Lamis Khaled Hassan Azazy dreamed of having a wedding in front of the pyramids of Giza for as long as she could remember.
She grew up in Cairo and first visited the pyramids when she was a child, but she never thought it would be possible for them to be the backdrop of her wedding.
That changed in December 2022, when Dior put on a men’s fashion show in front of the pyramids. Ms. Azazy, a follower of fashion, attended the show with Sherif Medhat Abdelhalem, her fiancé at the time. “It was surreal,” she said. “When you step in the desert, you just feel like it’s magic.”
And so the quest to hold their wedding in front of the pyramids was on. “The Dior show opened our eyes,” said Mr. Abdelhalem, 36.
It wasn’t easy. Over the next 11 months, the couple had several conversations with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities of Egypt, which aims to protect and preserve the heritage and ancient history of Egypt. The pyramids of Giza were built more than 4,500 years ago, and carry a deep cultural and historical significance.
For this reason, the couple had their own concerns. “I was very scared because we were doing it in front of a really monumental and really historic place,” said Ms. Azazy, 25.
Their love story began with brunch: Ms. Azazy and Mr. Abdelhalem met on March 10, 2021 at a gathering with friends at Pier 88, a restaurant by the Nile River in Cairo. As soon as he saw Ms. Azazy, Mr. Abdelhalem was entranced.
They were sitting at opposite sides of the table, so he pulled up a chair and sat next to her. Though it was noisy inside the restaurant where they met, and they could barely hear each other, they still connected and talked for four hours. “She’s very intelligent and smart,” Mr. Abdelhalem said. “And also, she’s so beautiful.”
He took her phone and put his number in it. “Sherif Medhat,” he said. “Just save it.” (She said he sounded arrogant. He said, “That wasn’t my intention.”) In response, she took his phone, put her number in it and said “Lamis Khaled.”
“And the story began from here,” Mr. Abdelhalem said.
“He was very straight up,” Ms. Azazy said of her first impression, and she liked it. “He wasn’t shy.”
The next day, they had breakfast with the same friends, and a few days after that, the group planned to meet for dinner by the Nile River. Mr. Abdelhalem was excited to see her again, so he texted her beforehand, but she didn’t answer.
At dinner, he approached her and said, “Why didn’t you text me?” She made up an excuse and said that she hadn’t planned on coming and changed her mind last minute.
“I’m not very easygoing with everyone,” Ms. Azazy said. “Maybe that’s why I didn’t answer him the second time.”
After the dinner, they didn’t speak for two weeks. Ms. Azazy’s grandmother was sick with Covid at the time, and she was busy taking care of her. But “I felt like something was drawing me back to Sherif, so I texted him back,” she said. “We instantly connected.”
Even when she hadn’t replied, Mr. Abdelhalem still had the feeling that they would come back to each other. “I knew that she’s going to call or text,” he said. “I don’t know why.”
They met several more times in group settings. In April 2021, during Ramadan, they had their first date at a cafe called Qahwa after breaking their fast during a feast called Iftar. It was the first time they had spent time together alone.
They then started seeing each other almost every day. They traveled a lot — to the northern coast of Egypt, London, Paris and Ibiza, Spain. “He always told me, ‘I’m going to marry you,’” Ms. Azazy said. She would tease him in response: “‘No, you’re not.’”
In October 2021, the couple traveled to London, where Mr. Abdelhalem proposed. “It was a very special trip,” Ms. Azazy said. Her father, Khaled Azazy, the founder of an education company called the Azazy Group, was present, along with her mother, Hoda Elwan, and two brothers.
When they returned to the cabana, Ms. Azazy’s bag was missing. Their wallets and her wedding band and phone were in the bag. The couple went to the police, but they struggled to communicate with them because of the language barrier. They needed to catch their flight to Monaco later that day, but they thought their passports were also in the missing bag.
By chance, Mr. Abdelhalem had removed one credit card from his wallet and put it in his small bag, which did not get stolen. While trying to find cash in his small bag, he stumbled upon the one credit card and their passports. They were ultimately able to catch their flight that day. They laughed it off, went to McDonalds, and ordered two trays of sandwiches.
“We put all our sadness and disappointment in the food,” Ms. Azazy said.
“We forgot everything about the robbery,” Mr. Abdelhalem added, calling it “one of the best trips” they had ever been on.
“We got to explore different sides of each other,” Ms. Azazy said. “Sherif was very supportive when I got robbed, and I really appreciated that. I felt like he had my back. I really felt like, ‘This is my man.’”
Ms. Azazy graduated from King’s College London with a bachelor’s degree in history. She also has a master’s degree in business administration and management from Imperial College London. Ms. Azazy is the vice chairwoman of Malvern College Egypt.
Mr. Abdelhalem graduated from German University in Cairo with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. He is the owner of two food and beverage companies, Premier Food Industry and Masters Food Company, and a construction company called Hamfers Construction, all based in Cairo.
The couple was not able to have their legal ceremony at the pyramids, so they got married a few days before, on Oct. 29, at the Prince Mohamed Ali Palace in Cairo. Mustafa Hosny, an imam at Al-Bilal Mosque, officiated.
On Nov. 3, they celebrated with over 2,000 guests in a tent built for the occasion, with a panoramic view of all three pyramids — which, in agreement with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, were surrounded by security guards as a precaution.
For her bridal entrance, Ms. Azazy emerged from the desert in a custom gold Elie Saab gown, escorted by her father and accompanied by white horses. “It was very magical,” she said. “I felt like I was on another planet.”
The couple hired Amr Diab, a pop superstar in the Arab world and a friend of Ms. Azazy’s father, for a private, two-hour concert at the wedding. Afterward, Rampa, a popular house D.J., performed a set for a dance party. “I don’t know how to describe it more than to say that there was just love in the air,” Ms. Azazy said.
The celebrations began at 9 p.m., and guests stuck around until 5 a.m. “It felt like it was just a second,” Ms. Azazy said. “This energy from the pyramids, it was really reflected inside the wedding,” she added. It was not an extravagant wedding, she said, but “a mystical wedding.”
On This Day
When Nov. 3, 2023
Where The pyramids of Giza, Cairo
Pop Superstar Amr Diab, the best-selling Middle Eastern artist, performed the couple’s favorite songs during the reception. He also performed an unreleased song that mentioned the pyramids. In the middle of his performance, Mr. Diab left the stage to sing and dance on the dance floor with the guests.
Elie Saab Couture Ms. Azazy’s custom gold dress from the Lebanese designer Elie Saab was so heavy that she needed help from two people who work for the designer to get into the car that took her to the pyramids from her hotel. Mr. Abdelhalem noticed how happy and lively she was on the dance floor, even in the heavy dress. “She was so into the wedding,” he said, that the weight of the dress didn’t matter.
‘A Mystical Wedding’ Vincenzo Dascanio Event Production, a company based in Milan, set up an Arab tent by the pyramids for the reception. People in traditional Bedouin outfits, along with camels, were all around the desert and around the tent. The pyramids were illuminated with special lights for the occasion. And there were two opera singers performing, one outdoors and one indoors. “I didn’t want the wedding to finish,” Mr. Abdelhalem said. “It was so beautiful, and I loved every second.”