Sarah Nadeem and Umar Khalid
Sarah, 24, and Umar, 25 are Pakistanis raised in Dubai. They chose to tie the knot in Ramada Hotel, Ajman on the 22nd of October 2021, with around 60 guests to witness the event. The original number on the guest list was 120.
“We have a big family, so we wanted a place that can be enough for all the people, but everywhere they had limits. We had to look for a lot of places in Sharjah, Ajman, and Dubai. We chose Ajman as it was close to us and more convenient for us.”
The couple had met in 2017 and after a few years of courtship, in April 2020 got engaged. The couple and the family were eagerly waiting for Covid restrictions to ease before setting a date for their wedding. However, when Covid showed no signs of retreat, they decided to go forward with the marriage. “We thought over it for a long time before deciding on going ahead and tying the knot.”
Given a chance, however, the couple would have preferred a mask-free wedding. “I wanted everyone to be free, enjoy their moment, not being restricted, not being constantly reminded of the rules and protocols,” says Sarah says about the strict enforcement of the rules. But the couple was aware that their safety and their guest’s safety was the first priority, and so rules were followed diligently – guests were asked to mandatorily bring their RTPCR results. Masks and gloves were also worn at all times, except while eating of course.
But Sarah and Umar did not allow that to dampen any of the festivities. The couple enjoyed their wedding. Looking back they feel the intimate wedding was one of the best aspects of getting married during the pandemic. “It not only allowed us to spend quality time with our guests, but helped us keep a check on our budget. I think it was nice, when we were planning we thought maybe it will be a hassle and things will be difficult but Alhamdullilah things were really nice. It was still a beautiful wedding.”
Reem Ahmed Bkairat and Maher Al Araj
Reem, 27, and Maher, 36, met during the Pandemic and knew they were meant to be together. They picked June 11, 2021 to be their special day, and celebrated it in Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah.
The Emarati couple wanted a summer wedding because they knew any time after would be impossible due to their busy work schedule. “We knew it was still going to be difficult, so we thought we’re just going to go ahead and do it.”
Owing to Dubai’s strict restrictions on social gatherings at the time, where only 100 guests were allowed, the couple were compelled to scout for a venue in RAK. “We chose [RAK] mainly because at the time the emirate allowed for 200 guests. It was still an issue since both of us have big families and a large set of friends but we soon accepted the reality and decided not to allow the restriction to stop us from having our moment,” says Reem.
Once the guest list and the venue was finalised, Reem and Maher ensured there was plenty to remember for everyone present. Whether it was the elegant ceremony that saw Reem in a stunning gown in lace and the groom in a handsome suit or the presence of traditional drum players and dancers, keeping the proceedings lively, the special day, the couple, will be long remembered.
Ayushi Thakur and Karan Seernani
Ayushi, 27, and Karan, 27, Indians born and brought up in Dubai, went to the same nursery, high school, and even the same university. After sharing a romantic relationship for almost 10 years, they decided to tie the knot on the 22nd of May 2021 at the Grand Excelsior Hotel, Bur Dubai.
The couple had been planning their dream wedding even before the pandemic began. Ayushi who hails from Rajasthan in India and Karan whose family belongs to Mumbai, had always wanted a wedding that would be in line with the typical pomp and splendour that marks a Rajasthani or Mumbai marriage. “We definitely wanted something that would mean a lot to us, that would be grand and spectacular,” says Ayushi. But with the pandemic not seeming to abate any time soon, the couple began to worry. “We did were wondering when we could have the typical big wedding.”
After their engagement in November 2019, they had initially planned for a wedding exactly a year later. “In February 2020, we went to Rajasthan to check out a few venues for the wedding. At that time Covid wasn’t full-blown. We almost finalised one and were getting ready to request for quotations, etc, when the pandemic became full blown.”
Due to the worsening conditions in India with the second wave, and the subsequent strict lockdowns, the couple knew their Big fat Indian wedding was not meant to be. “In November 2020, the only option we had was to either delay our wedding by a year or we finally just get done with it in the way that’s possible.”
After much thought they opted for the latter.
The Grand Excelsior in Bur Dubai was one of the only locations available with restrictions. Fortunately for the couple, a few days before their wedding on the 17th of May, the government began to ease restrictions. “We could have around 80-90 guests. So we had around three functions and 90 guests in each function.”
“Apart from the groom, I was willing to change everything,” jokes Ayushi when asked about what changes she would have wished to see on her big day. “We wanted a pool party, which we couldn’t do over here.”
Nevertheless, she says there were many advantages to her small wedding – it was economically feasible, safe, and a very intimate wedding filled with family and friends. “In spite of the small guest list, we had a lot of fun and had some unforgettable moments.”
The couple went on to honeymoon in Armenia, and then travelled to India to host two grand parties in their respective hometowns for families and guests who could not make it to the ceremony.
Rim Hassan and Odai Khazal
Rim, 29, is from Lebanon, and Odai, 33, is from Syria. The Dubai-based couple had to postpone their wedding plans three times before they finally set the date on October 29, 2021– a unique date for them because it was not just their wedding day, but also their first anniversary.
Engaged in January 2020, the couple had begun planning their wedding for March 2020, when Covid 19 hit. Due to the strict restrictions that had come into place, it was rescheduled for October 2020. Since things still weren’t looking up by then, they decided to legalise their marriage and move in together. “We decided that nothing, not even Covid, could prevent us from being together,” says Rim.
However, they were still keen on a traditional ceremony and began planning for a big wedding they hoped to have once the pandemic subsided.
The date they decided on was in March 2021, but were forced to postpone yet again as the pandemic continued to rage. The couple decided to get married outdoors in October 2021 at W Dubai The Palm with 130 close friends and family members to celebrate the much-awaited occasion with them. “We wanted to celebrate the wedding – I wanted to wear the white dress, he wanted to wear the suit. So that’s why we were like, ‘you know what we have to do this.’ It’s for us, it’s for the pictures, it’s for everything that we want to have and do.”
The couple also wanted to ensure that their guests would enjoy the wedding and that their traditional folk dances would be performed, which required holding hands and standing at a close distance – impossible with the Covid restrictions. “This is not a wedding if you’re sitting down next to the table, we’re not going to just have dinner and leave, it’s a wedding – people are supposed to be dancing!”
They also knew that regular RTPCR’s and mandatory vaccinations would not possible for all their guests. “I know those regulations are very important and we have to follow them, but it was a bit hectic for the people. And that’s why we were like, you know what let’s not do it right.”
Although reducing the number of guests was one of the biggest difficulties, a delayed wedding party came with its own financial advantages for the happy couple. “Once we got married legally and moved in together, we were able to cut down on our expenses and save for the traditional wedding. The smaller guest list helped too. I think because of Covid we did an amazing wedding to be honest. I mean, everything just felt perfect!”