Nardine Marie and Mina Ayoub New Jersey wedding

Exclusive: Nardine Marie's Colorful Wedding at a New Jersey Castle

"I have always dreamt of this moment, ever since I was a little girl."

Nardine Tawadros and Mina Ayoub grew up in the same church community in East Brunswick, New Jersey. But “our church is full of thousands of families,” Nardine says. “We knew of one another, but the chances of us crossing paths were very slim.” 

They did cross paths, though, in June 2016—halfway across the world. “We went on a missionary trip to Egypt with our church and close friends,” Nardine recalls. “Nothing happened on the trip. We were just good friends.” And yet, “it was the trip that changed our lives,” Mina adds. “I knew I would make her my wife.”

They returned to the states and weeks passed; all the while Mina was becoming more and more smitten. Nardine, too. “He was truly my best friend before anything,” she says. “He brought me closer to Christ and pushed me to be the best I can possibly be in every way. Mina had every single aspect I was looking for in a real man. I had prayed for Christ to allow me to meet that person for years. Surely, God delivers.” A relationship finally blossomed.

Four years later, in June 2020, Mina proposed. “I woke up one morning thinking I would take out one of my best friends for a birthday celebration at a restaurant overlooking the New York City skyline,” Nardine shares. “To my surprise, I pulled up to the most perfect view of the skyline in West New York, and Mina was waiting on one knee in front of eight-feet-high floral letters spelling out ‘be my wife,’ with doves flying behind them. It was truly a dream come true.”

the invitation suite

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

When it came to her wedding, Nardine was hoping for another dream come true. Planning was fun but stressful at times because I am a true perfectionist at heart," she admits. "I wanted to fall in love with every single choice I made, every single vendor we chose, every single vision I had in mind. This was the day I have been waiting for—why settle?”

It began with the venue: “I could not imagine myself getting married anywhere other than The Legacy Castle,” Nardine says. “It has Renaissance aesthetics, high ceilings, and speaks nothing but luxury. It brought out that princess aspect in me. It spoke to me from the moment I stepped inside.” It would be the perfect canvas for her unique vision: a whimsical wonderland of color. 

“My vision from the very beginning was having the most uniquely put together, colorful, grand wedding no eye has seen before,” the bride says. “I wanted to stray away from the typical white or blush florals. There is so much out there! Why not be creative?” She dreamed of a wedding that was a reflection of her personal style. “In my own sense of clothing style, I love being different and challenging my own taste,” she says. “I love putting together pieces I never experimented with before and seeing how I can work with those new pieces into a specific outfit. A huge question I put in front of myself during wedding planning is how can I possibly challenge myself, as well as my vendors? Every wedding is beautiful, but how can we be unique and different?”

Their 400 guests can attest that Nardine and Mina’s May 30, 2022 wedding was nothing if not unique. Read on to see all the colorful, regal details, as planned by Kelly Seca at Gifted Events and photographed by Rafal Ostrowski.

the bride in a custom tulle robe by Karen Sabag

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

From the very first moment of the day, the wedding day was personalized. Nardine got ready in a chic bridal suite outfitted with balloon art and decor in shades of pastel pink, yellow, and blue. “I planned the decor very intricately to match my ombré kaftan,” she says. The tulle robe she wore to get ready—custom made by the same designer who created her gown, Karen Sabag—featured an extended train and five-color ombré feathers along the hem and sleeves.

Nardine began prepping her skin three months before the wedding with HydraFacials at Eminence Medical Aesthetics. “The treatments truly made my skin as good as new, and my makeup went on like butter the day of my wedding,” Nardine says. She also credits Drunk Elephant products—especially those with formulas containing marula oil and glycolic acid—for helping get her skin glowing.

Day-of beauty began with a flawless airbrush spray tan by Coco Glow Airbrush. The goal was timeless, elegant, and ethereal. “I have always been inspired by royal weddings, where the hair and makeup is classic and simple,” Nardine says. “I always envisioned this for myself. When I look at my wedding photographs 30 years from now, I will not regret a single thing.”

the bride's wedding day makeup and accessories

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

I have always been known to wear huge, dramatic earrings with any outfit I put together,” Nardine shares. “Earrings are a part of me, and they were surely a very important part of my entire look.” She custom designed a pair with the help of Elaine at Bridal Styles Boutique. “They were intricately handmade, rhodium-plated, crystal-encrusted, and deco-inspired. They were more stunning than I had ever envisioned.”

bride Nardine Marie in her custom wedding gown

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

The bride is of Egyptian descent, and was drawn to designer Karen Sabag’s Middle Eastern background; she knew Karen could execute the level of detail she envisioned in a gown. Over the course of two years, Nardine’s custom dream came to life.

