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Real Weddings 2017: Inside a Buddhist ceremony at Pai with a rowdy afterparty at the Burroughes

By Jean Grant| Photography by Mango Studios
Real Weddings 2017: Inside a Buddhist ceremony at Pai with a rowdy afterparty at the Burroughes

When JJ Enriquez and Nancy Boonyos started working together at the newly opened Thai restaurant Pai in 2014, they immediately hit it off. She was a server and he was the events and service manager, and they initially tried to keep their budding romance secret from their co-workers (after eating breakfast together, Boonyos would intentionally show up for work 10 minutes before Enriquez). But the staff all became so close that eventually everyone caught on. After two hectic years of dating and working side-by-side at the bustling restaurant, Enriquez popped the question casually one morning in bed. “I’m not one for a big charade, or a top-of-the-CN-Tower sort of thing,” he says. Boonyos was surprised, but not that shocked: she had helped him design the ring two months earlier. “I’m very picky,” she admits.

The couple had planned on getting hitched in Thailand, where most of Boonyos’ family lives. But after discovering that many of their friends wouldn’t be able to make the trek, they settled on hosting two equally special celebrations, the first for local family and pals at Pai, and a second, still-to-be-planned party in Thailand. “We said, ‘screw it,’ we’re going big,” says Enriquez. Boonyos is Buddhist, and wanted a traditional ceremony—monks and all. Numbers are incredibly significant in the faith, so Boonyos and her mother had to consult with temple leaders on the luckiest day to tie the knot. It turned out to be Monday, December 5th—giving the couple just three months to plan. “Nancy took control of everything, and thank goodness—she knew exactly what she wanted,” says Enriquez (his knowledge of Buddhist ceremonies was limited to Google searches). He was hesitant about throwing a party on a Monday, but since most of their friends are in the restaurant industry anyway, the level of debauchery certainly wasn’t sacrificed.

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Cheat sheet

Date: December 5, 2016 Photography: Mango Studios
Bride’s Dress: Thai designer; Essense of Australia Flowers: Davis Floral Creations Groom’s Attire: Thai designer (both suits) Hair and Makeup: Virasack Hair, Karen Kim Beauty Venue: Pai, The Burroughes Building Caterer: Pai Late-night snack: Gusto 101 Cake: Ode to Joy Cakes Music: DJ Rich Sweet Planner: Lexi Haslam Guests: 250

Buddhist wedding ceremonies are colourful celebrations with lots of loud drumming, dancing and fun traditions. Boonyos was yanked out of bed 4 a.m. on the day of for hair and makeup, as the festivities kicked off at 9 a.m. The five monks in attendance chanted for an hour and a half as the guests filed in. All of the mats were ordered through Boonyos’ mother’s temple in Richmond Hill:

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Part of the ceremony involved presenting the dowry—a collection of fruits, vegetables, candles and other small treats—in a long procession. The bridesmaids blocked the pathway and forced Enriquez to do funny tasks, like a little dance, pushups or screaming how much he loves his bride:

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The couple also had to present small, traditional gifts to the monks, like an egg, an orange and a scoop of rice:

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The monks said a number of prayers and blessed the couple. They were connected via a string tied in an infinity pattern, to represent their eternal connection:

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Then, all of the guests tied a series of bracelets around the couple’s wrists (they had to keep them on for at least three days) and poured water over their hands and into pots of roses. Their guests, most of whom had never attended a Buddhist ceremony (including Enriquez’ Catholic family), loved being involved in the marriage:

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After the ceremony, the couple served a Thai feast from Pai. As is customary, the monks sat down and ate first. Once they were finished, everyone else could dig in:

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T Buddhist weddings, food is very significant. Guests noshed on dishes like green curry, which represents a sweet and strong marriage:

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The couple wore traditional Thai attire they ordered online for the morning ceremony. Boonyos wanted something classic and simple, and Enriquez loved the Aladdin vibe of his pants. They sported matching garlands of roses and pandan leaves:

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After the ceremony and lunch finished around 1:30 p.m., the couple went back to One King West, where they were staying, to change. Enriquez threw on a new suit and went to meet his groomsmen, while Boonyos switched her entire look, including new hair and makeup:

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Her second dress was all about Hollywood glamour and matched the red-carpet theme for the party: “I wanted everyone to look sexy. The only rule for my bridesmaids was no fluff,” she says:

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Most of the couple’s bridal party members were friends from Pai:

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Instead of a seated dinner, the couple had a mix of passed plates, food stations and buffet-style appetizers. “We wanted people to be able to dance the whole night if they wanted to,” says Enriquez:

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The dishes were mostly Asian fusion:

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The couple and bridal parties made their entrances on a red carpet, with guests snapping photos up close. “It was very paparazzi-like,” says Enriquez. Instead of speeches, they had an informal setup where guests could grab the microphone whenever they wanted:

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Boonyos ordered all of the decor, including the paper flowers on the wall, from Thailand. She also helped design the tiered cake herself:

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For favours, the couple gave out succulents with handmade sayings or drawings:

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The party lasted until they were kicked out around 2 a.m., but they continued the afterparty at a nearby condo:

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