Planning a wedding takes a lot of patience, drive and emotional investment; and could potentially lead to a break up. So many couples would benefit from a mediator, or better yet, someone to assuage their fears and assume responsibility for the whole ordeal.
A convenience abroad, wedding planning services is a relatively new phenomenon in Egypt, and notable flower shops and hotels have established a name for themselves in planning decadent and classy affairs.
Today, an enterprising group of four young women in Alexandria have started a wedding planning service aptly named Wedding Factory. And in a short span of time, they have established their reputation as a premier wedding service from which high society figures and young modest couples seek help and inspiration.
Although based in Alexandria, The Wedding Factory takes on clients planning their weddings in Cairo or as far as the North Coast.
Lina Ben Halim, Amina Eldib, Randa Ghatwary and Nihal Tayeh have set up shop together: dynamic and fresh spirited, their concept to planning weddings is to eliminate the typical idea of a white wedding, and move forward with the standard conventions of Egyptian weddings to a more colorful, and modernized celebration.
Emphasizing that each wedding is a story to be told, the team works closely with couples to capture their unique personalities and thoughts.
“First thing I ask a bride and groom is what do you want guests to say about your wedding? That it was a nice fairytale? Or unconventional? Or romantic? Or elegant? This is where I start, says Ben Halim who is primarily responsible for the design process of the various elements of the wedding’s interior and decorations.
Figuring out the personalities and characters of the bride and groom is integral to the success of the event, and “is what needs to stand out the most, says Ben Halim. “It’s not the setting, or the [extravagant] centerpieces; it’s the couple’s spirit.
Many couples feel hesitant about hiring wedding planners, wrongfully assuming that wedding planners would become a challenge to their budget, but the team at Wedding Factory emphasize that their services are inclusive of all budgets, and that it is economical to source the various services from one source.
“If a bride were to try to plan her wedding, it would cost her more to tailor-make or rent items such as centerpieces and extra tables. It’s more cost-efficient to hire everything from The Wedding Factory because we already have all these items.
“Wedding Factory is aiming to provide assistance for every service, says Ben Halim. “From the wedding dress to the honeymoon, the responsibilities of a wedding planner are not simply limited to the wedding design aspect.
Wedding Factory recommends other companies they work closely with such as photography and video recording services, caterers and fine chocolate stores; all the essential elements of a wedding.
Their showroom in Alexandria exhibits samples of their work, revealing a fine aesthetic to wedding designs. Sample displays are set up in the shop, highlighting table arrangements with various backdrop designs.
The novel color themes are reflective of trends that have deviated from the once standard balady Egyptian flower bouquets and large kosha. Dark wood and gold are paired together and traditional pearl white is given a modern touch by complimenting it with silver. Rich pinks are mixed with softer shades of the color and arranged with crystals in romantic centerpieces.
Couples seeking more vibrancy can select themes such as Indian Summer that brings together orange, fuscia and yellow with dark wood.
Surprisingly, black is in, often being paired with silver and pink. Though sobering to some, it’s how one manipulates it that can yield aesthetic success.
Ben Halim warns against red, saying it’s an oriented theme that does not photograph well. Too bright as a color, it can be overpowering in wedding photos hiding guests and other aspects of the wedding.
The Wedding Factory likes to use flowers that are exotic to Egypt. Black and brown cala lilies, various orchids and tulips are all regularly used as are local roses, which Ben Halim takes pride in them being better than the flowers sourced from abroad.
The emphasis is always to use the best available according to the current season and at the most cost-efficient level possible.
According to Ben Halim, the wedding planning process is reflective of Egyptian society today.
“Women and men are bolder together during the planning. Women were a bit shy to reveal their desires and whims during the planning process in the past. She wouldn’t want to involve herself too much.
“Now couples speak openly about their personal vision for their wedding party, and particularly their budgets, which has led to downplaying the romance of it all, which has led to the fairytale wedding being partially eliminated, Ben Halim explains.
She also notes that couples now want to share wedding expenses. “Women understand a bit more that it takes two incomes to live a comfortable happy life as a couple. So this idea of a man coming in on a white horse doing and paying for everything [as is customary in Egyptian society] is not there anymore.
“You can see how there’s a sense of equality in society, and a move away from fairytales and Romeos. There are no more Romeos, because silent Juliets don’t exist anymore.
And just as the world’s economic situation is affecting peoples’ expenses, the recession has hit wedding planning budgets in Egypt.
“The more uneducated nouveaux riches are beginning to afford the more expensive weddings, which is sad because they have the means to plan such a wedding, but have no sense of appreciation for fine taste and such a wedding concept. The recession has hit the older classy and educated social classes who in the recession are being financially affected and are not able to afford the weddings that are reflective of their good taste, she said.
Yet what was once considered a family oriented occasion of celebration, weddings have become a platform to define people, their social status and financial capabilities. They also serve as a platform to conduct business. Many couples and their families don’t want guests leaving with criticism about the wedding, and thus hide financial strains at home by cutting down on hidden costs so as not to reveal such a reality to their guests.
Ben Halim recommends that couples carefully plan their special day. Starting six months before zero hour is necessary to avoid disappointments.
“Stay away from dates that are already important such as Valentine’s and mother’s day because during this time of the year, you can’t ensure the best flowers on the market. There’s already a very high demand for flowers, and being natural resources, you can’t produce them as you wish.
“Prices increase during holidays, and can therefore affect your budget greatly. Determine or at least familiarize yourself with what you want so that the wedding planner can execute your vision. Changing your mind or being indecisive won’t reap the best results.
The Wedding Factory3 Kafr Abdou Street. Tel.: 0105455044