“I first visited Karen in March 2020, when she drew out my dream couture wedding gown,” Nardine remembers. “I was absolutely floored. She is a true creative director. I would go visit her stunning New York atelier, where I was first measured to an exact fit. Then, we both decided on colors, fit, fabrics, and any other details I wanted. When details were confirmed, the embroidery process began.” The resulting gown—a couture corseted overlay ballgown with 3D hand-sewn flowers made from feathers and beaded stone, and an eight-yard train—took 800 hours to craft. 

the bride holding her bouquet

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

“The bride’s bouquet was couture on its own,” share the couple’s wedding designer and florist at Sarcon Flower Couture. The arrangement’s classic white and ivory florals served to anchor the explosion of colors in the rest of the florals. Meanwhile, Nardine’s bridesmaids—in champagne-hued gowns with voluminous custom tulle bows—each carried three long-stemmed calla lilies

the bride reads a letter on her wedding day

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

“I have always done bright colored nails, whether it be green, orange, yellow, or purple,” Nardine says. “But, yellow or orange nails on that gown? Oh, no! For my wedding day, I went with a very light blush tone. I wanted all the elegance.” Her look was complete with a pair of Jimmy Choo heels and a spray of Gucci Guilty Pour Femme, “a natural floral fragrance that was not too strong or overpowering.” 

bride entering church for ceremony

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

Karen Sabag also crafted a custom veil for Nardine. At 10 yards long and featuring hand-sewn feather florals, it was the perfect accompaniment to her royal gown. 

the bride's mother walks her down the aisle

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

My mother walking me down the aisle to meet my husband,” stands out as one of Nardine’s most special memories of the day. “I have always dreamt of this moment, ever since I was a little girl,” she says. “My mother has been my superwoman. She raised me and my brother all on her own. She built me up and made me into the woman I am today, and I could not imagine any other person walking me down that aisle to meet my husband. It is a moment that still brings tears to my eyes.”

The moment was special for another reason, too. It served as Nardine and Mina’s first official look at each other. “This has a specific meaning in our Coptic Orthodox religion,” Nardine says. “Our first look is always done as the parent walks the bride down the aisle at the beginning of the church ceremony.”

bride and groom during the wedding ceremony

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

I have always dreamt of this moment, ever since I was a little girl.

bride and groom during wedding ceremony

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

The couple sat in high-backed chairs under an arch of white hydrangeas during the ceremony, presided over by Coptic Orthodox priest Father Mark Hanna. They exchanged traditional vows and, later, Cartier wedding bands. 

bride and groom exit the church

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

bride and groom exit the church after ceremony

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

The newlyweds exited the church to excitement and fanfare, captured in all their glory by photographer Rafal Ostrowski. “Rafal was my dream photographer for capturing these magic moments,” Nardine says. “His dreamy and airy style of photography highlighted every aspect of the wedding.”

bride and groom portrait at The Legacy Castle

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

bride and groom portrait at The Legacy Castle

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

bride and groom portrait

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

Groom Mina wore two custom suits for the big day, both by Tom James. “The first look was a classic black suit with a custom engraving of our initials on the inside, and a white button down shirt,” Nardine describes. He paired it with Christian Louboutin oxfords and fresh, citrusy Bleu De Chanel cologne.

colorful wonderland reception decor

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

“The Sarcon Flower Couture team came early that morning to The Legacy Castle and constructed two live 24-foot-high trees, built with thousands of live sprayed branches, foliage, and flowers in lavender and pastel pink,” the bride shares. “The wedding theme was in no way an easy task to take on. This project was by all means risky—it could possibly have turned out tacky or not well put together. However, trusting in the creativity of Sarcon Flower Couture, I knew this was going to be nothing short of luxe and glamorous.” She adds a piece of advice to other brides: “There are one million floral designers out there—which one speaks to your heart?”

crystal and colorful floral centerpiece

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

“Guests walked into a colorful gala, where each table was uniquely designed with a color dear to my heart,” Nardine says. “Each centerpiece truly had a story to tell with a color that meant so much to me, from red, the color of love, to green, growing together. The floral designer played with different shades of each unique color to create contrast that was whimsical and lush.”

