Real-Life Wedding: Tying The Knot In The Moroccan Mountains
Reem Kanj and Jenai Kemal
Date of wedding: September 23 2016
Location: Atlas Mountains, Marrakech
Their story: The couple met when Reem was 22 years old and Jenai was 26. “We met when I was looking for a web designer to launch my blog. After several Skype conversations discussing my website, we became good friends and eventually fell in love and were engaged five years later.
“We had our religious ceremony three months after our engagement but waited two more years before planning and executing the wedding of our dreams. We spent those two years deciding on what we really wanted, scouting different locations and, of course, saving up and making sure that we were going to tick off everything we wanted for our big day.”
“Our wedding day was the most magical night of our lives and the following day was just as good when we celebrated with all of our friends and family a second time, with a barbecue by the pool.”
Venue/location: “Our venue was the stunning backdrop of Le Palais Paysan – a boutique hotel in the Atlas Mountains of Marrakech, Morocco. It has unspoilt views of the mountains and complete seclusion from anyone who isn’t a guest.
“We hired out the entire place and had the majority of our friends and family stay there. It was the perfect venue for what we wanted. We held the ceremony in the gardens at the front of the venue by the olive groves, a reception in the back gardens and then our dinner by the stunning pool. Each element of the wedding had its own reveal, it was beautiful.”
Number of guests: 46. “Jenai and I had always wanted an intimate setting for when we exchanged our vows so we kept our wedding guest list tiny.”
Theme: The couple decided not to go with a specific theme, however Reem wanted to pay homage to the beautiful city of Marrakech so the wedding planners and production team ensured there were rich colours as part of the floral styling, and gold and earthy tones for the dinner setting. There were hundreds of candles placed all around the venue “to give a 1001 Nights feel which also added to the romanticism of the entire evening beautifully,” says Reem.
Dress: “I always knew that I’d keep my dress simple, I’ve never wanted a ‘princess’ look or feel, I wanted something romantic, something elegant and something I would feel comfortable walking and dancing in. I found my dream dress by Inbal Dror at Esposa and it suited the vibe and location of our wedding perfectly.”
Veil: “I was originally going to opt for both a tiara and a veil but, last minute, I decided to take things down a notch and removed the tiara and only just keep the veil. I’m so happy with the outcome as my dress has so much embroidery and embellishment on it.”
Shoes: Reem found her dream shoes on sale from Manolo Blahnik at Bergdorf Goodman when she was in New York, a few months before the wedding.
Wedding rings: Both our rings were custom designed by Tarina Jewellery based in Lebanon.
Bridesmaids: Reem didn’t want matching bridesmaids dresses. “I wanted each of my girls to look and feel like themselves and finally we decided on a colour scheme and then chose dresses from different designers. It was a mix of Zimmerman, ASOS and Reformation.”
Flowers: The flowers were a favourite part of the bride’s big day. In place of a traditional arch Reem chose a large circle covered with pink and red flowers with green foliage to match the ceremony chair decorations. “Our dinner table had hundreds of vases filled with the most beautiful array of red and pink blooms,” Reem explains.
Music: “Jenai used to be a DJ so he organised the music for the entire wedding, from the ceremony to the party,” says Reem. “We had a set playlist for every moment of the wedding and although a lot of people advised us to go down the traditional route and get a DJ, we knew that the music had to be exactly what we wanted, so we kept control of that element and I’m glad we did – it was our personality, through and through.”
First dance: Nothing Can Change This Love by Sam Cooke.
Food: “The food served at our dinner was contemporary Moroccan” Reem explains. Guests were served a mezze of Moroccan salads for the starter, followed by a leg of lamb with chickpeas for the main. To finish, guests enjoyed a trio of desserts and self-serve French pastries from the dessert table.
Cake: “Our wedding cake was delicious. We had a vanilla and praline three-tier cake. It lasted us from the wedding evening to the pool party the next day.
Favours/guest gifts: When each guest checked into their room at the venue, the couple had placed personally chosen gifts from the local souks inside. They included,olive oil, black soap, dates and a mini tagine. Everything was delicately wrapped in a mini raffia beach bag.
Unique touches: Reem and Jenai had their religious ceremony (katb-al-kitab) two years earlier. For their wedding in Morocco they wanted it to be a celebration and appreciation for the people close to them, so they enlisted a best friend to be the officiant. “It felt so much more natural for someone we knew to be the person who hosted such an intimate moment of our lives. It made it even more special for us,” says Reem.
“After the ceremony, our guests walked over to one of the olive trees where we had ribbons hanging from the branches with each name and a number attached, this was our way of letting everyone know where they was sitting for the dinner. It was a great talking point and looked beautiful for photos.”
“We also had a surprise live show of fire eaters. It was our version of fireworks. And another unique touch would be our Moroccan lounge where guests could take a break from dancing, or enjoy a shisha.”
Honeymoon: We flew to the Amalfi Coast a few days after our wedding and spent a mini-moon in Amalfi and Capri before gearing up for our honeymoon in the beautiful Maldives a few months later.
Reem’s top tips
1. Take your time when planning. Don’t get pressured into doing anything you don’t want to do.
2. Don’t think you have to stick to the cookie cutter ideal of a wedding. Do whatever you want; weddings don’t all have to be the same. Your wedding should be a reflection of who you are.
3. Only have the people you truly love the most surround you on this day. Our wedding was as much for our friends and family as it was for us. They flew from far and wide to be there with us and that’s what made us so happy.
Little Black Bridal Book
I can honestly say that apart from choosing my dress, jewellery and shoes, we didn’t have to worry about a single other thing. Boutique Souk Planning and Production took care of it all. They handled everything from the furniture, flowers and food. I would highly recommend: