She’ll light up your life as soon as she walks into the room. Her inspiration and sunny outlook on life is infectious. But it has been a long and arduous road that led her here. But the path less taken is always one thousand times more fulfilling once you’ve finally arrived.
2016 was both the best and worst year of my life. I co-founded my second company, premiered a feature-length documentary film at the Obama White House, was named to Oprah Winfrey’s SuperSoul 100 list, moved to New York City and got engaged.
But behind the highlight reel, I was sick.
I had been diagnosed with cancer, and after my surgeries, just as I thought I was on the road to recovery, a neurological illness hit. I had to make the most difficult decision of my life. I left the company and I moved my life back home to Canada. I started from scratch.
It was the kindest thing I’ve ever done for myself. It was the first moment I fully took ownership of my life and health. I honoured the severity of my experiences, I investigated the stresses and traumas that contributed to my physical state, and I showed up for myself and for the healing. I began to transform my habits, and ultimately my future. I began to do the work I needed to do to realize my true potential — I was no longer chasing the external validation that New York and startup life gave me.
Sometimes I need to pinch myself. I am so honoured and grateful to have had such an amazing woman walk into my life. She gave more then she took and left me with immense gratitude and a new outlook on life. Ugh, why do I always get teary eyed when I write these posts!?! Pardon me while I grab a tissue.
Komal has a unique skill set of bringing purpose to peoples lives. She’s a cheerleader for your soul and sets fire to your passions leading you to discover unforeseen potential.
"What breaks your heart?" Glennon Doyle Melton asked this question at an event I attended a few years ago, and it's stuck with me ever since. She explained that what breaks our heart is the single best identifier of the work we’re meant to do in the world. She suggests that we should move toward the heartbreak, not away from it.
What I realized throughout my year of healing is that what breaks my heart is unrealized potential. The unrealized potential of millions of girls and women around the world who don’t have access to the same privileges that lift me up as an Indo-Canadian woman. The unrealized potential of people of colour who struggle to navigate complex social, political, and economic systems built without them in mind. The unrealized potential of everyone who has been conditioned to view success in the most narrow and conventional of lenses.
That question gave me the fire I needed to change my own life, and to devote my work to changing others’ lives in the same way. What broke my heart last year was my own unrealized potential, and the barriers that were in place in my mind keeping me from my destiny. Through this process, I realized that I’m here on this earth to remind you of your potential, and I’m here to reflect the excellence that’s already inside you.
I still remember the day this accomplished young entrepreneur sat in front of me as we chatted about her crazy plans for her luxurious Indian wedding(s). A two part celebration spanning cross-country with family coming from all corners of the world for one purpose- to honour the journey Komal and Mitch has shared and the new chapter in their lives together.
Planning her weddings was a huge undertaking. One you can never really fully comprehend until your in the midst of planning it. Komal had no problem throwing in a few curve balls leading to wonderful surprises. She told me once that there is no harm in asking, because you never fully know how far you can go unless you try. And let me tell you, she asked. I must say she gave our team the opportunity to accomplish tasks that at first glance seemed impossible. But she surrounded herself with vendors that went the extra mile and felt much more accomplished having done so. She literally unlocked our unforeseen potential ;)
Komal & Mitch’s first wedding was held in Grand Prairie, Alberta. A one week celebration with multiple events. Our set-up began at the beginning of the week remotely with myself and Madison in Ottawa communicating from afar with our team on the ground in GP, a 700 person wedding day.
We flew in 12 hours before her first wedding day event which started at 7:30am with a catered breakfast followed by the Milni. In the sikh culture the Milni begins the celebrations with Komal’s family greeting the groom and his bridal party at the gates of the venue, a gesture of welcoming Mitch into the family. There’s music, dancing and singing as they enter the venue.
Once inside the marriage ceremony begins an lasts about 1-2 hours. As the hymns are sang and the live instrumental music is played, a sense of transcendence filled the air literally transporting you to another place. Some of the words spoken during Komal’s ceremony - I’ll never forget.
There will be days, sad days…
There will be days, which we call, bad days in life…..
