LA based bride and groom Anjali and Joe certainly know how to hold a party, fusing all their family cultures and traditions into one to host one almighty destination wedding in Marrakesh.
As you’d expect there is immense light, an abundance of trinkets and natural beauty. None more so than Bride Anjali in her exquisite Hermione de Paula gown. The beading is truly stunning and has even been personalised with lyrics from the Bob Dylan track Joe had on in the background during his proposal to her.
Andy Gaines Photography has documented all of this beautifully, capturing all of the love, immense style and party vibes. So sit back relax and get ready for your mind to be blown away, and your senses to go into overdrive.
Anjali the Bride: I was never someone who dreamed about my wedding day or the dress I would wear. Several years ago a friend emailed me an image she had come across of a couple on their wedding day because she thought the dress was really beautiful. I totally fell in love with it – there was something about the high-neck and long sleeves that I really connected with. I loved the silhouette and the embroidery and beadwork were timeless. The image looked vintage, so we presumed the dress was, but I never forgot about it. At the first bridal boutique I visited, the girl assisting me asked me what I was looking for and what my inspiration dress was, so I referred her to this image telling her that in a ideal world this is what I would wear, ‘but alas it’s vintage and I have no idea where it came form’. Amazingly, she actually recognized the beadwork on the dress and told me her colleague was obsessed with this designer and it’s not vintage. Her colleague was out of town so she gave me her instagram handle and told me to go through it as I should come across the designer on there. After some pretty heavy instagram stalking I was able to find out that the designer was Hermione de Paula and she was based in London, no less, (where I was living at the time) designing bespoke wedding gowns. I was pretty ecstatic. To top it off, I actually recognized her name because we have some mutual friends. To me it was serendipitous and I was able to have my dream dress custom made for me.
After discussing my favourite flora with Hermione, she decided on a “Tropic Utopia” theme for my gown. It had hand drawn lavender, jasmine, palm and fern embroidery throughout. The jasmine holds a lot of sentimental value for me as it reminds me of my grandma and mum. One of the most beautiful and delicate parts of the gown was the jasmine collar. There was intricate beadwork throughout. You can even find lyrics from one of my husband’s songs embroidered into the dress (‘my heart beats, but it needs you there to sing’), which made it so much more personal and special for me. It truly is a work of art and something I will treasure forever. I only wish it could be worn for another occasion!
The perfect accompaniment to my dress was a pair of Saint Laurent shoes.
One of my oldest and dearest friends, Emily Baxendale, is an incredibly talented milliner (Emily-London). In keeping with the theme of my dress she made me a set of beautiful jasmine hairpins to clasp my hair in place at the back.
Joe was inspired by the American-western country gentlemen and classic English look. His suit was made of linen and had western accents to it. His hat was made specially for him by the lovely folk over at Thomas Farthing. These were the only suits we came across that catered to Joe’s taste. He completed his look with a pair of dark brown boots from Crockett & Jones.
On a trip to Morocco looking for wedding locations, we discovered Beldi Country Club. We were taken aback by it’s expansive grounds, beautiful landscaping and stunning architecture. There is a plethora of choice of buildings you can use on the site, each with its own charm. As we were hosting the ceremony in November, rain was also a possibility and Beldi had indoor options. It’s hard to describe its beauty. We ended up choosing to have our ceremony in the greenhouse as we were drawn to all the beautiful plants hanging from the ceiling and lining the floor. To me, the location also seemed like a perfect complement to my gown.
Our colour scheme was colorful and inspired by Morocco to capture the magic of the area. We wanted an intimate romantic setting with an abundance of candles and lanterns. We really didn’t have to put much effort into this as the venue was already stunning.
Floral arrangements and décor were provided by Beldi. All the roses came from the incredible Beldi rose garden. It was amazing to use the fresh flowers from the area and it added to the Morroccan experience.
The dining table arrangements were in red, orange and fuchsia.
For the ceremony, white roses in vintage silver buckets lined the aisle, while white and pale pink petals covered the walkway.
