ONE of the people behind the self styled “wedding of the century” that shut down a Western Sydney street has defended its extravagance.
Ibrahim Azam was one of the groomsmen at the lavish wedding ceremony for Auburn deputy mayor Salim Mehajer that involved helicopters, a jet and luxury sports cars and motorcycles yesterday.
Mr Azam emerged from Mr Mehajer’s newly built luxury home on Frances Street, Lidcombe, this morning saying everyone was happy with how the day went, including the police.
“The police were quite good, we had told everyone. Salim’s that type of person he likes to enjoy himself and give others that kind of experience as well,” he said.
“It’s like buying a nice car. You can enjoy it by yourself but if you’ve got company it’s more enjoyable.”
Police were seething they had not been told of the event and had to deploy more than a dozen police to monitor the wedding.
Residents were issued with a notice signed by a traffic control company warning them that anyone who parked in the street would have their car towed by police.
Mr Mehajer had no authority to issue the order after a development application for the street party was refused by Auburn Council.
“I’m not sure where they came from. I think that was a bit of a mismatch,” Mr Azam said.
“It had no wedding planners. We did it all ourselves. No one had done that before and it required a lot of effort and work.
“When we set our minds to something we want to achieve it that’s why we didn’t have a wedding planner.
“I don’t think there is much to explain. The police were quite happy in regards to nothing really went wrong. It was quiet for that many people, that many cars. They were assisting us on the road. We had clean intentions. It wasn’t a fiasco, it was amazing.”
Mr Azam declined to explain where his friend, aged in his late 20s, had achieved his wealth. Mr Mehajer’s new home, bought for $565,000 in 2007 has a lift, marble stairs, an expensive water feature and fake grass on the nature strip.
“Development is very good. Whatever people think he is not that type of character,” Mr Azam said.
“He built this. Everything is designed by himself, it’s very nice. He’s put in a lot of work everything is about perfection and making people happy.”
More than 800 guests enjoyed the best reception money could buy at Lilyfield with a giant cake and a mountain of flowers.
“I think it’s already being called wedding of the century and it’s going to be a hard one to beat,” Mr Azam said.
“Every single second was jammed packed. There wasn’t a dull moment. I don’t think words can describe it. It’s like everything Salim does it’s perfection.
“It’s a lot of money but it’s not about the money. It’s about seeing the people you love, the people in the street making them light up. Money can’t buy that.”
The groomsmen was tight lipped on where the happy couple were enjoying their first day as man and wife.
“I’m just going to let them rest up. I am sure they’re very, very happy,” Mr Azam said.
One neighbour said she had no problem with the over the top ceremony.
“They came around to apologise for any convenience so it wasn’t a shock on the day. It was pretty amazing, helicopters, they were very good about it,” she said.
“I thought the drums were awesome. Everyone came out with their cameras. People had their chairs and were watching.”
She said the police were keeping a close eye on the small army of muscle motorcycles.
“They seemed more concerned about the bikes than the wedding itself, going around looking at number plates,” she said.
“Salim seems pretty confident I don’t think he needs any help in that department. In his own community it has put him at the top of the pecking order. If you ever met him in person he is over the top but is always polite.
“Good luck to the guy. He has done well for himself and likes to put on a show and let everyone know how well he has done.”
But another neighbour thought the notice related to road work as it had no reference to a wedding celebration.
“It’s disrespectful to other people. If I want to do something I’ve got to ask the council and pay,” she said.
“People with money think the money talks, they can do anything they want to do. He is powerful, developers do that, they pay people.
“I thought the police were part of the ceremony. It’s a house fit for a king.”
Another resident questioned how the lavish home, which is a storey higher than any other in the street, got council approval.
Mr Mehajer ran unsuccessfully for the NSW seat of Auburn as an independent in 2011 and works at Sydney Project Group as the general manager with several members of his family.
On its website the company says Mr Mehajer has contributed to many successful projects and is an expert in design and construction.
His father Mohammad Mehajer, also a developer, was sentenced to three and a half years jail in 2013 for being part of a conspiracy to defraud the National Australia Bank of $3 million.
Auburn Council General Manager Mark Brisby emailed councillors telling them an application for a full road closure had been denied but “council did issue a road occupancy license for the purpose of filming activities from 8am to 12pm” and any “unnecessary burden not be caused to the general public”.
“The subsequent disruption which the police had to deal with is regrettable and Council was not forewarned of the scale of vehicular activity that took place,” he said.
Auburn Councillor Irene Simms says she plans to grill Mr Mehajer at a council meeting this Wednesday.
“It’s deplorable behaviour. A councillor should be an example and follow the rules. It’s atrocious how residents were treated. It’s embarrassing to the council,” she said.
Mr Mehajer spared no expense when he wed his beautiful bride Aysha yesterday.
