in finding vendors that not only matched my vision for a wedding, but aligned with our personality as a couple.

I promised I would retire as a wedding planner after May 15, 2010, but I’m re-emerging here as a wedding-advice-giver on the blog.

Below are a few photographs from our wedding. I’ll be adding several posts to the blog for soon-to-be-brides. Advice that I wish I had along the way.


nomi ansari

I had a chance to speak with Nomi Ansari at the end of his formal exhibition in Washington, D.C. just about three years ago. He was kind and generous with his time that evening. It was clearly obvious that Nomi was passionate about the art of design and possessed a discerning eye for colors, cuts, and embellishments that hadn’t been done before. His exhibition was a collection of vibrant colors, textures and adornments. Models walked the runway in unique pieces that were not only stunning but practical. A piece from his collection would fit seamlessly into a bridal trousseau and used as a main day event ensemble for a Mehendi, Dholki, Gaya Holud, Pooja ceremony or any other festive and traditional occasion.

In a short period of time, Nomi has built a brand name and design empire. Fashion-conscious men and women are often seen wearing Nomi Ansari and his style and use of color make his pieces a delightful giveaway. I look forward to seeing what his next collection brings to the world of fashion.


deepak perwani

I had the opportunity to meet Deepak Perwani several years ago when he was exhibiting his latest collection in Washington, D.C. We met at a private residence which hosted a viewing after the formal exhibition earlier that week. Deepak was humble, forthcoming and incredibly transparent. It was clear in that brief interaction what energized and inspired him. I learned about Deepak Perwani the fashion designer and humanitarian and how they were one and the same.

Deepak, aside from being a prominent and established international fashion designer, is a humanitarian. He’s devoted to bridging the gap between the fortunate and less fortunate, and in providing opportunities to improve the conditions for the poor. He is devoted to end poverty.

Over the last two decades, Deepak Perwani has transformed the face of menswear in Pakistan, and earned international acclaim. He dresses both men and women in sophisticated ensembles of high-quality and style. Having worn his pieces, I can truly speak to the quality of his pieces and the emphasis on drama.

Talk about a feel good and do good designer.



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Deepak Perwani


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Deepak Perwani

bridal trousseau shopping

The bridal trousseau shopping experience is daunting and exhilarating all at once. Having been featured in Marigolds and Mithai, I wanted to share the wisdom with you all here. While this article was written over three years ago, much of the advice I’d give to brides today remains the same.

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Ethnic gowns

sabyasachi mukherjee

Sabyasachi Mukherjee is one of the greatest South Asian designers of our time. Using the label ‘Sabyasachi’, his design philosophy is “personalized imperfection of the human hand.”Imperfection that has been perfected in intricately woven and heavily embellished fabrics. A delicate balance of pattern, texture and hand embroidery.

A Sabyasachi ensembles blends regal, old world with new world in a way unlike any other designer of this generation. A Sabyasachi piece is immediately noticed by the discerning eye. Celebrities have been seen wearing Sabysachi pieces for decades.

His most recent collection, ‘Bater,’ was presented at Amazon India Couture Week 2015 in collaboration with the mastermind behind the ‘red sole’, Christian Louboutin. This collaboration added to the anticipation of the latest collection.

Below are some examples of his work.

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Sabyasachi Mukherjee


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Sabyasachi Mukherjee


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anita dongre

Recently, Kate Middleton was featured wearing an Anita Dongre dress during the Prince and Princesses trip to India. For many, this was their first time hearing and seeing a recognizable piece by the famed designer. In reality, Anita has been filling celebrity closets for decades with beautifully crafted and elegant pieces.

Below is Kate Middleton wearing the popular piece (that was shortened to her liking with the help of her stylist). Oh what a few inches can do to a dress.


tarun tahiliani

“Indians layered, draped, wrapped and tucked fabric, prints, colours and more in an unabashed medley — a celebration of life and craft.  Surely we should retain that essence, that flavour in our contemporary fashion — for that is our identity,  the layering of an old civilization of thousands of years.” – Tarun Tahiliani

The exclusivity of his work is evident in a website that limits the use of words and visuals to depict one of the great fashion talents of India. Each handcrafted ensemble speaks for itself.

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Tarun Tahiliani


sania maskatiya

Sania Maskatiya has built a stellar international reputation. While based in Karachi, Pakistan, Sania indulges her clients in edgy yet sophisticated pieces that range from very mod to whimsical in color and pattern. Finely crafted ensembles breathe a new light in silhouettes that drape the body impeccably, taking a spin on tradition.

Oscar-award winner, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy and many other Bollywood and Lollywood stars are often seen wearing a Sania Maskatiya.


toosso | a pakistani kitchen

‘Toosso’ in urdu means “binge” or “stuff yourself” and that’s exactly what one should do when they visit this mod and inviting restaurant. Whether you’ve arrived in sterling, va  or rockville, md., you’ll indulge in some of Pakistan’s best recipes prepared in a style that is fresh and good every single time.

With their strong cultural heritage and delightful recipes, this family-run business will make you feel just that – part of the family. Signature recipes are available in this modern-day Pakistani kitchen, and the cuisine is only half of the story. The menu ranges from sweet mango lassi, chicken tandoori, haleem to beef nihari. Fresh rotis along with classic chai are served in traditional baskets and individually portioned tea kettles. Pakoras and dahi baray to kick-off the foodie experience. You can’t leave without trying the indescribably decadent falooda.

Having visited ToosSo’s new location in Rockville, Maryland, the restaurant was packed. Plenty of tables filled with happy and well-fed customers. A space that depicts an old world railway station adorned with hand-painted tea kettles and a large train station mural, reflects the family’s commitment to storytelling – a tale of good food and good times.

Its worth the trip. Your taste buds will thank you.

ToosSo | 20921 Davenport Drive, Sterling, VA 20165 | M-Th 11 AM – 9:30 PM | F 11 AM – 10 PM | Sat 9:30 AM – 10 PM | Sun 9:30 AM – 9:30 PM

ToosSo | 1596 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852 | M-S 11 AM – 9:30 PM


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