Did I mention that I went to my first ever Arabic wedding last week? It was amazing!
I knew that the stakes would be high as far as looking glam was concerned: the bride is one of the most stunning girls I've ever seen, and regularly arrives at work looking better than I do on a proper night out. It's been a while since I've had to get wedding super-glammed but never being one to turn from a challenge, I embraced the task with gusto.
A trip to Martin the hairdresser (hello Martin!) resulted in a fabulous blonde bob. And for the first time ever I said the immortal words to him: make it big. Regular readers will know that you take your life in your hands when you visit the hairdresser here - one false move and you end up looking like Ivana Trump....but on this occasion, I felt size mattered.
So what happens at an Arabic wedding? Well, they're all different, and this one wasn't super traditional - but it was very different to a wedding in the UK.
Firstly: no booze. As the venue was one of Dubai's many flash hotels, it of course had a very flash bar upstairs, so the work posse swung by there first for a few g&t's/beers/champagne shooters. As you do.
Next stop: the ballroom. Now the invite said to arrive at 8.30. But as I've learned in my time in the Middle East, timings are something to aim for, not to stick to. Hence the bride and groom didn't make an appearance until 10.15. But what an entrance!
It's called the zaffir, and goes like this: huge group of male dancers in traditional dress storm the ballroom, drums, music, general tribal craziness. The crowd goes wild (Including me. When in Rome....) Dancers/drummers lead you outside to the foot of the world's biggest staircase, where you wait for the big entrance. The noise at this point is deafening: singing/shouting/drumming/crowd cheering. Seriously, for a moment I thought I was back at a Take That concert (JASON!!!!)
And finally......the moment we'd been waiting for, the bride and groom appear and are walked, very slowly down the stairs, accompanied my dancers/singers etc. I'm not doing the whole thing justice, it truly was an amazing spectacle.
The next few hours are a frenzy of dancing/congratulating the happy couple, marvelling at just how stunning the bride is (and OMG, she really was. Zaina, I'm in awe of you). And then comes the food. To be honest, by 12.30 am the urge to eat had rather passed me by, but it did look amazing. And then the party continues. As a lightweight, I left just before 2 am, but the party was still in full flow. There was even a conga - obviously devvoed to miss this.
Now I've never been one to hanker after a big white wedding - in my mind this spells BORING - but this was truly fantastic. Just something to think about...! Zaina and Tarek, thank you so much for the invitation, mabrook!
Some pics of the happy couple and the work gang here. Don't we scrub up well!