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Sonali and Edward Surgeon met at a friend's house and Edward was besotted. He even found an excuse to meet her by offering to fix a water leak in her villa! Many conversations later, he proposed to her in the undulating sands of the desert. Sonali shares her dos and don'ts on wedding planning in the UAE.
The first thing we did while organising our wedding was to call people we knew in the market who had experience with events and-or weddings. We read magazines, did reference checks and had several meetings with service providersand suppliers.
We chose a well-known Indian wedding planner in Dubai and a renowned photographer. Both came highly recommended.
The Wedding Planner
The wedding planner was booked since October 2010. She was well informed of all the details, dates and requirements. But I noticed that during our meetings, she would never write things down, insisting she'd remember everything. Later, when we'd ask for a follow-up, she would forget the major points. We actually felt we were managing our wedding planner rather than the other way round.
We also tested her abilities to negotiate. But once again we were disappointed; she would simply just forward our emails to the person! She also claimed to get the best rates from her suppliers but when my fianc and I cross-checked, we got better rates than what she had managed to get us.
The grand finale was when we had a meeting with her complaining about her attitude. She admitted to being a bad manager who wasn't good at writing things down etc. And when your wedding planner says that, it's time to start micro-managing!
How to find the right wedding planner
Be specific on what they are responsible for and how much they charge.Get references of a few people who have attended the weddings they have organised, suppliers they have worked with and of course, brides and grooms.Ask them for a contract or a proposal upfront. Give them a few assignments at the beginning and see how they manage.
Our Wedding Photographer
Again, we chose one of the best photographers in Dubai at the time. Less than three weeks before the wedding, our wedding planner asked us to check on him. And we found out that he had left the country, packed up his studio and cleared out his house! We panicked, especially as we had paid him a Dhs1,000 as deposit. We emailed and did hear back, but it wasn't that helpful. We requested for our money back and have not heard from him since. We somehow managed to find another photographer!
How to find the right photographers
Again, go with referrals as much as possible. Check how long they have been operating in the UAE for and where they are from. Make sure that the photographers are linked to people you know, they wouldn't want to do a bad job if their reputation is at stake.?Always consider a back-up.Overall wedding tips
Make sure you get the best team for your wedding. The people you work with need to be passionate about what they do, genuine, easy to work with and have no ego hassles. Get lots of spa treatments booked up as you get closer to your wedding day – they help to keep you relaxed.Take photos of absolutely everything you like to give you inspiration for your wedding Keep a wedding budget.Use your friends' organising and sourcing abilities to the maximum.Selena's Experience
They are good friends who fell in love. Selena of Radio 1 and John Quick got engaged on December 12, 2009. Over a year later, in the final stages of planning their wedding, Selena shares her experience...
The planning begins
John and I decided on having a small white wedding' in the South of France and a larger 'Indian wedding' in London.
We had plans to go to the UK in May so we decided to tie in a visit to France to sort out things such as the caterer, photographer, florist, hotels etc. Little did I know this visit was going to be a huge task because of the imminent deadline!
My mum suggested a wedding planner but I was against it. I love organising events it was a big part of my career in London along with being a DJ. However, a blog of an up-and-coming English wedding planner who worked on the French Riviera proved helpful and we decided to meet her.
Originally, I planned to get this in Dubai but my sister-in-law suggested London. I was lucky to go to a shop where I found 'the' perfect dress. What's more, they offered a made-to-measure service with one fitting and a 24-hour alteration service... perfect!
The Planning Visit
France was intense. We confirmed our wedding date, the photographer and the florist, found two great hotels and met the wedding planner. But we weren't as successful with the caterer. However, we managed to get this sorted from Dubai.
Time to chill Or is it?
I built a wedding website so that guests had all the information early on! The invitations were about to be posted when we found the venue wouldn't be ready! We had the option of using the gardens within the same grounds but it was way too expensive. Since no other venue was as nice, we decided to stay put!
Mum was clear that she wanted to organise our Indian wedding. So much of that occasion remains a surprise. I'll be having a small mehendi but no other parties Two weddings are enough!
(Catch Selena every Sunday-Friday, 4-7pm on Radio 1, 104.1-100.5FM')
Overall wedding tips
Take out wedding insurance though it's hard to find one as an expat.Look into the legal side of your marriage early on.Allow plenty of time but make sure you take breaks. More time shouldn't mean more elements.Organise one planning trip to sort out the main suppliers unless you take a package.Hire a wedding planner at your destination or in the UAE.Build a wedding website.Trust your gut instinct.Involve your fianc, he does care and can help you a lot. Share the experience with your mum, sister or best friend, even if they don't live here.