Though it took her Oct. 7 wedding to officially call Chicago home, Niku Ghalkhani knew she adored the city from the first time she visited her now-husband Ali Shahanaghi — with whom she had a similar love-at-first-sight moment. The couple first met last spring at a mutual friend’s party in their hometown of Montreal, and after a four-month long-distance relationship — Shahanaghi is based in Chicago as vice president of a dental corporation — the duo knew it was meant to be. “We were on our third or fourth date when Ali brought up marriage. It was down-to-earth and that’s what I like most about him,” says Ghalkhani, who works as a biologist. Following tradition, Shahanaghi discussed marriage with Ghalkhani’s parents, and after an engagement party in Montreal they tied the knot at the Waldorf Astoria in Chicago a month later. The ceremony was filled with Persian customs: A poem read in Farsi explained the ceremony, while four bridesmaids held a veil over the pair as Shahanaghi’s aunt burned incense to chase away bad luck and ground sugar cubes to wish them many sweet years together. Family played an important part in the reception, as their siblings gave sentimental toasts and Ghalkhani’s father wished the couple well in his native Farsi. He followed his heartwarming speech with a spin on the dance floor — a first for him — helping to make it an extra memorable reception.
Story by Katerina Bizios | Photos by R.E.M. Video and Photography