Well, we have been married for a little over four months now and I am just now getting some time to sit down and write about the details of our big day! When I was planning, I loved reading about other peoples ideas and seeing how they came together. I hope this post can be helpful to any future brides out there.

The weekend of the wedding was Fourth of July weekend and with lots of family and friends coming to town we decided to plan a bunch of events to keep everyone busy! It was also nice to have our family and friends meet ahead of the wedding, so when the day came, everyone knew each other.

Thursday, July 4: Fourth of July Party with Big Bad Bob on the BBQ

Friday, July 5: Floated the Guadalupe River and had dinner and drinks at The Oasis on Lake Travis (YES, the Oasis from the song “I Got Friends in Low Places…”). Floating the Guadalupe was a great activity for the whole family, even the kids. You can BYOB. The place I linked usually has discounts as well! The Oasis was very accommodating to our large group and the live band even sang a song dedicated to us and let us have a dance to ourselves.

The Rehearsal Dinner

The night before our wedding day we chose a local restaurant, Casa Garcia, to host our rehearsal dinner. There is several locations around the Austin area and we picked the one in Manor because it has a beautiful, private event room! It was decently priced and they have good food. The manager was easy to work with and was very accommodating to our requests.  We did tacos: chicken, beef and fried shrimp with a few sides.

Here Bobby and I gave all the bridesmaids, groomsmen, ring bearers, flower girls and parents the gifts we picked out for them (detailed below). After the rehearsal, the guys went out for a night of fun in downtown Austin and the girls and I went back to my Airbnb to hang out in the hot tub and relax. I also finished writing my vows that evening, before I went to bed!

The Swag

Bridesmaids

For the bridesmaids, I got them thermal pajamas for the morning of. I had the same ones in a different color. I linked a similar pair, because they do not have the exact ones at Target anymore. I also got them a robe with their first name initial on it from Pretty Robes, I had someone local embroider their first initial, but I think you can have them personalized online. I also got them matching earrings from Charming Charlie (sorry, it has since closed down). The last gift was an authentic Palestinian kufiya (scarf) that my dad had brought from the Middle East. You can find a similar one here.

Groomsmen

For the groomsmen, we got them monogramed wallets from Shinola Detroit (similar one here) and the same scarves as the bridesmaids.

 

Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

For the kids we got them matching pajamas sets (unicorns for the girls, dinosaurs for the boys), sleep sacs (Trolls for the girls, Jurassic Park for the boys), and then lots of little toys and activities from the Dollar Tree to keep them busy after the ceremony.

We hired two babysitters for our three flower girls and three ring bearers, because we had an adult only reception. After the ceremony, they enjoyed pizza and fun in the bridal suite.

The Moms

We got the moms the same robes as the bridesmaids, but in a light pink color. We also got them a perfume from Victoria Secret and their own jewelry sets.

The Dads

We got the dads custom bowties and socks. My dad’s bowtie was made from an old Palestinian kufiya by the same woman who embroidered the robes. Denzel’s dad’s bowtie was a musical note bowtie.

The Big Day

The morning of, we grabbed coffee from my favorite place, Summer Moon Coffee, on the way to the venue (Quarter Moon latte y’all). The bridesmaids met me there, all dressed up in their matching pajamas. Hair and Makeup started at 9 am since we had 14 hair and make-ups to get done. For breakfast, we did muffins, fruits, coffee and mimosas and for lunch, we catered Potbelly sandwiches and salad. We listened to our favorite songs and enjoyed each others company. I was so thankful for my bridesmaids, a few of them ran to Starbucks to get everyone an afternoon coffee and ran a few errands for me while I finished getting ready.

 

Hair and makeup was done by LoLa beauty (located in both Austin and Denver). There were three stylists total for the 14 of us. The girls all picked their own updo’s and I was conflicted between half-up or just curls and ended up going with just curls. I loved the way the bridesmaids make-up and hair turned out. I wish I would have done an updo looking back, but I was happy with my make up!

The Venue

We chose to have our wedding in beautiful hill country at a venue called Canyonwood Ridge. It is a modern venue with a warm feel. It had an outdoor and indoor ceremony space and an indoor reception area. I loved the outdoor ceremony space that overlooked hill country. It was hot (in the 90s)! The sun was shining right in my eyes! But I think, for the views, it was all worth it. The reception space had these gorgeous, modern chandeliers and a big fireplace at the center with a whole wall of windows looking over the hill.

