Cord and I got married on April 13th at the Banyan Tree, Al Wahdi, in Ras Al Khaimah, after being together for almost 7 years and engaged for 6. After much travelling around the US living in different places we moved to the UAE 3 years ago to be closer to my family. Last January (2014) we decided that it was time to make it official and ‘Tie the Knot’, and so began our wedding planning.
The Hunt For The Venue
To be honest I didn’t have to do much searching. After a bit of web surfing and a few emails I came across the Banyan Tree and made an appointment to meet Janytte, Event Manager, a lady who really helped make everything come together for us on the day. When we initially visited the venue in Feb 2014 we both knew that this was the right match for us. We wanted a venue that allowed us to be outdoors for as long as possible and fairly informal, as I am more of the barefoot type.
After visiting the beach resort we went to see the desert option and were left utterly impressed. It really was the perfect setting for us, incorporating my upbringing in the UAE with influences of Thailand, where we met. It has stunning surrounding, nature all around plus all the luxuries needed to ensure our guests would have the most magical few days – no one was disappointed!
The ‘Desert Chic’ Theme
As succulents and cacti have always been my favorite (maybe because I can’t grow anything else), I’m not sure whether the flowers came first or were inspired by the venue. As there is so much natural beauty at the Banyan Tree I wanted the flowers, colours and theming to all compliment the surroundings and not distract in any way. One of the great things about the venues in the resort is that they each have their own unique backdrop and not much ‘dressing’ up was needed.
I chose shades of peaches, creams and green to blend with the sand dunes and compliment the succulents. These colours were carried out throughout the wedding, from the website and e-invitations, to the bridesmaids dresses, grooms men’s’ outfits, stationary and table decorations.
I am a great lover of all things rustic and shabby chic, so this was incorporated with drift wood signs (hand made by a great friend), drift wood archway (hand made by my wonderful Dad with Cord’s help), burlap table runners & chair ties, crates and bits of drift wood for decoration. My Mum and sister had a big hand in picking out all of the above and helping make it all come together as a coordinated theme.
To add a bit of Cord to the mix we used names of movies that he has worked on over the years as the table names.
Over the past 2 years Lihandra Britz who runs Lili Bee Photography has become a close friend of mine. Having seen the work she does for maternity and family shoots I had no doubts that she would be the best choice for us. Through her careful planning, organization and passion she was able to be everywhere all at the same time. From taking the most precious pictures of Cord dressing my step sons, to capturing the excitement as the girls got ready, plus the whole wedding activities and set up. It’s true what they say about picking the right photographer, and Li has given us the precious gift of memories that will now last a lifetime.
The celebrations kicked off on Sunday 12th with all the ladies meeting at the Rainforest Spa for some girl time and pampering. Which turned out to be a really memorable experience in itself as 17 of us did the Rainforest Walk through differing temperatures of showers, saunas, steam rooms and to add a touch of hilarity cold bucket shower and ice room. Once we were well and truly invigorated we relaxed in the pool while being massaged by jets.
That evening we hosted our guests at the Bedouin Camp, managed by Arabian Incentive, located just a few sand dunes away from the Banyan Tree. The night was as perfect escape into the sand dunes for all of the guests. Our family that came from the UK and Florida had never experienced an ‘Arabian Night’ before so it was lovely for them to get to see a camel, henna painting, belly dancer and sand boarding. The great thing about the Bedouin Camp is that it is done so tastefully and is not your average tourist camp. As many of the guests have lived in the UAE for 30 plus years it speaks volumes that they were all impressed with the food and atmosphere. Great start to the party!
The ‘Tying the Knot’ ceremony took place on Monday 13th at 5pm on the Falconry Deck at the Banyan Tree. Cord’s sister conducted the ceremony masterfully and managed to fight back tears to lead our very personal service that included readings from some of my closest family friends and tying the knot by our parents.
With the sun setting over the sand dunes and the gentle breeze I think this was my favorite part of the day.
As Cord and I snuck off for a few ‘couple pictures’ the rest of the guests gathered at the Watering Hole for canapes and drinks. A truly delicious Thai meal was masterfully prepared and served by the Head Chef and staff of the Safran Restaurant, under the stars. Dinner was followed by dancing and lots of merriment inside the Safran restaurant brought to life by the live band (Adriana Hamilton & Band). If that wasn’t enough to satisfy the chef put out an amazing selection of cheese and biscuits to go with the best carrot cake I have ever eaten (recipe stolen from my best friend). For the Arabic touch shisha was available on the deck.
I would like to say that the party wound down at 1am and we left the restaurant and went straight to bed, but it actually just got started! All the ‘younger’ lot piled into my brothers room for an after party that still went on until the following afternoon – not Cord and I, we went to bed at the reasonable time of 3am (after my Godmother’s husband had jumped in the pool with his saxophone).
There are so many parts of the wedding that were incredible and so much that I am leaving unsaid. People I can’t thank enough for making the day so perfect are:
Venue: Banyan Tree – Al Wahdi, Ras Al Khaimah
- Janytte Siega, Events Manager – she really working tirelessly to make sure everything went according to plan over the past 4 months
- Chef Nugi, Head Chef – who put out a 4 course meal for 90 people that everyone is still talking about. The culinary team and service team’s attention to detail and level of service really went above and beyond.
Photography: Lili Bee Photography
- Lihandra Britz – my dear friend and extraordinary photographer who captured our special day so perfectly and has been editing like a mad women to get our full album back to us.
Flowers: Flowers by Contempo
- Patrick van Hesselingen, Manager – His floral designs and arrangements were exactly what I wanted, couldn’t have been more happy.
The Dress: The Bridal Room, Jumeirah.
I got my dress from The Bridal Room, it is a Kitty Chen dress.
- My Mum, who lived, breathed and dreamt about the wedding for almost a year
- My Dad, who footed a lot of the bill and still greeted me with a smile as we walked down the aisle towards the archway that he had skillfully made.
- My sister, for keeping me sane throughout the wedding planning and throwing the most epic hen weekend in the Oman to make sure I was tanned and relaxed before the big day.
- My bridesmaids, since nursery school these girls have been my besties. They put up with countless trips to the dress maker and never complained once.
- Kellen, a very close family friend that I have know since birth, who took on the role as my ‘on the day coordinator’ and made sure that I was not bothered with a single thing on the day.