Brides is committed to guiding ALL couples through not only their wedding planning journey, but through relationship milestones and ups and downs. Every love story is beautiful, has its own distinct history, and its own trials—there’s no relationship that looks the same. To celebrate that uniqueness, we’re asking couples to open up about their love story, for our latest column, “Love Looks Like This.” Below, Siffat Haider and Nish Samantray, co-founders of Arrae, share their love story.
Siffat: We met in university through mutual friends at University of Toronto over 10 years ago.
Nish: Siff is from Bangladesh and I moved from the Middle East. All of the international students lived together at university. I used to be a residence advisor and technically we weren’t allowed to date the residents. So, we started dating right after my one-year RA post was over.
For the first five or six years of our relationship, we spent only about six months a year together. I was working in oil in Calgary and India, and we spent a lot of time apart. Siff was doing a diploma program in London. In the beginning, we did quite a bit of long distance. We were both super ambitious and wanted to do different things earlier on, but eventually figured out what we could do together to stay in the same place.
Building a Business Together
Nish: We started our company Arrae together two years ago.
Siffat: We started [it] out of our apartment. As we started to grow, we knew it was time to move out of Toronto. The health and wellness scene is so important in L.A. and we just decided to come here because it’s such a great place to be for what we’re doing.
Nish: The move was fast. As we were packing boxes out of our apartment, we got a cease and desist letter from the building when they found out we were running a business out of the apartment!
Siffat: We got engaged in Tulum in 2019. We’ve been going once a year and it’s a special place for us. Nish planned a proposal with a hotel that I was working with and I had no idea that it was coming. It was really beautifully done. We were going to do a destination wedding in Spain before the pandemic happened. So instead, we decided to put our wedding money into starting Arrae.
Tying the Knot
Nish: We got married in Toronto in July of 2020. Siff’s parents are in Bangladesh and mine are in the Middle East, so it was just the two of us for our courthouse wedding. At that time, you could only go into the rooms one by one. I had to go into the room myself and then give them Siff’s name as the person I was marrying. They didn’t even check her ID. They just gave me a piece of paper. They said that when things open up we could do a signing ceremony.
Siffat: We reached out to the courthouse in December 2020, and were finally able to complete the signing ceremony. Then, we were able to fly out to celebrate with our families. First, we went to Abu Dhabi and then to Bangladesh. We spent about three weeks with each set of parents.
Nish: Honestly, I have always been the kind of person who loves the celebration of a wedding. But even pre-pandemic, I couldn’t fathom doing it the traditional way. In both of our Southeast Asian cultures, it’s expected to throw a big party for a wedding with hundreds of people. I love the idea of celebrating our love together, but being with a bunch of people I don’t know doesn’t excite me. Even when we went to visit our families, there were only eight people with us.
Siffat: I always knew I wanted a small wedding even back in 2019. I knew that when we got engaged, it would be the most special and most ‘us’ thing. The engagement itself honestly felt like us getting married to me.
Siffat: We’ve talked about a larger celebration. If we did do something, we would do it in Tulum or Mykonos. But we haven’t even thought of dates yet. For now, it’s just something that we float around. Even a big celebration would be something small with 20 to 30 of our friends.
Partners in Love and Business
Nish: Getting married and starting this business together has made me realize that I think you can have everything you want in life. I used to think I had to pick between work and love and that balancing the two would be a life-long challenge. I’ve come to the conclusion that you can have everything and there is no bound to how much happiness you can have. I work with my significant other and we live in the city we want to live in. I’m living by this every single day.
Being cofounders while being in a relationship is really interesting. It works really well for us because we’re such different people. But, we’re also really protective of our relationship. Especially when work is extremely busy, we have a once-a-week date night and work hard to honor this.
Siffat: Working together has really strengthened our relationship, too. If anything, being each other’s cofounder has made us double down on our communication skills. It’s made us realize that Arrae can’t really thrive if Nish and I aren’t happy together. Just being really protective of our relationship and knowing that it comes first is the most important lesson I’ve learned.
I’m also just really grateful that I am with someone who makes me laugh as much as he does and stimulates me intellectually. He’s always ready to challenge me and show me another perspective. I think this has given us a lot of longevity in our relationship and it’s a lot of fun.