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After Marrying at a Mosque, This Couple Had A Second Summer Wedding in Northern Virginia

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Astrid Photography

|Planning by 

Anne Kelley Events & Design

Before shipping off to Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar, recent West Point graduate Ahmad Nasir spent the summer in Washington D.C. Meanwhile, Sarah Beisler was in the city for her internship with the global non-profit humanitarian organization Save the Children.

Their paths finally crossed at a mutual friend’s farewell party in a now-long-gone Dupont Circle bar. Despite their brief encounter and short conversation that evening, Sarah checked her Facebook notifications the next day and discovered a friend request from Ahmad. After accepting the request, the couple soon became more than just Facebook friends and began dating. As she remembers the origins of their relationship, Sarah laughs, “Thanks, Zuck!”

Ahmad and Sarah spent the vast majority of their courtship in a long-distance relationship. After his commission into the U.S. Army, Ahmad became a Green Beret and eventually took command of a Special Forces Operational Detachment. His unit deploys globally, but often in the Middle East and North Africa. “Feel free to contact me if you need tips,” Sarah posits to any couples in similar, far-flung relationships.

When Ahmad was stationed at Fort Bragg, Sarah moved to North Carolina to finally bridge the distance and be with him. One weekend, they took a quick trip to Asheville with friends. While at the sprawling Biltmore Estate, Ahmad proposed. Delighted but surprised, Sarah did not expect the question. “He was putting down the signals, but I was not picking them up,” Sarah confides. For instance, he was wearing blue khakis and a button-down—the exact outfit he wore when he met Sarah at that Dupont Circle bar several years before. Meanwhile, Sarah wore her ripped jeans and t-shirt. “Don’t ask me why I didn’t see the signs, when, for the first time in our relationship, he skeptically asked me if I was sure I wanted that to be my outfit of the day!”

In 2018, long before the phrase “micro-wedding” was in vogue, Sarah and Ahmad planned on throwing two weddings. The first wedding would be a small, religious ceremony with their families, while the second, larger wedding would come nine months later with all of their friends in attendance.

For the first wedding in December, the couple married in a ceremony at a mosque in Virginia. “Our families had not yet met, so the intimacy was just what we needed and wanted, and it allowed us to observe religious traditions important to Ahmad and his family,” Sarah says. Focusing on the sacredness of marriage and the affirmation of their relationship, the couple kept decorations to a minimum. But they did enlist J. Morris Flowers to incorporate floral details that served as an homage to the holiday season. The bride scored her ivory jumpsuit from eBay, and after a quick visit with her tailor, it was the perfect fit.

With the help of Anne Kelley Events & Design, Sarah and Ahmad planned their second wedding for September 14, 2019. They wanted to share the day with all of their families and friends, so they organized a ceremony, dinner, reception, and party at Sarah’s family’s home in northern Virginia.

The couple opted for a rehearsal dinner with their bridal party and family, featuring Pakistani food and vibrant linens and decor. Sarah wore a green lehenga from a nearby Pakistani dress shop, a dazzling choice for an evening of toasts. She and Ahmad gave speeches in honor of each person in the room. “Yes,” Sarah chuckles, “we spoke very fast!”

Never a fan of fitting rooms, the bride visited one shop for her classic, strapless wedding dress. She paired the look with two custom tops she also found at Soliloquy Bridal Couture—a conservative top for the ceremony and an embellished halter for the reception. Makeup by Shirin completed the look with glowing yet subtle makeup.

The groom wore his formal Army dress uniform. Similarly, his Green Beret ushers donned their blue and black uniforms. The wedding party selected their own chosen outfits. Each bridesmaid had a unique blue Jenny Yoo dress, and each groomsman wore a tuxedo.

On the day-of, Sarah walked down the grassy aisle with her father at her side. While she remembers being nervous for the first wedding ceremony in 2018, Sarah insists that any nerves had long since dissipated. “I felt so wonderful and at-ease because we had already knocked out the worries in the first one,” she says. “Another plug for two weddings!”

Ahmad’s cousin Mohammad officiated the ceremony. The couple asked him to focus on the beauty of how marriage unites two families, “particularly because we were already married,” Sarah notes. They worked on the script with Mohammad, writing their own vows that highlighted their view on a modern marriage and the joys of their different backgrounds. Once they were pronounced man and wife for the second time, Ahmad and Sarah descended the aisle under the Green Beret ushers’ saber arch.

The dually newlyweds joined their guests for cocktail hour and passed hors d’oeuvres. “I love a good soup shooter!” Sarah points out. As guests moved into the reception tent, Sarah’s family proposed toasts to the couple…through modified lyrics of Hamilton songs. Dinner catered by Rigdewells followed, featuring a menu of filet and rockfish. Sarah’s sister and Ahmad’s brother led another round of toasts before guests moved into the dancing tent.

The incredible Broadsound Band set the tone for the entire evening, transitioning seamlessly from a contemporary soundtrack for the ceremony to classical strings for the cocktail hour to brass and bongos for the reception. Instead of a cake, the couple elected to place a dessert table off to the side of the tent space. They would rather have their guests swaying on the dance  floor than eating cake in their chairs!

After a night of dancing, Sarah and Ahmad left the party with a sparkler exit. “We couldn’t resist!” Sarah remarks. They spent their honeymoon traveling around Egypt and Jordan, visiting two World Wonders in one trip.