Behind The Fairytale - By Aliyah Naeem-Dar

I can't help it.  Honestly, I try my best. 

But whenever I walk into a newsagents or any supermarket I immediately rush over to the magazines, scouring, searching, praying, that it will be there. Once I have it in my clutches, I can't wait to pour over the 500 pages or so of fashion, beauty, and most importantly weddings! (preferably with a steaming hot cup of tea). The allure of weddings still hasn't worn off, even eight weeks after I said "I do" or better yet "kabool hai".Now I just get my husband to do my dirty work for me.  

But when I (hubby) recently picked up said magazine, I couldn't help but feel...well disappointed. Nothing had changed, and let's face it, it probably never will. I guess this is what inspired me to write this. During the planning period of my wedding, I lived by this magazine, breathing in it's seductive promises and false hopes. Ripping out reams and reams of pages, I began collating a mood board of what my "fairytale" wedding was going to look like. Just like the magazine.

So, anyway, this issue failed to have the same "wow" factor that it did before my wedding. No doubt the clothes were gorgeous, but it doesn't tell you how to prepare for snobbish designers who humiliate you (think Pretty Woman) or other designers who give you your wedding clothes a day before your wedding without compensation or even an apology (I'm TOTALLY over that by the way). Or DJ's that try and sue you one week before your wedding (that really happened). I desperately tried to look past the pages hoping that someone had written about what it's REALLY like to plan a wedding, to actually live it and breathe it (while forcing some family members to live it and breathe it with you, no matter how much they resist).

So, I'm here to tell you what it's all about.

1) Wedding magazines are a great way to start planning your wedding, by don't live by them (my mistake). Remember they are trying to sell a product. Instead, talk to family and friends that you know you can trust because they can tell you first hand what so and so venue is like or what so and so make-up artist is like. But truth be told I booked two people on the basis of a friend's recommendation and they were the worst people I booked. So maybe my advice is a bit useless in this case.

2) Shop around for unbeknown caterers or lesser known designers if you want to stray away from the norm. It can give your Big Day that extra oompf.  If you're not willing to take such a risk on this important day, stick with what you know or at least what you've heard. But tread carefully with "famous" designers or make-up artists because they usually come with a large entourage - their ego that is. I went for the former (mistake no.2)

3) When you go and meet these above mentioned people, they will be falling all over you, they will crave your attention and once you have succumbed to their charms and  booked them, the ink on the cheque will barely have dried and they don't want to know you. If you try to call them, they're too busy. But BE PERSISTENT.

4) Try to keep things as professional as possible, you are paying somebody to deliver a top-notch service on your special day. Becoming over-friendly with someone may hinder this as it may seem like a you're attacking your best friend. Even today, I have that "shoulda, woulda, coulda" moment and when I'm explaining to people why my wedding was such a cock-up, which is more often than they would like, my usual response is "I felt bad", "I didn't know how to tell them" or I would find some excuse to defend them! But that might just be my lack of balls.

5) When I was planning my wedding, I met so many different people. I mostly went to these meetings alone, and in my personal opinion I felt that the people I met, who were 99.9 per cent of the time men, looked at me and thought "Yes! Let's rob her blind!" - which 99.9 per cent of the time they did. So, my advice to all you B2B's out there, take someone with you, take everyone with you! And don't leave that room until you get those extra perks you deserve on the most important day of your life.

Let me tell you something that happened on the afternoon that I was getting married. My make-up artist, who I had just written an article on, walked in and the first thing she asked me was "do you have the money?". I handed over the money and in exchange she gave me a set of eyeshadows as a thank you for writing the story on her which was to be published internationally. The eyeshadows were of the Sunday market quality. See when I asked her for a cheeky discount she firmly said no because it was wedding season and she couldn't 'afford' to give any discount whatsoever*, but when she needed me to write a story on her raving about how much of a fabulous make-up artist she was, I asked if it was paid and she said no. But I, like her should have been persistent and said no. But I didn't. In her defence, she is an astute businesswoman and I am a mere mortal. *make-up artist, photographers, videographers will all say they need you to make a decision asap because they're in high demand. They're lying. Take your time and really think about every decision you make, even if it means potentially losing someone you thought you liked because they were on the front cover of a magazine.

Back to the Big Day, everything is going fine until my photographer arrives. They got to chatting, exchanging stories, people they have in common, shoots they've done (this industry is very small) and before you know it she's bodged up my hair because she was too distracted. Ladies, when getting your make-up done on your wedding, it should just be you and your make-up artist. Her attention needs to be solely on you and nobody else. After admitting that she was at fault (whilst laughing) , she didn't undo my hair to rectify the mistake she made. I refused to have a doughnut in my hair, because I was sure that my duputta was really light, and that was me trying to take another risk where risks should be deemed dangerous. Like I had expected, the dupatta didn't sit right and she didn't know how to pin it either. She's meant to be a stylist as well. I told her I wasn't comfortable and I was on the verge of tears, but she was more like "I told you so" instead of "don't worry, we'll fix this." I'm pretty sure she had somewhere else to be as she unwillingly shoved a doughnut in my messy curls. She was already packing her things to leave while I was left to pick up the pieces. Oh did I forget to mention, she didn't have safety pins and text me asking me if I had any. Erm...hello! I borrowed one of the guy at the hotel reception.

 This whole hair business could have been resolved if we had had a dress rehearsal like she promised, but my wedding dress didn't arrive in time (that's another story) and because my dress hadn't arrived, I couldn't buy my jewellery, and because my jewellery hadn't arrived I couldn't have the rehearsal. When all of these things finally did arrive, I called her a couple of weeks before and she said she was "too busy" and that it was "too late" for a rehearsal. This is what I'm saying, get what you paid for and don't settle for anything less. To make a long story short, I would never recommend her to anybody and would never categorise her as "high-end" like she so easily described herself. I can easily reveal the names of every single person in this article. But what would be the point?

People say your wedding day is just that - one day. Marriage is forever and that's what you have to work on every single day. But every girl dreams of their perfect day, especially me, and most things didn't go accordingly. Although, my family did help a lot and I would have been lost without them. I am slowly albeit very slowly getting over the fact that not everything went to plan. Trust me, nothing will go as how you have planned it in your head. So don't have such high expectations, because when something goes wrong you'll only blame yourself. Why not hire a wedding planner, and blame them!

I don't know if this piece has given anyone any insight into the ups and downs of wedding planning, but I had to get it all down otherwise I would have exploded. I had this vision of getting this piece published. But that's just wishful thinking.

The wedding magazine? It's here on my coffee table barely noticeable underneath all the letters and bills.

It's back to reality.

Aliyah Naeem-Dar
Freelance Journalist 

Aliyah on her Big Day...unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.


  1. Great guest post :) I have to say my wedding planning experience wasn't quite as traumatic, but I was lucky in that both my sisters had got married just a few years before me and so we had a list of suppliers we trusted to get the job done. There were still a few hiccups as there always is but most importantly my dress arrived well in advance, as did my jewellery, make-up artist delivered on the day, food was served on time, and on what looked like it was going to be a rainy day, the sun came out!

    I still love wedding magazines, but I take them with a pinch of salt, anyone who can afford to advertise in them most likely charges a lot for their services but they're still great for ideas and inspiration

  2. Aliyah Naeem-Dar5 January 2011 at 14:11

    Hi Nazma,

    You were lucky that you had sisters that got married before you.

    I, on the other hand didn't have anyone as my elder sister got married in pakistan and we didn't really organise anything!

    I think it was a great learning experience, so when my brother and sister get married in the future we'll be ready!

    Thanks for your comments.

    Take care x

  3. What a brilliant article!


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