Tammy & Fady’s Wedding Report
July 17, 2010
NOTE: Click here to view the full photo album on Facebook. You don’t have to be a Facebook member to view the photos and in case you’d like to leave a comment, just post it at the bottom of this page. If you’re wondering about the Coptic Orthodox ceremony (e.g. the crowns and ceremonial capes), click here for an explanation.
In a multicultural union like ours, you feel compelled to make a difficult decision regarding the location of the wedding. I wondered if we should have it in Toronto (Tammy’s hometown), Alexandria (my hometown) or in our newly adopted home country in Auckland, New Zealand. We eventually settled on Toronto for several reasons, mostly economic, for family and friends. But I had promised to share the wedding story with everyone on my website.
To describe our big day in 3 words: “magical, spiritual and romantic.”
Once again, I admit my concerns about any disharmony or culture shock between the Egyptian side and Canadian side were totally unfounded. I was actually so concerned that I wrote an article (Everything You Need to Know about a Coptic Wedding) to prepare for the impending “diplomatic crisis”. But all the cultural differences were received with amusement and joy. The end result was a fusion of two cultures, a blend of Eastern and Western flavours.
When all was done, I felt a sense of achievement in bringing two diverse groups into one place for one celebration. In the case of my wedding, Mr. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations theory seemed like laughable nonsense!
Story of our Dreamy Day
The pre-wedding preparation and grooming was mostly stress-free. The only brief moment of pre-wedding tension was in the limousine on the way to church, when Andrei (the best man) was wondering if we’re on the right direction on the highway towards the church. After passing an exit which would’ve taken us to church, from the back of the limousine, Andrei confirmed the address with the driver, so we all assumed that he’ll take the following exit, which he also passed. At the perfect time, Andrei took out his iPhone and watched our vehicle en route passing yet another exit, being a Toronto resident, he realized why the driver might have been confused and immediately pointed out which route to take, and with that the driver very swiftly took us into the right direction. Luckily, we were all on time.
The ceremony took place in an Egyptian Orthodox church around 2 pm. I waited at the altar and after a few minutes, my beautiful bride walked down the aisle with her father to the timeless classic Canon in D (by Johann Pachelbel, c. 1680), played by a string trio. Tammy was preceded by a pretty flower girl tossing fresh rose petals over the aisle. The following 40 minutes was a very spiritual and elaborate Orthodox ceremony and as traditional in an Orthodox church, we were clothed in ceremonial capes and the priest placed matching gold crowns on our heads. On our way out of the church, classical music played again, then we were received outside by two charming kids who were blowing bubbles up in the air.
In a vintage Bentley, we headed towards Edwards Botanical Gardens, a nearby park in Toronto, with our photographer Velika. She is a fabulously talented professional. Me and Andrei had planned more than the usual “pics in the park”, the secret surprise for Tammy and everyone was that all of us would participate in releasing butterflies. It was not as easy as I thought. When you order these Monarch butterflies, they get shipped in a small box which contains individual envelopes for every butterfly. It usually arrives with a freezer pack (they must be kept at a very low temperature), then you keep them in your fridge till one hour before the release so they start to warm up and wake up. Our minor dilemma was how can we do that when everyone is in the church. Anna, Andrei’s wife, volunteered for that clandestine operation, so she withdrew a few minutes earlier between the church and the park, and without much attention, she arrived in the park with a strange box (the butterflies!).
The best man started handing out a small envelope to everyone with their butterfly inside, the envelope is half a centimeter wide, so I and Andrei were somewhat concerned that when we shook the envelopes, we couldn’t feel butterflies moving. Then, there was a scary moment, when Andrei whispered to me, “I ordered those butterflies a week ago, and followed those fridge instructions, I hope they’re still alive!” and I looked behind me at my guests so thrilled, unaware that all of us, including my bride, could be holding envelopes with dead butterflies inside! We got together for the butterfly release photo and I’m thinking to myself that maybe I made a terrible mistake. On the count of 3, together we held up the envelopes and instantly opened them and…I was never happier to watch butterflies flying away. The delightful scene of butterflies fluttering around gave us an incredible feeling. Mission was successful since I saw the big smile on Tammy’s face.
