A Gorgeous, Fun-Filled, DIY Wedding | Magnolia Garden, Al Qasr hotel, Dubai
A Gorgeous, Fun-Filled, DIY Wedding
This month’s REAL wedding, comes from Bride Club ME fan and reader, expat, Omaya Shanti (Palestinian/ British – born in the UK). Team Bride Club ME, spotted Omaya’s wedding pictures taken at the Magnolia Garden, Al Qasr hotel, Dubai, on the Ugly Duckling Photography Facebook page and our hearts jumped a little. Omaya and her fiancé Aryeah’ s wedding brought together traditions from Iranian, Arabic and Western cultures.
Bright, colourful and beautifully put together, Omaya DIY’ d her way through the planning process and shares all the details of her special day with us below.
We have known for a long time we wanted to get married and talked about it so often that I never thought Aryeah would catch me off guard with his proposal – but he really did!
In March last year, I was meeting my friend (and soon to be bridesmaid) for an evening of “Downton Abbey & Chinese food”… needless to say, I was in total shock when Aryeah opened the door instead! He had cleared out the apartment and filled it entirely with tea lights, apart from a small path leading to a fairy light canopy under which he proposed. The song we had always said we would get married to (and did) was playing and it was just perfect for us, really special and low key.
The wedding theme…
We really just went with ‘things we like’; we didn’t have a set colour scheme or theme. More than anything we wanted our wedding to be a reflection of us and for it to be informal, intimate and fun. That’s part of the reason we wanted to get married outside and have a small wedding (by Middle Eastern standards at least).
One thing that really helped us was that early on we both made lists of what was important to us for the wedding. We both cared about the music, photography and people having fun. Neither of us like big formal occasions and so we wanted to make sure we felt part of the wedding and not on show. Overwhelmingly, guests commented on how relaxed and intimate it felt and that was just lovely .
The wedding cake….
Rather than a traditional cake, we chose a modern style with quirky cake toppers. My best friend and I handmade as many of the details as we could for the wedding and the cake toppers were one of our favourite touches.
The cake itself was made by the great chefs at Al Qasr based on a design I gave them and it all came together beautifully! The best part is that the toppers live on our shelves at home now. I smile every time I walk past them, they are such a lovely reminder of the big day.
I thought I knew exactly what I wanted for my dress and that it would be simple and lace. I had decided to have it made by a tailor here in Dubai as I hadn’t found anything I loved in the shops. I had bought the material and gone for my first fitting and it just felt totally wrong. Unsure, I ended up changing direction, buying a veil with a view to making a completely different dress which was beautiful but still not ‘me’. The next day, my mom and I dropped into Frost boutique as we had 15 minutes to kill. I was only 6 weeks away from the wedding at this point so had no time to order anything and just asked what they had available for me to try on. They were literally unwrapping two St Patrick dresses they had received that morning from Spain. I tried them both and as soon as they put the second one on, I knew it was ‘the one’!
I got my best friend and sister to see it the next day just to make sure I still loved it ( I had changed my mind about six times on what I wanted since getting engaged) and walked out the shop sure about my choice, and a very happy bride to be.
Most enjoyable part of the planning process…
I loved creating a day that was just about us, our friends and family and being able to hand make all of the little details. I DIYed pretty much everything in the wedding I could, with the help of my bridesmaids and in fact I am actually in the process of setting up a DIY wedding blog, as I still love doing this nearly a year after my own wedding!
Most testing part of the wedding planning process as an expat bride…
There were times where suppliers tried to enforce their ideas of what our wedding should be. We had a few people tell us we ‘must have’ a smoke machine/ a bigger wedding/ huge cranes and purple lights even though it wasn’t what we wanted. One venue even said our wedding wasn’t important enough, as it was too small and they could make more money with a bigger one! In those cases we just looked around until we found a great venue and vendors whose work we loved and who we got on well with. This made so much difference on the day as we had lovely happy people around us who all went the extra mile to make things perfect!
Top three tips for a bride-to-be…
- Let your big day be a reflection of the two of you and the things you love… don’t worry about things you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do… it’s your day and people will be happy to see you happy !
- Shop around, haggle and DIY! Not only can this help you stick to a budget it means you can add a personal touch and be sure you are working with the best people.
- On the big day… totally let go and enjoy! I planned every detail meticulously over a year but made the decision not to worry about anything on the day and in the end it was all perfect. I am so grateful to my bridesmaids and family who on the day kept everything running – it was the most relaxed I’ve ever felt!
The Brides little pink book (wedding suppliers used)
Venue: Magnolia Garden, Al Qasr hotel, Dubai // Photographers – Ugly Duckling Photography // Videographers – Ralph Beatingo // DJ – Wael Hijazi // Musician – Tim Hassall // Hair– Haitham, Le Salon // Make up – Hazel Mills // Photo booth – Pod You Like // Flowers & lighting – Event Boutique Dubai // Dress – Frost Dubai.