Ranime Loutfi and Saman Darkan, met in Beirut during the summer of 2009. Saman works as a Business Solutions Manager, but back then he had just graduated from California and was on holiday in Lebanon. At the same time, Ranime was there visiting her family. The couple met through mutual friends and often met with a group of friends.
"Once summer was over, we went our separate ways in Dubai. 6 months later after coincidentally bumping into each other a couple of times in Dubai he became a little more flirtatious, ultimately asking me out on a date." Ranime explained.
The couple stayed together for 2 years before getting engaged.
Ranime shared her unique wedding experience with us and here is what she had to say:
- How did he pop the question?
He would frequently take me out on fancy dinners, so I did not expect this one to be any different. It was at Bateaux Dubai, which is known to be a romantic glass-enclosed boat dinner cruise in Dubai.
I recall him being unusually anxious on the night. Half way through the cruise, fireworks had gone off and he suggested we go out to enjoy the view (I later found out fireworks had nothing to do with our special night and was pure coincidence).
He casually took the conversation to a riddle game and told me that with every riddle I solve I get a red envelope with a surprise. First riddle I solved I got an envelope with a necklace in it, the second riddle I solved I got a red envelope with a 2 page letter summing up our relationship and ending with a proposal.
He completely took me by surprise and I was incoherent for 5 minutes. After the last riddle, the envelope had a couple of skydive voucher symbolizing our leap into our future!
At the end the only thing that matters is how much fun you had
- How many months did you have to plan the wedding?
I had 5 months to plan the entire wedding.
- Where was the wedding and why did you choose that particular destination?
Sam and I would have loved an outdoor wedding, but having an outdoor wedding in June wasn’t the smartest idea, so we went for second best and that is the tallest freestanding hotel in the world. The wedding was at the JW Marquis, The Dubai Ballroom. We chose this location because of its luxurious hall, high ceilings that served our theme perfectly, and the biggest projection screen in the Middle East.
- How many guests did you have?
There was around 400 people at the wedding.
- Who helped you to plan the event… family, friends, wedding planners?
I couldn’t have had this amazing wedding without my mother-in-law and the best wedding planner, Zainab Alsalih from Carousel Weddings.
- What was the theme of the event?
Zainab from Carousel Weddings explained: "We have always believed that the most vital elements of a beautiful wedding are the flowers. It is not only important to pick the right theme and the right colors, but it’s just as important to pick the right flower to be the centrepiece of the design. In this wedding, it was lilacs that was the creative inspiration. We wanted to create a wedding that was elegant, sophisticated, young at heart, and yet, had a timeless sense of grace, and authenticity. It was a yin-yang approach, combining the softness and femininity of lilacs a, with the ruggedness and richness of wood. It was a wonderful marriage of the strong and durable, with the soft and beautiful. Saman & Ranime had always dreamt of an outdoor wedding and I wanted to make sure that we gave them exactly that. We brought the outdoors in and the end result was whimsical, enchanted and very much so what they had dreamt of."
Ranime commented: "Being an architect I had a love for graphics and details so most the wedding features were custom made. From the tissue box, to the chocolate box, to the napkins with our monogram, to the table names. We made sure that everything had that extra touch that made it unique."
It is not only important to pick the right theme and the right colors, but it’s just as important to pick the right flower to be the centrepiece of the design
- Which flowers did you choose and why?
As we were creating an enchanted woodland feel, the flowers needed to look natural and soft. Zainab ensured that the flowers fit the theme and as lilac was the main color in our palette we worked with different shades of lilac. The centerpieces varied form one table to another and we tried to keep them organic and as natural as possible. So we had many different varieties of garden style flowers in different hues and styles.
- Describe your cake for us, the design, color, and flavors.
The cake was no ordinary cake, it was a piece of art that followed the wedding theme perfectly. The cake was designed and made by the talented Lori Hutchinson aka The Caketress. An 8 layer tiered white cakes embellished with hundreds of sugar flowers and hand painted vines. Lori worked alongside Carousel to create a perfect cake for an enchanted woodland setting.
- Did you have any party favours?
For party favors we had 4 pieces of custom-made chocolates beautifully placed in a custom made box. The chocolates were by BMB Chocolates.
- What songs did you have for the procession and the recession?
