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For The Bride, May/June 2002

For The Bride, May/June 2002, Small But Perfectly Formed

Small But Perfectly Formed

Jill Burns and Zakaria Halim, 1st June 2001

Wedding celebrations are as different as the couples that are marrying, and Jill and Zak’s day, while not following the pattern of a traditional wedding, was no less special. The couple knew that they didn’t want a typically English wedding, instead wanting a small private day with just the guests that they really wanted there. The ceremony with all the trimmings was held on 1st June, and a Muslim wedding was conducted by the ’matzoun’ in London’s Baker Street the day after. Jill and Zak’s Muslim ceremony was quite low key, and the couple attended the ceremony in their jeans. Jill converted to Islam immediately prior to the wedding and had to speak in Arabic at the ceremony for the first time.

Although the guest list for the civil ceremony was small, the trimmings were no less grand and no less personal to the happy couple. Jill designed a stunning, triangular necklace in amber and had it made in Egypt, the home of her groom, Zak. She wore a simple satin bodice and skirt, designed by Helen Marina, in a cappuccino coloured Duchess satin and kept her veil and tiara simple to make a showcase of her fabulous necklace. The colour of the necklace was echoed in Jill’s bouquet. She carried a round posy of deep red roses tied with organza ribbon, and had tiny red blooms in her hair. Zak chose a light suit to complement Jill’s dress, which he wore with a bronze coloured shirt and tie. Best men Robert, Jill’s brother and Amr, Zak’s friend looked smart in charcoal coloured suits.

The elegance of the day was reflected in Jill’s choice of transport. She was whisked to the civil ceremony, held at the Foxbury Conference Centre, Chiselhurst, Kent in an Inspector Morse style white Jaguar. Twenty five guests witnessed the civil ceremony, during which poems were read by Jill’s sister Lesley and friend Julie, and rings were exchanged. Jill now wears an 18 carat gold wishbone ring inset with diamonds, and Zak wears a two colour gold ring. As well as vows, the bride and groom also said a few words. Jill spoke the lyrics to Because You Loved Me by Celine Dion, and Zak adapted lines spoken by Jack Nicholson to Helen Hunt in the film As Good as It Gets.

The celebrations then moved to a reception room which held just three tables which had been beautifully decorated. White linen and beautiful cutlery was arranged with decorated place cards and floral centrepieces around a pillar candle. The guests enjoyed a three course meal including a starter of smoked salmon, a main course of fillet of beef with grain mustard sauce, finished off with Normandy apple tart. Romantic adagios played in the background, giving a lovely atmosphere to the celebrations.

Although no speeches or toasts had been planned, Zak and Robert, Jill’s brother, made spontaneous and unrehearsed speeches that were very moving, causing a few of the guests to shed a tear.

Jill and Zak chose to have their reception for the afternoon only, so once they had had a chance to chat to their guests, they departed for their first night hotel, Rowhill Grange in Wilmington, Dartford, where they enjoyed sleeping in a four poster bed, before travelling to London for their Muslim ceremony. With the formalities over, the honeymoon could begin. The couple travelled to Zak’s home country, Egypt, staying first on the banks of the Nile, then a hotel in the shadow of the pyramids and finally in the guests’ quarters of one of the palaces of the last king of Egypt, King Farouk.


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Helen Hitchcock
Milestone Weddings
Pogles Lodge, Royal Oak Country Park
Henfield West Sussex BN5 9AY England
work +44 7973 224220