But one cost he may not have budgeted for was having to repay the police department after dozens of officers were called in to control the unauthorised event and manage dangerous traffic conditions.
The large-scale street party has even raised questions about whether property developer Mr Mehajer broke the law by defying council regulations and having the street shut down and commandeering a local park for the helicopters to land.
The first that many of Mr Mehajer’s neighbours in Frances St, Lidcombe, knew of the intended nuptials was when they received a notice on Tuesday warning that the road would be closed all day and that any vehicles left on the street would be towed.
Then at 10am sharp, after organisers cleared nearby Phillips Park, four helicopters landed carrying the groom and his party of eight groomsmen.
Looking immaculate in his white tuxedo, Mr Mehajer alighted from his helicopter onto a red carpet leading to a fleet of sports cars. After Mr Mehajer climbed into an orange Lamborghini, the wedding convoy was led through the streets by 50 Harley Davidsons.
With hundreds of people looking on, Mr Mehajer stepped onto another red carpet that led through two lines of drummers into the house.
Soon after the couple then emerged, the bride wearing a jewel-encrusted long-sleeved gown and tiara, and danced to the drums among the large crowd.
As fighter jets buzzed low over head, and even a seaplane made a fly-by, the groom and bride released doves into the air before getting into a white Rolls Royce and driving to Sydney University for photos.
But as the happy couple celebrated their nuptials, fed-up police were forced to close the busy road to other traffic and control crowd behaviour for about an hour.
Several spectators became aggressive with police and the media after an officer threatened to fine one of the motorbike riders for hoon behaviour.
The street was completely blocked off for about an hour while the bride and groom danced to live drummers outside the home and released live doves into the air.
The wedding procession moved on from Frances St to Sydney University for photos,
Police are investigating whether they can recoup funds from Mr Mehajer after ten local officers and several Highway Patrol cars had to be brought in to control the event.
Auburn Police duty officer Chris Laird said police had no prior knowledge of the wedding, despite the organisers trying to shut down a street for the procession and commandeering a local park for the helicopters.
“We don’t care who it is, we’re just disappointed the way its happened today,” Insp Laird said. “We were never told and as you can see, it was out of control.
“We met with council and found that a development application had been refused for a full road closure.
“There was a partial agreement for a 60m exclusion zone on one side of the road, however once the procession attended it was quite clear there were too many people, too many cars and too many motorcycles, so we had to make the decision for public safety grounds to close the road at both ends to protect members of the public.
“We had to divert police resources, including Highway Patrol and general duties, to conduct traffic and public safety here and that’s not cheap, so we’ll be asking our region commander to send the family the bill.
“The police have done a great job making sure there was no one killed or injured.”
After leaving Lidcombe, the wedding party then headed to The Rock Observatory before arriving at Le Montage reception centre in Lilyfield for the reception.
It is not the first time Mr Mehajer has been involved in controversy after facing a suspension from council last year for failing to publicly disclose the full scale of his extensive property and business interests.
A tribunal banned Salim Mehajer from civic office for a month after it found the independent councillor and aspiring state MP lodged pecuniary disclosure returns “that he knew or ought reasonably to have known to be false or misleading’’.
Three years earlier, he faced court after losing control of his black Ferrari and hitting two women who were standing by the rear of their car on the side of the road. He was acquitted on appeal in 2013.
The two women, Teyet La, 40, and Nhu Hua, 68, were rushed to Westmead Hospital where they underwent surgery for pelvic and leg injuries.
Mr Mehajer lost his license for a year as a result and was ordered to perform 150 hours of community service after a magistrate found him guilty of negligent driving.
When contacted, Mr Mehajer said the wedding arrangements had been organised by the bridal party and that all traffic arrangements were “above board”.
When asked who specifically had organised the traffic arrangements, he said, “I can’t comment” and then added, “all the bikes and cars belong to my mates”.
Before hanging up the phone, the deputy mayor of Auburn Council said: “Bye asshole.”
Ms Simms labelled Mr Mehajer’s behaviour as appalling and said she had received “a large number” of complaints from residents about the road closure.
“I think it’s very poor behaviour from an elected member,” Mr Simms said.
“I’ve had a number of residents ring me outraged by it.
“I think he should be fined. I don’t know if there’s legally anything else council can do but I do intend to ask because it was deception.”
Fellow councillor George Campbell said it would be “a gross dereliction of duty” if Mr Mehajer was behind the road closure.
“If a councillor sought to directly mislead the public and the authorities by referring to a DA approval to close a road for a personal reason then that would be a serious matter that the council should take action against,” he said.
Auburn Mayor Ronney Oueik, who was invited to the wedding, did not answer any calls yesterday.
Originally published as Defending the ‘wedding of the century’