Accessories designer Lilian Afshar, the founder behind her namesake handbag label L’Afshar, tied the knot to entrepreneur and founder of Marz Global, Khalid Al Marzoogi at a picturesque wedding in Rome this fall. The groom’s younger brother first introduced the couple at the 2012 Dubai World Cup Races.
Just a 15-miunte drive from the city’s center, the ceremony unfolded at the historic seventeenth century Villa Aurelia—commissioned by Cardinal Girolamo Farnese, a former Governor of Rome. Complete with panoramic views of the Eternal City, the residence is situated on top of Janiculum, the hill that overlooks the Vatican and Piazza Venezia. Speaking to Vogue Arabia about the location, Afshar shares, “I always imagined having a garden wedding. While I was visiting Rome last summer, I came across the Villa Aurelia, and I immediately fell in love with the place.” The villa is surrounded by 3.8 acres of lush gardens.
It was an intimate affair with 130 guests, including Violet Grey’s Fajer Fahad and her sister Farah; Catherine Smith, the founder of Plan de Ville; designer Faiza Bouguessa (who designed a pantsuit for the bride to wear the night before her wedding); and Firras Alwahabi, the founder of Faux Consultancy. “For a Middle Eastern wedding it was small, but apparently by Italian standards it was a big wedding,” remarks Afshar.
Just before the sun dipped below the hills, Afshar made her grand entrance in a custom-made, off-the-shoulder wedding gown featuring lace sleeves. “I tried on a lot of dresses, but none of them worked. I knew exactly what I wanted, and thought, ‘I should just design it myself,’” she says. “I worked closely with a seamstress in Rome and I went back and forth for four fittings.” Afshar completed her look with a floor-sweeping veil secured to her half-up hairstyle, and gold velvet Gianvito Rossi heels.
To the sounds of a string quartet playing Canon in D Major, the bride walked down the aisle arm-in-arm with her father. Following the exchange of vows, Afshar’s aunt recited a poem titled, The Privileged Lovers by Persian poet Rumi. Guests then made their way to the sunset cocktail reception in the villa’s Italian garden before heading to the lemon garden for a candlelit dinner amid tables dressed with flower arrangements of O’Hara pink roses, astibles, amaranthus, and accented with fresh cranberries.
“The dinner was the main event and the food was really special,” reminisces Afshar. Guests enjoyed a four-course menu of carnaroli rice perfumed with Amalfi lemon that was served with Sicilian prawns and spinach hearts; beef filet culets infused with laurel and sage, and drizzled in tarragon sauce; and fresh seabass scallops in light tomato sauce. “The best part was our wedding cake,” says Afshar with a smile recalling the traditional Italian millefoglie cake covered with Chantilly cream and topped with wild strawberries and forest fruits. “There was also the Iranian knife dance tradition during the cake cutting which was so much fun,” Afshar concludes.
Explore the gallery as Vogue Arabia takes you inside Lilian Afshar and Khalid Al Marzoogi’s Rome wedding.