Over the past couple of years we have noticed a significant increase in couples planning a destination wedding in Dubai.
With this in mind we asked Olga from Save the Date, a Dubai based boutique wedding planning agency, to put together a mini guide as a helpful starting point for organising a destination wedding in the United Arab Emirates. Below, Olga outlines the legal requirements for getting married in Dubai and provides an overview on wedding settings and venue options.
For almost a decade the United Arab Emirates have been keeping the title of the most advanced, ambitious, grand, you name it, in everything they do; so it’s no surprise that it’s rapidly growing in popularity as a hub for destination weddings.
Located on the Arabian Peninsula, the UAE is made up of seven Sheikdoms (Emirates), with Dubai being the flagship and leading the way in hosting the increased number of destination weddings taking place.
Beside the number of world known attractions, first class shopping and luxurious hotels, Dubai is conveniently located between Europe, Africa and Asia, making it easily accessible from around the world and offers perfect weather from October to May.
If you’ve fallen in love with Dubai and have decided to get married under the charming Arabian sky, your options for having a wedding in the UAE are outlined below.
Wedding in Dubai Quick Facts
- Unique, luxury wedding destination
- Best time of year to marry is October to May
- Ninety Nine percent of weddings take place in a hotel / resort due to strict alcohol licencing laws
- A wedding blessing or a symbolic ceremony is a popular choice for non-UAE residents
- Excellent service standards
- Melting pot of many cultures and nationalities
The main airline, Emirates have daily flights from most destinations around the world. There are a number of other international carriers that you can choose for your trip.
Most European citizens, as well as US, Canadian and Australian don’t require a UAE entry visa. For other countries it is easy to obtain a visa within just few days of submitting the application with an airline or hotel.
Legal Requirements for getting married in Dubai and the UAE
The UAE offers several options for getting married but depending on your nationality and residency status, getting married in Dubai can range from straightforward to time consuming and complicated. Certain conditions must be met and there is a strict procedure and timeline in which paperwork must be submitted.
However, if you are unable to meet the legal requirements, a popular option is to legally marry in your home country and then celebrate your wedding in Dubai with a symbolic ceremony or blessing.
- At least one of the parties must have UAE residency to legally marry in the Emirates.
- There is a set procedure and paperwork for Islamic marriages which differs from non-Islamic marriages.
- The procedure and paperwork for non-Islamic marriage’s varies depending on nationality.
- Residents can get married at the Dubai Court or Abu Dhabi Judiciary.
- Non-Muslims may not marry in the Dubai Court
- Marriage of non-Muslim residents may only happen in their embassy (if allowed), church, temple etc.
- Certain countries allow their citizens to get married at their embassy, and even accept one party to be from a different nationality.
Symbolic Ceremony / Wedding Blessing
From personal experience of getting legally married in Dubai I have to say that the procedure can be quite difficult.
However, you can still plan and enjoy your wedding in Dubai or any other Emirate, by having a symbolic wedding ceremony, conducted by a wedding celebrant and held in a location of your choice.
A symbolic wedding ceremony / wedding blessing would usually take place outside during the day, in a beach or garden setting.
There are representatives of almost all religions available in Dubai and the UAE, and it’s possible to invite confessor from your country to conduct your wedding ceremony, or you can organise your ceremony with a local church. Please keep in mind that you will be required to produce paperwork prior to the marriage taking place.
If the marriage certificate is issued in English, this must then be translated into Arabic by a court approved translator and submitted to the Notary Public Office for certification, in order for the marriage to have legal validity. This may require a UAE Residence Visa to be able to do this.
Note: Same sex marriage is not legal in the UAE
Dubai Wedding Venues
When getting married in Dubai, or indeed any of the Emirates you need to keep in mind the strict alcohol licencing laws.
These laws are just one of the reasons why ninety nine percent of couples choose to celebrate their wedding with a hotel ballroom evening reception. With an abundance of luxury five star hotels, all offering excellent services and fantastic sceneries, it is difficult to suggest one specific venue.
However, when choosing your reception venue my advice would be to think about the type of atmosphere and experience you would like for your wedding in Dubai and try to match this with the venue setting.
Dubai Wedding Settings
Popular wedding settings and venue choices include getting married at:
- One of the many beach resorts
- Downtown hotels, where you can have a full view of Burj Khalifa and singing fountain
- A dessert resort in a traditional Bedouin camp for a unique and exotic wedding
Other wedding venue options include the golf or polo club, or even on Abu Dhabi’s Nurai Island, a five star private island, recently voted by Conde Nast Travel Magazine as one of the most incredible private islands.
It is important to note that all of the above venue options are allowed to serve alcohol.
Although less common, it is also possible to organise a wedding in a private villa or yacht.
I hope you have found the above information to be a useful starting point for planning your wedding in Dubai and the UAE. If you would like any further information, please contact the team at Save the Date, who will be more than happy to help you.
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Find Out More
In Part 2 of the Dubai Wedding Guide, Olga provides Costs and Budget Tips
Get more Insider Tips and Secrets from Wedding Abroad Experts.
Need to know more about planning a Destination Wedding? Our Step by Step Planning Guide is a great place to start.
Save the Date was founded by collaborative team of outgoing, ambitious and creative minds. Based in Dubai they are passionate about crafting chic and unique weddings and events. They have catered to clients from around the world, from Lagos to New York City.