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Vows on the agenda as city hall reopens for weddings

A bride in a bejewelled pink dress, three children carrying baskets of peach-coloured flower petals, and a small group of family and friends filled the mayor's foyer in Winnipeg city hall Friday afternoon.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/07/2020 (868 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A bride in a bejewelled pink dress, three children carrying baskets of peach-coloured flower petals, and a small group of family and friends filled the mayor’s foyer in Winnipeg city hall Friday afternoon.

Ankita and Harman Mavi are the first couple to wed in city hall since services halted by the COVID-19 pandemic in March were resumed.

Harman’s family made up a majority of the 13 guests the couple was allowed to invite; Ankita’s were stuck in India, but her family still saw the 20-minute ceremony livestreamed through Zoom. One guest held three smartphones and recorded while the couple exchanged rings and vows; Harman’s sister handled a Zoom chat on another phone.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Ankita Mavi reads her vows during her wedding ceremony at City Hall on Friday.

This isn’t how the Mavis expected to tie the knot. They’d gotten engaged on Valentine’s Day, at the CN Tower in Toronto. They were on their way to India — Harman was going to meet Ankita’s parents for the first time — and they had a few hours for exploring the Ontario capital.

The couple planned to hold a wedding in Winnipeg in August; they’d search for venues when they returned from India. There’d be 150-200 people, guests from around the world and good food.

Before they could book anything, COVID-19 spread through Canada.

“The bigger, fancier wedding we’ll have next year, but we wanted to sort of make our commitment to each other this year.”
– Harman Mavi

Wedding services via the City of Winnipeg were halted March 21; they officially resumed June 21. Nearly four weeks later, Ankita, 31, and Harman, 33, were married inside city hall’s council building.

“I think we were expecting something very simple,” Harman said of the ceremony booked two weeks earlier. “The bigger, fancier wedding we’ll have next year, but we wanted to sort of make our commitment to each other this year.”

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Bride, Ankita Mavi, right, and her groom, Harman Mavi celebrate their wedding day with family members in attendance at Winnipeg City Hall on Friday.

Weddings inside the council building are capped at 15 people; outdoors, groups of 25 can gather. Pre-pandemic, the maximum was 25 people both indoors and outdoors.

“I’m really sad that I don’t have my mom and my dad here with me,” Ankita said. “I’m just hoping that next year we can include everyone.”

However, there were perks to having the smaller service.

“It’s actually nice because it’s more relaxed,” said Parneet Mavi, Harman’s sister. “It’s fun, it’s more intimate, and we’re not worried about entertaining other people.”

The family planned to celebrate with wedding cake at Harman’s parent’s house Friday evening.

“I think we’re just glad things have come together, despite the pandemic,” Parneet said. “We’re all together as a family and celebrating this really momentous occasion.”

Esha, Parneet’s seven-year-old daughter, happily swung her basket of petals around. She said she was excited to be a flower girl twice.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS The couple and their family wave to friends that had to remain outside the building due to COVID restrictions of 15 people. The young couple are the first to have their wedding at City Hall since it was closed during the pandemic.

Standing beside City of Winnipeg flags and his new wife, Harman said his pandemic-era wedding shows people should experience the joys they can take.

“We should be there for the people we care for in the ways that we can,” he said. “(Ankita and I are) pleased — we’re lucky to be in the same place.”

There were two more weddings set at city hall later Friday. The first wedding at city hall took place in 2016.

gabrielle.piche@freepress.mb.ca

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Ankita Mavi and her groom, Harman Mavi share their vows, first kiss and wedding day with close family at City Hall on Friday.

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché
Reporter

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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