The first time Ebtisam Abusamak and Bryan Miller met, they felt an immediate spark of attraction. They had been assigned to do a group project in a college history class, but today, neither can remember what the project even was. Ebtisam tries: "It was a world civilizations class, so... something about ancient civilizations?" "I think we were too busy looking at each other to think about the assignment," Bryan says with a laugh. Unfortunately, Ebtisam was dating someone else at the time, and Bryan would soon be moving back to New Jersey. It seemed like their mutual interest was doomed to go nowhere. Almost two years later, after Bryan had moved back to Charlotte, a familiar face strolled back into his life. Behind the counter at his college job as a Starbucks barista, Bryan looked up to see Ebtisam placing her order. It was an unexpected second chance, and there was no way Bryan could pass it up. He promptly asked Ebtisam out on a date, and the two were soon inseparable.
“I knew he was definitely the one after just two months of dating. We were very much in love with each other," Ebtisam says. Together they graduated, started their careers, and bought a house. Then, on a sightseeing trip in Boston, Bryan pulled out the ring from Diamonds Direct and dropped to one knee. Normally talkative, Bryan found himself unexpectedly speechless: "Everything I had rehearsed in my head – it was gone," he says. "I didn't even wait for him to finish," she says, before bursting in: "Yes!"
Moving from proposal to wedding, however, was a challenge. Bryan and Ebtisam are an interfaith couple, Christian and Muslim, and merging the two families came with complications. "With our families being from different parts of the world and different religious backgrounds, there was a substantial amount of turmoil," Bryan says. Both sets of parents expected a wedding very different from what the couple had in mind: Ebtisam’s family wanted a huge, conservative, and alcohol-free event, Bryan’s a classic American church wedding, and the couple wanted something intimate and untraditional.
With the help of their siblings, Bryan and Ebtisam convinced their parents to open their minds to a less traditional wedding that respected both of their backgrounds. "We just didn't want to have a wedding that we'd regret," Ebtisam says, "but we also didn't want our parents to be unhappy."
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Balancing the desires of both families with their own personalities and beliefs, Ebtisam and Bryan planned an intimate wedding of 50 people. Instead of walking down the aisle to more traditional music, Ebtisam descended a staircase to "Marry Me" by Train. Instead of having a bridal party, Ebtisam and Bryan welcomed anyone who wanted to assist with the wedding, but didn't put specific obligations on anyone. And Bryan wrote all of the couple's vows: "We put a part in there about the two families coming together, even though they didn't even know each other, and accepting differences to come together as one," he says.
To have the wedding of her dreams within the couple's tight budget, Ebtisam spent six months designing and handcrafting every detail of the event. She hand made willow branch centerpieces, invitations, wedding programs, seating cards and even a wishing well. Bryan's mother made the cake, and their friends and family helped with hair and makeup. They found a vineyard venue that they loved, and fell even more in love with the location after a photo shoot with Lindsey Lee.
Despite all the planning and labor she did, Ebtisam barely felt any stress – until disaster struck shortly before the ceremony. Ebtisam had bought a Poffie Girls dress that she loved, but decided to get it tailored in Charlotte to save a few trips to Gastonia. But two weeks before the wedding, the tailor contacted Ebtisam and said she wouldn't be able to get around to finishing the dress. In a panic, Ebtisam went to another tailor in Charlotte and got the dress back just two days before the wedding. "It was completely botched," Ebtisam says. "I couldn't even get it on. I left in tears. I was thinking, ‘I can't walk down the aisle in jeans and a t-shirt!’"
With only two days to go, Ebtisam took the ruined dress to Poffie Girls. "They literally took my dress apart and built it back together on my body,” Ebtisam says. “It was a five-hour fitting, but I was able to take it and wear it on Sunday. They even wrote me a letter to get my money back from the other seamstress!"
With the decorations finished, the vows written, the families in agreement and the dress properly tailored, the wedding finally went off without a hitch. Both Ebtisam and Bryan agree that the most memorable moment of their wedding was their first dance, when it finally hit them that they were married. They danced together to Snow Patrol's "Just Say Yes" while their family and friends filled the room with bubbles.
After a honeymoon cruise to the Caribbean, the couple has settled down to married life. For any other couples who face challenges in planning a wedding that will please both parents and yourself, Ebtisam and Bryan recommend patience, communication, and honesty – and faith in your love. "We knew what we had found and that we were meant for each other, and that I think is what ultimately gave us the strength to get through.” Bryan says.
In true married-couple fashion, Ebtisam finishes Bryan's sentence: "We didn't let anything bring us down or tear us apart."
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Continue reading real wedding stories! Up next: ’She said Yes!- Brittany and Kavin’