Bouquets (eucalyptus leaves and flowers in soft muted tones tied together with long sashes of silk ribbon), boutonniere and gypsophile crown (for my niece) were provided by Sabrina Mahi at Yassab.
The Wedding Party Fashion
It was really important for me that my bridesmaids looked and felt their best on the day. I wanted them to choose their own dress to highlight their individual style. But to keep a cohesive look, each picked an emerald green long dress that matched their personality.
The groomsmen were uniform in their navy blue suits and maroon ties. They were happy to have the choice made for them!
My niece and nephew were our mini-bridesmaid and mini groomsmen. They both wore traditional outfits in Marigold. My Niece’s was a take on a lengha that I designed myself. My Nephew wore a traditional Kurtha.
Music is a large part of my husband’s life and it’s something that brings back memories of how we first met. He proposed to me while playing one of our favourite Bob Dylan songs. We looked at more traditional readings but nothing spoke to us. It felt right to use Dylan lyrics for our readings.
Lighting of the Unity Oil Lamp – a take on a Sri Lankan wedding tradition where our parents join us in lighting the lamp to signify our new beginning and symbolize the union of our lives and our families joining and becoming one.
An unexpected sandstorm started just before the ceremony began. The glass panes were shaking really hard, icy cold water dripped through the rafters on to our guests and us. Winds howled and interjected with the readings to comical effects. It added such drama, mood and humor to the occasion and made it all the more special, while providing some laughs.
Entertainment played a huge part on our wedding day. We wanted to make the day as fun and exciting as possible and knew that music was the way to do that. It also helped the day flow from one moment to the next. Our guests were welcomed at the entrance to the dancing and drums of Dakka Marrakchia. After the ceremony we had Gnawa dancers perform as we entered cocktail hour. They were amazing to watch and provided a high energy spectacle for the guests. During cocktails we had a Moroccan instrumental trio perform. To mark the entrance to dinner we had a fire-eater and everyone was led into the dining room to sit. My husband and I entered on Palanquins to traditional Moroccan music carried by the gnawa dancers. That was a pretty special and epic moment. Especially as I’m quite shy and no one would have expected us to make such a grand entrance! During dinner we had a belly dancer and candlestick dancer during the main course. After dinner we had the most incredible 8-person band called STITOU performing Moroccan fusion music. They really were a highlight. They even learned to perform the Dylan song that Joe played while proposing to me as their opening number. It was perfect to get the party going and it was fun to hear covers of Dr Dre and Daft Punk played in traditional Moroccan style! Our friend, Tim Stephens, was our DJ and we couldn’t have hoped for anyone better. He knew the kind of music we loved and how to make it into a fun and very personalized set. One of our friends, Ed Twitchett, also did a 30-minute DJ set for us and absolutely killed it.
We stuck with our Moroccan theme for food. For canapés we had a selection of briouates (vegetables, cheese, chicken), lamb and chicken skewers, quiches, fresh vegetables baskets, olives.
For our main meal we had a Moroccan buffet with a selection of salads for starters, different options of tagines and couscous for the entrée and a variety of desserts to choose from.
We also offered late night shawarma and hummus with pitta so no one would go hungry.
We were taken aback by the quality of the catering, as every meal was amazing, and up there with some of the best food in town.
We absolutely loved Andy – When we initially spoke with him on the phone we knew that he was on the same page as us. He had a really great positive energy, and that coupled with his photography style made him the perfect choice for us.
Planning a wedding is a crazy process and you so badly hope it comes together on the day. Andy as our photographer is something we never doubted. Joe and I are both drawn to documentary style photography and we wanted to capture candid moments over posed ones. I’m also uncomfortable in front of a camera and it was really important to find a photographer who could blend into the background so I wouldn’t be too aware and he encompassed all the traits we were looking for. Many guests thought he was a member of the wedding party!
We initially weren’t going to use a videographer but last minute decided it would be such a shame not to document every aspect of the day. Similar to our photographer we wanted to find someone who would capture the spirit of the day without making it a typical wedding video. Alain Aymard was a pleasure to work with, and he incorporated some of the music which we used in our ceremony into the film he made, which made it all the more special.