Saba Syed & Sayed Zaman

For Saba Syed and Sayed Zaman, it all began with a walk in Fort Worth. She was 15 and he was 17, about to start his freshman year at Duke University, almost 1,200 miles away. “We took our first walk together and have been together ever since,” the bride says. “From November of 2002 to our wedding in May of 2014.”

But from the moment that Sayed left for Duke up to their wedding day, the couple was in a long-distance relationship. “Not being able to see somebody but still be in love with them and miss them is a challenge,” Saba says. After 12 years, four degrees between them, and living domestically and internationally, Sayed proposed to Saba at sunset on top of a mountain in the Torrey Pines Nature Reserve in San Diego. Their next challenge was to plan the wedding of a lifetime.

“I had thought about and planned my dream wedding for many years,” Saba says. “Then I got busy with life. But after 12 years, Sayed and I knew what we wanted together: a wedding that blended our two cultures and traditions together.”

Guests traveled from far and near to join the Syed and Zaman families for a two-day wedding extravaganza. The first night was the Mehndi, a celebration filled with dances that rival Bollywood productions, which was held at T&P Station. Sayed’s friends did a series of dances in the style of his favorite musician, Michael Jackson, and Saba joined her sisters onstage to recreate a dance they had done during their childhood.

The next day, the wedding ceremony and reception took place at the Belo Mansion. Floral arrangements from Lush Couture were the focus of the decor, and the embroidery on Saba’s garnet-hued dress inspired the five-tier cake composed of alternating layers of chocolate-orange and caramel.

On the day of the wedding, Saba gifted Sayed with something very special: a book filled with some of the more than 1,000 e-mails they exchanged during their relationship. “All of those e-mails are a chronology of how our days went, our thoughts, and our feelings,” the bride says. “We had such a great record of our romance.”

As the reception drew to a close, Sayed surprised Saba with a top-secret performance: a song he had written for her. “I knew he would be performing something but didn’t know what,” she says. “Everybody was clapping and getting into the song. It was such a beautiful performance.”

The couple left the reception in a flurry of light, color, and well wishes from their guests. At the doors of the limo, their families met them for a final goodbye before they embarked on a honeymoon in France and Italy. “After hugging everybody for the last time, we climbed into the limo and collapsed,” says Saba, who now lives in Fort Worth with her husband. “We were relieved and so happy and tired and thrilled because we were finally married. It felt like we had accomplished the biggest thing in our lives.”

Mehndi venue: T&P Station
Ceremony and reception site: The Belo Mansion
Photographer: Shaun Menary Photography
Bridal gown designer: Almas Tejani Desi Couture
Bridal gown retailer: Silk Threads
Mehndi gown retailer: Silk Threads
Hair and makeup: Fairy Godmother’s Bridal
Bridesmaids dresses retailer: Indian Fashion and Gift
Flowers: Lush Couture Floral
Cake: Frosted Art
Mehndi caterer: Bombay Sizzlers
Reception caterer: Culinaire
Stationery: Significantly Said, Invitations by Significant Events of Texas
Band/DJ: DJ Yoonis
Lighting: Beyond
Wedding rentals: Big D Party Rental; TLC Event Rentals
Wedding planner: Significant Events of Texas, Meredith Commender
Wedding Designer: Meredith Commender