Planning a wedding in another country can be challenging, but when you throw in unpredictable weather, an outdoor venue, international flights and volcano eruptions, not forgetting the ‘traditional’ stresses of getting every detail right, you have to wonder how this blushing bride managed to look so serenely beautiful on her wedding day. Silvia and Claude chose the location for the wedding about ten months before the ceremony. Travelling around different venues in Lebanon, they stumbled upon the Batroun Village Club. “We instantly knew it was right for us. We were looking for an outdoor church and we felt the magnificent look of the theatre was the closest to the fairytale wedding I had always wanted,” Silvia remembers. Their Syriac, Orthodox Maronite wedding involved a romantic ceremony that was perfectly suited to the amphitheatre, with the reception planned in the same al fresco location to take advantage of the spectacular backdrop.
Did you use the venue as a basis for the theme of your wedding?
We chose romance as our theme and this was represented by nude, champagne shades for the bridesmaids and my family. Even our closest friends wore that colour. We weren’t too stuck on the details, as we wanted the big picture to look complete and have as much fun as possible. I put a lot of effort into choosing the right menu, the right chairs and the perfect flowers.
Were there particular things that you wanted to save or splurge on?
We didn’t save much on anything; we did some negotiations to keep to our budget, but we wanted to spend on the important things such as food, drinks and entertainment.
What was the hardest thing about planning a Beirut wedding from Dubai?
It wasn’t easy to plan it from afar. It wasn’t until 10 days before the wedding that we finalised all the details! Thankfully, the venue manager was incredibly supportive, helping us to make decisions more easily. She even helped us with the priests, one of which is my uncle who came all the way from Sweden to conduct the blessing. She even helped to organise the choir, the music and the rest of the people that were involved.
Your 200 guests flew in from all over the world. Was that hard to coordinate?
With people coming in from Sweden, Germany and Dubai, we had to organise hotels, taxi pick-ups from the airport, hair and make-up appointments for the ladies, and then for the day of the wedding, a bus transfer for all the guests from their hotels to the venue. Stressful is an understatement!
Last minute hitches are common, but what happened the week before the wedding?
The week started off with an Icelandic volcano threatening some Scandinavian flights, so every day was stressful with the pressure of not knowing if all our guests would make it or not. But the night before the wedding everyone had checked into their hotels, and I finally started to relax a bit.
We hear you had some unwelcome rain on the big day, how did you deal with that?
The night before the wedding it started to rain heavily and it continued right through to Saturday morning. We didn’t have a plan B, so we just put everyone on hold while we tried to figure it all out. Claude went all the way to Batroun where they said there was no way to prepare the wedding arrangements as the grass and the theatre were too wet. We ended up having to postpone until the Sunday evening. Then, we started calling all the guests, the singer, the florist, the photographer, the caterer, the 30 hairdressers we had booked for all the female guests, to see if they could reschedule. Luckily, they all managed to be there for us. Since many friends had just fl own in for the weekend, we had to try and rebook some of their flights. We were so grateful that our guests were so flexible about all the sudden changes.
How did you cope with all the last minute stress?
I broke down and had an awful Saturday. My mother calmed me down until I managed to sleep, but I felt as though I had lost all control. I still vaguely remember what happened on the Sunday morning before the wedding, but it’s mostly a blur. I do know that I managed to get every woman that was invited to their hairdressers appointment though!
But you had an incredible time when your wedding finally happened.
What mattered the most was for me to have my family gathered, all my aunties and uncles and my cousins and best friends to share my big day. When all my cousins and family entered the lobby where I was waiting for them, tears started running down my face. The moment we said yes to each other was also very emotional and everybody started wowing and clapping their hands. The atmosphere was filled with love and excitement, and the scenery and the beautiful ceremony fulfilled everyone’s expectations.
Traditional entertainment was at the heart of your celebration, can you tell us about that?
We had a traditional Lebanese Zaffe, Zaffet Al Mir, who entertained the guests all day, from following the bride out to church, to the big show at the reception. They performed a lot of dances and played the traditional instruments. We also had a singer who we brought out from Dubai. He had learned the Assyrian songs that I wanted to be sung for me. We mixed his talent with all the well known Arabic songs, as well as a DJ who played modern dance hits. We decided not to have a first dance or a slow song. Instead we chose an upbeat song from our singer, who invited all the guests on stage to participate.
With just one bridesmaid and one best man was it easy to find the bridal party’s attire?
For me, I had planned in advance. I had searched the internet for two to three months to have an idea of which brands to look for. I finally found an Enzioani dress, tried it on and knew instantly that it was the one for me. I didn’t need to try any other dresses on. The look for the bridesmaid was from Jason Wu, and the groom and best man wore matching classic tuxedos.
A lavish wedding feast included some real authentic favourites, but what about the sweet treats
Our cake was a simple high white cake placed on the roof top of a cave, we then had 12 different desserts such as tarts, tiramisu and a chocolate fountain.
After such an intense time, did you get away for a romantic honeymoon?
Looking back, I think after all the stress leading up to it, on the day everything turned out perfectly. Those are the memories I will cherish. After the wedding, we stayed in Lebanon to spend some time with our family. We’re planning a honeymoon though, maybe to Brazil.