Neyamah and Calvin’s Dramatic Red and Gold Wedding in a Ruined Abbey by Maha Studios

Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have had a good week? Now we are finally out of January I feel we can get on with the year! Spring is just around the corner (hopefully) and there is lots to look forward to. Dexter and I are off to the theatre on Saturday to see the Wizard of Oz with ‘The Vivienne’ It looks amazing! Then we are off to my Brother in Laws for dinner in the evening. What about you? But for now it’s still Friday so I have one more delightful wedding to share with you, the absolutely stunning wedding of Neyamah and Calvin. Their wedding venue is absolutely breath-taking, a ruined Abbey that got destroyed in a fire. The perfect backdrop for this incredibly dramatic wedding. The colours of rich red and gold work perfectly against the old walls of the Abbey and the decoration pops perfectly. Big thanks to Maha Studios for these incredible photos.

The wedding day reflected our diverse love story. Every detail was carefully curated to honour our journey. The venue, an old burnt down church, served as a poignant reminder of the strength of our love, capable of breathing new life into old structures and creating something extraordinary. It symbolized our shared passion for restoration, growth, and the ability to find beauty in the imperfect.

Neyamah and Calvin were married on 4th March 2023 at The Monroe Abbey in Phoenix, Arizona. ‘Calvin is an Architect and learned of the old church through work–the space wasn’t publicly open for events, but when looking for potential venues, we were fortunate enough to know who to talk to in order to get in. When touring the space, we both knew that it was it–it was located downtown where we had our first date and close to home, but the resilient history of the old structure (it had caught fire in 1984 and was supposed to be demolished) and the beautiful courtyard yard space that remained had a romantically unique character that would be the perfect backdrop to celebrate our own love story. We had 200 guests, we started the preliminary plans about a year in advance, but really dove into it about 5 months before the wedding.’

How they met 
When we first met through the modern magic of Hinge, we bonded over our shared love for Harry Potter, wanderlust, and future aspirations. Our first date was an Art Walk in downtown Phoenix that lasted six-hours and confirmed that we both already felt deep within, an undeniable connection. Since then, we have been together for 4 and a half years.

The proposal
During the global pandemic and lockdown (which struck 6 months into our relationship), we found solace in each other’s company, utilizing the time to renovate and rebuild (at the time) Calvin’s house (a fixer-upper) together, stud by stud. This shared project became a symbol of our resilience and the unwavering foundation we were building together–as well as the butt of a joke where Calvin was just using Neyamah as free labor to help renovate his house. Yet, inside this raw framework, dreams were taking shape, and Calvin decided to make a promise that would forever change our lives. After returning to Phoenix from a trip to her hometown in Toronto, with the scent of fresh wood and the anticipation of a new beginning, Calvin welcomed her back into his house, dropped to one knee and proposed, sealing our commitment to build a future together and making the house a home, our home. It was this home we welcomed our family, friends and all our loved ones to to showcase our love to each other for our Mehndi party.

How did you allocate your budget?
We worked with a partial planner to help us prioritize best practices to maximize our budget.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?
We splurged on food and catering and saved by letting the unique character of the venue speak for itself.

How did you choose your photographer?
When looking at photographers, having someone who understood how to capture sentimental moments with our family and the essence of both our cultures and traditions were important. Doing the research and finding Maha Studios, we knew that it was right. Looking through her portfolio, and seeing that the heart and soul of her pictures truly reflected what we were looking for made our decision for us. And we were right, all throughout our events, Zainab navigated around our home and venue like she was a part of our family and was truly able to capture all the wonderful moments.

The dress 
Neyamah’s dress was designed by Manshaa Studios located in LA. She radiated in a stunning South Asian lehenga intricately embroidered with a phoenix, symbolizing new beginnings, the place where our paths crossed, and the fiery passion and resilience that burns within us both.
Neyamah’s jewelry was of more sentimental value. Traditionally, parents buy and hold on to wedding jewelry for a very long time, and sometimes some of the pieces are passed down for generations. Hers was given to her by her mother and some of the pieces she had seen both her mother and grandmother wear growing up.

The suit and bridesmaids
Calvin donned a fully embroidered Filipino barong coat and suit infused with modern touches by BKSmen in the Philippines, paired with a red dupatta, symbolizing the harmonious blending of our cultures.
The groomsmen wore traditional barongs with Khaki slacks and matching gold watches that reflect the one the groom wore and received as an engagement gift from his in-laws.
The bridesmaids all wore shades of white, off white and light pink with details in gold that complimented the bride’s outfit and were more indo-western or traditionally south asian outfits. They were accessorized with matching ear pieces that paid homage to the sun on the Filipino flag.

