Backyard Weddings

Zereniti House only opened its gates two years ago after intensive work by Jazzani Minae and his mother Susan to perform an ‘extreme make-over’ of the family’s five-acre piece of land in Red Hill, not far from Limuru.

“We renovated and extended the stone house, adding four new apartments, an extra floor, and enlarging the kitchen,” says Jazzani who returned home from USA specifically to assist his mother to rehab the house and beautify the land.

“We also did lots of landscape gardening,” adds Zereniti’s creative director as we cruise up an elegant tree-lined Mazera stone driveway.

On our way to the house (once the headquarters of a 1,000 acre colonial farm called ‘Updown’) we pass what Jazzani calls the ‘frangipani garden’ since that ground has a huge frangipani tree on it, surrounded by land covered in ultra-green Zimbabwe grass.

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On the other side of the driveway is the ‘jacaranda garden’, which is a site Jazzani says is popular for many kinds of parties, from cocktail receptions to music concerts.

“We decided to curtail the concerts somewhat since the neighbours weren’t happy with the noise,” says Jazzani who oversees virtually every detail and department of Zereniti.

The jacaranda garden has become an especially popular site for weddings. The tree provides cooling shade and it also has a cultural appeal.

“The Jacaranda tree itself is one of oldest [and grandest] of its kind in Kenya,” says Jazzani who’s cobbles the ground around the tree with more Mazera stone.

“Newly-weds often spend their weekends with us since we also have [elegant] self-contained apartments,” he says.

“I’ve been busy every weekend with weddings since last October up through Valentine’s Day.”

The drought hadn’t been kind to the trees at Zereniti.

But Jazzani, like most Kenyan farmers, is grateful for the rains that finally came late last week.

At the same time, he and his mother (who’s a retired agricultural economist formerly with the Food and Agriculture Organisation) planted plenty of succulents on the far side of the house which can withstand drought.

Conceal septic tank

Pointing to a whole cluster of cacti, he says the family thought long and hard about what to do after constructing larger sanitation facilities (to accommodate the new apartments).

They wanted to gracefully conceal the old septic tank.

This they did by planning and planting the so-called ‘Rock Garden’ which they filled with more colourful plants interspersed with smooth rocks. They also added succulents on one side of the rocks.

On the other side is the new sanitation facility which is also surrounded with exotic and indigenous plants. They ensure that instead of being an eye-sore, the sun-kissed flowers will serve as another attraction of Zereniti.

Achieve serenity

All of those multicoloured clusters are at the top of a gentle stone-paved slope leading past the ‘Herb Garden’ and down to the spacious car park which is lined with tall pine trees.

“One set of previous owners were Swedes who planted the long line of pines leading down to the tree nursery,” says Jazzani, adding that the carpark can comfortable hold up 80 vehicles.

The nursery is meant to ensure Zereniti can consistently enhance the greenery on the grounds.

“We envisage Zereniti being a kind of quiet retreat where people can come relax and be creative. We called the place Zereniti because we thought of Zen as one way of achieving serenity, and that’s what we’d like for people to feel when they come to stay here,” he said.

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wedding dresses

Activists campaigning to get Lebanon to abolish an old law that allows rapists to escape punishment for their crimes as long as they marry the survivor have staged a powerful protest on Beirut’s Corniche.

Thirty-one wedding dresses representing each day of the month in which women could be subject to further abuse by attackers who marry them were strung up on the Lebanese capital’s famous seafront to draw attention to Article 522 of the law addressing rape, assault and forced marriage.

Swaying in the breeze between the palms, they looked like corpses. Abaad – a Lebanese charity focused on women’s rights and helping domestic abuse survivors – staged a similar protest last December, in which women wearing wedding dresses and bandages splattered with red paint demonstrated outside parliament.

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Article 522 is a statute from the 1940s. Under current laws rape is punishable by up to seven years in prison. The penalty for raping a minor or someone with mental or physical disabilities is higher – but the article under scrutiny creates a loophole that allows criminal prosecution to be suspended if the two people involved get married.

