Maha and Haider’s Destination Wedding in Barcelona

Maha and Haider’s Destination Wedding in Barcelona

How an ancient castle just outside the Spanish city provided a dramatic setting for the celebration of two young Saudi professionals
14 April 23

Barcelona is one of Spain’s sweetest spots.

A Mediterranean city by the sea, fragranced by orange blossom and jacaranda, with one of the most creative food scenes in Europe and a cultural scene that swirls from the fantastical architecture of Gaudí to the big-hitting Picasso Museum.

But, leaving the city will quickly take you into deepest Catalonia, a region whose history takes in Roman and Moorish occupation, with a landscape that undulates between dramatic wilderness, medieval villages, hilltop cathedrals and crumbling castles.

Just a few miles north of Barcelona, past the hiking trails and forests of Collserola, is Castell de Sant Marçal. With a Gothic chapel and 11th-century tower, it’s a castle that has witnessed the ebb and flow of Catalonian history over the centuries.

More recently, it’s hosted art exhibitions, fashion shows and weddings, including that of Maha Aljefri and Haider Alassam. Theirs is a story of chance and romance. As Haider tells it, after completing his studies in Madrid, he moved to the UK to practice dentistry. Shortly after, just as he was considering moving back to Spain, Maha walked into his life, “giving him a reason to stay a little longer.”

Based in the UK since 2010 and currently living in London, Maha is a Saudi orthodontist who, in 2018, moved to a little town called Northampton for a training post, and met Haider two months later.

Four years on, on a beautiful August day, the couple tied the knot. Maha and Haider picked Spain for several reasons – the warm summers, the ease of access for guests travelling to attend the ceremony; and being in a country that Haider (who is originally Iraqi) grew up in.

But, it was the dramatic setting of Castell de Sant Marçal, with its spouting fountain, lines of cypress trees and a lawn illuminated at night, that persuaded them. “When I saw the castle, the gardens and the interiors, I knew I didn’t want to get married anywhere else,” says Maha.

After Covid, which resulted in a backlog of weddings, finding a venue wasn’t easy and many were fully booked, but the couple found the Castell on the last day of summer. They both say that the planning process was enjoyable, and Maha also explained how it was an invaluable learning experience that highlighted the importance of good communication in a relationship. “Enjoy the process and don’t let the stress of planning ruin your experience,’ she says.


“Always remember that you’re having this wedding because you’re in love and celebrating that love.”

Location. Location. Location.

Pick a destination that guests (of all ages) can easily access. Their comfort and happiness can make all the difference on your big day.

Choose Suppliers Carefully.
Choose a wedding planner who shares your vision: this is the person bringing every detail to life. So, choosing a dedicated professional who has a good dose of patience is key. Make sure to pick a wedding photographer and videographer that you completely trust. Photographs and captured moments from your special day forever become reminders of your union, carefully curated photos and videos are invaluable memories of that special day shared with loved ones.

Be Patient.
Cultural differences and other hurdles (guests not confirming attendance early on, for instance) are to be expected. Take a deep breath and trust the process. It will all work out.