Theme or colour scheme
With enchanting nods to our mutual love for Harry Potter, the decor, quotes, and magical elements transported guests into a different world where love knows no boundaries. There was also a general theme of not only celebrating us, but our loved ones too.
The general colour scheme stayed within more rich earthy tones as well as colours that complimented the deep red that both the bride and groom wore. Gold, off white and green were spread throughout the venue to accent and compliment the overall colour scheme

Flowers were mostly minimal and fit in with the colour theme. They were placed on the arch, at the beginning of the aisle and in the bride’s bouquet. There were red roses as well as baby’s breath, greenery and the black and white anemone flowers. The bride’s favourite part of the flowers were the ones that were spray painted gold with wild flowers sticking out to subtly resemble the golden snitch.

Decorations were minimal and we primarily relied on the space to speak for itself. But we did compliment the space with subtle Harry Potter touches throughout. The guests were welcomed by the wedding sign held up by a magical flying broom. The seating chart featured the ‘Until the very end’ quote, the same quote mentioned in the bride’s vows and the ones that are etched on the wedding rings. The reception table decor mimicked the Great Hall.

The culinary experience tantalized taste buds with a fusion of Filipino and Bengali cuisine, harmoniously blending flavours from both cultures. For appetizers there were samosas, puchka shots, sinigang shots and lumpias. For the main course we had pulao, a traditional bengali beef curry, chicken adobo, aloo bhorta (a traditional bengali mashed potato) and begun bhorta (mashed eggplant). For dessert we did a biko and ras malai. Some of the items chosen aren’t ones that you usually eat at a Bengali or Filipino wedding but one that you would share with family at home.

Wedding cake
We chose to keep it quite simple with the cake, it was a small one tiered cake, but as Neyamah is a teacher in a Montessori school, her children had baked a cake for the wedding that they had been preparing as a surprise that was lopsided and covered in chocolate strawberries but nonetheless delicious

We had a DJ to pump up the old school jams and bring back the R&B classics.

Who supplied the stationery?
Beautiful Wedding Announcements

Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We did a mini-moon to Hawaii, but are planning a longer trip to Bali in the future. The mini-moon in Oahu however was fantastic! It was the best way for both of us to get away for a week and truly enjoy each other’s company. Away from the crazy lead up to the wedding. Having chosen to (out of total madness) finish our home in time for the wedding along with planning a wedding – it was nice to finally relax and enjoy and reflect back on the events. Although Calvin had plans of doing nothing, Neyamah knew better and planned places to see, foods to eat and of course hikes to do.

Personal touches

  • At the heart of our wedding stood an arch we crafted from reclaimed wood—pieces we lovingly removed from the home we built together. It stood as a powerful symbol of our unwavering commitment and the strength of our love—a testament to the challenges we had overcome and the solid foundation upon which we were building our future.
  • The veil, cord, and coin ceremony held profound meaning as well. Each item used, including the veil, cord, and coins, were carefully selected from family members, both living and those who had passed away. These cherished items carried the essence of generations before us, symbolizing the blessings, wisdom, and eternal love that surrounded us on our special day.
  • The entry vestibule was decorated as a gallery space featuring black and white photos of family and loved ones.
  • The guestbook was an old set of wooden blocks that represented our love of building but also could be built to resemble the Hogwarts castle.

Special moments 
Our favourite moment of the entire day was the vows we shared during the ceremony. Although we were with all our loved ones, that moment felt truly intimate. We had constantly been in a rush leading up to the wedding, and even our vows were written the morning of. However, pausing and having that moment to take it all in and share how we felt about one another was truly special.

Advice for other couples?
On the day of, remember to be present.

Biggest surprise 
How much our families danced.



Supplier Shout Outs


Maha Studios

www.mahastudiosinc.com / www.mahastudiosinc.com/blog / [email protected] / FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM 

Maha Studios is a highly sought after wedding photography team based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. We have specialized in South Asian and multicultural weddings and celebrations over the past 14 years. Our photography style is vibrant, modern and an eclectic mix of editorial, candids, and photojournalism that captures the traditions, moments and details of unions steeped in honoring our couples’ heritage and backgrounds. We love imagery that is true to life but cinematic. Our work has been published in magazines and on-line publications as well! We also travel for weddings.  



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