Lebanon’s diverse Christian and Muslim political representatives were somewhat energised by the election of a president in November 2016 after a more than two-year-long paralysis, which meant legislation could not be passed.

In February, a parliamentary committee voted to scrap Article 522, and activists remain hopeful representatives will abolish it in an upcoming vote on 15 May.

Lebanon’s newly-appointed Minister for Women’s Affairs, Jean Oghassabian, was present at the protest. He described the current law as “stone age”.

Similar marriage clauses are present in the law regarding sexual consent in many modern Muslim states. They are usually hangovers from interpretations of sharia, or religious law.

In recent years, such loopholes have come under under intensified scrutiny, with protests aimed at getting the law changed in several countries across the Middle East – although Turkey abandoned attempts last year to pass a law that would have allowed men who had sex with underage children to be pardoned if they married the victim after the proposed legislation caused outrage both within the country and internationally.

Morocco, Egypt and Ethiopia have closed similar legislative loopholes in the last few years, and changes to the law are pending in Jordan and Bahrain.

Rape and sexual abuse affect nearly one billion women and girls over their lifetimes, UN data says.

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Wedding gone wrong?

When Dan Gerecht bought a wedding insurance policy for his daughter Yvonne’s big day last year, he did it because the event was scheduled during hurricane season and he was worried that weather might force them to cancel.

But it turned out the Gerechts needed the policy for a different reason: The venue, the Winery at Elk Manor in North East, Maryland, shut down just two months before Yvonne’s 2016 Labor Day wedding, Gerecht says. They found themselves scrambling for a new location — and out the $30,000 Gerecht had already paid to Elk Manor.

Vendors who can’t fulfill contracts are the most common cause of wedding insurance claims. Here’s how insurance can help.

Bride and groom figurines collapsed at ruined wedding cake

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Wedding disaster No. 1: Vendor fails

Vendor issues, like the venue going out of business, make up 30% of wedding insurance claim dollars — the largest share — paid by Travelers Insurance. Wedding insurance policies will often reimburse you if you have to book a last-minute vendor or reschedule the wedding if a vendor backs out.

Gerecht says he was tipped off that something was awry when the caterer emailed and told him the venue hadn’t paid as promised. Fortunately, the $355 policy he’d bought from Travelers covered the venue closing.

Wedding insurance “is such a small cost compared to what you could lose if something goes wrong,” says Anne Chertoff, wedding trends expert at WeddingWire.

The Gerechts were lucky; they found another venue for the same day. “Some families sued [the venue], but thankfully we didn’t have to” because we had wedding insurance, Gerecht says.

Wedding disaster No. 2: Someone gets injured

Weddings are fun. Often they’re so much fun that someone gets hurt. If there’s an injury at your wedding, you could be held liable — and that’s what wedding liability insurance is for. Wedding liability insurance is typically a separate policy from cancellation insurance, though they can be purchased in a bundle.

“As you might expect, we do see many injuries that occur on the dance floor,” says Steve Lauro, vice president at Aon Affinity, parent company of WedSafe, a seller of wedding insurance. Among claims to WedSafe, 28% are for injuries or accidents that occur at weddings.

In some cases, you could also be held liable if someone drinks too much and causes an accident. Liquor liability coverage may be sold as add-on coverage for wedding liability policies or included at no charge.

Wedding disaster No. 3: Extreme weather

When you’re booking the venue months beforehand, you cross your fingers and hope for good weather. Of wedding claims to Travelers, 16% of dollars paid out are due to extreme weather.

Coverage typically doesn’t include a rain shower or a blustery day that might ruin your party’s updos, because the wedding can still go on. But if there’s a tornado, hurricane or other destructive weather that prevents guests or vendors from arriving, a cancellation policy pays for costs to reschedule.

Wedding disaster No. 4: Medical emergency in the family

If someone close to you gets sick or injured right before your wedding, the last thing you want to worry about is the money lost canceling or rescheduling the event.

