Timeless Royal Elegance

“Picture this – a palace built from scratch, raised from the ground on a vast empty land, creating a one-time venue and an irreplaceable experience fit for a royal couple. As wedding designers, there is nothing more exciting than an empty canvas. It gives us the opportunity to dream, and to give life to our visions without any physical constraints. In the case of the wedding at hand, the challenge was how to build something temporary that felt majestic, monumental yet feasible, ephemeral yet ethereal, classical yet contemporary. We wanted to create a place that felt as if it has history but would actually be making history that night!”

— Ziad Raphael Nassar, Creative Director and Founder of ONCE




When it comes to luxurious and lavish weddings around the world, royal weddings in the Middle East take center stage. They are gorgeously styled affairs on every level, elaborate and even theatrical. Ziad Raphael Nassar, Creative Director and Founder of ONCE, renowned for his talent and creativity, has been a long-time favorite amongst members of the royal family. He has been the wedding designer of choice for more than a hundred royal and A-list couples over the years, creating unique and astounding settings for each.




For the wedding in question, Ziad and his talented team of designers, architects and selected vendors created a haven for a magical love story that embodied timeless elegance. While the whole planning process from sketch to execution took six months, the venue itself was built in less than two months. After which, the team spent a whole month installing thousands of components with lighting, carpentry, and welding taking place on a 7000 sqm space. The family was super enthusiastic and very into details. It’s always nice to see clients’ excitement as things start to take shape. However even when everything seems perfect and the pieces are falling into place, some things will always be out of our control! A week before the wedding day, a severe storm hit the area and some water made its way into the venue. Thankfully, the relentless team effort paid out and all damages were salvageable.




From a bridal stage with dozens of hanging crystal chandeliers in the backdrop, and tables filled to the brim with bold, vibrant and luscious florals, to entirely custom-made furniture and exclusively curated sets of silverware and centerpieces, everything worked to the finest seam! The entire setup was ready a day early for the couple to enjoy it privately with their immediate family.



“When the bride and groom walked through the room, it was love at first sight all over again for them. Seeing people’s reaction first hand is always the ultimate reward! The wedding industry is always changing, and it seems like there’s a new trend every day. I tend to aim for setups that are timeless and create settings that you’ll keep falling in love with, even 30 years from now!” says Ziad.



The next day, the guests started to arrive as of 7:30 pm. As it is customary in some parts of the Middle East, it was a women-only celebration. The guest list included over 700 women, all dressed in magnificent designer gowns, jaw-dropping jewels, and looked as stylish as one could imagine. As they made their way in, you could see people pause at the entrance hallway to simply take it all in, in awe of the mesmerizing world we had created. The entire team of ONCE knew they were off to a great start.



They all took their seats in the lounge area, awaiting the bride and enjoying each other’s company alongside delicately crafted canapés. At 11:30 pm, the lights dimmed to a frail glow, and her captivating shadow appeared behind a translucent panel. The doors then opened and there she was, dazzling in her Alexander McQueen haute couture gown. At the time, it was only the third wedding dress they had ever customized, including that of Kate Middleton! It was a fully embroidered, halter-neck bridal ensemble that flared at the waist into a full princess-cut gown. She walked down the aisle to her custom made “Zaffeh” (aka bridal song) until she reached the stage, or what we refer to as the “Kousha”, where her closest ones joined her for the revelries.




The bride was an absolute pleasure to work with, and a truly genuine person. As a first and a never seen before in the world of Middle Eastern weddings, she gave Ziad a standing ovation during the ceremony, calling him on to join her on stage in order to thank him for making her dream wedding come true.



The groom, a very charismatic gentleman, then made his entrance and joined his beautiful bride, accompanied by the men in their families. Following the cutting of the cake, the guests moved on to the dinner area to enjoy the appetizing buffet prepared by chefs who flew in all the way from Italy!



“We hear stories and legends about the Arabian nights, and we could not be happier to have orchestrated one of them!”

— Ziad Raphael Nassar, Creative Director and Founder of ONCE




Vendor List:

Wedding Planner & Designer: Ziad Raphael Nassar, Creative Director and Founder of ONCE

Floral Designer: Rosen [www.rosenbeirut.com] 

Lighting: Zoom Arts

Furniture and Accessories: Ordinary Not

Bride’s Gown: Alexander McQueen

Photography: Art Studio [@robert.balasko] [www.art-studio.tv]