A French shabby-chic-style wedding in Abu Dhabi
A French shabby-chic-style wedding in Abu Dhabi
Oh my, today’s real wedding post is simply stunning – but, then again, we expect nothing less when the images come from fine art wedding photographer Melissa Beattie.
Newly wedded Mr and Mrs Tarabout are originally from southern Germany and the south of France, yet chose to recite their ‘I dos’ in Abu Dhabi at St. Andrew’s Church, followed by a beautiful reception at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Grand Canal.
Beautifully executed, this wedding features gorgeous sunflower florals from Domus Flowers Dubai and breathtaking scenery. You’re going to especially love the French shabby chic details in earthy neutral tones. Below, stunning bride Martina talks us through her wedding planning journey and the day itself. Enjoy!
Was on my birthday in August 2013. I got blindfolded and led into a completely dark room, where the blindfold was taken off. I was surrounded by candles, on the floor and all over the room, and there were red roses everywhere.
I noticed that a circle had been kept empty on the floor. We both sat down, he looked me in the eyes and told me the most beautiful things ever. After my crying was over, he officially asked me to be his wife and stay with him for the rest of my life – OF COURSE I said YES!
The dress was a real challenge. Since in the UAE, most dresses are puffy, glitzy and glamourous, they did not fit our theme at all – nor my personality. For months, I searched the internet for vintage/bohemian dresses and finally found a shop in Brussels, which specialised in these kind of dresses. I totally fell in love with the bohemian style of two of their dresses and knew I wanted one of them. Since the dresses were not available in the UAE, I flew to one of Rembo Styling’s branches in Zurich, where I met my best childhood friend from Munich.
We went into the shop, tried THIS dress followed by two other alternatives, but I knew from the first minute that the dress I’d fallen in love with online was ME. After 30 minutes, my dress trial was done. I think this must have been the fastest dress-choosing session in history.
The wedding theme…
For the first half of our wedding, we legally wed in the church and hung sunflowers, in mason jars, along the corridor so guests would feel like they were in a small countryside church somewhere in France, rather than the middle of Abu Dhabi!
Since we both love the southwest of France where Yves is from, we originally wanted to get married in a sunflower field somewhere around this area in summer 2014. Given the unstable weather and the fact all our friends are in the UAE (we’ve lived here on and off for 12 years), we had the idea to bring southern France to Abu Dhabi. The weather is guaranteed and we have wonderful outdoor venues in this city. After having a look at possible locations, we found the residential villas by the sea at the Ritz Carlton.
They’d never done an event there before, but we convinced them to give it a try. The venue consisted of four villas – two upper ones with terraces (for the welcome cocktail) and two lower ones with a nice cozy garden in the middle, full of plants and palm trees. Our theme was a French shabby chic/gypsy countryside wedding.
We made the wooden signage and decorations ourselves, including the shabby-chic-style-table numbers and the mason jars with candles inside, which we hung from the trees. All the flowers were designed by us and brought from Dubai. We had three mason jars per table, all different sizes and containing sunflowers, countryside cornflowers and lavender – it looked absolutely amazing. We also found warm light bulb chains that we strung up in the trees.
Our band, The Gypsy Swing Project, also sourced in Dubai, was the cherry on top of the cake. The French swing style made our wedding theme so authentic – like something straight out of the movie Chocolat. They were all dressed in typical French country-style clothes and played the first set unplugged. They carried their double base, guitars, drums and violin upstairs, spread themselves out among the guests (who had no idea what was coming) and started playing gypsy jazz right in the middle of the cocktail reception. It was absolutely amazing!
We had shabby chic frames hanging from trees (which we made ourselves) and props (including berets, mustaches on sticks, French baguettes and ‘suspenders’ for the guys) so our guests could take some funny French countryside pictures. This was an absolute hit!
Most enjoyable part of the planning process…
The whole planning process was absolutely enjoyable – from venue inspections to menu tasting, hours and hours of online research for a dress, flying to Europe and meeting my best friend to try on dresses, and booking the flights for family and friends.
Each single step made me more excited about the big day – whenever I thought about it, I got butterflies in my stomach! During the last few weeks before the actual wedding, I got a much better mental picture of the whole event. By then, you’ve seen the flower arrangements, chosen the church music and tried on your dress – you can imagine the whole day in your mind, and that made me feel like I might explode with excitement!
Most testing part of the wedding planning process as an expat bride…
It can be quite a challenge to find suppliers of all the items you need in the UAE, especially if it is a themed or not UAE-typical wedding. Sites like Bride Club ME can help alliviate that some of that stress though.
Top three tips for a bride-to-be…
1) If you want a themed wedding, plan early. We did our brainstorming almost a year in advance. It takes a lot of time to find your ideal venue and to decide on all those little details.
2) Make sure you have everything finalised a week in advance. Don’t leave anything to the last minute or the last day; it kills the pre-wedding joy time with your family and friends.
3) If you have the means, hire a wedding coordinator for the day. After a proper briefing a week before, our coordinator handled, checked and organised everything on the wedding day, leaving us free to enjoy ourselves!
The Brides Little Pink Book
Venues: St. Andrew’s Church Abu Dhabi with Reverend Gil & Ritz Carlton Grand Canal / Photographer: Melissa Beattie / Cake: Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort / Flowers: Domus Flowers Dubai / Makeup and hair: Makeup by Dee & Dal / Band: The Gypsy Swing Project Dubai
Looking for more real wedding inspiration? Click here.