ABBOTTABAD, Pakistan (WIAT) — Before his wedding, Shahzeb Anwer was nervous. His engagement had been in headlines across the country after he’d invited the entire city of Birmingham to his wedding. He’d undergone surgery in the Magic City and felt he owed its residents something in return. His invitation for the city to come to the wedding went viral. The reaction was heartwarming, Anwer said, but it was also a lot of pressure.

Something else added pressure, too. Like the majority of those married in Pakistan, Anwer’s nuptials had been arranged. Before his wedding day, he said, he’d never met his wife. Would they be compatible? Would they enjoy each other’s company? Could the arrangement last? Answer said he tried to avoid catastrophizing before his wedding day, but deep down, his nerves were on edge. Still, he stayed optimistic.

Now, two weeks after his wedding, Anwer said he and his wife are adjusting to married life.

“It’s getting better,” Anwer told CBS 42. “Being in an arranged marriage to someone you haven’t known or talked to is a very strange and different experience. It takes a lot of time to build understanding.”

Anwer said that he’s also beginning to better understand what it takes to be a good husband.

“It takes a lot of effort, I’ve realized,” Anwer said.

Anwer said that, unfortunately, no one from Birmingham was able to attend the wedding, as the government was routinely denying visas because of the recent regime change in Pakistan. Still, the Pakistani national said that Birmingham is his home away from home.

“People responded in a way that I wouldn’t even expect from my own people in Pakistan,” he said. “Birmingham treated me as their favored son.”

Below are photos from the wedding, courtesy of Shahzeb Anwer.