Behind every company or organization, there’s a story. A story of how it all started and this is ours. It all started when my daughter got married in 2013. Six months of planning and a perfect, okay, almost perfect wedding (by God’s grace). Yes it’s true there was a power outage, and we were kind of left in the dark, but the show had to go on, including my father of the bride speech.
We planned the wedding and found the vendors purely through word of mouth. My wife deserves most, okay, all the credit. I just dealt with finding the venue and caterer. She took on all the other details with her wing-woman, Sabrina.
I don’t know if it was the power outage that caused it, but a light bulb went off. How come the Muslim community doesn’t have a resource we can tap into for wedding planning? The mainstream American market has “The Knot”, Brides Magazine, “The Wedding Channel.” Other communities have sites like “Maharani Weddings” and “South Asian Bride Magazine.” Muslims? Zip, zero.
So was born Perfect Muslim Wedding in fall 2013. I started it on a WordPress platform. Yes, I’m the one who designed that awful looking logo and wrote a lot of the initial content and did the social media.
Building the Team
Realizing if this was going to be successful, it had to be more than a one man show, I put a call out for interns. Initially four of them responded, but only one committed herself. A recent college graduate and also recently married with some wedding planning experience of her own, Marwa Diaf, a Sacramento native joined the team in Spring 2014.
Along with Marwa, another intern Dii Pooler joined to help out with Social Media. The WordPress platform had worked well as a starter, but we needed to move to self-hosted WordPress and as I struggled to get find a resource, another angel by the name of Ahmed Khatib, a family friend’s son, made himself available. We were off to the races, well kind of.
Dii did some great work on Instagram, Marwa started to put out content, and Ahmed helped to not only get the site hosted but took care of all the registrations for SEO and we slowly moved from being invisible to start showing up on webpages. Diane, a graphics consultant helped to re-brand the site as well as come out with some great graphics and infographics. We did a Perfect Muslim Wedding survey, a first for not only us, but no one had done anything like it.
The site grew organically. We offered free vendor listings to build community. We had neither had the budget nor did it make sense to do paid advertising like Google Adwords. I spent a lot of time on Pinterest building up the boards and pins. However, the catapult effect of going viral or getting gazillions of visitors never quite happened.
Along the way we have done some really creative stuff. Like this animation.
or the Perfect Muslim Wedding Survey Infographic or the Perfect Muslim Wedding Periodic Table below.
Some wonderful wedding video montages including this one.
We licensed the best of the best wedding photos and not only shared some in our blog posts put also in a kind of quarterly, half yearly ezine.
We had planned to go offline and do a wedding expo. I had known Irfan Rydhan, a community activist. A quiet but very resourceful person, I wanted to work with him. So was born The Perfect Muslim Wedding Bridal Expo. Initially we planned to do it in Spring 2015, but it took so long to do the incorporation and secure a venue, that it has now moved to Fall 2015. Through Irfan he’s brought on Farah Ghatala who has been a Fashion Director at shows like Desi Thrills and Zareena Anwar, another bundle of energy, former wedding planner and community activist.
Besides the team, whenever I have had to decide key strategic decisions I have leaned on the wonderful board we have from Dustin Haisler, Razi Mohiuddin, and Souheila Al-Jadda and others who are not officially “the board” like Becky Roth and Saba Azam, but give me great input.
Both on the editorial and wedding expo we have tons of work to do, but I am excited not only about the journey but working with the wonderful team we have and hope to grow. It’s a unique opportunity. As far I know no one has done this in the United States, more specifically, the bay area. Stay tuned for more stories and please help spread the word and remember us in your prayers.