Not many people have an awards ceremony during their wedding.
Then again, not many people have a wedding as glamorous as Sabihah Mamdani and Zain Ali Janmohamed’s.
When their 750-plus guests walked into the reception room jaws dropped at the mirrored runway, the flower arrangements unique to every table, the mirror plates and the cake strung up in a swing.
“She had a very strong vision,” said Sabijah Mamdani, the mother of the bride.
Indeed, Mamdani wanted a wedding, unlike anyone, had seen before. And from the reactions from her guests, that’s exactly what she got.
“We’ve done a few galas but not weddings like that,” said Kristy Bryant, a manager at the Albany Marriott on Wolf Road, where the reception was held.
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Mamdani, a Siena graduate and Guilderland native, knew her guest list was going to a be long one.
The Mamdani family is well-known in the Capital Region. Raza is a doctor in Watervliet and her mother, Sabijah, is president of the nonprofit African Reflections Foundation. Her husband, who is from London, also invited quite a few people.
“We had people from everywhere: California, New Jersey, London, New York, Dubai,” Raza said.
So Mamdani had a lot of people to “wow.” And wow-them she did.
From the moment guests received their silver velum and velvet invitations to the moment they arrived at their hotel rooms in Albany, Sabihah made sure there was something unique about their experience.
It helped that Mamdani had been planning the perfect wedding ever since she was young.
“My sisters used to make fun of me,” Mamdani said. But it paid off and the planning, surprisingly, was only a year in the making.
Janmohamed and Mamdani met at a wedding and began dating after.
When they got engaged in 2016, Mamdani began planning shortly after that and began connecting with some of the most creative people in the wedding industry. Reema Butala, of Reema Butala Event Design, was her main consultant.
Butala was actually glad to have only a few months to plan the wedding.
“The longer you have the more distracted you become and the more likely you are to change your mind,” Butala said.
She brought in Azizan and Nauman Ali, the owners of Design House Decor, which really took the wedding to the next level.
“Her [Azizan] work is so unique [and] I’m a very modern person, I don’t want anything traditional,” Mamdani said.
There was a mirrored stage and runway, where the wedding party hosted the award ceremony, during which family and friends were thanked and recognized for their support. At the center of the ballroom, the wedding party sat on a luxurious-looking couch which also had mirror details on the back. Every table had a fresh array of flowers in a large glass bowl and there were large fresh flower details on the stage. Each decoration, from the mirrored plates and the glass-looking chairs, reflected a sense of careful planning and beauty.
“I think what was unique about this wedding was the scale of the decor,” Butala said, “That was something she wanted to be interesting and different.”
Keeping with the theme of classic with a twist, Sabihah decided on a wedding dress that was intricate and custom made.
“It was a big process,” Mamdani said. After going to around 20 shops in New York City, she finally decided that there was nothing out there that was quite right. Instead, she had her dress designed and handmade by a designer in Dubai.
Sabijah flew to Dubai shortly before the wedding just to pick it up because she was worried it wouldn’t be shipped in time or it would be damaged. The intricate beading and floral patterning are exquisite, clearly done by a masterful designer, and the dress weighs more than its soft white glow lets on.
All of the careful planning paid off, Mamdani said. She actually got to enjoy the reception and spend time with her loved ones.
Her advice to others who are planning a large wedding?
“Start planning early. Get as much done early as you can,” Mamdani said. Make lists of everything from the guests, to the bridesmaids, to little details that need to be taken care of, Mamdani added.
“Then you can actually enjoy spending time with family . . . the wedding day flew by,” Mamdani said.