The Sands of Love – Magnolia, Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeira and Kenya.
Dubai residents Kate Harris (from Australia) and Pete Tavener (from the UK) sent us these beautiful images by Simon Charlton Photography, from their intimate wedding in Kenya, and blessing in Dubai. As many engaged expats know, wedding planning can be testing and legal matters can be confusing in the UAE.
Kate takes us through her wedding planning process; leading up to her spectacular weddings in two parts of the world, and offers words of advice for brides in similar situations. Kate found several of her wedding vendors right here on Bride Club ME. We are delighted to have helped make her wedding dreams come true.
Pete pulled off a very romantic surprise proposal, on a sunset beach walk in the Seychelles in April. It was, without doubt, one of the happiest moments of my life!
The wedding theme…
We wanted our wedding to be about the two of us and our lives coming together. Pete and I come from opposite sides of the world, but we met in Dubai and have made our lives together here. Our families had never met, we don’t see them that often, and may never have the opportunity to have them all together in one place again. We really wanted to celebrate that. We involved our family members; our siblings and parents did readings and speeches and our nephews were the ring bearers.
We wanted it to be a celebration of our love. So the theme was really all about coming together and Pete & Kate = Love. We had stationery designed around this theme, with a love heart in the background and our initials on top.
There was also the theme of expat life, travelling and different countries coming together. We share a love of travel, during the last two years we have been to over 15 countries together, and we wanted to reflect this.
There are some countries which hold a special place in our hearts, our home countries of Australia and the UK obviously, Dubai, as this is where we met and have built our lives together, and Kenya, which is where we were legally married in August.
During the ceremony we had a sand pouring ceremony, with sand from each country poured into one bottle which our celebrant sealed for us. Everyone commented on what a nice touch it was.
We named each table after a country we had visited in the past two years and had table cards made with our photo in that country. We had a matching card made for each table with a photo of our legal wedding in Kenya, and a story about it.
We also wanted it to be very classy, elegant, and simple. It was an outdoor wedding from late afternoon through to evening. We wanted lots of candlelight and a soft glow, so we didn’t have much colour but stuck mainly to white and silver.
A lot of guests had travelled a long way to be with us on the day. We wanted to make it really memorable for them, something they reflected on which made it worth their while travelling all this way to be with us. And for us there was the opportunity to have our loved ones in the same place, to create fantastic memories for us after they left.
The wedding cake….
Nothing fancy, we just went with the cake provided by Jumeirah as part of the package, after two weddings our budget didn’t stretch to another cake!
We had a custom cake topper made that matched the rest of the stationery.
I purchased it from The Wedding Shop at the Jumeira Centre. Everyone talks about how hard it is to find a wedding dress in Dubai, so I was expecting it to be a nightmare. But I thought that the staff at the Wedding Shop was absolutely wonderful. The dress I picked was nothing like I had imagined myself in but it turned out to be an Australian designer, Ella. I thought that was a really nice touch considering that I am Australian!
For our wedding in Kenya I had a replica of the dress made in a short version by a local tailor, I didn’t want to be dragging a long train through the dirt in the Masai Mara!
I wore the same jewellery and shoes for both ceremonies.
Most enjoyable part of the planning process…
Finishing it!! Having everything done, seeing it all come together as we had planned. It all looked perfect.
The few days before the wedding were fantastic too, with all our international guests arriving. Walking in on the day and seeing our family and our friends that had travelled here and our ‘Dubai family’ was just amazing.
Most testing part of the wedding planning process as an expat bride…
Probably having to organise two weddings instead of one! We had a legal wedding in Kenya in August and then the big wedding in Dubai in December. It was a lot to pull off in less than four months.
Also it was quite stressful having so many international guests arriving, trying to make sure they were looked after and had a good holiday. It was all worth it in the end though.
Top three tips for a bride-to-be…
- Start planning early! Its amazing how time consuming little details can be once you get right into it
- Don’t forget that it is your day and to do things the way that you want to, it’s quite hard managing different opinions and expectations when you have different cultures coming together
- Make sure to relax and enjoy it all, otherwise it will just pass in a blur
Wedding suppliers used…
- Wedding Venues: Magnolia, Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeira and Kenya/ Cake: Magnolia – Diyva Mulani from Jumeira helped us put the whole thing together and was fantastic/ Flowers: Bliss/ Photographer: Simon Charlton Photography/ Make-up artist: Lidia Trzos/ Hair: Brian Montgomery/ Wedding Stationary and place settings: Creative Box/ Celebrant: Helen Schrader/ Music: Olly Ephgrave for the acoustic guitar and Marc Trowsdale from Real Events for the DJ.