If there is sun and light out there, there will be night also….
So you must not live in an illusion that there is not ever going to be pain, or bad days in life….
You embrace those…
When you do this with love and attention…
No pain can remain in ones body…
Its just simple love.
With Komal’s struggles, these sentiments are all too fitting. (just grabbed another tissue). Here is a video of those exact words.
After the ceremony lunch is served and the grooms shoes are at some point stolen before the next set of traditions begin. Mitch literally had no shoes during his bridal party photos!
Once photos were completed, Komal returned home for a quick break and the “Doli and Vidaai”, the tradition of the bride formally leaving her parental home. The bride throws rice grains over her shoulders and into her mother’s outstretched hands, thus wishing her parent’s eternal prosperity. She gets into a beautifully decorated car with her husband and drives away towards her new home aka the hotel, where the ”welcoming of the bride” tradition takes place with the grooms parents and family before finally arriving at their reception.
Reading this now, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but we were on our toes from 7 am to 1 am without time to spare.
I even compiled a list of Komal’s statistics to help you see the bigger picture:
15 hair and makeup artists from 3 different salons
Traditional musicians from England
Videography team of 3 travelling from Winnipeg
2 separate photographers from Toronto
2 Caterers from Edmonton, serving 12+ events (3 fully catered meals on the wedding day alone)
Brides personal makeup artist from New York
4 Transportation companies
DJ from Vancouver
3 Entertainment companies
Traditional drummer form Toronto
3 Rental companies with one from Edmonton
Over 10 flight bookings
That makes 34 separate vendors coming from across Canada and the States, amounting to a team of over 250ppl to manage, direct and assist for Komal’s weddingday. The lengths of detail we went through to ensure the logistics were tight- you won’t easily believe. We went as far as counting rentals from 3 different agencies while calculating the length of time it would take to wash specific items to be used again in a matter of just a few hours before they were needed again. In pre-planning we quickly found out through many discussions with the caterer that there are many menu items with sauces and Grand Prairie didn’t have enough bowls or spoons to meet our needs. On another level of logistics, our caterer from Vancouver only prepared the food, so we had a completely different company provide rentals and a third company manage the serving of the food, clearing and washing. Despite these logistics- we didn’t miss a beat:)
When I think back, it’s hard to believe we were only physically on the ground for 72hrs before flying home and preparing for her Ottawa wedding only 4 days later at the Chateau Laurier with a whole new set of vendors.
I must add that Madison took lead on logistics for the 700 person Alberta wedding, and I focused on overall project management of both weddings while taking the lead on the Ottawa wedding. With this being said, leading up to Komal’s wedding we met bi-weekly for a good year and 3 months before the festivities began, we were working 8am- 7pm daily on her weddings alone.
By the time we got back to Ottawa, it was like time didn’t even exist anymore and everything was a big blur. There was no time to revel in our huge accompaniments as we had so much more work ahead of us for Komal and her celebrity list of guests flying-in, in just a few days. Notable guests included Poet Rupi Kaur who read at her wedding and Tim Baker from Hey Rosetta, who sang at her ceremony and for her first dance. Needless to say this day started at 8 am with 3 hours of tech time debugging the Chateau Laurier of any of those screeching mic sounds preparing all technical requirements for Tim Baker and our filming team flying in from Winnipeg. We even went as far as adjusting our floor plans to accommodate their 20ft camera rig so that it could move freely around the event spaces.
And when the night came to a close, Komal with a bottle of Moet in her hand, said. “We did it! I can’t believe it’s the end!!!”. A bittersweet feeling that this was the end of our chapter with such an amazing couple. Withdrawal hit us hard the following days as the we archived her files and looked forward at the rest of our season.
The experiences we shared together will always be cherished in my heart.
Komal. Thank you for entrusting us in bringing your vision to light. Thank you for bringing me into your life and making me feel like family. It was truly a humbling experience and I feel so honoured for it. As you continue to shine light into the lives in others I hope you remember these days fondly.
Sannah Kahn Henna Artist