In preparation for wedding season, UAE-based Wedding Planner and Founder of Carousel Events Zainab Al Salih talks to A&E about planning the perfect big day, and she helps brides prepare.
Planning a grand event or a wedding is as equally stressful as it is exciting. Zainab Al Salih, founder of Carousel Events, and her team of experts strive to make your job that little bit easier.
Originally from Iraq, Zainab Al Salih founded Carousel Events as a solution for creating bespoke events. Carousel quickly became one of the region’s go-to companies for luxury weddings that has produced some of the most exclusive and unique weddings in the region. Al Salih left her career in the banking world and founded her company in order to follow her passion for making people happy.
She is very hands-on with her business and is always seen running around, organising the finest details. First and foremost Al Salih is about her clients. Organising a wedding is a very personal and sometimes very stressful experience so she believes her job is to make it that bit easier for the bride and groom, as well as ensuring they get exactly what they hoped for our of their special day. Here we discuss with Zainab what goes into making a wedding day as special as it should be.
Tell us a little bit about Carousel Events.
Carousel Events started around ten years ago. It is a boutique event design and management company. We cater to a very distinct clientele who are after unique events and experiences.
What ingredients make for a perfect event?
Besides the aesthetic part of the event and the whole design element, I think the most important ingredient is what a couple and the family bring to each event and wedding, it’s that joy and happiness. I think no matter what, in the end, it really is that important ingredient that makes a wedding what it is.
What, in your opinion, makes a good wedding planner?
A good wedding planner should be a good listener and communicator, to understand the bride’s vision for her wedding, and communicate that vision to all the vendors and suppliers. A good wedding planner must also be a master of crisis management and conflict resolution. Everything should run smoothly, but if it doesn’t, you need a capable person at the helm to help manage the situation and ensure the event is a success regardless of what unexpected issues may arise. Just like a pilot on a plane, things almost always go perfectly well, but if they don’t, you want the best pilot in the cockpit!
What should a bride and groom look for in a wedding planner?
The best way to find a good wedding planner is through recommendations from friends and vendors. Many planners have their own websites, which is another good place to start, but be sure you also meet the planner in person.
When picking your planner ask yourself the following: Are they organized? Are they presentable? Do you feel comfortable with them? Are they friendly? Are they knowledgeable? Do they have any references and recommendations? Are they within your budget? Did you see examples of weddings they have planned in the past?
Finally, it is advisable to meet with several planners and compare their credentials and personalities before picking one. In the end, you must pick a planner that you simply feel good about, and have good chemistry with, and most importantly, one that can help you sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.
How much time on average would you advise it takes to plan a wedding in full?
Try and begin your wedding planning as early as possible. Whilst it is perfectly possible to plan a wedding within three months, most couples will have a planning period of 6-12 months. Beginning early will give you the best possible chance of being able to book your first choice for venues and vendors including photographers, especially as the best of these can be booked up months in advance.
What do brides need to keep in mind for their special day?
They need to not lose sight of what’s important when they’re planning their wedding. Yes, it is about the destination, but not at the expense of the journey. It’s very important for them to understand that the journey is just as important. Enjoy it, try to make the most of it, it goes by so quickly that you look back and might think to yourself ‘why didn’t I relax more? Or enjoy it more?’ So I think it’s important to focus on the experience leading up to the big day.
What do you do when a bride starts to panic or has doubts about her wedding?
The most important bit of advice I would give to any bride is ‘have fun and don’t let your wedding be a source of stress.’ The best way to do this is to hire the best planner you can, and then sit back and enjoy the journey.
What would be your advice to couples for relieving stress just before the wedding?
Focus on what truly matters and don’t lose sight of that. A wedding is first and foremost a celebration of love amongst your family and friends. it is all about the journey and not just the destination.
What are your favourite worldwide destinations for weddings?
Italy, and many of its beautiful venues. Whether it is a piazza in a beautiful historic town, a country house, or a seaside village – there is such an abundance of beauty, history and authentic charm.
Is there one thing brides and grooms always forget to cover in their wedding planning?
Lighting! Sadly it is one of the most overlooked and underestimated elements when planning a wedding. Bad lighting can ruin everything from the colours of your flowers to your guests’ skin tone. Good lighting makes everything come alive, and allows us to change the mood of the night from romantic and whimsical to party time! We also always tell our brides that there is no such thing as too many candles. Nothing flatters the skin like the soft glow of candlelight, so use them everywhere you can!
Do you have a favourite wedding venue in Dubai?
We are spoilt for choice in Dubai, we have so many beautiful venues, so many luxury venues, it’s difficult for me to pinpoint the one that I like the most. It really depends what we’re looking for and the type of event or wedding that we’re planning, it depends on size and location and time of year. If I were to pick some of my favourites it would be Four Seasons Jumeirah, the Ritz Carlton Dubai, the new W The Palm, and the Mandarin Oriental which is exciting to have open this year.
Are there any wedding trends you’re excited about at the moment?
I’m loving all the garden themes. I think they have always been popular but especially after the royal wedding in 2018, it has become even more of a trend. I have a lot more brides asking for a garden-themed wedding. Especially given that in Dubai we are limited with our outdoor venues, so I think a lot of the time you find that the people want to bring the outdoors in which is quite nice. Secondly, although I’m a big fan of white weddings and they will always remain really classic, I’m loving how bold brides are becoming with the use of colour. Just a pop of bright colour will really bring a wedding to life. The focus on the afterparty is nice, to see couples nowadays wanting to give their guests a memorable experience, focusing more on the entertainment and what happens when the formalities are over.
What do you consider your biggest career success to date?
Being part of so many people’s beautiful memories and making dreams come true. This is the main source of my inspiration and is what drives me. It has been fundamental to the success of Carousel.
Zainab Al Salih shares her wisdom with A&E