Egyptian traditional weddings are famous around the world for their fun and music, but now they are becoming bigger and developing in style and logistics.
More than 150 exhibitors from Egypt and abroad showcased their services at «Our Wedding Carnival».
Event planners, photographers, hair stylists, tailors and jewelers demonstrated their readiness to make the big day unforgettable for every couple.
The exhibition comes as an annual event that happens every year around the same time, serving the sector of the population still capable of affording a lavish wedding extravaganza.
After having their share of sample makeup sessions and wedding cake bites at the exhibition, the visitors were welcomed to attend the evening shows that included bridal dress runways and live music parades; a hair show by Kriss; a makeup show by MUD; a mind blowing firecracker performance by Ahmed Essam and even a glimpse of «Abo Hafiza Haytgawez» funnies by the renowned comic Akram Hosny.
It can be argued that the wedding industry is booming in Egypt these days.
"After the revolution the budgets went a bit down," admits Kareem, manager for Creative Entertainment, one of the oldest event planning companies, in the market since 1989.
"But people are becoming more creative and want to celebrate according to their spirit."
Every thing starts with a good plan
Noha Khalil, a young event planner with 12 weddings in her two-year-old company's portfolio, agrees: "Nobody wants to do a traditional wedding, people want something new".
Dreams and fantasies should come true on this day, and now there are special people available to help the couple-to-be to get it done from A to Z. If you want a room full of popcorn, a wedding decorated as a Lebanese nightclub, a royal palace or the heaven itself, just tell that to your event manager.
"Planners are a recent trend in Egypt. Before, there were just the suppliers for decorations and entertainment," says Lotfy Abdel Aziz, owner of LA weddings.
The most exotic wedding his company made was for an Egyptian-Italian couple, stylised as a sports championship between the two countries.
Apart from managing the napkins, roses and musicians, a wedding planner acts as a psychologist and friend, providing moral support.
"It is a very stressful moment for the couple, planning their new home and their whole life ahead. So I decided to step in and act as their hired best man and maid of honour. If the bride has a bridezilla moment, she can call me anytime to calm and pamper her," says Salma Salem (The Muse weddings).
"My main customer is the bride," agrees Shahista Kasim, an independent wedding planner. "I sit with her, I read her mind, find out her favourite themes, favourite colours, give my opinions."
Professionals agree that the wedding celebration is becoming custom-made, reflecting the personality of the people about to get married, and no event is similar to another.
However, some trends and fashions can be outlined. "People go more often for outdoor parties," comments Noha Nowia, manager at Mona el Baz.
"60% of weddings this company does now are outdoors, shifting the time of the celebration to morning and making the groom change the classic tuxedo to a more casual beige costume."
The fresh take on new trends
The wedding dress is now mostly custom made by a tailor rather than bought from a shop. The dress stays traditionally white, though playing with decoration and shape.
Pant sets, knee-length skirts and even ultra-mini-skirts were spotted on the runway, where young Egyptian designers such as Farida Temraza, Norine Farah and Sherine Hussein showed their ideas along with established foreign brands Aire and Casamiento.
(courtesy of Bechir wedding planners)
Flower decorations are becoming more lavish, more LED screens are being put up to show the video footage of the wedding in real time. Traditional wedding activities are also adopting a modern feel. A henna night would now be called a «bachelorette party» and involve exchanging playful souvenirs and taking photos in funny costumes - special planners like The Party Story and Bridal Bliss are ready to provide the goods, props and ideas.
The honeymoon also does not have to be a classic seaside getaway for two. Why not embark on a Gorilla trek in Uganda for some family teambuilding in challenging circumstances (available from Gazef company among other fascinating march trips).
(courtesy of Bechir wedding planners)
Up-to-date formats of footage are coming up as well. Forget long and boring videos, rather think 15 second Instagram clips and a package of short movies professionally shot and cut especially for social media (offered by Splash Wedding). Go even more multimedia with Shebang, a new wedding app made in Egypt, to manage your wedding gift list and keep an eye on the bridesmaids.
Now what about the dance and music? Fashionable alternatives are being developed to the traditional zaffa procession cum bellydance set followed by mahraganat madness.
A lonely DJ isn't enough anymore either.
"People started to understand more about the music, quality of sound and light, they know the difference between the good and the bad," observes Raouf Assaf (DJ Roro) at Eclectic entertainment.
According to him, the trendiest choice would be live music supported by a DJ background. Many brides and grooms replace the traditional zaffa with an upbeat variation of the same.
"Recently we did a Mendelssohn wedding march on saxophone in house version, it was modern and elegant," he adds.
Raouf Assaf also believes that belly dancing is returning in a new style. "We see a new generation of belly dancers which is not so balady, they are decent and select their costumes better. But mostly they are reqired when an international couple is getting married."
Vintage music is a huge trend: people ask for hits from the eighties and nineties and old soulful songs by Amr Diab. Some musicians, like Mohamed Karara, can write a special song, mentioning the names of the bride and groom, which the couple would perform at the wedding.
(courtesy of Zeena- OWC4)
With all the new options available even the married couples would consider celebrating their wedding anew, leaving all the worries to hired professionals.
"It was a nervous job for us in the beginning, but now the operations are getting smooth and we are calm and cool," says Lydia Shohdy from Zeena Events. In the past seven years they have handled about 600 weddings, and showed their experience being a sponsors at «Our Wedding Carnival», which ran smoothly and pleasantly indeed.