"I Got Married On My Lunch Break Today"

BY Rohma Theunissen / Jan 16 2020 / 11:15 AM

BAZAAR’s Acting Digital Editor Rohma Theunissen nipped out to Al Barsha Mall during her lunch break and came back a married woman...

"I Got Married On My Lunch Break Today"

When it comes to getting married, you don’t have to be a romantic to wonder what your wedding might look like. Let’s face it - society has romanticised the very notion of marriage and from a young age, we have been taught to think of the occasion as ‘our big day’. I'm not much of a romantic and, to be honest, I wasn't to obsess about my wedding day. But never in a thousand years could I have imagined that when I finally did find ‘the one,’ we would tie the knot during our lunchbreak from work - inside a shopping mall, of all places.

Rohma with her father, witnesses and new husband at Dubai Courts offices in Al Barsha Mall

Yesterday started out quite uneventfully. I woke up, got dressed, hailed a taxi and made my way to work. There was nothing remarkable about my attire; I opted for my go-to floral print Ganni skirt, paired with a simple t-shirt, MANGO suede boots, All Saints leather jacket and Dolce & Gabbana bag. Makeup was hastily applied in the taxi (as per usual) and then I got into work and got started with my day. The only thing that was exceptional about my day was the fact that I was scheduled to get married at 11am! So at 10:30am as I got up to leave, my colleagues wished me luck and off I went to Al Barsha Mall where my husband-to-be was waiting for me along with my father and our two male witnesses. And just like that, we were married by a sheikh inside Al Barsha Mall, opposite Daiso.

Let’s start at the beginning - I’ve had my dream wedding already. Andrew and I “got married” in an idyllic town on the shores of Lake Como in the summer of 2018, with 80 of our closest friends and family in attendance. To simplify the wedding, we opted for a symbolic ceremony, meaning that although we had a celebrant, no documents were officially signed. We also had a Muslim ceremony in England with a dinner hosting 120 people, but again, as this was not attested, it was regarded as a spiritual wedding. So spiritually and symbolically we were married, but officially weren’t recognised as husband and wife by any legal system in the world.

Rohma had her dream wedding with a symbolic ceremony in 2018 on the shores of Lake Como

I remember raising this issue to my father, a pious man, back in late 2018. His response? “You are married in the eyes of Allah, and that is all that matters.” Great. So we continued on with our lives, not giving it a second thought until May 2019, when I decided to quit my full-time job and transition into a freelance career. I realised I no longer had a residence visa and everyone advised that I should get my husband to sponsor me. Easy. Except for the fact that, legally, we weren’t married – so technically, I didn’t really have a husband.

And so, following our summer holidays, we started looking into the process of getting married in Dubai. With Andrew being a newly-converted Muslim, the process took longer that it typically would have done, but everyone that we came into contact with at all the government offices was incredibly supportive and helpful, making the four month long journey a pleasant yet somewhat comical one.

A snapshot from Rohma's Muslim wedding ceremony in England

And so when we were finally asked to appear at the Dubai Courts offices in Al Barsha Mall at 11am on Wednesday 15 January, 2020 with two days’ notice, we did. I recall the moment I went up to my Editor to tell her I could no longer conduct an important interview that was scheduled in: “Olivia, I won’t be able to attend the interview – I have to go and get married.” The look on her face will forever remain ingrained in my memory. Given how hectic things were at work, I assured her I would only require two hours and would be back at work after.

And so, on January 15, I officially married the love of my life wearing my work clothes, on my lunch break on the first floor of Al Barsha Mall in Dubai, making it officially one of the most memorable “weddings” I know, with a story we will be certain to share for years to come. For those who might be wondering how long it took, I was literally back at my desk by 12:15pm. 

Now the only question left to ask is – which mall should we pick for our honeymoon?