Dana Wolley married Samer Zayat late last week, and here she shares some pictures of her special day exclusively with Bazaar Harper's Bazaar Arabia: How did you and Samer first meet?
Dana Wolley: First, my friend told me that she had someone that was perfect for me. She asked me to go to The Ripe Market the following week to meet him. The day that I saw him, I knew that I would marry him. We even both told our friends that we had met ‘The One’ – and 3 months later we were engaged.
HBA: How many years were you together before becoming engaged?
DW: We had dated for three months but from day one, we both knew we were each other’s soul mates.
HBA: How did he pop the question?:
DW: We were walking near his house in Downtown Dubai, next to Burj Khalifa, and he suddenly went down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was very romantic and beautiful.
HBA: How many months did you have to plan the wedding?
DW: I had one year to plan the wedding, and I wanted to be engaged for a while because there was definitely a lot of planning to do. We took our time and there was no need to rush.
HBA: Where was the wedding and why did you choose that particular destination?
DW: The wedding took place in Beirut, Lebanon at the Biel Pavillon Royal on the 29th of July. I chose that place because I felt it had such a beautiful and big space, where I had the freedom to do my own construction – my own walls, carpets, ceiling etc. It was the only venue where I could put my dream and theme into a reality. It also has an excellent location in the middle of Beirut – it is extremely high end and luxurious. HBA: How many guests did you have?
DW: 600 guests
HBA: Who helped you to plan the event?:
DW: I didn’t ask for any help from family and I didn’t want anyone to get involved. I felt that if I took too many opinions, it might end up changing my own. I wanted this wedding to be 100 percent of exactly what I wanted. I chose the amazing Paul Nasr as my wedding planner, and he helped me make my dream come true. It took us a long time because there were many weddings going on and I wanted mine to be really different. Another person that was a huge help to me was Sima Solh, the wedding blogger behind the Instagram account @Lebaneseweddings. I sent her a private message telling her that I live in Dubai and don’t know too much about how to organise a wedding in Beirut. She then introduced me to Paul Nasr and helped me with everything including flowers – we are literally best friends now!
HBA:What was the theme?
DW: The theme of my wedding was a modern version of Victorian Glamour. There are a lot of vintage elements in the wedding but it was modernised in a nice and elegant way through lighting and technology. It was also very floral and royal with a mysterious feel. For example, we had three metre chandeliers dropped to the floor on the catwalk. It looked like a fashion runway out of Paris. On the left side of the catwalk, there was a huge Victorian-style painting which was 60 metres in length.
HBA: Which flowers did you choose and why?
DW: We had dark red roses and purple peonies for a mix of mystery and elegance. A lot of green leaves too, to give a vintage garden feel inspired by the palace in Versailles. We had around 1000 cylinders, each one four-five meters in height, filled with flowers all around the venue.
HBA: Tell us about your cake!
DW: The cake took around six months to create by an amazing catering company called Vanilla Bean. It is owned by two lovely ladies who went to the United States and trained with one of the worlds’ biggest cake artists. It was a very unique one-of-a-kind Victorian style cake that had a lot of greens and blues and gold. The cake had a hand-painted vintage room inside it with a chandelier that lit up – just like the chandeliers on the catwalk. HBA: Did you have any party favours?
DW: Yes, the guests walked away with different souvenirs by Patchi, including crystal souvenirs. They also got a customised mini version of my wedding cake.
HBA: What songs did you have for the procession and the recession?
DW: For my entrance, we had Rise Above by Position Music, and for Samer’s entrance song, we chose Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore.
HBA: And what songs did you choose for your first dance and the rest of the reception? We chose Iris by Goo Goo Dolls, which is a song that Samer and I really love. I just felt like it really explained what we were feeling and there is a lot of passion behind the song. HBA: What was on your menu? DW: We had a three-course meal that featured smoked salmon, a goast cheese tart and Australian beef medallions. For dessert, there were plenty of Parisian-style desserts with an oriental Arabic twist. HBA: Aside from exchanging vows, what would you say is the most memorable part of your whole wedding?
