The inaugural Sharjah Bridal Fair (SBF), one of the most luxurious bridal exhibitions in the Northern Emirates, showcased a variety of the best wedding products and services under one roof from May 19 to 22. Recognising the burgeoning wedding industry in the region, the fair was warmly received at the Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre (JRCC) in Sharjah, under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs.
Much more than an exhibition
A thematically organised set-up took the visitors step by step through every element of wedding planning; exhibitors showcased gowns, perfumes, hair and make-up, sweets and desserts, jewelry, dresses and abayas, photography and videography, honeymoon destinations, flower arrangements, wedding koshas and daily live entertainment.
There were many surprises in store for visitors, including blushing models gliding through the hall in a range of elegant, grand and subtle wedding gowns. The fashion shows also displayed crossover outfits, which Middle Eastern weddings are often known for, featuring varying levels of drama, sleek and clean lines, soft draping and eye-catching embroidered numbers.
Brides also had the chance to review the fair’s designs and the latest local and international collections in JRCC’s Bride Guide—an exclusive publication dedicated to the wedding planning journey.
An unbeatable platform for designers: “Sharjah Bridal Fair Awards 2016” witnessed a talented group of winners in its four categories
The last day of the fair saw winners in four categories of the “Sharjah Bridal Fair Awards 2016” receive trophies and cash prizes during the award ceremony: three runners-up for Best Prototype Wedding App or Websites, and nine shortlisted fashion designers of the remaining three categories who presented 45 pieces—18 of which were walked down the runway in a spellbinding fashion show during the third day of the fair.
The winners of the “Sharjah Bridal Fair Awards 2016” are: designers Huma Al Hashimi and Alia Al Ajmani, the two owners of the Ruby Room brand who won Best Emerging Fashion Designer; sisters Hissa and Fatima Al Jawkar, owners of the brand Pearla who won first place in Best Women’s Ready-to-Wear Collection; Sheikha Amal bint Mana Al Maktoum, creator of the Azzalia brand, who won the award for Best Wedding Abaya and the website www.BrideClubME.com, who received the award for Best Wedding Website.
The judging panel, composed of Hanan Al Mahmoud, Director of JRCC, HE Khawla Al Serkal, Director General of Sharjah Ladies Club, and Latifa Al Shamsi, Emirati designer and blogger, reviewed a large number of submissions based on originality, creativity, functionality, strong aesthetics, commercial viability, and harmony.
During the third day’s show, prior to the announcement of the winners, the shortlisted collections by emerging designers managed to enthrall audiences with their youthful flair and multicultural details, where kaftans met hoodies and sneakers, and elegant Marchesa-esque dresses with straight cuts were strutted alongside half-dress half-abaya combinations.
Speaking on the occasion, Hanan Al Mahmoud, Director of JRCC, said: “We have launched the Sharjah Bridal Fair Awards 2016 in four categories to encourage up-and-coming fashion design talents and to stimulate the spirit of competition and innovation.”
The JRCC director congratulated the winners, noting that all the contestants were worthy of winning in recognition of the excellence and creativity of their designs.
She added: “We have successfully concluded the first edition of the Sharjah Bridal Fair, and hope to see everyone again at the second edition next year, which will offer many more unique, high quality designs and additional award categories.”
Al Mahmoud also expressed her gratitude to the more than 4,500 exhibitors and visitors, who gave immensely positive feedback about the diversity and well-managed shows and events that contributed to the success of the exhibition.
Informative panel discussions and continuous entertainment
To add a glazed cherry on top of what was a very popular cake, the panels and workshops were a raring hit. A full house of mesmerized women looked on as experts took the stage to reveal trade secrets in hairstyling, bridal make-up and nutrition.
Couples-to-be took notes at workshops by professionals and psychologists on building a successful marriage, finance management and wedding planning, and explored and interacted with renowned wedding professionals to make their wedding day – and the honeymoon to follow – flawlessly smooth.
The first day included a talk on ‘Surviving the 1st Year of Marriage’ delivered by Khalid Al Ameri and his wife Salama Mohammed, as well as a talk on “Planning a Successful Marriage and Developing Marriage Skills” delivered by Psychologist Dr Suad Al Marzouqi in collaboration with Sharjah Family Development Centres.
On the second day, directly confronting the topic of the wedding budget and expenses was the ‘How much is too much to spend on a wedding?’ session, moderated by Dubai TV presenter, Rahaf Al Taweel; the spirited workshop, which covered matters such as managing expenses and how to ensure you don’t blow your wedding budget, also saw the participation of personal development coach and project consultant Hamed Al Ali from the Family Development Centres of Sharjah. Adding a human face to the wedding spending dilemma was Maitha Al Aryani, who spoke frankly and entertainingly about her experience managing her own wedding budget while Hanan Al Mahmoud, Director of JRCC, shared a hospitality perspective about the wedding budget and services.
The panel was followed by a presentation of the ‘Four-Week Bridal Body Prep Plan’ by renowned life coach and nutritionist Nathalie Basma.
The event concluded with a series of bridal hairstyling and makeup tutorial sessions featuring Nisreen, Founder and General Manager of Royal Beauty House, and renowned British makeup artist, Sarah Baldry, whose 25-years experience in beauty and fashion makeup includes her work with major Hollywood stars such as Julianne Moore, Matt Damon and George Clooney.
Health educator, Eman Ali Turki, in cooperation with the Health Education Department of Sharjah, then delivered an informative session about “Marital Health Issues”, and the fair’s official events photographer and videographer sponsor, Pink Pepper Photography, gave insightful wedding photography and videography advice to attendees.
Throughout the duration of the fair, visitors were treated to an exciting programme filled with folk and international music, as well as live entertainment.
Outstanding contemporary fashion shows
Striking a magnificent balance between classic cuts, and traditional and trendy designs, local and international labels staged daily fashion shows with a contemporary mix of materials.
One such label was Azzalia: a high-end Emirati brand that was officially launched on the opening day of SBF by Sheikha Amal Bint Mana Al Maktoum. Azzalia seamlessly combines the latest international fashion designs with an Emirati feel, and is set to pave the way for talented Emirati designers to enter the world of fashion entrepreneurship at both regional and international levels.
The Esposa show highlighted international designs, representing high-end labels such as Monique Lhuillier, Carolina Herrera, Oscar De La Renta, Isabel Sanchis, Tony Ward and Gemmy Couture and Esposa Couture, while Dar Al Sara, Kainaat Jewels, Arushi, Geelato and Zuha Abaya featured varied styles to suit every taste, with lacy dresses, heart necklines, dramatic skirts and long trails gracing the catwalk.
The Sharjah Bridal Fair’s sponsors are Swiss Arabian (strategic partner), Crystal House & Giscardo (silver sponsor), Esposa & Level Shoes (fashion partners), Al Shuala Media (outdoor media partner), Creact (event contractor), Pink Pepper Photography (official events photographer and videographer), Royal Beauty House (fashion show models’ hair and makeup team), SLS Production (AV partner), Zahrat Al Khaleej (media partner), KG Dubai (entertainment partner), and Al Khaleejiya (exclusive radio partner).