Real Bride Sonja on Her Bridal Party & Bachelorette Fun

Girl Squad

Someone said to me years ago, the older you get – the smaller your wedding gets. I’ve found that to be so true in some areas. When I was younger, thinking ahead to my big day (despite having not met my future husband!) I always imagined a team of Bridesmaids next to me. But now I’m older and an expat I was forced to have the sad realisation that it’s just not practical. James isn’t having Groomsmen either, just a Best Man, so to be kind of even I’m having just two girls by my side… but they’re two amazing ones and I couldn’t ask for a better Matron of Honour and Bridesmaid.

Claire (Kempy) is my Matron of Honour and was an easy choice. She is my best friend here in Dubai and has been there since day one of our relationship. I speak to her every day (lots) and she keeps me sane whenever I think I’m close to verging on the insane. She’s been fantastic at helping me with the planning and, having got married herself here in Dubai six years ago, has been great for advice and support.

Steph is my Bridesmaid. She’s been my best friend (or BFF as we like to call each other) for as long as I can remember. We went to school together and then enjoyed so many more fun times in London in our 20s. At the beginning of the year (after a two-year stint in Doha), she moved to Dubai! It’s amazing to have her here and even more amazing that she has been here to help me with the whole planning process. Whenever she comes over for dinner, I usually machine gun her with wedding chat… and she laughs with/at me when I tell her things like “I need to send the photographer a list of what group shots I want. I don’t know what group shots I want!”

Along with my main girls, I also have my six-year-old nephew as our Ring Bearer – he’s so excited he’s been practising his walk and everything, and my niece as my Flower Girl. She’s quite the character and only three, so goodness knows where the petals are going to the thrown… or who they are going to be thrown at. I’m excited to find out.

Bachelorette Goals

I had my Hen Day last weekend and I loved every second. To begin with, I think we were over thinking it. “Let’s go away somewhere on a plane for two nights”, turned into “let’s go to Abu Dhabi for the night” and then eventually turned into – “let’s not travel anywhere and instead have a lovely spa day at the Talise Spa”. Big thanks to my Sister in Law for suggesting that one!

Real Bride Sonja

There is so much to do right here in Dubai and the weather is perfect right now, so it seemed silly to waste fun time travelling. Nine very fabulous girlfriends joined me for the day, which started with a fab buffet breakfast at Al Qasr and me being dressed up. We then got taken to the Talise Spa by Abra (and might have sung and danced on the way!) for a treatment each (I had an amazing massage), bubbles and games. My Bridesmaids smashed it. They planned so many lovely surprises from games to dressing me up, I loved it all and appreciated it so much.

Real Bride Sonja

If someone told me I would one day be playing wedding Pictionary at the Talise Spa while wearing a bath robe and a fake wedding veil I would have laughed… almost as much as the girls laughed at my poor attempts to draw Bridesmaids, altars, vows etc… while playing wedding Pictionary at the Talise Spa in a bathrobe!

Real Bride Sonja

I honestly want to have that whole day again. So much fun. I would highly recommend the Bachelorette Package there at Talise Spa too, a lovely day and great value.

The Countdown

It’s so close! Friends and family have been messaging letting me know when they will be landing into Dubai and at what time, which is making me even more excited! Once everyone starts arriving we’ll know that our Big Wedding is almost here!

I need to get my Flower Girl and Ring Bearer’s outfits altered (I don’t want any trousers falling down midway down the aisle like they did when he tried his suit on – bless him!), book mani/pedis for us girls (an important thing on the to-do list) and then I think I might actually be done.

I really do feel so lucky that I get to have not one, but two incredibly special days with James. We loved every single second of our Small Wedding and love every day of married life, so neither of us can wait to do it all over again on a much bigger scale. An amazing day with so many of our favourite people from here, home… and even LA. So excited.

I’ll share photos of our Big Wedding as soon as I have them… until then, I’m going to carry on getting excited!

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Sonja Stephen-Willn
Sonja is our UAE Editor and a bride-to be! An ex-magazine Editor and Showbiz Columnist, Sonja has swapped her love of celebrity gossip for stylish wedding loveliness. From rustic to vintage, beach to ballroom she is constantly searching for fabulous inspiration to share.

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