If it wasn’t for the matchmaking skills of Salem’s sister Fizah, he and Samiha may never have met, and the wedding pictures laid out in these pages before you might never have been. It was at Fizah’s wedding, with family all around and love in the air, that she decided the time was ripe to set up her brother with one of her friends.
Anyone who has had a relative introduce them to a potential spouse already knows how downright awkward this can be, so it’s no surprise that the pair did nothing more than simply wave hello. There was also a question of geography - Salem grew up in Dubai and Samiha in Muscat. However, the seed of suggestion was firmly planted and 18 months later, the pair announced their engagement.
The betrothed couple both held Mehndi parties before the Big Day in Karachi, Pakistan. The jointly organised event was attended by both families and featured an intense Bollywood style dance off, the kind which would give the pros on Strictly a run for their money!
The groom’s family all wore a light green kurtas while the bride’s side were dressed in electric blue and all dined on delicious traditional food. Their wedding was held at the stately Al-Badia Golf Club in Dubai Festival City, hosted by the Inter-Continental Hotel Dubai, chosen for its spectacular view of the city’s distinctive skyline and its secluded location.
The couple sought the services of Lafayette Weddings to handle the decorations and vendor arrangements for their special day. Opting for an “American Roaring 20’s” theme, Lafayette turned their vision into a reality, sourcing realistic decorations and props such as feathers in the centrepieces, a bespoke perfume counter, a cigar rolling station, a photo booth with 1920’s style props and a live jazz band.
Shisha and hookah pipes were also distributed, to order, to the couple’s guests. The flowers were organised by Rasha from Lafayette Weddings. She played a central role part in planning the wedding overall and the couple trusted her to make the right decisions to fit in with their theme.
The InterCon handled the catering, and after discussing family favourites and taking into account the couple’s taste, offered an international menu that ranged from hot dogs to seafood paella to Arabic mezze. The wedding cake was also designed by the hotel, as Salem and Samiha wanted to concentrate their resources on planning a good menu rather than the cake.
And just as the menu was far from traditional, neither was the speech segment of the celebrations. Salem explains “We decided to go with two types of messages from guests rather than traditional speeches. The first were sent in by our friends and family who couldn’t join us for the wedding. These were printed, positioned in kitsch picture frames, and hung from trees around the venue. The second type were messages written on “tags” by people who were there, which were tied to a frame at the entrance of our venue.
At the end of the day, we collected these messages and made a very special, one-of-a-kind guestbook out of them.” Capturing this distinctive and unique wedding was photographer Rima Darwash, whose candid, emotive portfolio captured Salem and Samiha’s imagination.
Looking back, the couple say they wouldn’t change a thing about their Big Day. Surrounded by loved ones in the world’s most exciting cities was the perfect start to married life.
Photography: Rima Darwash, rimadarwash.com, +44(0)7849 169 068