Harper's Bazaar Arabia: How did you first meet?
Shaden Abdellatif: We met through mutual friends when Faizan was on a work trip in Dubai.
HBA: How many years were you together before becoming engaged?
SA: We had been together for 3 years, and Faizan proposed on August 28, 2014.
HBA: How many months did you have to plan the wedding?
SA: We were engaged for just under a year, but really got into the planning about six months before the wedding. I was being very indecisive about a lot of things!
Shaden, in Rami Al Ali, and Faizan, in a custom tuxedo
HBA: Where was the wedding and why did you choose that particular destination?
SA: It was in Ixsir Vineyard in Lebanon. We chose Lebanon because he proposed in Beirut and it holds a special place for both of us. Aside from the proposal, it was also one of my Dad’s favourite places in the world. He’s no longer with us so this was a way to keep his memory alive too.
HBA: How many guests did you have?
SA: We had 200 guests.
HBA: Who helped you to plan the event?
SA: We had Ryan Raad from Chic Alors, who is also a friend, so it was really easy to work together because he understood exactly what we wanted and trusted him to bring it all to life!
HBA: What was the theme of the day?
SA: Initially, I would joke around saying I wanted the theme to be ‘organic’ but eventually that stuck! The venue, which was a vineyard in the mountains of Lebanon, was so beautiful naturally that it didn’t need much else. Everything was centred around low trees and in between the vines, including the dancefloor. It was also important we keep it very intimate.
HBA: Which flowers did you choose and why?
SA: Because the setting was amongst these beautiful rows of trees, we decided we wanted that to really be the focus. Ryan had seen these incredible light fixtures made of paper, by designer and artist Hassan Idriss, and I fell in love with them when I saw them. It was such a perfect fit with the greenery and brought in an element of modernity to the more natural environment.
The table setting at Ixsir Vineyard in Lebanon
HBA: Describe your cake...
SA: Being on a vineyard, the cake was made of different cheeses and grapes. I guess you could say it was part of the organic theme!
HBA: Did you have any party favours?
SA: We had a ‘Pakistinian’ picnic, a play on Pakistani and Palestinian (our nationlities) to bring together our cultures. A few days before the wedding and at the picnic we gave a bunch of things you would find in a Pakistani or Arab market - shoes, scarves, rose water, throw pillows. We really had a lot of fun with mixing our backgrounds and thought it would be best to do all the favours then. It was at Tawlet Ammiq, a gorgeous restaurant in the Bekaa Valley.
HBA: What songs did you have for the procession and the recession?
SA: For my entrance, we chose All You Need is Love. The best part of that was that the fabulous Rouba Zeidan sang it live. Her voice is something else. For that, we were inspired by the scene from Love, Actually - one of my favourites! After my entrance, Faizan and I danced to What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, Acid Pauli remix. It’s a bit weird, I know, but it was a song that reminded us both of the time at the very beginning of our relationship when we were listening to this song non-stop. Rouba also sang along to that so it really made it personal.
HBA: And what songs did you choose for your first dance and the rest of the reception?
SA: Our first dance was Here Comes the Sun by Nina Simone. We felt it represented this next phase of our lives quite well. We also had asked the DJ to play some of our favourites, both as individuals and ‘our songs’ throughout the night that were our unofficial ‘first dance.’ When they would come on, we would find each other on the dance floor and have a bit of that time to dance together - otherwise we were caught up in the whirlwind! Dinner music was funk, soul classics and then moved into classic and contemporary house.
HBA: Aside from exchanging vows, what would you say is the most memorable/magical part of your whole wedding?
SA: There are two things. One being my entrance! Walking in with my family and my best friends as the sun was setting to Rouba’s voice is definitely something etched on my heart forever! My husband’s entrance was also a lot of fun - he came in on a tractor, but I didn’t get to see that.
I also think the speeches by both of our brothers, and my mother in law, were so special. I have three brothers, and he has two - all about the same age. We had asked them to do speeches and they ended up doing the speeches together, which was really a reflection of the families coming together. Faizan’s mother read a poem by Rumi - the way she read the poem was filled with so much emotion, which is hard to describe.
Faizan and his groomsmen make a statement entrance to the wedding
HBA: Who was your wedding dress by?
SA: The one and only, Rami Al Ali.
HBA: How did you pick your wedding dress?
SA: I tried on a few dresses here and there just to get an idea of the best shape but I didn’t get serious about it until about five months before the wedding (people thought I was a bit crazy but I seem to work best under pressure!). I had traveled to Beirut a few times but my hectic work and travel schedule just didn’t fit with the idea of going back and forth for a dress. I had seen a few things I like by Rami Al Ali so thought I would go there too.
When I went to his studio, the dress I originally wanted to try wasn’t available and they suggested I try the one I eventually wore. It was perfect and exactly what I wanted! We made a few changes so that I would be more comfortable in it. The process was so easy, stress-free and accomodating - it was a dream to work with the Rami Al Ali team.
Growing up in Dubai, you always think you don’t have as much choice here but that’s not true at all. You just have to dig a little deeper, or go straight to Rami!
HBA: Who were your shoes by?
SA: Everyone recommended Pretty Shoes in Beirut so that’s where I went! It was the best decision I made. I don’t usually wear heels but Pretty Shoes customised high wedges that fit very well with the dress. Of course, I slipped into sneakers as the night went on.
Shaden's bridesmaids made a group toast during the evening
HBA: How many bridesmaids did you have and what did they wear?
SA: I wanted them to be as comfortable as possible so they wore whatever they want - it all still fit perfectly together!
HBA: What did your husband and his groomsmen wear?
SA: My husband had a tuxedo custom made for all of them to add a special touch to the day.
HBA: In hindsight is there anything that’d you’d have done differently?
SA: Yes - be more decisive and just go with my gut! Initially, I was thinking of ‘exotic’ but realised that my husband and I were much more after the ‘practical’ element. I went in circles thinking of destination wedding locations and realised in the end, Lebanon had everything we wanted from venues, to food and the music, plus it really meant something to us.
HBA: What else did you do that made the wedding truly unique?
SA: We had set up a tepee, just a short distance from the dance floor, where people could take a break. It was super cozy inside, with cushions and lots of snacks!
HBA: Based on your personal experience, what advice do you have for future brides?
SA: Go with your gut and not what you ‘expect’ things should be like - if it feels right, then it is! Also everyone said this to us, and it is so true - on your wedding day, remember to step back and take it all in! It goes by SO fast.
The newlyweds share a dance
HBA: Where did you honeymoon and why did you choose that place?
SA: We chose to go to the Maldives because after all the madness all we wanted to do was sit on a beach, and get pampered!
SHADEN'S BRIDAL BLACK BOOK
DRESS: Rami Al Ali www.ramialali.com
SHOES: Pretty Shoes
JEWELLERY: Ahmad Kurdi www.ahmadkurdi.com
VENUE: Ixsir Winery www.ixsir.com.lb
CATERER: Nicolas Audi at Ixsir Winery
CAKE: Nicolas Audi at Ixsir Winery
MUSIC: Rouba Zeidan on vocals and Yasmine Sarout as DJ
PHOTOGRAPHER: Karen from Karen & Josette photography www.karenandjosette.com
For more photos from Shaden and Faizan's special day, click through our gallery above.