It was friendship at first sight for Aya Nakkash, the marketing manager of her family’s Dubai-based business, Nakkash Gallery, and El Tayib El Hag Yousif, the general manager of Gulf Dynamic Services when they met more than 10 years ago.
“Shortly after meeting I went to college in the US for my undergrad and then to London to study for my masters, but we always stayed in touch and would catch up every time I came home to Dubai.” Aya, 30, tells BAZAAR Bride. “When I finally came back to Dubai for good, we reconnected and started to get to know each other better. We were basically dating without actually dating for a year — we would call each other almost every day and hang out all the time. Every few months El Tayib would make me a music playlist on a USB with a brilliant mix of the latest songs and some classics he thought I would like. A specific selection of the playlist soon developed to carry a sentimental value as it helped both of us open up about our feelings.”
Aya and El Tayib
Fast forward almost two years later to December 28, 2018 and with the help of El Tayib’s dog, Esco, Aya’s life was about to change forever. “We drove to a beach in Jumeirah to go on what I thought was a regular dog walk. El Tayib grabbed Esco out of the car and was on one knee holding him as he asked me to find the leash and attach it to his collar — and that’s when I saw a ring attached to it. It took me a good 10 seconds to realise what was happening, and then the waterworks began!” Aya recalls.
A few steps away at the water’s edge, 37-year- old El Tayib had set up a romantic beach dinner with the help of his friends from Ravioli and Co, the Italian restaurant he owns. Later that evening the newly engaged couple celebrated with their loved ones.
The next nine months were spent planning the wedding party of their dreams, during which Aya and El Tayib officially tied the knot surrounded by close family at an intimate Islamic ceremony in Dubai.
Aya and El Tayib with their families
“For our big wedding party, we had lots of guests that would be flying in from the US, Canada, Europe, and the Middle East so we wanted a destination that was mid-way for everybody, but still had an oriental touch.” Instantly falling in love with the first and only venue they visited, the couple chose The Marmara Esma Sultan in Istanbul to hold their tradition-soaked affair.
Guests dined under the stars in front of the famous Bosphorus Bridge
“Since we chose Turkey, we wanted to incorporate a touch of the Ottoman Empire into our theme. I did some research and discovered the Turks are famous for their Iznik tiles and ceramics. I instantly fell for all of the ornate patterns and colours and used those elements throughout our décor.”
The blue and white Iznik tile theme was used throughout
On September 6, 2019, the bride made her grand entrance via boat in front of 180 guests. Dressed in a breath-taking custom-made Max Chaoul gown and accompanied by her father, Wajih, Aya made her way to the dancefloor to meet her husband to share their first dance to Get You by Daniel Caesar, one of the songs El Tayib had included on a playlist he made for Aya while their relationship was blossoming. “The lyrics of that song are very meaningful to both of us,” she explains.
The couple share their first dance to Get You, by Daniel Caesar
With music playing a huge part in the couple’s love story, a DJ and singer kept guests on their feet between feasting on an elaborate buffet with live cooking stations. Dishes included smoked eggplant begendi, grilled seabass with lemon caper sauce and an impressive dessert station.
Postponing their Japanese honeymoon until March 2020 so they can experience the enchanting cherry blossom season, Aya and El Tayib began married life on a mini-moon in Turkey visiting Cappadocia and Bodrum, cementing their love for the country, and of course, for one another.
BRIDE’S BLACK BOOK
DRESS: Max Chaoul, Maxchaoulcouture.com
SHOES: Custom made by Pretty Shoes, +961 1204 452
JEWELLERY: Tufenkjian, Tufenkjian.com
WEDDING RING: Private Dubai-based jeweller
GROOM’S SUIT: Suit Supply, Eu.suitsupply.com
GROOM’S SHOES: Magnanni, Magnanni.com
VENUE, CATERER AND CAKE: The Marmara Esma Sultan, Istanbul, Turkey, Themarmarahotels.com
FLORIST: Jocelyne Mehanna, Fleursetcouleurs.com
INVITATIONS: Designed by Aya and her father, Wajih. Printed at Modern Printing Press, Modern.ae and finished with a personalised wax stamp with the bride and groom’s names intertwined in Arabic calligraphy
PHOTOGRAPHER & VIDEOGRAPHER: S&S Visual Maker, Ssvisualmaker.com
WEDDING PLANNER: Gul Arpad at BG Events, Bg-events.org
HAIR & MAKE-UP: Joseph Karaki (hair), Rola Osta (make-up), both from Joseph Karaki Salon, Instagram/joseph_karaki
From the autumn/winter19 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Bride