When model and blogger Emily Shakarji (known better as @emilyshak on Instagram) got hitched to long-term bf Paul Gough last September, it was always going to be a glamorous big day.
The happy couple headed to Cyprus to say their I do’s in front of 75 of their nearest and dearest, with the day captured perfectly by Aphrodite Productions, Cyprus.
Here, Emily tells us all about her spectacular wedding in the sunshine…
Paul and I actually met on Halloween night (when I was dressed as a hippie!), but didn’t actually exchange numbers until I bumped into him at New Year in a nightclub. We then went on our first date a few days later and it took off since there.
I thought he was so handsome and taller than me, which is always a bonus being a tall girl. We chatted a little and I noticed how polite he was.
I knew really early on he was The One. Paul was just so different to any guy I had ever dated. He is such a gentleman and had such an amazing aura about him. I’d genuinely had never met someone so kind and thoughtful.
Paul is a super romantic and the proposal was amazing! We flew to Cancún for a holiday at Hyatt Zilara. We had a beautiful presidential suite on the top floor for the first night.
Paul had it arranged that, the following morning when I stepped onto the balcony, I looked down at the beach and saw a massive sign, written out in seaweed with ‘will you marry me Emily?’.
He had it all planned for months in advance and had already asked for my father’s blessing. It was truly the best surprise ever!
IN THE SUNSHINE
We knew we wanted to get married in the sun and we had always loved Cyprus. I am half Lebanese so I still have a lot of family there. With Lebanon being a short plane journey away from Cyprus, I knew it would be a lot easier for them to attend our big day. We also wanted to choose somewhere that wasn’t too far nor too costly for out friends and family back home.
Our venue was the first we went to see and fell in love, so much so, that we didn’t view the others we had planned to see. It was so to our taste; minimal and modern, yet so classy with an amazing glass sky restaurant with the best surroundings of the sea.
My sister got married 2 years before me so she flew out to Cyprus to help Paul and I organise and my mum was an amazing help too, especially with sorting out all of the personalised details for our big day!
WHITE AND GOLD
Our theme was white and gold. As you walked in, we had a gold frame mirror which was covered in white flowers with gold hand written calligraphy table plans.
We had white table cloths with gold sequin runners and stunning gold beaded charger plates. Our centre pieces were crystal candelabras with white flower balls at the top.
I also hired white chiavari chairs, got individual names cut out for my table placements and kept my favours gold themed.
There was an amazing white and gold theme sweetie table with a big cupcake stand filled with white and gold cupcakes.
Then there was the white LED dance floor in one corner, with the DJ and in the other corner, we had set up sheesha for our guests as a comfortable seating area.
I have been modelling wedding dresses since i was 17 so I knew what I liked and didn’t like.
My mum initially came with me and then, when I thought I had found the one, my sister, three best friends and mother-in-law came to give me their seal of approval.
I got my dress at Reeta Fashions in Glasgow. It is an Enzoani gown: sleek and backless. The material was a very pale ivory (almost white) and had tiny transparent jewel beads scattered through it, which caught the sunlight beautifully. The straps were spaghetti style and diamante and went right down my back to the fastening on the lower back.
For day time, I had an amazing detachable trail to give it that little something extra for the vows and then took it off for the evening dinner to show off the back detail.
I DO CREW
I had 5 bridesmaids. My maid of honor was my sister, Jennifer, and then 4 of my best friends; Pamela, Megan, Melissa and Anum.
I went for shimmer gold maxi style bridesmaid dresses and I chose all white avalanche roses for bouquets with a gold ribbon tied around them.
Paul had his brother Mark as his best man and then 4 groomsmen; James, Shahbaz, Paul and his son Paul who is 11 (yes – 3 of them were named Paul!) The groomsmen also had white rose boutonnieres.
THE BIG DAY
We had a fairly chilled night the night before. We went for dinner and then Debbie from Indio Beauty, who was also attending my wedding, came to the room and fixed my semi permanent eye lashes.
I fell asleep around 1am and woke up a 7.30. I had been super chilled in the run up to the wedding, but was so nervous on the wedding morning – all the nerves hit me at once!
Once the girls arrived and we started getting ready, the nerves went away. I loved my wedding morning, it was so much fun playing music and getting ready together. Pamela, my bridesmaid, did my makeup and the photographer arrived at noon and started snapping away.
Our photographer and videographer, Aphrodite Productions, Cyprus, are a family of four, composed of two photographers and two videographers. Included was a sunset shoot – it was perfect.
HERE COMES THE BRIDE
We had Canon in D playing for me walking down the aisle and then A Thousand Years by Christina Perri playing in the background whilst we signed our papers.
I thought I would be super emotional, but I was so excited. It’s such a nice feeling walking down the aisle and seeing so many faces smiling back at you. However, once my dad saw me off, both Paul and I became quite emotional.
The vows went really smoothly. It was actually a really nice feeling reading them to each other.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
We arranged canapés at the cocktail reception for after the vows and put on a free bar for everyone to cool down and mingle.
We opted for a buffet style dinner as we had different nationalities at our wedding and 15 children so a buffet seemed like the best idea to offer a bit of everything and let them decide.
ON THE FLOOR
We were both really shy about the first dance initially, but we ended up having a shimmy around the dance floor to Sam Smith’s Latch until I dragged my bridesmaids on the dance floor to join us.
We had a DJ and a sax player who played along with the DJ to chart songs – it was fab! Then, on the Sunday evening after the wedding, we hired a yacht which was incredible and had a huge party on the boat.
Seeing all my friends and family in one place celebrating was a highlight. I loved the actual walking down the aisle part too, seeing everyone’s faces smiling and seeing my husband to be looking so handsome in his dinner suit grinning back at me. It still gives me goosebumps thinking about it.
Not much has changed in our day to day life, except the fact we still giggle saying ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. Other than that, I feel a stronger bond. It’s a nice feeling.
Enjoy every minute of it and, no matter what budget you set, always be prepared to spend a little more.
Try not let the little things stress you out. There’s always a few hiccups when planning a wedding so try to remember its a happy occasion and, no matter what, your guests will love every minute of the big day.
Bride’s headpiece and garter: Crystal and Pearl Bridal | Bridesmaids’ dresses: Debut at Debenhams | Groom’s suit: Hugo Boss | Groomsmen suits: Marks and Spencer | Cupcakes: Love Island Cakes, Paphos |