Ballroom Wedding Reception with Middle Eastern Traditions in San Diego

Dana and Amer

Photographed by: Emilio Azevedo PhotographyLocation: San Diego, California, United States

Although Dana Farah and Amer Hajeer both attended the University of California San Diego, their paths never crossed on campus. “We were a few years apart, but our friend circle overlapped by fortunate luck,” smiles the groom. At the urge of mutual friends, the pair connected long-distance while Dana was still in school and Amer was completing his third year of medical school in New York. Amer flew to San Diego to meet Dana for a lunch date, and their fate was sealed. “We stayed together until 1AM, and to be honest, I didn’t want that day to end,” confirms Dana. Amer, too, was instantly smitten. “I knew she was The One immediately,” he shares. 


Just over two years later, Amer took Dana to lunch at the same restaurant where they first met. After their meal, they walked along the beach, just as they did two years prior. “He told me he wanted to relive our first date because he knew that day that I was The One,” she expresses. However this time, Amer got down on one knee and asked Dana to spend the rest of her life with him. Of course, she said yes. 


With a year to plan their nuptials, the affianced couple knew it was important to get help from a professional. “Let’s be honest, wedding planning takes time and effort. It can feel overwhelming in the beginning, and that’s why you need an event planner!” declares Dana, who hired Nahid Farhoud of Nahid’s Global Events to turn her vision into reality. While Amer was helpful when his opinion was needed, he let his bride-to-be have control of the celebration. “I wanted to give Dana her dream wedding,” he explains. “The most important aspects for me were for her to have the day she wanted and for both of our families to enjoy the celebration together as one.” 

 

To honor the bride’s Muslim Arabic culture, the ceremony was held at home with just close friends and family in attendance. Three days later, a large celebration was hosted for 180 guests at a downtown hotel in the city. Prior to entering the ballroom, the bride and groom had a “first look” on the rooftop. Dana was the epitome of elegance in a cap-sleeve gown featuring intricate embroidery on the bodice and skirt; her hair was styled in glamorous curls and topped with a sparkling headpiece. 


Having always loved a modern, clean, and simple aesthetic, the reception space fit the bride’s concept effortlessly in a palette of pink, white, and silver. “I remember how beautiful the ballroom looked when I saw it for the first time!” exclaims the bride. “It was gorgeous; I felt like I was in a dream.” Centerpieces featured either low arrangements of roses in blush and ivory, while others showcased towering compilations of the same blooms atop glass vessels featuring cascading crystals. A long head table covered with a sequin linen featured a floral runner in the same tones that fell gracefully to the floor; guests found their seats at chic oval-back chairs. 


Floating candles in glass candleholders provided a romantic ambience for the space, as did violet uplighting around the ballroom. The newlyweds’ seats of honor were positioned in front of a stunning floral wall on a white lacquer stage in front of the dance floor. To keep the energy going, the couple hired a traditional Middle Eastern band to lead them into the venue, as well as a DJ that kept everyone dancing all night. “In my culture, there’s no wedding without a zaffe group,” notes Dana. “It’s a must!” She also participated in a customary “candle dance” where the bride enters with her mother and mother-in-law, walks to the dance floor, and takes turn sharing a candlelit dance with the women who love and support her as a newly married woman. 


For dessert, guests enjoyed slices of a four-tier white fondant confection decorated with cascading flowers, as well as a dessert table complete with chocolate sweets, cookies, tarts, and more that helped to keep the energy up. “I danced all night and literally didn’t sit down at all,” affirms the bride, who would only change one thing: actually trying the cake. “We cut it with the sword that the zaffe group provided, but we forgot to taste it,” she adds. The groom admits the day went off without a hitch and offers advice to future spouses: “This is the beginning of a lifetime friendship and what better way to start than to be the person she can depend on and go to when she needs help? Be your bride’s rock.”

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