Who Needs Cake When You Could Have Hookahs and an Ice Cream Truck?

Mideast meets Midwest... and they do the wobble

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August, attorney & Ramzi, engineer

Sum-up of the wedding vibe: We honored our history, our heritage, and our home.

Planned budget: $25,000

Actual budget: $36,754

Number of guests: 126

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Where we allocated the most funds:

The most funds were allocated to the reception. This included renting the venue, catering/bartending, DJ, buying our own alcohol, rentals, bartender, centerpieces, vintage rental, and ice cream truck.

Location for the reception was a priority for us. This is why we chose the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego. We wanted the guests to feel like they were in San Diego. This indoor/outdoor venue provided sleek city skyline views as well as gorgeous sparkling bay views.

We chose a catering company, The Abbey Catering, whose chef is also of Arab descent, to create a Middle Eastern menu to satisfy both the Middle Eastern guests and the Midwestern ones.

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Where we allocated the least funds:

Flowers—the church has a beautiful stained glass window with midcentury modern lighting and woodwork. I didn’t want to compete with that (or pay for flowers), so we told the church that we would not be bringing in any floral arrangements. The floral arrangement on the altar is from a funeral that happened the day before. The only flowers we bought were my bouquet, the bouquets for the bridesmaids, and corsages and boutonnieres.

We ordered invitations from Wedding Paper Divas; however, there were no matching escort cards or table numbers as part of the suite, so we DIY’d them (which was a lot easier that centerpieces)! We chose to do personalized escort cards, giving a little shoutout to each guest. The guests absolutely adored them. Some greetings were in Arabic, Spanish, and Hawaiian.

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What was totally worth it:

The Sweet Treats Dessert and Ice Cream Truck! Our parents are super traditional when it comes to weddings. My mom asked me probably ten times over the course of the eighteen-month engagement about the wedding cake. She probably sent me thirty Pinterest pins with regard to the same. Ramzi and I don’t even like cake, so we wanted to try something different. An ice cream truck was going to cost just as much, or even less, than a cake. We kept it a secret, and told the DJ during the reception to announce that we had a surprise for everyone. Everyone was so stoked when they saw us on the truck, serving them ice cream. It was also fun to do in lieu of a receiving line.
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What was totally not worth it:

Attempting to make my own centerpieces. Hire a freaking expert, for Pete’s sake! Sure, you could make one centerpiece, but twenty-two? Probably not. I felt so relieved when I finally forked over the cash for someone else to just do the damn centerpieces.

Also, the rehearsal dinner was totally not worth it. We tried to plan it, but it kind of became an afterthought, and I think people were more uncomfortable than if they had just made their own plans. We felt like we needed to do something, since we had family and friends coming from Michigan, New York, and Australia for us. I did a crappy job with food and drinks, it was hard to find parking, and I just felt really bad.

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A few things that helped us along the way:

At the beginning, our parents were the enemy. I felt suffocated that they were imposing their will on us left and right with regard to how things should be for this wedding. But then, something happened. I don’t know if it was time, or what, but we received such an outpouring of love and support from our parents. Whatever we needed or wanted, they were there. And that feeling we had of “This is our wedding” kind of went away, and we were more like, “This is for all of us as a family. Because at the bottom of all this pomp and circumstance, we actually do like and love each other.”

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My best practical advice for my planning self:

My best practical advice is to let it go. Once I started to simply let things go, I felt so much better. Making my own centerpieces? Nope! Dessert table? Nope! Trolleys to and from the ceremony? Nope! Wedding favors? Nope! Just let it go.

This is practical advice for future planning brides: Don’t be afraid of your photographer! If you want a picture with a certain group of people, or your family members want pictures with a certain group of people, tell them!! Our photographers were amazing, but I missed out on some photos because I didn’t tell my photographer that I wanted them.

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Favorite thing about the wedding:

My favorite thing about the wedding was probably watching all our friends and family take communion together. Even my friends who are not religious at all came up to the altar to receive a blessing. It was incredibly beautiful and meaningful to me as a person of faith. All of these people, who know us, know us more deeply now because they participated in this ritual with us.

We reveled in having all of our favorite people in one place at one time to help us celebrate our love. There was plenty of “wobble” and dabke dancing, and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
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Anything else to share:

I grew up in Michigan, but studied abroad in Morocco and India in college, and have always been enamored with global style, culture, and food. Ramzi was born in Lebanon, but is of Palestinian descent, and grew up in Los Angeles. We met on Plentyoffish.com. We share a love for the city of San Diego, as well as travel and ethnic food. The inspiration for the wedding was to showcase our beautiful home of San Diego to mostly out-of-town guests, and also celebrate our love of culture and food.

The ceremony happened at All Souls’ Episcopal Church. This church was a compromise. Ramzi’s family is Greek Orthodox Catholic, and I am Protestant. We chose an Episcopalian church because it’s “Catholic lite.” Most of the rituals are the same, but I could take communion. I had my sister walk me down the aisle and “give me away.” I know, I know… so archaic. But hear me out. Due to some complicated father issues, I actually didn’t have a shortage of men to give me away. I had a surplus! My stepfather, my grandpa, and my uncles would all have been awesome candidates. But I chose my only sister, because it’s been me and her since the beginning. This was a way for me to include her. It was a choice that didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, but more importantly, it made me feel good.

We were gifted a zaffe by my mother. A zaffe is a tradition in Middle Eastern weddings, where two dancers and a drummer dance the bride and groom into the wedding reception. I also had henna done on my hand, as is traditional in both Middle Eastern (and Indian) cultures. I had Ramzi’s name written in Arabic; the tradition goes that if he could not find his name, he would owe me money. As of today, I have been unsuccessful in collecting payment. A bridesmaid let us borrow Moroccan lanterns, which we used all around the space. We also hired a vintage rental company to create a Middle Eastern lounge area, complete with our own hookah!


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