A Magical Desert + Marrakech 3 Day Wedding…
Hi everyone, I hope you are keeping well and safe.
Today I share with you this incredible destination wedding – transporting you from your home to the magical, dusty and colourful landscape of North Africa.
Clare and Alan’s love of traveling inspired them to get wed somewhere unique and different… and what a celebration it was! They partied for two nights in the beautiful Riad BE in the Old Medina of Marrakech and then traveled with their friends and family to Scarabeo Camp, a luxury tented village in the Agafay Desert.
Over to Clare and Alan to tell us more about their celebrations…
Clare + Alan…
How did you meet and get engaged?
We met about 6 years ago through a friend and instantly connected we both loved traveling, art, music and the great outdoors and wanted the same things from life. That was it, we have been together ever since. Alan proposed on my birthday in bed with a cup of earl grey…not wildly romantic but perfect in every way!
Was there an overall theme to your day?
We wanted to let our venue do the talking the camp is filled with Moroccan rugs lamps and easy sofas so we took inspiration from the beauty of the landscape with a palette of yellow ochre and soft corals. We wanted our day to be relaxed and fun with all the wonder of the Agafay Desert.
How would you describe your day?
Our day was magical, exciting and emotional, it felt like we were in a wonderful dream most of the day. It was very laid back and because everyone was staying at the camp we could all relax and enjoy our surroundings.
How long were you planning it for, and what was the best bit?
We were in planning for just over 1 year. Being a wedding photographer at Clare Kinchin Photography, I didn’t want it to feel like going to work, there are so many stunning venues that I work at but we wanted something different and really personal to us. We had been to Marrakech a couple of times but never to the desert. So we took a trip to scout out locations, I had found Scarabeo Camp on Instagram and needed to find out if it was as amazing as it looked online….we arrived, I cried, we booked!
We also wanted to make sure there was accommodation near our favourite Riad BE in The Old Medina of Marrakech. We wanted everyone to be close by, most of our friends and family had never been to Marrakech and we wanted the whole experience to be magical for them. Planning was stressful at times as we were booking flights, accommodation and activities for lots of people. We did everything ourselves and didn’t use an organiser but I have been to lots of weddings and knew exactly what we wanted and more importantly what we didn’t want. The most exciting part of the planning was our scouting trip the year before, we came home full of excitement!
How was your day unique to you?
We wanted our wedding to be an experience from the minute we arrived and hopefully a great one, Marrakech is a bit like marmite and we were a little nervous that some wouldn’t love it as much as us. We arranged a traditional Moroccan dinner on the roof terrace of our Riad which was amazing, we honestly thought we had peaked too early, there is no way we could top such a great night. We arranged walking tours, lunches, hammam’s and dinners, I feel like we managed to fit in a lot during our 4 day Wedding adventure.
Tell us about your venue and why you picked it:
We chose Riad Be, it’s one of our favourite places to stay in Marrakech, it’s situated in the heart of the Old Medina. I can only describe it as an oasis, you step through the door into a beautiful, calm, tranquil space. The staff are literally like your best pal, nothing is too much trouble. Riad Be arranged a traditional dinner for us on our first night which was exceptional, tagine filled with slow-cooked lamb and fresh veggies, aromatic couscous filled the air! We were unbelievably happy that night.
Scarabeo Camp is a stark difference to Marrakech. Set in the Agafay stone desert, with the Atlas Mountains in the distance, the colour of the landscape changes with the weather and you can just sit and relax. There is nothing to do but relax and take in the view. The camp consists of luxury tents dotted around, filled with rugs, easy chair, and poofs. They have wood-burning stoves to keep you toasty when the desert loses its heat. So don’t think camping it really isn’t, it’s definitely luxury.
Did you use any marquees or tents?
We had planned to get married outside but Alan decided it was just too hot so he took the ceremony under a light canvas awning, it was even better than I had imagined and the camp was more than happy to help with the change in plan. The camp has 3 big tents in its main dining area, we ate in the main dining tent and the other two were set up with rugs and low chairs for relaxing during the day.
Who was your wedding photographer?
Our amazing photographer Andy Lawson is also a great friend (lucky for us) he traveled out with us and stayed for the duration. He was just perfect for us and documented our day in a relaxed informal way just as we wanted it. He was also so kind to do a little Pre-Wedding Shoot at Riad Be, which was a real giggle, we loved it. We honestly can’t thank Andy enough for his glorious work and we were thrilled with our photographs. There were lots of tears looking through them.
