A Relaxed Yet Glamorous Beach Side Wedding At Zaya Nurai Island
Today we feature a real wedding that encapsulates exactly what many couples strive to achieve; something relaxed and simple, yet glamourous, elegant and fun. Our beautiful bride, Layali, from Lebanon, married Nader, who is an American Egyptian, on 18th March this year.
Currently living in Abu Dhabi, the couple, who both love nature, the beach, greenery and nice scenery, both agreed that only a beach side wedding would suffice. At the same time, they also wanted their guests “to get the thrill of a destination wedding without us worrying about the complications of planning our dream day from a distance.”
The couple soon opted for the beautiful Zaya Nurai Island, located off the coast of Abu Dhabi, after hearing about it through friends. Upon visiting, they fell in love with the entire venue, and Layali found the staff and the management team “super friendly and ready to answer any questions we had, especially as we were worried about logistics and guest transportation. Many of Layali and Nader’s wedding guests booked two nights at the luxurious island, which was recently reviewed by Bride Club ME, and were simply wowed by the whole event, which Layali remembers as being “super simple, yet reflected the true meaning of luxury due to the strong attention to details.
With beautiful favours and a very yummy looking cake, as well as a stunning nighttime set up, we’re sure that this wedding will give you a sense of escapism, even though it is not far away at all. Enjoy!
Nader moved to the UAE from Philadelphia in September 2014; we met through common friends and soon enough we started dating. New to the UAE, Nader was taken by the beauty of the desert and since I was born in Abu Dhabi, he found Qasr Al Sarab to be the perfect proposal venue. It was magical
I love edgy fashion, and enjoy wearing things that you don’t often see, so the dress was the hardest part. I wanted a dress that was not too big, yet felt ‘bridal’ and had an edge, something different. When I looked up designers, Marchesa was the perfect designer for what I had in mind, and honestly I couldn’t have picked a better dress. The second dress was so pretty. I love lace, so I chose Romona Keveza, a designer who is known for her sleek looks and signature top cuts. I’d also like to highlight the outfit worn for my bridesmaids’ shoot session. As the girls’ theme was shades of lilac, I wanted to match so bought this outfit on www.asos.com and it really gave a beautiful touch to my album.
The wedding theme…
We wanted our wedding to be fun and totally unconventional. It had to have the feeling of a big back yard party with a bit of glam and glitter. About half of our guests were from out of town, with most of these people traveling from the US. It was a challenge to find a venue that gave the feel of a destination wedding, but because our guests had traveled over 15 hours to get to Abu Dhabi, it was very important for us to give them an unforgettable experience! Zaya Nurai Island gave us the exact elements we were looking for. We rented a five-bedroom beach estate, private pool, private garden and private beach.
Applying our theme was super easy. We had no seating plans as we wanted people to mingle, and instead of round tables we had a mix of high and low chairs that gave the wedding a great vibe! Our wedding planner had put up a fun program so that guests could enjoy the scenery, and the entertainment we had took everyone’s breath away. Nurai’s talented chef, Marc Abed, prepared very interesting canapés, and the purple flowers were very trendy and added a great contrast to the surrounding beach scenery. It was stunning! Jenny Kanavos, the Director of Events at Zaya Nurai Island, was instrumental in ensuring the event went smoothly and elegantly both for the wedding night and for the guests staying on the island.
We were also super lucky to have met Muse Events, where Sandra made our dream a truly painless experience; she managed to make the planning process fun and calmed me down on the day as it was super windy and I was terrified! All the little details that Muse Events added (e.g; the printed party schedule, signs, games, bonfire by the beach, flip flips, love sign …etc) made the venue literally look like a glamorous house party!
The wedding cake….
The inspiration for the wedding cake came from Instagram, and it was love at first sight. I loved the design and gold foil details, and since our wedding needed to feel like a house party, cupcakes were a must!
Most enjoyable part of the planning process…
The most enjoyable part of the planning process was adding personal touches, especially with the favours. We picked Pearling and selected Oyster Pearl Shells as the favours, put them in very nice white organza bags, and tagged them with a personalised thank you note. This not only reflected the theme of the wedding but also meant that guests received a gift representing the UAE. In addition to this, Nader wrote a small note explaining the importance of pearling to the UAE and put it inside the organza bag; our guests loved it!
I had 12 bridesmaids in total; 10 bridesmaids and 2 cousins as my Maids of Honor. I created a Whatsapp group to keep them posted about the wedding. They were sooo much fun, and it was so cute reading their excitement and their ideas, and to laugh at the challenges to find the perfect dress and the colour( apparently I gave them a hard time as Lilac wasn’t that available in March hahaha).
The best part of the ceremony was my entrance. I had a vision of a very cute and personal entrance with friends and not strangers doing my Zaffa. As Balloons are trendy, I asked my 12 bridemaids to walk in with balloons and release them when my Dad left me and I unite with hubby. It was awesome, in fact the music added a great effect to the balloon release too. Ralph (DJ) , Sandra (Muse events) and I worked together to create a mix that relates to everyone. So the bridemaids walked to the classic wedding march, then when I showed up Majda El Roumi played (Tulli bil Abrad) as I am born in April. Finally, when I united with Nader we played Zalagheet and balloons were released. So the effect and the way it accelerated emotions was awesome!
Top three tips for a bride-to-be…
♡ Don’t over do it ! Brides often fall in the trap of ‘the more the merrier the bigger the better’. You don’t want to overwhelm your guests with too many details (big centerpieces, huge flower back drops, too many things hanging down from the ceiling etc). They will forget to focus on you, The Couple! Worry about the right things. Weddings need to be classy and elegant, not extravagant and overwhelming.
♡ Make your wedding personal. There’s no need for 500 guests, so pick the people closest to you, and yes, filter! Make your own favours, build your own website, and involve your bridesmaids.
♡ Entertainment: pick one good entertainer (or try not to have too many) as people want to enjoy you and not feel like they are at a concert.
Did you use Bride Club ME in the planning process? If so, how?
My tips to brides are actually derived from articles I read on Bride Club ME. I’ve summarised the ones that helped me most; there’s some really good advice on the site!
The Bride’s Little Pink Book
Venue: Zaya Nurai Island, Beach Estate Villa – Wedding Planner: Muse Events by Sandra Bisharat – Florist: Vintage Bloom – Photographer: Hitched In Dubai – Furniture: Party Social and Innovative Hiring – Hair and Make Up: Fadi Chedid