Real Weddings

Lara & David

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David and I met through a mutual friend on a bus ride home in our early teens. Our culture is conservative when it comes to dating so we got to know each other by texting. Over the years, our relationship blossomed. We were lucky enough to experience a lot together; school balls, graduations, milestone birthdays and first jobs. I even taught David how to drive! Thirteen years later, and here we are, married.

David started his career in Wellington, and we would travel to see each other frequently. One weekend David flew back to Auckland. We were following our usual routine: going out for coffee and finding a nice view where we would play scratch cards. We found a spot in Devonport, on Mt. Victoria. Little did I know, David had organised a special scratch card that gave me a match of three and the prize revealed the words; “will you marry me?”. David got down on one knee and proposed. He’d been planning the proposal for 18 months.

We married almost two years later. We chose a summer wedding as we love the warmer weather and late sunsets. A clear marquee allowed our 150 guests to enjoy the beautiful surrounding landscape. Eating dinner under the sunset is an experience we’ll never forget. We had champagne and canapes in the courtyard on arrival. We took beautiful photos during golden hour and danced the night away under the stars and festoon lights.

Our wedding theme was classic yet modern. We incorporated whites, neutrals and greenery as these are features we’ve both loved for years. We created the menus to reflect our cultural roots, with antipasti platters for the entree of falafel, hummus, olives, koftas, tzatziki and more. Our wedding cake was three-tiered with two flavours, white chocolate and classic chocolate with raspberry and vanilla buttercream.

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For the music, we wanted to strike a balance between traditional Arabic and popular music. We hired a DJ and incorporated a traditional Middle Eastern hand-drum called the ‘doumbek’ which was played by family and friends throughout the night. This really created an authentic Middle Eastern atmosphere. We danced our way into the marquee to upbeat Arabic music. Our guests joined us and lifted us up as they chanted “bossa”, which means kiss! Another traditional dance is the ‘dabke’ where our guests linked arms and stomped their feet as they sang and weaved around the tables.

Our flowers included a combination of white gypsophila, roses, hydrangeas, orchids, dahlias and snapdragons. We loved the aesthetic of these flowers and that they symbolise grace, gratitude, virtue, elegance and eternal love.

The dress code at Iraqi weddings is always black tie. With my love for fabrics, I designed my bespoke gown in partnership with Trish Peng focusing on luxury and the use of indulgent fabric. It had a contoured sweetheart bodice with a fit and flare silhouette and draped lace straps, plus detachable thin satin straps for dancing. My favourite detail was the sheer back detailing, which dipped into a low V shape to show off the two layers of floral lace, lending the dress a 3D look. The gown was finished with a satin waistband and a three-metre cathedral train with a blusher. I wore pearl drop earrings and put my hair in a slick high bun to keep the look fresh and clean. My maid of honour wore a champagne-coloured satin gown and my flower girl wore a princess-style knee-length dress. David wore a classic black fitted tuxedo and bow tie.

We couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect day. We travelled to Queenstown a few days later for a magical honeymoon week of wining and dining.

“Fully immerse yourself and be present in the moment; your guests will feed off your energy and the memories you create will last a lifetime.”


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