A DIY Festival Themed Wedding In RAK – Ali & Jenny
When the stars align, there’s no arguing with their outcome; whilst Ali and Jenny are both from the UK, it would take thousands of miles, the advancement of the internet and one shared street to see fate through. In 2017, two wanderers ‘swiped right’ on Dubai’s most happening dating app of the time – Happn. This meet-cute quickly developed into a budding romance that no Pandemic could put asunder, and upon first release from COVID quarantine, Jenny said ‘yes’! “It was VERY unexpected, and we were both crying with joy”. In this issue of Bride Club’s Real Weddings series, we meet the hearts that distance made stronger and discover how Alistair & Jenny planned a wedding on the tail end of a pandemic.
Did Covid impact your wedding?
Yes and No. It was right at the end of UAE restrictions and a HUGE risk, as our 3-day event was just before Christmas with an invite list of 70+ people from across the UK and Europe. The stress was on as caterers and our venue needed numbers, but with all the uncertainty surrounding travel at that time, we kept the headcount open till the last minute.
Eventually, we had 45 guests from the UK and 60 from the UAE and each of them needed to be tested prior to making their way back home. So we organised a company to attend to perform mass PCR tests the morning of the wedding for our guests returning home and Ali and I honeymooning. We also had to make sure that all of our UAE guests had negative PCR results in order to attend. That culminated in one of the biggest downsides of getting married during a pandemic as a couple of my best friends were positive. Worse yet, over 80% of our wedding guests caught COVID, including ourselves – whilst on our honeymoon. This meant that we spent the first 10 days of our trip stuck in a COVID hotel, which was horrendous. Miraculously, all overseas visitors managed to leave and still have Christmas at home.
What made you choose to get married in RAK?
We had both enjoyed our venue in RAK before, attending a mini-festival together, and had fallen in love with the place. Ali has lived here his whole life and I’ve not lived in the UK in 15 years, and most of our friends live here. Plus the ‘camp’ (venue) was a bargain as we booked it during the height of the lockdown when prices were slashed.
How did you decide on a theme for the wedding and tell us more about the venue?
We are both hippies at heart and we wanted our wedding to feel like a mini-festival.
The venue is a remote camp that sleeps 90 in chalets, with a pool surrounded by golden sand dunes. It hit all the marks in terms of what we were looking for.
The dress – what style did you opt for and how did you feel when you wore your gown and all the regalia for the first time?
My dress was a strapless satin long gown with puffy sleeves and a giant overskirt that my friends had made for me. It felt unbelievable and totally unique.
What was the best part of the wedding planning experience?
We’re both creatives and having a slower pace of life from the pandemic, I really got to flex my creative muscle. I’d been carefully making the flower arrangements the 12 months leading up to the big day and had created all the decorations myself too. Ali even put his skills to the test as he project-managed the venue’s build, making me very proud.
What did you find the most stressful?
That guest list! With all the uncertainty and shifting landscape of a world ‘post’-pandemic, we had last-minute dropouts and confirmations to deal with.
What top 3 tips would you give to couples planning their wedding in the UAE?
1: Consider the weather
2: Hire a videographer
3: Buy your own alcohol for the toasts if the venue allows corkage.
And finally, what 3 words would you use to describe your wedding day?
Unforgettable, Happy, and UNITY
The Brides Little Black Book
Whilst Dubai has only just lifted the mask mandate, the wedding community has shown resilience and strength proving that love really does conquer all. Ali and Jenny’s love story only goes to prove that you can have it all, even in the midst of a pandemic – as long as your ‘all’ is rooted in each other, the rest will fall into place. We wish them both a lifetime of happiness and much more creativity to come. Looking for more real wedding inspiration? Click here.