If the bride, groom, their parents or someone in the wedding party is sick or injured shortly before the wedding and can’t make it, cancellation policies typically cover the costs to reschedule. These represented about 6% of wedding cancellation claims to WedSafe in 2016, Lauro says.

Wedding disaster No. 5: Lost or ruined attire

Attire represents just 2% of wedding claim dollars paid by Travelers. However, tuxes and gowns are such an important part of weddings that they are commonly included in wedding cancellation policies.

Avoiding vendor issues

Chertoff recommends getting references from recent weddings that vendor has done and asking the references what their experiences were like.

Lauro recommends that you get all agreements in writing, read contracts thoroughly and check vendors on the Better Business Bureau.

Gerecht says the wedding insurance policy “was a great investment.” And he’s already purchased another one: He has another daughter getting married this year.

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Beyond Grace Kelly

Today, April 19, 2017, would have been Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier III of Monaco’s 61st anniversary of their religious wedding ceremony. Their nuptials were, of course, the wedding of the 20th century, and photographs of Kelly still inspire brides today. But despite their iconic union, the royal family of Monacohas had more than a few stunning weddings. Princess Grace’s older daughter, Caroline, showcased quintessential 1970s style at her first wedding to Philippe Junot. When Prince Albert II, then-heir apparent to the Monaco throne, marriednow-Princess Charlene after a whirlwind romance, the world watched captivated. Charlene, who wore a structured Armani Privé custom gown for the occasion, memorably exited the ceremony on Prince Albert’s arm, the couple swathed in a swirl of petals.

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Even more recently, a third generation of Monaco royals have begun to say “I do.” In 2013, Princess Caroline’s son Andrea Casiraghi married Tatiana Santo Domingo in a civil ceremony. She wore a bohemian Missoni frock for the occasion. Caroline’s younger son, Pierre Casiraghi, married Beatrice Borromeo in 2015. The bride donned a series of ensembles—from an Armani Privé Grecian number for the religious ceremony to a blush Valentino gown for the civil ceremony—for her multiple wedding celebrations. Recently, the couple welcomed their first baby. Yet another generation, already in the works.

Above, a look back at royal Monaco weddings over the years.

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Wedding wows in the Bay Area

The late Malti Divecha or 'Malu' as she was affectionately called, was one of Cumballa Hill's celebrated grande dames, a lady known for her good taste and style, and sense of independence, and her passing not too long ago had depleted the city further. This week, word comes in, that her granddaughter Mia, the daughter of her only son Arjun Divecha, a renowned emerging market public investor on the West Coast, was married in a beautiful ceremony in San Francisco to her long-time beau and fellow Stanford alumnus, Nima Ahmadi. "The wedding was three days long. Very beautiful and elegant," says Ash Lilani, the swashbuckling Frisco-based investor, whose portfolio includes such winners in urban India as PayTM, Snapdeal and Sula. He says he was honoured when the couple asked him to officiate at their ceremony.

"Nima is brilliant. Persian background. By age of 26, he had a Bachelors and Masters from Stanford, and an MBA, and has already started two companies. He moved to Minnesota to be with Mia while she wraps up her PhD in Minneapolis. She has a year or so to go and they plan to move back to the Bay Area when she is done," says Lilani, even as the festivities were ongoing. And then he added, "We are still dancing." And we could almost hear the music on the other side of the globe!

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The nation wants to know

A friend who visited the headquarters of Arnab Goswami's new TV channel at Lower Parel this week, swears that its newsroom is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.

"I don't think there's anything like it today across the world," he raved. "Designed by his wife Samyabrata Ray Goswami and Charu Thakur, the channel's chief executive producer, it's completely integrated and state of the art."

And how about Goswami, we enquired about the country's most famous media personality, has he changed in any way? Has the weight of running a business dimmed his spirit or dampened his fire? "Not in the least bit," said the man. "The only difference if there is any is that he seems to have grown his hair longer," he said. "But I guess by the time he launches in a month or so, the scissors will be out."

