Shahnaz & Tom

Shahnaz & TOm


Ages: 34 & 38
OCCUPATIONS: CREATIVE/FOUNDER of Knit Aid & Creative editor

Photos by: Sarah Ali / @aaliisarah


“It was great that we found each other but this pressure, now that we know. That’s even worse. It was as if it was almost better if we break up.”

- Shahnaz

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“It’s like that movie Boy with a Top Knot – classic example, an aunty phones up the mum and is like 'We’ve seen your daughter with a white guy.'

It was a horrible blessing in disguise because it pushed us to tell them.”

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“My father is one of the last surviving people from his generation, he’s esteemed in our community. The biggest fear for me was that I would be a stain on that.

He is also a straightforward person, and optimistic, and from the moment he accepted us, he was like: ‘this is my daughter’s husband' to everyone. That confidence in us made it impossible for the community to unpick us, and it made us all stronger.”


'We saw Romeo and Juliet recently at Secret Cinema together, and while most mixed-marriages aren't quite so tragic, the story still hits a nerve; that the drama comes from the people around you.

People's stereotypes and views of the 'other' and of course, your family and the people around you can make you doubt things and are the biggest threat a mixed-marriage has to overcome.

Both our families could have scared us out of what we found - but I guess that is the greatest crux of a study like this on mixed couples, that the love of two people can overcome cultures and barriers, and then can even change views of the people around them."

- Tom

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“It kind of went from being very nervous and very scared about the whole situation to then him being accepted fully and becoming the important damand (groom) in the family. ‘Oh Tom, come sit here. What can we cook you? Eat this, drink that. Are you comfortable?' My dad gets up off his best seat for him."

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“Before I got pregnant with her, I wondered how she’d fit into this duality. Her spending time with his family is so different to when she goes to mine. His is fairly small, mine is massive and hectic. We do Christmases and Eid.

But now that she's here, I feel less worried because most importantly, she’s loved. From all angles."

When we met, I didn’t know how we would manage to stay together. Now we have a house and a child... At one point, it felt like we weren’t going to be able be together at all.
— Shahnaz