colorful place settings

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

“The family tables by Class Event Rentals were designed in a luxe serpentine shape, which brought just so much exquisite glam to my theme, with colorful garlands acting like runners,” Nardine says. “We used the serpentine tables to create a zig-zag aisle on both sides of the dance floor leading to the majestic sweetheart stage.” Textured gauze napkins and gold chargers added dimension to each place setting.

bride and groom in colorful reception space

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

“My floral designer and I have been speaking about this vision for years,” Nardine shares. “Nothing truly tops the feeling of seeing a sight that is out of this world. Imagining it throughout the process of planning is one thing, but seeing every piece come together with my own eyes was certainly a mesmerizing experience.”

bride and groom enter reception

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

Following a cocktail hour featuring seafood and oysters, pineapple martinis, and Moscow mules, the couple made their grand entrance, ushered in by showgirls outfitted in red. Mina changed into his second look, a shiny dark blue and black paisley suit with a red paisley inner lining, for the reception.

bride and groom's dramatic first dance

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

bride and groom's dramatic first dance

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

An epic reception calls for a dramatic first dance, and Nardine and Mina’s was certainly that. Spotlights shone and fog rolled in from every corner as the couple swung to Clinton Kane’s “I Guess I’m in Love.” The dance ended with a romantic lift. Later, the bride danced with her older brother to “One Call Away” by Charlie Puth, and the groom danced with his mother to “A Song For My Son” by Mikki Viereck.

acrobatic reception entertainment

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

Seeing every piece come together with my own eyes was a mesmerizing experience.

LED-caped performers at the reception

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

a disco ball dancer at the reception

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

But, the entertainment was just getting started. “Red goddess showgirls were serving Champagne as our guests entered cocktail hour; then disco-ball heads with nude mirror-mesh costumes came out when the dancing began,” Nardine says. “Then we had an LED Cyr wheel act during dinner, then LED wing showgirls came out with turquoise outfits during Viennese hour. Phoenix Entertainment NYC was phenomenal from beginning to end.” As guests hit the dance floor, a DJ spun a variety of Middle Eastern music selections.

the wedding cake

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

couple cuts the wedding cake

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

The cake was "a unique seven-tier design to represent the bride’s exquisite taste for fashion,” says cake designer Priscilla Ortiz of Perfectly Styled & Sweet. “Intricate hand piping was enhanced by individually placed edible pearls, which gave the illusion of a beaded effect, and hand painted rice paper sails and fondant ruffles were added as accents.” Of course, the couple made this moment as magical as the rest, with cold fireworks exploding as they cut into the masterpiece.

bride and groom kiss at the end of wedding reception

Photo by Rafal Ostrowski

In the end, Nardine’s colorful and elaborate vision was executed to beyond perfection—and she chalks it all up to the vendors she worked with. “In my opinion, one of the most important parts of wedding planning is working with trusted vendors,” she says. “Go with vendors you truly love, someone who you truly admire their work and talent. Do your research! Cutting corners in the vendor area will make or break your day. This is only one day; there is no room for mess-ups!”

Wedding Team

Ceremony Venue St. Mary Coptic Orthodox Church

Reception Venue The Legacy Castle

Wedding Planner Gifted Events 

Bridal Designer Karen Sabag

Bride’s Accessories Bridal Styles Boutique 

Bride Shoes Jimmy Choo

Bride’s Hair Beauty by Pashka

Bride’s Makeup Carolina Enamorado

Bridesmaids’ Dresses Amsale via Bella Bridesmaids 

Bridal Suite Decor Nedor Decor 

Groom’s Attire Tom James

Groom’s Shoes Christian Louboutin; Comme des Garçons

Wedding Bands Cartier

Floral Designer Sarcon Flower Couture 

Rentals Class Event Rentals 

Live Painter J. Howard Studios 

Invitations Khattab Invitations & Printing 

Menus and Signage Designs by VH

Napkins Emma’s Attic

Card Box Save The Date Designs Co.

Cocktail Stirrers Sugoi Custom Creations

Music The Palace Entertainment

Entertainment Phoenix Entertainment NYC

Lighting Visual Comet

Catering The Legacy Castle

Cake Perfectly Styled & Sweet

Transportation Blue Streak Limousine

Accommodations The Château Grande Hotel

Videography MPW Media Group

Photography Rafal Ostrowski

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