Sarah Shehata is no wedding expert, but she suffered the horrors of trying to plan her wedding in a country where she knew nothing (just like Jon Snow). Here's how she thinks you should go about it.
It’s wedding season, and if you’re not running around finding a different dress or suit for every wedding you’re going to attend, then you’re probably freaking out because it is your own wedding coming up and you have seven thousand things to do before the big day.
I hadn’t been in Egypt for very long. In fact it’s only been about 8 months since I packed up my life in Australia and resettled here in Egypt. Why on earth would anyone leave Australia and come to live in Egypt when the opposite is often sought after? Well to answer that, I got married and decided I wanted to have my wedding with all of my family and the people I love most in it and they just happen to live in Egypt. Yep. Essentially, I packed up my life and went to the motherland to get hitched.
At this stage, everything was exciting. I had never lived in Egypt before and knew nothing about getting around, but for some reason the idea of planning an extravagant wedding was brilliant to me. My family in Egypt were supporting this idea, my friends in Egypt were supporting this idea, and even the currency conversion was being supportive! I was going to make my grandiose wedding happen.
So here I am, supposedly trying to contact the best of the best to perform in my zaffa – I wanted a Lebanese style one with special props. I was supposed to find a DJ with enough swag to keep everyone entertained, but also with an Arab touch for plenty of belly dancing. And of course, I needed the most talented photographer to capture the extension of my dress - because that’s more important than the wedding itself obviously).I was also expected to find a capable caterer to feed those who are only coming for the food, a décor expert, a hair and make up professional, and other things of the sort. Not to mention all of the minuscule details I needed to figure out, including choosing flowers, flavours, colours, styles, bridesmaids and their dresses, and dealing with my husband and what he would wear. What car would he pick me up in and should he wear a bow tie? SO MANY THINGS. But sure, I thought, I’m super creative and this should be fun!
In retrospect, taking care of all of these things fast-tracked my learning process in finding the people I wanted and learning how to sneakily negotiate with those who wanted to overcharge me! “El wardaya dy b 85 geneh ya gamil,” one florist told me. So if I wanted a bouquet of say 15 roses – the regular balady ones - I had to pay EGP 1,275, according to this dude. Um, nope.But my advice to all of those about to plan their wedding for the summer, DON’T DO IT. As in the planning… Don’t do all of the planning yourself because you risk the actual enjoyment of getting married and celebrating in the first place. Find someone to do it for you and spare yourself all of the mind-boggling details.
There are many wedding planners and event planners in Egypt, but one place that particularly stands out is The Nile Ritz-Carlton for their longstanding wedding expertise and ability to put together the stress-free and extravagant night we all want.The 5-star hotel have their very own strategic wedding planner who has nothing to do all day, but to think about those minuscule details that make or break your wedding day. From food, beverages, the wedding cake, zaffa, and photography, all the way to the shape of your welcome drink cups and setting up a room for you and your partner to stay the night. Imagine paying someone to do the thinking for you. *Insert angel harps here* While the night itself is important – which will most likely take place in the hotel’s famous Alf Leila W Leila Ballroom, the bride herself is more important than anything else in the world right now. I know I definitely needed some stress relieving massages, and maybe a facial for my make up to glide on smoothly – but also so I would outshine all of the guests and the groom himself. The Ritz-Carlton packages include all this, coupled with a Moroccan bath, and all of it can be extended to your bridesmaids – a little gift from you to them for all of the crap they had to put up with! But they also deserve a little more than that, so the hotel will host a bridal party for your bridesmaids with your own private luxurious cabana for the day, full use of the pool, and a complimentary massage. And if you’ve gotten used to the experts doing everything for you, for an extra cost, ask the hotel to organise a professional make up artist and a hair stylist to make you look like a million bucks later that night.
As a newlywed who punches herself in the face daily for going through all of the trouble I did to make my wedding happen, this is just one of the many ways out there that you can learn from me to make the day perfect without feeling the need to tear your hair out every five minutes. Getting married in the summer doesn’t actually have to be as hard and complicated as I made it for myself. Hurray for you; and I am not bitter about it at all!
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*The content of this article is sponsored.