Falling in love with your best friend's brother might sound like something straight out of a classic rom-com, but for Creative Director Andrew Theunissen and Fashion Writer Rohma Nomani, it was their fairytale reality.
"We first met in Dubai on New Year’s Eve in 2013. He was my best friend Sam’s brother and he was visiting from Antwerp," Rohma, 33, tells Harper's BAZAAR Bride. "We got along well, but it wasn’t until I went on holiday with Sam to Antwerp in the summer of 2014 that we started to get to know each other. My flight arrived half a day before his sister’s, so Andrew came to pick me up and showed me around his hometown. That’s when we started talking, and we just never stopped after that!"
Fast forward to July 10, 2017, and a picture-perfect holiday in Ibiza changed the couple's lives forever. "He planned the most romantic day, starting off at the beautiful Atzaro Agriturismo Hotel where he had booked a private session for me with a yoga guru, followed by an idyllic day spent by the lush pool on the property," Rohma recalls. "He took me to the top of a cliff after dinner with the most magical view of Es Vedra. Andrew popped the question privately by going down on one knee at sunset and I was stunned."
"He had even gone ahead and secretly gotten my parents blessing ahead of proposing, and I had no idea! I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect proposal."
"Andrew and I both wanted a wedding that was elegant and intimate with just a touch of rustic, and I wanted a tiered garden," Rohma muses. And so with the help of Italian wedding planner Sally Sephora, the couple found their perfect location at Villa Regina Teodolinda in the beautiful town of Laglio by Lake Como in Italy, which coincidentally is the very town in which George and Amal Clooney have their private villa. By September of that same year, the wedding venue was booked, and the date was saved for June 26, 2018. "My mum was so excited about the fact that were just down the roads from the Clooneys that she even made Andrew drop off a wedding invite to Villa Oleandra," laughs Rohma. "Andrew actually sent us real-time images whilst he was there to prove he actually went there with the invite!"
However, when tragedy struck, the hopeful bride-to-be found her world turned upside-down. "We thought we had 9 to 10 months to plan for it, but in November 2017, I suffered from a subarachnoid brain haemorrhage. No one was sure if I could even make the wedding anymore as my condition was critical," Rohma explains.
"But thankfully in March 2018, after multiple surgeries and I got the ‘all clear’ from my neurosurgeon and we were able to get back to the wedding planning. We literally threw everything together in 3.5 months – luckily we had sent out the 'Save The Dates' before I had fallen sick, otherwise a lot of people wouldn’t have been able to make it on such short notice!"
Thankfully, the last-minute planning was made easier by the couple's mutual love of rustic romance. "Our décor was inspired by the destination and the venue," says Rohma. "We kept the décor simple; opting for slightly rustic foliage and white flowers with lots and lots of candles for a romantic touch." But for the Dutch groom and the Canadian-Pakistani bride, it was important that the marriage reflect their different cultures and backgrounds which were brought together by love.
"We kept a dress code of dark coloured suits and tuxes for the gents," Rohma explains."The ladies were requested to wear softer neutral and pastel shades. The women from my side were encouraged to wear traditional Pakistani attire, whilst the women from his side wore western eveningwear, but because of the set colour theme, it all blended together really well."
And so, wearing a custom two-piece Pakistani bridal gown with the stunning traditional jewellery her mother had gifted her, Rohma walked down the aisle and exchanged the vows her and her husband had wrote for each other in front of 80 of their closest family and friends. "I had friends and family who travelled especially to be there for me from every corner of the world," the bride recalls. "It’s hard to describe how blessed and loved you feel at that moment. Having everyone there together just to celebrate us was incredibly touching."
"Our first dance was Baby I’m Yours by Arctic Monkeys. We wanted something that was romantic, timeless and unique and Andrew found it – it was a unanimous yes as soon as we heard it because it sounded like a classic but wasn’t, and a lot of people don’t know it."
Dinner took the shape of a three-course Italian meal, and was served in the the upper level of the villa's garden by the serenity of the lake. Complete with a moody, romantic playlist combining Pakistani folk music with Italian and Western classics, the newly-weds couldn't have imagined a more perfect setting. "After the health scare we went through during our engagement, we couldn't be more greatful than actually being able to be there in good health and marry each other with the most important people in our lives around us," Rohma gushes."It was the perfect wedding for us, we wouldn't change a thing."
For their honeymoon, the couple saw no better fit than to go back to Ibiza as a newly married couple."We wanted to completely relax and nothing beats a few idyllic weeks there. "It was where we got engaged, so it was wonderful to come back and relive the magic after getting married."
BRIDE’S BLACK BOOK
DRESS: Shazia Kiyani, shaziakiyanionline.com
JEWELLERY: Custom-made gift from bride's mother
WEDDING RING: Cartier, cartier.com
GROOM’S SUIT & SHOES: Suit Supply, suitsupply.com
BRIDESMAID DRESS: Regal Fabrics, regalfabrics.me
VENUE: Villa Regina Teodolinda, villareginateodolinda.com
CATERER & CAKE: Sunlake Catering, sunlakecatering.com
FLORIST: Barbara Botta, barbarabottafiori.com
MUSIC: Barny Holmes, @barnyholmesmusic
WEDDING PLANNER: Sally Sephora from WeddingBox Lake Como, weddingboxlakecomo.com
HAIR & MAKE-UP: Elena Panzeri, elenapanzeri.it
Images: Courtesy of David Lichtag Wedding Photography