The day before the Spaniel wedding, we gathered together in our home with a few of our closest friends for a non-traditional mehndi party. BM-Noe, an out-of-town-er, had spent the night since our rehearsal dinner was the evening before (two days before the wedding), so we decided to start our morning with a greasy homemade breakfast (the best kind). While Mr. Spaniel cooked and I did some frantic last-minute vacuuming, Best Man Fan (our photographer for the day!) and his girlfriend arrived.
We'd planned to keep the party really small for the first few hours so that the henna artist, Paula (of Lotus Henna), would have some room to work in our teeny-tiny apartment.
For the next three hours, Paula diligently labored over my mehndi, while I froze like a little unprepared popsicle. Apparently henna sucks the heat right out of your skin, and a smarter Spaniel would have maybe worn a little longer of a sleeve. (A smarter Spaniel also would have done her hair or put on some make-up before taking pictures that would be plastered all over the 'Bee, but, um, oops.) But at least I didn't have to ask people to pull my sleeves up all daythey already had to feed me. ;)
I won't bore you with the process twice; here are both hands covered in wet henna paste.
Of course, we did my feet and palms as well.
In some parts of South Asia, men are also hennaed for weddings, though it's not common where my family comes from. But I couldn't leave Mr. Spaniel out of the fun when he wanted his own little paisley.
BM-Noe got into the action, too, and got a little ladybug of her own.
(I suggested a paisley ladybug, but no one seemed to know what one would look like and I couldn't draw it for them with my wet henna-hands. Apparently, I can't draw it in Paint, either!)
Before she left, Paula instructed us to dab the henna with lemon juice mixed with sugar to keep it moist so that it didn't crack and fall off (allowing the stain to set for longer so that it would be darker), so I took the opportunity to be the laziest bum in the universe, letting Mr. Spaniel and BM-Noe take turns patting sugar-lemon juice onto my hands and feet. In the meantime, Mr. Spaniel mixed us up some mango lassi, while our friends picked up our delicious feast of naan, papadom, samosas, lamb, chicken, and lentil curries (ZOMG I was so full afterwards! Good thing, though; it was practically the last thing I ate all weekend!).
Meanwhile, a few other wedding party members arrived to have lunch and hang out. We ended up passing the time watching The Namesake (a must-see, I think, for anyone from an immigrant family or an interest in the Diaspora, but maybe not at your mehndi party!) and just chatting.
All in all, though it was nothing like the mehndi I'd originally hoped for or the one I later envisioned, our little henna party was one of the most perfect experiences leading up to the wedding. It was after seeing my henna done that it really started to sink inI'm a bride! I'm getting married tomorrow! It was a surprisingly emotional event for me, and I'm so glad we were surrounded just by a small group of people who care about us, wished us well, didn't add to our stress and jitters, and were just plain fun to be around. It was a truly wonderful day!
All photos taken by BM-Fan, except where otherwise noted.
The Spaniels Are Married!