For Cake cutting: Love and Marriage by Frank Sinatra.
- And what songs did you choose for your first dance and the rest of the reception and why?
We didn’t have a first dance after entering. Saman and I had a choreographed dance, which we performed after a small video we prepared. We danced to the song Lucky by Jason Mraz.
Instead of a full DJ set we had the beautiful Layla Khodjasteh, and her band perform pre-dinner. The songs ranged between cover songs and upbeat live songs. Then after cake cutting we had Arab singer Mohammed Hamaki perform till the end of the night.
- Aside from exchanging vows, what would you say is the most memorable/magical part of your whole wedding?
The best gift of all, besides marrying Saman, is the gift he gave me the next day in the morning. Not only was it my birthday, but Saman surprised me with a song he wrote with Layla Khodjasteh and sung in studio by Layla and UAE-based singer Jibberish. The song was called “Close and Cozy”.
- Who was your wedding dress designed by?
My wedding dress was by Monique L’huiller.
- Describe the process of picking your dream wedding dress.
I always imagined that I would end up designing my own dress because I wanted something simple yet funky, modern yet fun. If it was all up to me I would have wanted a ‘short from the front’, ‘long from the back’ dress with a big black bow on the back. But again that was what I imagined.
I didn’t have a Pinterest board of “ My Dream Wedding Dress” like most brides do, so I plunged into the dress hunting process excited to see if there would be a designer out there who understands me. It just took one look at the dress by Monique L’huiller and I was hooked. It was edgy with a little structure. It was young, modern and fun and most importantly super comfortable. I finished up the gown with a 3 meter veil mantilla style.
- What about your bridal jewelry?
I had a set of earrings, bracelet, ring and necklace by Al Zain. I opted for a simple and classical design that would be easy to wear in future occasions.
My rings were by Cartier and a Chopard watch. All the jewelry were gifted to me by the groom and his family.
- Describe your shoes and who were they by?
I made sure that the shoes I picked would be shoes I can wear again and again so I went with Stella Luna’s edgy but classy heels. Comfort comes first!
- What did your husband wear?
Saman wore a custom fitted Dior Tuxedo.
- In hindsight is there anything that’d you’d have done differently?
Not a single thing, it was all just perfect and exactly what I wanted.
- What else did you do that made the wedding truly unique (fireworks, gifts, entertainment etc)?
It was important to us that we create an atmosphere where people want to be there and not just feel the need to be there. We felt weddings can be a respectful social obligation for many. Thus we created a theme that captured our energy and we projected it onto our loved ones to feel.
Saman and I wanted to break the mold of Arab weddings, and by that we didn’t have an Arabic Zaffa nor did we have a first dance.
Instead we had a contortionist perform before our entrance, a film reel that played on loop showing clips of wooded forests, gardens and other related scenes from movies.
We had a group of silk dancers guide us into the hall, a funny video of us prepared by Saman’s sister, a choreographed dance and last but not least 2 live music performers.
- Based on your personal experience, what advice do you have for future brides?
Probably Cliché, probably you heard it 100 times but enjoy the night and don’t sweat the small stuff. At the end the only thing that matters is how much fun you had. Make sure to take loads of pictures with your family members prior to the ceremony.
- Where did you honeymoon and why did you choose that place?
Bali for 10 nights. Saman and I are a very active couple. We didn’t want to lie down under the sun the whole time. We needed our dosage of adrenaline. Bali had a combination of both. A little relaxation with fun filled activities and adventures.
Which wedding suppliers did you work with on your wedding?
- Wedding Planning & Design: Zainab Alsalih, Carousel
- Dress: Monique L’huiller 2014 Spring Collection
- Shoes: Stella Luna
- Jewellery: Al Zain
- Rings: Cartier
- Groom's Outfit: Dior head to toe
- Venue: JW Marquis, Dubai Hall
- Florist: Carousel, www.carousel.ae
- Cake: Lori Hutchinson, The Caketress
- Music: Live singing by Layla Khodjasteh and Mohammed Hamaki (famous Egyptian Singer)
- Invitations: Carousel, www.carousel.ae
- Photographer: GoldFish Photography
- Videographer: Clarke-Romero
- Rovers: Fishfayce
- Make Up and Hair: AMRO Salon