The bridal suite was snug, but had enough room for all 11 bridesmaids, two moms and I to hang out in the morning of and get ready in.

The grooms suite was also snug, but was fine for the small amount of time the guys hung out in there.

The Dress and Accessories

My bridal shower dress and rehearsal dinner dress was from Lulu’s. I got most of my bridal attire here, I highly recommend looking here for your white-dress needs.

My dress was a Sophia Tolli tulle ballgown that I purchased at Melange Bridal Salon in Austin. It was not at all what I had pictured myself picking, but there was just something about it that I loved when I tried it on. I loved my experience at Melange, they have a variety of dresses that are at all price ranges and for all body types.

The morning of, I had the same pajamas as the bridesmaids but in white. I changed into my long, lace robe from Kim+Ono to get ready in. My shoes were from Davids Bridal and they were a wedge heel in size wide, it is so hard to find heels when you have wide feet. These were not comfortable at all unfortunately, so I changed into sandals for the reception. My jewelry was blue sapphire that was gifted to me by my dad’s family. I loved having a little pop of color. My bouquet was complete with my maternal grandma’s cameo necklace that my florist tied on for me.

The Bridesmaids Dresses

The bridesmaids and mother of the bride dresses were Mori Lee gowns. My maid of honor had a full lace form fitting gown and the bridesmaids had A-Line gowns with different designs, but all with the same lace. The color was a very light gray. My mom’s gown was Navy and had the same lace as well.

The Tuxedos

The groom, groomsmen, and the fathers all wore traditional tuxedos with cummerbunds, suspenders, and black bow ties. Denzel had a black, paisley patterned bow tie. The ushers and the officiant wore black suits with a silver tie. All of these outfits were rented from Men’s Warehouse.

Denzel had a change of outfits for the reception with black tuxedo pants, a black dress shirt, a black bow tie and a white satin patterned suit jacket. His shoes were suede black shoes with rhinestones complete with custom pink socks with Lulu’s face (our cat). His outfit and shoes were all from Macy’s and the socks were a gift.

The Flowers and Décor

The moment we met Kari at The Flower Girl, we knew she understood our vision for the wedding. For the bouquets, I wanted whites, light pinks and greenery. For our centerpieces we had two different concepts in mind: branches and flowers submerged in water. She made both of these ideas come to life. One of my favorite design elements of the wedding was the boxwood wall with giant paper flowers and our giant floral letter G. Both made by Kari and her husband.

   

Our save the dates, invites, and wedding signage were all hand painted and designed by Shannon Sweeney Watson. She is incredible and will custom design almost any art work you could ask for. Check her out on Instagram or her Etsy page.

Our center pieces I made myself. Each table number 1-19 was a picture of Denzel and I at the age corresponding to the number. They were a hit and people got a good laugh out of them.

Our idea for a guest book was to have guests take a polaroid picture of themselves and write a little note on it for us. From the pictures we did collect I made a scrapbook, but I think most people took their polaroid with them! So I would not suggest this method as a guest book. It was a still fun and some of the polaroid’s turned out really cute.

The Food and Deserts

Our caterer, Royal Fig, did the entirety of our food and deserts including the cakes. When we went there for a tasting we were sold, it was so good I wish they had a restaurant. We would be frequent customers.

Our menu:

We had two cakes. The main cake was a hummingbird cake with peach buttercream. I surprised Denzel with his groom’s cake which was a replica of his UT cheer uniform. It was red velvet with cream cheese frosting (his fave). The rest of the desert table was made up of mini deserts including banana cream pudding, chocolate pie and sweet potato pie. We also displayed baklava from our favorite bakery in Dearborn, MI- Masri.

The Entertainment

We wanted to remember our wedding day as a party from start to end. It was only right to surprise our guests throughout the night with different performances to keep the night upbeat. Our ceremony music was performed by a string trio from Sienna Strings. They played a custom set of music for us. I walked down the aisle to You & I by John Legend and we exited to an Arabic song by Fairouz. They played several modern songs throughout the ceremony.

 

The entertainment started right away with the bridesmaid’s and groomsmen’s entrance dance (Level Up by Ciara and Wipe Me Down by Lil Boosie). They were incredible! Thanks to our friend from medical school, Jasmine, who helped choreograph and teach the dance to the bridesmaids.