The knives too, we wanted to add, but by then the friend had bounced away.

Love is in the air

Congratulations are in order for the dashing Gaurav Assomull, who got engaged to his girlfriend Garima Chawla last week. Gaurav's brother Vikram posted a picture of the lovely couple on social media congratulating them. "Welcome to the family Garima! Wishing you guys lots of love and happiness for the new chapter in your lives."

Incidentally, Gaurav was previously married to Kajal Fabiani in what had been one of the biggest destination weddings in recent times in Monte Carlo in 2011, and where rapper Akon had performed. We wish the young couple well.

The Padma chef

We almost didn't recognise the person receiving the Padma Shri honour from Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, in this picture, but were informed that it was none other than popular chef and TV personality, Sanjeev Kapoor, who showed up to receive the honour in an altogether more fetching trimmer avatar sporting a designer stubble.

Chef Kapoor, who has hosted various TV shows, runs numerous successful restaurants, and also launched a food channel, was awarded the country's fourth highest civilian award for his contribution to the food industry over the years. Many of his colleagues came out in support on social media. "Proud moment for all of us!" posted popular TV chef Ranveer Brar. "Love that he wore the chef's coat while receiving it," commented restaurateur and head of the National Restaurant Association of India, Riyaaz Amlani. "Today is a victory of every Indian kitchen. A celebration of India's greatest soft-power," said Chef Vikas Khanna. And other foodies too joined in.

"Padma Shri for the "maestro" chef. Never before ever given to his tribe. First ever. Congratulations!" wrote Rishi Kapoor. Nice to see the genuine support and affection shared by the food sector!

Seven-star enlightenment

Thanks to our job we have been blessed with the opportunity of meeting a slew of modern day savants and saints, motorcycling maniacs, God men, bankers turned Buddhas, and advocates of the now. We have benefitted immensely from this cosmic nibble at the great spiritual buffet on offer, but amongst them, none has struck us as being as well-heeled as the beatific spiritual leader from the South, who appears to be the cruise liner amidst the tug boats.

A few years ago, we chanced upon the gilt lined plans for an upcoming workshop in Europe designed for the sage's more loaded followers, which read like the itinerary of a top business tycoon's, involving Spa retreats, ski slopes, luxe inns and such like. The price tag had left us flabbergasted we recall. Now, sources say that the same master's flock are in talks with an international cruise liner to charter one of their larger vessels for a workshop on board over a week or so, most likely sailing through Europe! And of course, through all of this, the Great Master will expound on life's great mysteries. Except of course the most obvious one: why does Nirvana mostly come with a price?

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Amber Portwood

She’s ready to walk down the aisle! Well, kind of. Amber Portwood tries on wedding dresses in a new preview for the season 7 premiere of Teen Mom OG, but also suggests that she has doubts about her relationship with fiancé Matt Baier. Check it out in the clip above.

In the sneak peek, Portwood, 26 — who postponed her October 2016 wedding to Baier after she found out he had flirted with her costar Farrah Abraham — checks out a potential venue (a Las Vegas chapel!) for her rescheduled nuptials. “I wanna get married here,” Baier tells Portwood, to which the Never Too Late author hesitantly replies, “I’m so scared!”

Amber Portwood Teen Mom OG wedding dress

Credit: SheinDressAU

Cut to Portwood shopping for bridal gowns. When she slips into a long-sleeved, lacy number with a flowing train, the 16 and Pregnant alum can’t wait to take it off. “All right, I’m ready to get out of this,” Portwood — who shares daughter Leah, 8, with ex-fiancé Gary Shirley — tells a sales associate. “Get me out of this.”

In another scene, the Forever Haute founder seems unsure about her future with Baier. “You can love each other and wanna be with each other for the rest of your life,” she tells a producer, “and still not trust each other.”

