Masooma and Mohammed - 15.03.2018

Once upon a time a mortgage advisor met her client... is not how you’d typically recite the opening line to a romantic fairytale. But that’s exactly how this love story began. Dubai-based Masooma Manzoor Qadar, a banker at Mashreq Bank, was introduced to Mohammed Danish Qadar, a private banker with Barclays Bank, by a distance acquaintance’s referral to assist him with his mortgage. Little did she know this would be one way a modern-day prince charming shows up.

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‘We initially met at his office to discuss his business requirements,’ says Masooma, 27, from Pakistan. The meeting took place on January 24, her birthday, and she casually mentioned that during the meeting. ‘Our meeting was very formal with no small talk. Post meeting, he requested if they could meet again to discuss further,’ she says.

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The thorough gentleman, Danish, 34, remembered the birthday detail from their first meeting and surprised her with a cake at the second meeting. It sort of broke the ice and ‘that’s when we started to hang out as friends,’ she says. ‘That friendship soon led to love, so much so that we became dependent on each other and realised we were incomplete without each other.’

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A year on, Danish, a British-Indian expat, popped the question. ‘The proposal was beautiful,’ Masooma gushes. ‘We drove all the way to Jebel Jais in Ras Al Khaimah and he proposed to me on the highest peak of the UAE.’

Plans for their engagement and wedding soon began to take shape. ‘We were actually to get engaged, which then changed into our wedding date because my family was travelling (to Dubai) from the UK,’ says Danish.

The wedding was planned in just three months and all arrangements were made in six weeks. The couple had their hearts set on a Raja-Rani (king and queen)-themed wedding, with a dash of Iranian tradition and Bollywood festivity.

‘My mum hails from Delhi and Agra, which is why the Taj Mahal was our inspiration for the Raja-Rani wedding theme,’ Danish says, adding that his sister played a huge part in helping them research, explore and execute the theme.

‘Which girl hasn’t dreamt of being a royal princess living in a grand palace and getting married in Mughal style? So, our Raja and Rani theme was just perfect,’ Masooma adds.

Unlike many grooms, Danish was actively involved in all the arrangements, from venue shortlisting and booking, to arranging things, while Masooma went off to Pakistan to shop for their wedding ensembles.

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‘It took us about three days, after spending hours and hours each day with designers, to finalise our outfits,’ Masooma says. ‘One needs a lot of patience to choose their big day looks. This is literally the most difficult part of planning a wedding because nothing is complete without your dream wedding dress. The colour, embroidery, train, veil and shoes all had to match and fit perfectly like a diamond ring.’

Her bridal gown was a silver embroidered three-piece maroon red lehenga. The kameeze was a soft and gentle light georgette fabric with aari embroidery and a vintage dupatta.

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Danish’s off-white embroidered sherwani was equally difficult to design and the artisan designer created the Raja headdress with a velvet maroon red draping brocade scarf for a regal look.

With both having great love for their values and culture, they were clear that their attire for the various functions had to be traditional and match the themes perfectly.

Luckily for the couple, Danish’s sister Siama is an etiquette trainer who teaches bride and groom etiquette. Thanks to her planning, organisation and time management expertise, along with her innovative theme ideas and etiquette specialist service, the couple could realise the perfect dream royal wedding.

Festivities began with a Bollywood-style floral decor for the Mehndi and Sangeet. The setup included bright fresh flowers, vines and a sheer natural-draped style stage. Celebrations included several performances from family and friends from both sides, with Masooma’s troupe surprising the couple with a play that enacted the couple’s love story.

‘There was so much humour, plus bizarre acting from friends who were acting as me and Masooma,’ Danish says.

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Masooma adds: ‘The floral arrangements were jaw dropping. From floral hangings to stunning centrepieces and the DJ rocking some amazing Bollywood tunes, this theme had everyone feeling like they’d been transported to a special floral paradise.’

With Siama’s input, the Mehndi hall also featured a swing as the photo booth along with flower pieces in intricate painted claypots. ‘She also taught us the jovial Bollywood way of eating but with elegance, sitting and standing with actor decorum, walking gracefully like Bollywood actors... as if we are on a movie set,’ Masooma says.