DW: The best part of my wedding was walking down the aisle with my father and having him give me away. It was very emotional and magical knowing that I was walking towards someone that I am going to spend the rest of my life with. Of course, having Boogie Breeze from New York and Nader Al Atat was great and we danced till 4am. We had so much fun and Samer and I ended up singing and dancing on the stage. HBA: Who was your wedding dress by, and how did you come to choose it?
DW: My wedding dress was tailor-made by the luxury bridal boutique and haute couture atelier, Esposa Prive. They turned my vision into a reality, and I knew it would turn out beautifully since they also created my engagement dress. The dress had very intricate detail and thousands of gold and silver Swarovski stones. It really is a unique fairy-tale dress and it was exactly what I wanted for my special day.
The process of choosing the dress was amazing and it was an exciting time. I went to Esposa and tried on so many dresses with different styles and cuts. I realised that the style that suited me the most is off the shoulder and tight on the waist. I have a small waist and I knew a cinched dress would show that off. I also knew for sure that I didn’t want anything ready-to-wear. I wanted something customised and heavily beaded, nothing white. Esposa also wanted to “think big” and completely steer away from anything that has been done before. The heavy beading work took two months, and there was a team of two designers and five handworkers for the 40 metres of tulle couture and meticulous details. I decided to go for the gold and silver beading together and it was the perfect mix. The process was great and it took around five months from start to finish.
HBA: What jewellery did you wear on the day?
DW: I wore a stunning high jewellery set by Mouawad. The necklace made a grand statement, and it had a flattering heart-shaped neckline which went perfectly with the cut of my wedding dress. It made me feel like a princess on my special day.
HBA: Who were your shoes by?
DW: My shoes were by Nicholas Kirkwood from Level Shoe District – and they were the reason I was able to dance for hours at my wedding! My favourite part was the pearl in the middle of the shoe, it was picked by Nicholas himself in one of Ras Al Khaimah’s pearl farms. HBA: How many bridesmaids did you have and what did they wear?
DW: I had two bridesmaids and both of them were wearing gorgeous dresses by Rami Kadi.
HBA: What did your husband wear?
DW: My husband wore a made to measure Tom Ford tuxedo.
HBA: Based on your personal experience, what advice do you have for future brides?
DW: My advice is for brides-to-be completely relax a full week before the wedding. You can look really tired on the day of the wedding if you don’t get your rest the week prior. It’s important to take Vitamin C every day too! Continue smiling and make sure to dance at your wedding and not stress out – enjoy every moment of your big day.
HBA: Where did you honeymoon and why?
DW: Since I have been planning this wedding for a year, Samer and I chose to go to the Maldives for five days right after the wedding to relax, then we're off to LA, Miami and Vegas. We want to enjoy ourselves as a newly married couple and go to different beaches, tourist-y places and just have fun!
DANA'S BRIDAL BLACK BOOK
DRESS: Esposa www.esposagroup.com
SHOES: Nicholas Kirkwood www.nicholaskirkwood.com
JEWELLERY: Mouawad Jewelry www.mouawad.com
WEDDING RING: Solitaire Jewels www.solitairejewels.com
GROOM’S SUIT: Tom Ford www.tomford.com
GROOM’S SHOES: Hugo Boss www.hugoboss.com
BRIDESMAID DRESS: Rami Kadi www.rami-kadi.com
VENUE: Biel Pavillon Royal www.biel-group.com
CATERER: Sofil Catering www.sofil-catering.com
FLORIST: Eventna International www.eventnaintl.com
CAKE: Vanilla Bean Catering www.facebook.com/cakesbyvanillabean
MUSIC: Boogie Breeze, Nader Atat, and Anthony Bassoulou (DJ)
INVITATIONS: Favorite Store
PHOTOGRAPHER: Bright Light Image & Photography www.brightlightimage.com
VIDEOGRAPHER: Bright Light Image & Photography www.brightlightimage.com
MAKEUP: Bassam Fattouh www.bassamfattouh.com
HAIR: Wassim Morkos www.paceeluce.com