I normally only like to focus on weddings here on Smashing The Glass, hence the name of the blog, but this Moroccan themed engagement party and Blake Ezra‘s amazingly energetic photos from the occasion swayed me into sharing it with you.
From the spirited dancing to the authentic Moroccan decor to the colourful traditional henna ceremony there’s lots of lovely personality, tradition and detail to focus on at this engagement party extraordinaire.
Rachel, a teacher from Melbourne, and Emile, an online marketer, met two years ago when Rachel moved into a flatshare in Hendon when she had just arrived in London. The room that she had moved into was actually Emile’s old one. After two days of being in the new apartment her housemates threw a party and at that party she met Emile although they didn’t actually start dating till about 5 months later.
The couple got engaged in December 2012 and threw their (what can only be described as ‘mini-wedding’) Moroccan engagement and henna party in May of this year. I’ll hand you over to Rachel now for all the juicy details but before I do I’ll just give you a little background as to what a ‘henna’ is.
WHAT IS A HENNA?
The henna ceremony is a cultural and spiritual celebration practised mainly amongst Sephardi Jews that is supped to bring good luck to the engaged couple. It involves crushing the leaves of the henna plant into a powder, which, when mixed with water, becomes a dough that stains the skin orange. The henna is arranged in intricate lacey or floral patterns on the hands or feet, and symbolises good health, fertility, wisdom, protection or spiritual enlightenment.
Rachel: I’m an Australian from Melbourne and have been living in the UK for two and a half years now. Emile is British but his dad is Moroccan Israeli so that’s where the Henna ceremony/ party would definitely have had to come in either way. We had to make a decision on which country to have the wedding in and we decided to do it in Australia in March 2014. So having a big engagement party in London incorporating a henna ceremony made perfect sense as we could have all our British and international guests who may very well not be able to get to Australia for the wedding, celebrate with us at a big fun affair too.
Emile’s dad had over 20 of his relatives fly in from Israel for the week and I had my parents come in from Australia. Emile and I both had family from Canada and New York celebrate with us too and we couldn’t have been more thrilled to have such an international array of family and friends have a ball with us at our London engagement party.
I have to admit it felt like a mini wedding – it was the ‘London leg’ as it were. We loved that everyone could feel part of a big celebration no matter what country they were in.
With so many foreign guests to invite we thought that using Paperless Post for our invitations would be a good idea. It’s a great service as you can customise the invitation however you want and then you can really stay on top of things with all the RSVPs and messages. We didn’t need to worry about a designer, printing, postage or addresses or RSVPs getting lost in the mail. We loved it!
We wanted to hold the party somewhere local that would be easy to get to and big enough to house our 200+ guests. Kinloss Hall was a blank canvas and we loved the fact that we could dress up the room to the degree that we needed to.
Being an authentic Moroccan, Emile’s dad had a vision of how he wanted the room to be set out. He arranged palm trees and lanterns and pouffes and all kinds of fabulous Moroccan props. We didn’t have to hire anything – all the stuff is within Emile’s family – so it was all totally authentic. We weren’t pretending to do a Moroccan party. It was a genuine Moroccan party!
BLAKE EZRA, OUR PHOTOGRAPHER
Emile and I decide that we wanted a professional photographer to capture the evening and Blake, well as you can see from he photos – he’s incredible. He’s fantastic to work with and Emile and I can’t speak more highly of him. His photography captures the energy and the atmosphere so brilliantly and I’m actually going to take the CD of photos with me from the engagement party to show the photographer for our Australian wedding because I want them to see the life and the colour and the warmth that Blake captured in his photography.
We really wanted DJ Osher and we were so thrilled that he was available for the evening we needed him. We had seen him perform twice before and both times we thought he was really good, really friendly and loved the fact that he MC’ed as well. He couldn’t have been better on the night – he knew exactly what he was doing and he provided all the lights and the best music set! The tunes started off very Israeli.. the Hora, then Moroccan and Sephardi music. Then later on it swung into house music but still with the Moroccan twist – what you’d typically hear at a party in Israel. There was so much energy and spirit – it couldn’t have been better!
We had Reich’s cater the event for us as a dinner buffet. They were absolutely wonderful to deal with. Our menu was really plentiful – all sorts of dishes including lots of meats and fish and a wonderful dessert table.
RACHEL + EMILE’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Photographer — Blake Ezra
Venue — Kinloss Hall
Catering — Reich’s
Music — DJ Osher, Pure Events
Stationery – Paperless Post