Our entrance followed which was a huge surprise to everyone including the bridal party and our parents. We hired a local Palestinian dabke performance group, Al Hurriyah Dabke, to lead our entrance. It was important to me to represent my Palestinian heritage in little ways throughout my wedding. We had instructed the bridal party to have their Palestinian scarves nearby and the groomsmen had already had theirs on thanks to my dad. So when the time came, everyone was ready for the entrance. After the first song, the dabke group then did their own performance which was incredible and then invited us, the bridal party and all the guests to join them. It was so cool seeing my family and friends and Denzel’s family and friends, people from all cultures and walks of life, hand in hand dancing a dabke line dance. This was one of my favorite moments of the wedding.

Our first dance followed which was a traditional first dance to Kane Brown’s song Live Forever. The father-daughter dance was to Butterfly Kisses by Bob Carlisle. Denzel and his mom surprised me with a mother-son dance that started as a traditional slow dance and quickly changed into a mash up including Woah, Crank That, and Every Little Step. Their choreographed dance was a hit and I was highly impressed. Denzel then pulled out his bass guitar and played a song that his mom wrote and sang that was a song about our love story. She sang about all the places we had gone, the hurricane and persevering and staying strong together. This was another moment I will never forget. In Mrs. Ann fashion, it was upbeat and meaningful.

Shortly after we had the speeches from my dad, my MOH and the best man Jordan (Denzel’s brother). My MOH Bianca literally dropped the mic after her legendary cover of the Fresh Prince Theme Song that described our friendship. This was incredible and I often wonder how I will top that performance one day at her wedding.

We had the BEST. DJ. EVER. Mark the DJ. If you are having an event in Texas, this is the guy. He was an incredible DJ and we enjoyed working with him every step of the way. Mark started the night by playing piano and live singing during cocktail hour and dinner. He serenaded our guests with his Justin Timberlake like voice. He did a great job incorporating our several requests and surprises. We had Arabic songs, Latino songs, Indian jams, a mix of country and hip hop music from today and from back in the day. It was a great mix, we danced the entire night til they kicked us all out. We included some dance floor props including flip flops so people could take their heels off and keep dancing, cat ears (sparkly and patterned), light up glasses, and foam glow sticks.

At the end of the night, while all our guests lined up with sparklers, Denzel and I had a final dance just me and him to Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton. This was a special moment, just him and I taking in the moments of the best night of our lives.

Our exit car (UBER X) awaited us at the end of all our friends and family. We reserved a night at The Line hotel, which is a spunky, modern hotel in downtown Austin with a great view (highly recommend).

The following day we were headed back to Michigan to return to our family medicine rotation. No honeymoon for us just yet, but stay tuned… its in the works!

WEDDING PLANNER: In Her Shoes

PHOTOGRAPHER: Boxing Rose

VIDEOGRAPHER: Toast Entertainment

FLORAL: The Flower Girl

CATERER: Royal Fig

HAIR & MAKEUP: LoLa Beauty

DJ: Mark the DJ Exodus Sound

DABKE GROUP: Al Hurriyah Dabke 

CEREMONY BAND: Sienna Strings

SIGNAGE/INVITATIONS: Shop Shannon Sweeney

 

 

 

 

July has started out as a fun filled and BUSY month. We spent July 4-9 traveling to Austin for a few days and then to Denver. We were productive, we partied, we planned and we celebrated with all of our family and friends.

Our First Stop- Austin

Departure: 6:20 am Fort Lauderdale- Austin

            Wednesday July 4th– Saturday July 7th

We arrived in Austin on the fourth of July. We have not been in the USA to celebrate the 4th since 2015, because the past two years we were in Dominica. We were so excited to actually have plans with family and friends! We went on a party boat cruising through Lake Travis where we barbecued and partied while watching the fireworks shows all around the lake’s perimeter. We got home pretty late that night since the boat party ended around 12 am. We fell right asleep and had to wake up bright and early for our full day of wedding planning meetings.

Our schedule for the day was back to back appointments with florists, caterers and bakers from 10 am to 6 pm. We brought Jordan (Denzel’s little brother) along and met our wonderful wedding planner, Ally, at the florist appointment. HOLY COW you would not believe how many decisions you have to make at a florist. We have Pinterest-ed our wedding ideas for a while now and honestly, we were not prepared for all the choices we needed to make for our day. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve made individual Pinterest boards for each category of wedding planning to make it simpler when I attended appointments. Anyway, after a long conversation, Denzel and I finally felt like all the pieces we love finally fit together in one cohesive vision. I left feeling excited for what the décor would look like on our wedding day while I think the guys left more excited for our next appointment which was a bakery.