Next came the Iranian-themed Nikah ceremony, chosen for it’s meaningful symbolism. Because the Mughal empire was so vast, it is believed that its wedding traditions were a combination of various wedding rituals derived from Islamic traditions.

‘To match the wedding reception theme, I had an Iranian-themed Nikah, which consists of a table spread called the Sofreh Aghd. The items on this spread symbolise life, marriage, love, fertility, health and more. It’s really a very beautiful and meaningful ceremony.

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‘For my ceremony we picked a white, gold and silver theme,’ Masooma says. She wore a lace dress by Pakistani designer Maria B. ‘She gave me this amazingly dramatic train that I adored. This was a very traditional Iranian nikkah in every sense as I was dressed like an Iranian bride.’

Leading up to the grand finale, the reception involved choosing the right kind of chandeliers, sparkling lights, table arrangements and scented candles.

‘We spent sleepless nights discussing wedding arrangements over the phone,’ Danish recalls. ‘I was involved in everything, from arranging our wedding suite, to helping Masooma pick her wedding dress to venue selection, the food menu, food tasting, stage decoration, flower arrangements, centrepieces, musicians, photographers... We both worked together to make our dream come true.’

For the reception, the meet-and-greet foyer welcomed guests with bespoke artisan canapés. Along the entry to the grand ballroom, a violinist serenaded guests with beautiful and festive Indian tunes. Beautifully crafted candles lined the walkway to the ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah, leading to a backdrop of light pink and white roses with Maharaja-style draped silk chiffon textured material. And the couple’s entry was the stuff of romantic fairytales, with a slow, intimate Raja-Rani aisle walk, choreographed to perfection by Siama.

Arranging a wedding such as theirs was far easier in Dubai in comparison to England, Danish says.

‘All the necessary vendors are present in the UAE and they are easy to find at wedding exhibitions, which we attended in February 2018 for our inspiration and vendor list shortlisting,’ he says. However, he adds, although the couple live in Dubai, the wedding did end up feeling more like a destination wedding.

‘Although I lived in Dubai and Masooma grew up here, marrying in Dubai still had an extraordinary feeling like it was a destination wedding, especially since family and friends were coming from England, India and Pakistan,’ he explains.

Looking back on their courtship, Danish admits that deep down he instantly knew Masooma was “the one”.

I fell for her the very first time I met her,’ he says.

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‘From the day I met her I knew there is something special about her that would change my life. I was in love with her name Masooma, which means innocent in Urdu. That gave me a reason to get to know her more. Her nature of acceptance of reality and not living in dreams is a rare quality that attracted me. Her desire for perfection in everything she does is something I always dreamt of in my life partner and her innocence to love made me fall in love with her even more.’

Masooma adds: ‘No one can understand me the way he does. I knew that day I’d found a friend and a best friend in him. For me to be sure of him being my life partner was in how he respected and loved my parents equally, as much as I loved them. The best quality about him was that he loved my happiness, which was enough for me to know he is someone I can grow old with.

‘I literally didn’t know my birthday would have been so lucky for me to get me my soulmate.’

TOP TIPS FROM THE BRIDE AND GROOM

Masooma says:

Allow your husband-to-be to have an active interest in preparing and planning the wedding. This way the groom gets to appreciate the big day too and has an awareness of costs and the amount of work needed. Train on eye contact with a smile, for the smile to be genuine and love to be seen in the eyes.

Danish says:

Don’t overindulge on entertainment or food choices but keep the events classy and never compromise on quality for the finishing touches. Work on aisle walk with a good upright posture and a slow walking pace that matches the bride as she will be sporting heels.

LIST OF WEDDING FUNCTIONS, VENUES AND VENDORS

» Wedding decor: Basheer Bhai Dubai Wedding Service

» Wedding etiquette consultant and wedding planner for all events: Siama Qadar Institute of Modern Etiquette (Dubai)

» Bride’s make-up: UK-based make-up artist Sana Make-up

» Photographer: S&S Concept

» Mehendi/Sangeet venue: Ballroom Oud Mehta 1&2 at Movenpick Hotel Oud Mehta, Dubai

» Nikah venue: Movenpick Hotel Oud Mehta, Dubai