At the reception venue, while the bridal party and immediate family members were in the park, I knew that our guests would be getting restless and excited like Titanic passengers, so I chose to have the string trio band play some soothing classical music for them, which worked very well, till we appeared on board, introduced as “Mr. and Mrs. Zaki” and that’s when the party started. To please both cultures, music was a mixture of the usual top hits mixed with Egyptian/Mediterranean music. Scroll down this page to read a full transcript of the groom’s speech.
Every time Egyptian music played, the Egyptians, of course, would get up and do their amateur belly dance moves, meanwhile the Canadians sit down gawking in amazement with a few brave ones trying to emulate the moves. Most of the time, the DJ kept alternating between the different kinds of music to please both crowds, till he played 2 songs that I initially was resistant to include (they are on every Wedding Music Do Not Play list!), YMCA and Chicken Dance. The chicken dance, in particular, broke all ethnic barriers and everyone regardless of culture, language, age or gender was doing the chicken dance. We had an incredible time dancing all night, and it was a shock to learn that it was already after midnight, therefore it was time to roll out the final surprise of the night for Tammy and the guests, which was a big display of fireworks outside the reception venue. Our big day was everything we hoped for, from start to finish, it left us with warm lifetime memories.
Just finished getting ready before heading to the church.
A String Trio playing golden age music
The Flower Girl
Clothed in Ceremonial Capes
Orthodox Tradition: Gold Crowns Placed on Our Heads
On our way to the park for photos with our families, in a classic Bentley car (1952). Model: R-type Continental.
Releasing Butterflies in the Park
Transcript of the Groom’s Speech
Thank you all for your speeches.
Woah, for one day I feel like Fady, the Pharaoh.
I asked one of the managers at my workplace whether he’s got any advice for my wedding speech. He said remember your speech should be like a mini skirt, short enough to keep everyone interested, but long enough to cover the vital parts.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is our dream coming true. It has been a very long journey, for more than 7 years, spent mostly in 2 different countries, and we’re very grateful for every lesson we learnt along that journey. Of course the journey is not over. Today is a major milestone. It’s incredible to me that I had this dream 7 years ago from my bedroom in Alexandria, even before my parents met Tammy and it has come true tonight, I dreamt about marrying you, my beautiful girl, bringing both the Egyptian family and the Canadian family together in this celebration. The two families, the two cultures in one place. I dreamt about bringing this very good friend to be my best man, and also I dreamt about inviting our professor, this lady right there (please, stand up), in whose class we met, more than 7 years ago, to our wedding.
7 years ago, me and Tammy went to the same college, DeVry, I’d see her in the computer lab, hoping for an opportunity to talk to her and finally, somehow we end up in the same class, the same course, Management, and that’s where I met her and one time I graciously offered her help with her homework. Her response was “Yes, I need help with my homework!”
One of my favorite stories from the early days when me and Tammy met, the first time we go out together, we went to a seafood restaurant, and as we were having a conversation, I extended my arm across the table to hold her hand, and as Tammy’s hand was reaching for mine, she knocked over the salt shaker off the table and there was salt all over the floor. She was blushing and embarrassed. Of course I had been waiting for a moment to impress her. I called the waitress and said “I’m sorry, I was using the salt shaker and I dropped it on the floor, would you please take care of that?” I think at that moment, Tammy was saying to herself, “that’s the man I wanna marry.”
Today is more than just a wedding. Today marks the end of a series of challenges, the challenge of a long distance relationship for 7 years and me, bringing a Canadian girl to my traditional Egyptian family, bringing two cultures together, Canadian and Coptic.