I hate cake. Ill just tell you that now, because trying 5-10 cake flavors and just as many frosting and filling combinations was not as pleasant as it sounds. I did not like any of the cakes or combinations from our first appointment so I was afraid at that point that we would have to end up going for a typical flavor and frosting combo which I did not want to do. Thankfully our next appointment was life changing. Our third appointment was with a caterer that also had a bakery. We tried many different appetizer, entree and cake options to choose a menu for our wedding. Denzel and I had a goal to pick wedding food that was unique and delicious, so we were over the moon with happiness after tasting this caterer’s food. We picked our menu and I even picked a wedding cake that I LOVED (I told you, life changing).

After our tasting, we rolled our stuffed selves out to the car and went and picked our linens for the wedding. That was easy since we just had to channel our colors and the décor we picked with the florist. We then went to an appointment with another florist and at that point we were so exhausted we could barely make it through explaining our entire vision again with a different person. As you meet multiple vendors, you just know when you have met the right one as a couple. Some vendors just get your vibe and personality without having to try too hard. We have been lucky to find vendors we really enjoy and mesh with. Friday we had one more catering appointment. It was very different from the first tasting, even though we chose a similar menu to try.

Overall, after all of the appointments we were 100% certain as to which vendors we would be selecting. We have been planning away for our wedding that is now in less than a year! Can you believe it?! It has honestly been a blast making decisions for our big day. Like many ladies, I have been looking forward to my wedding day since I was young and seeing it all come together has been a blessing.

Friday night we attended the wedding of one of Denzel’s cousins. Denzel was a groomsman so it was an experience seeing him all dressed up standing up by his cousin at the alter. It made me think about what our wedding day will be like. Because of this I, of course, shed quite a few tears through the ceremony. We had a great time dancing the night away with his family.

 

Our Second Stop- Denver

Departure: 6:20 am Austin-Denver

  Saturday July 7th– Monday July 9th

After three days of busy plans and parties, we were depleted. We arrived at 7:30 am in Denver and headed straight to the store to pick up a few things for our engagement party that night. Just after we got home, Nam (my good friend from medical school) arrived at the house. Denzel was so tired he went to take a nap- it ended up being a 5-hour nap!! Nam and I put together the bridesmaid’s proposal boxes for the party. It took us the majority of the day, because we were catching up and had to run to the store one more time. It got closer to party time and we all got ready to go.

When we arrived, my mom had set up the clubhouse with Middle Eastern Themed décor, food, and deserts. It was so cute! Soon after, all of our friends and family started arriving and from there it was just a busy night of hello’s, hugs, happy tears, and picture taking. Denzel got to meet the rest of the family friends he had not met previously. His family also came from Austin and had the chance to meet everyone as well. I “proposed” to my bridesmaids who could attend that day and enjoyed the night with everyone (check out Shop Shannon Sweeney). After the party ended, a group of us went out to Denver and had a blast dancing and singing all night long. We finally got home at 3 am exhausted, but we were all so happy to be spending time together.

The next morning (Sunday), about 14 of our friends, Denzel and I planned to go white water rafting in Idaho Springs which is up close to the mountains. Only three of us had done it before, so everyone was ready to try something new. We split up into a few different rafts, got our lifejackets and helmets on and had a great time rafting down the Upper Clear Creek river. Before we got in the river, the raft guides said “someone’s raft is bound to flip over”. And that raft was ours people. All seven of us toppled on top of each other under the rapids after the biggest fall on the stretch. Paddles and all, it was a pile up of chaos. After the initial shock of falling into the cold water, we swam to the edge of the river and got back into our tube. We walked away with one battle bruise (Yexica y’all), a few scrapes and soaking wet clothes, but mostly with laughs. We boarded back onto our boat, finished the stretch, and had lunch together at Beau Jo’s Pizza.

rafting

When we got home that night, we were exhausted! We looked through all the photos from the weekend and relaxed. Monday we headed back home to Miami in the afternoon, not quite ready to leave our family and friends, but ready to get back to studying.