Tell us more about your wedding flowers:
My fabulously talented florist friend Amanda Randell came out to Marrakech with us, she created the most breathtaking bouquet for me. She had a ton of drama trying to get flowers in Marrakech, you can’t actually order anything and the flowers we found at the local shops and markets were a little traditional. I gave her my colour scheme and just trusted her to do what she does best. I was absolutely blown away with my bouquet, she totally nailed it. She also made bouquets for the bridesmaids, gave Alan a gorgeous buttonhole and decorated the tent and ceremony area. I purchased Kate Cullen silk ribbon in shades of ochre and coral which we used to tie the bouquet.
Was there much wedding decor, and if so what was important to you?
Another super talented friend Natalie Bloom is a stylist, so she made the dining and ceremony area look so beautiful, it was just breathtaking. We walked into a candlelit tent for dinner, it was proper dreamy, like something out of a movie. Natalie had died napkins and ribbons before the trip and scoured the souks for terracotta pots which she and Amanda filled with flowers and foliage. We are so grateful to have such talented and creative friends.
Tell us how you dined and fed your guest:
The camp cooks all its food in traditional clay ovens, we had a feast of Moroccan sharing platters, tagine of chicken and lamb, fresh veggies and couscous. It was incredible. Being a Muslim country we had a special license to order in wine for our dinner, it was a bit tricky to how much to order but it seemed to flow all night.
What wedding stationery did you use?
I didn’t really have any stationery as such, I designed my own save the date card with photographs that I took on our scouting trip and had Anon Design produce hand-penned calligraphy place cards, they were finished with Kate Cullen silk ribbon.
What did you do for your hair and make-up?
My hair has a mind of its own so I thought it best just to do it myself, I wanted to wear it down anyway, I feel more like me with it down so it was an easy decision, my daughters helped me with my hair and I curled the girl’s hair for them too. I don’t really wear much makeup so I did my own, it felt comfortable and natural on the day.
Any bridal accessories?
My engagement ring and wedding ring was made by the lovely Lauren Hunt… we sat down together and designed some unique and personal to me. I have two pear-shaped emeralds sat either side of a gold wedding band, I absolutely love them. Alan wanted a chunky silver wedding band and we found his at The Great Frog London.
What music and entertainment did you have?
We booked traditional musicians through the camp, I wasn’t sure how to walk into the ceremony, so the traditional drummers and musicians escorted me down the thought the camp to the ceremony. They stayed for a few hours and danced with us all during the drinks ceremony, it was hysterical, I just remember a fez being put on my head and being swung around we had the absolute best time. There were camels on site for our guests to have rides on, we also took a sunset ride through the desert too. After our main course, we had belly dancers entertain us and after our dessert we had fire eaters perform. It was unbelievable just the best time ever! We danced late into the night around the campfires to our own playlist and Andy’s (photographer) 80’s bangers!
What were your favorite details?
Our favourite moment of the day was definitely the ceremony and seeing each other for the first time. After all, it’s what the whole day is about, we cried (a lot). I had worked with Jo from Westcountry Celebrants before and new her services were amazing so we asked her if she would consider flying out with us to do our wedding ceremony. From the moment Jo came to the house to get to know us better and how we worked as a couple we knew it was going to be special, she made our ceremony so personal, emotional, funny and moving. We cried and then cried some more, it was absolutely perfect and we will be eternally grateful to her for making that moment so beautiful for us. Our ceremony wasn’t a legal ceremony so we had to do the legalities when we got home but this made it no less special for us. We had another gorgeous little wedding when we got home at Hotel Endsleigh and I got to wear two dresses…whoop whoop!
What was your budget?
We didn’t have a huge budget but with flights and accommodation for us and our family and the wedding itself we spent around £10,000.
Do you have any advice for couples currently planning their wedding, for either the planning or the lead-up?
You have to be true to yourself and brave. If you don’t want to do something traditional then don’t. Bring your personalities into your wedding and really think about what you want to say to your husband/wife during the ceremony, we are so glad we wrote personal vows. Work out what is important to you and spend money in order of importance. On the morning of the wedding give yourself plenty of time and delegate jobs out to bridesmaids and members of staff. KEEP CALM AND ENJOY THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE!
RIAD BE: www.be-marrakech.com
SCARABEO CAMP: www.scarabeocamp.com
WEDDING DRESS: www.watters.com
Bridal Shop: www.the-wedding-company.co.uk
BRIDESMAIDS: Miss Selfridges
MEN’S SUITS: www.next.com
ENGAGEMENT AND WEDDING RINGS:
STYLING: Meadowsweet Vintage
NAME TAGS: www.anondesigner.co.uk