YES! Finally we made it!! I’ll never forget your beautiful smile when you said yes, after I proposed to you to marry me by the Pyramids. I remember your sadness and your tears when we were always saying goodbyes in every airport Calgary, Dallas, New York, Alexandria, Auckland.
Tammy, you have truly taught me the meaning of unconditional love. In 2003, I told you my legal stay in Canada is coming to an end and I must leave, and I have no idea when I will see you again. Your only answer was “I’ll wait for you” and you meant it from your heart. Not for a single moment over those difficult years you had a reason to question our strong bond. I loved you back then, I love you now and I will always be deeply in love with you.
Addressing the Audience…
You might notice that the theme of our wedding is travel…flying, ’cause that’s what we had to do for many years to see each other.
It doesn’t matter where we end up, I’d live with you anywhere! On the subject of travel, I’d like to thank all of you who came today from as far as Egypt, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Jersey, Chicago and Louisiana. And here is your groom all the way from New Zealand, here to marry you.
Thanks to Alex and my Uncle Ramzy who came up with the idea of going to Devry for my education 10 years ago, and that’s where so many great things happened. Applause.
Thanks to my aunt Suzy, who gave us her support from day 1. Applause.
Thanks to Janet for your support through the years and welcoming me into your home. Thanks to you, Gary, for your approval of me and your blessing of our union. Applause.
Special thanks to my parents. Applause. I had absolutely no idea how my Egyptian parents will react when I tell them, you sent me to Canada for education, I’m back with a degree and a Canadian girl that I wanna marry. I’m very happy their first reaction when I announced my love for Tammy…my father’s reaction was “Congratulations”. My mom was in a very happy shock, for a few days. After meeting Tammy, my parents absolutely loved her.
This might sound clichéd but I actually believe it. We live in very exciting times. Welcome to the age of globalization, an Egyptian, living in New Zealand, getting married to a Canadian in Canada, honeymooning in Fiji.
You don’t usually hear this in a wedding speech, but as I look back, I’m actually very grateful to technology, 7 years in different countries, I think it would be very difficult to make it in a different era.
Thank you, my best man, Andrei, for standing by me. Here is a test to find out a good friend. Last April, a couple of days after picking me up from the airport, he invited me to his home and I told him, you know we’re getting married, and you’re invited to our wedding. He said Congratulations, I’ll do all I can to be there. I said, no, there is no way you can miss it, ‘cause you’re the best man, instantly he said, you can rely on me.
So my final word is thanks from Tammy and me to all of you for your support, your love, your gifts and for being here with us on this very special day.
Holding Tammy’s hand and addressing her…
Thank you, Tammy, for being my girl, my woman, my angel, my co-pilot, my Cleopatra, my college sweetheart, my best friend, my beautiful bride… I just wanna say in the ancient language of my ancestors, in Coptic (teemay emmo), I love you!
Travel was the theme of our wedding; miniature suitcase wedding favors.
Airplane-shaped wedding cake, as mentioned above, travel was the theme of our wedding.
Please note that the above airplane is not Boeing 747 but 717, our wedding date!
Also, you can see on the cake the domain name of this website: Years and Miles.
Don’t be fooled by this photograph, my aunt is actually about to teach Tammy some belly dancing moves.
Ah! The Chicken Dance!
Our party ended with a spectacular fireworks display.
Tropical paradise of Fiji islands. Honeymoon was in Treasure Island, Fiji.
Tammy’s dream honeymoon was a vacation on a small island.
Fun activities: Parasailing
Fun activities: Jetskiing
Fun activities: Snorkelling.
Above is a photo I took underwater of some coral reefs.
NOTE: Click here to view the full photo album on Facebook. You don’t have to be a Facebook member to view the photos and in case you’d like to leave a comment, just post it at the bottom of this page. If you’re wondering about the Orthodox Coptic ceremony (e.g. the crowns and ceremonial capes), click here for an explanation.