The clip, which MTV released on Thursday, April 13, comes nearly two months after Portwood took to social media to shut down rumors that she and Baier secretly got hitched in Sin City. The speculation began when Baier shared an Instagram post on February 16 of a sign that read, “Going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married!” He captioned it, “Off to Vegas in the morning. Everyone have a nice weekend!”

The couple fueled the fire when they both shared snaps from their vacation. Portwood posted a selfie of the duo hitting the town, writing, “In Vegas with my babe.” And Baier put up a pic of himself shopping for a tuxedo at Creative Bridal Wear Las Vegas and appeared to be wearing a wedding band on his left hand.

Despite all the hints, the MTV starlet offered clarification via Twitter on February 19. “Hi loves from Vegas again!! No we didn’t get married however we went to a wedding always sending love,” she wrote alongside a photo of herself and Baier decked out in formal gear.

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Fashion Trends

A dress to die for? Marlene Dietrich would have literally gone to great lengths just for the show.

In a recently resurfaced 1958 correspondence to costume designer Jean Louis, Dietrich reveals herself as quite a fashion tech pioneer: “…My main reason is the effect. We have to find a way to have the dress glow,” she demanded.

A meticulous show orchestrator, Dietrich caused stirs when she first stepped out in her Fifties Las Vegas cabarets in a seemingly “naked dress” — the very one that would inspire Marilyn Monroe’s for John F. Kennedy’s birthday in 1962.

Marlene Dietrich’s vision of the glowing naked dress produced by ElektroCouture.

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But Dietrich wanted more than just the illusion of nakedness: “Marlene wanted a fashion tech dress. But she was ahead of her time and the technical means couldn’t meet her vision. In the letters, she describes the exact design and displays very precise knowledge of electricity circuits and batteries. She wanted a dress that glows, she wanted to be able to control it herself from the stage and she knew she could have died of an electric stroke had it ever been realized,” said Lisa Lang, founder and chief executive director of ElektroCouture, a fashion tech start-up with a growing roster of international fashion clients.

On the 25th anniversary of her death, the company produced her vision of the glowing naked dress for French-German broadcaster Arte’s documentary “Das letzte Kleid der Marlene Dietrich” (“The Last Dress of Marlene Dietrich”), airing on May 7. Based on sketches of Jean Louis and Dietrich’s descriptions, the design by ElektroCouture’s designer-in-residence Anja Dragan features 3-D-printed flower embroidery and glowing crystals with LEDs made in collaboration with Swarovski. An additional capsule collection of glowing accessories and looks inspired by Marlene Dietrich will be launched by ElektroCouture in late spring.

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Jenelle Evans and David Eason

"Teen Mom" Jenelle Evans surprised her fans when she revealed in a recent interview that she will not be inviting any of her co-stars from the show in her wedding to fiancé, David Eason. Not only that, the reality star is also indecisive about inviting her own mother.

"I just want it to be the people I'm closest with," Jenelle Evans told E! Online on her plans to invite her "Teen Mom" 2 co-stars. "And I'm not too close of friends with any of them."

2016 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals

Jenelle Evans further emphasized that one of the main reasons behind the decision is because she wants her wedding to be an intimate affair. The wedding that is all set to take place early this fall and the "Teen Mom" star wants the event to have a "backyard rustic theme" with an "elegant," "sweet and Southern" twist.

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In fact, the wedding will be so private that even her mother might not get an invited. However, the decision to not invite her mother might not be so much to do with the intimateness of her wedding and everything to do with the really public feud that the "Teen Mom" star had with her, US Weekly reported.

"Teen Mom" Jenelle Evans added that it is unfortunate that she shares a less than cordial relationship with her mother, Barbara Evans. The relationship in question has not improved over the years and hence there is a very good chance that her mother will not be invited to her wedding.

Among the people who will be present during the wedding are Jenelle Evans and David Eason's baby girl, Ensley, born to the couple in January 2017. Ensley and David's daughter from his previous marriage, Maryssa, will be flower girls at the wedding. The "Teen Mom" has also expressed the desire for her two sons to be groomsmen in the wedding.

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