UAE | Society

How much does it cost to get married in Dubai?

From grandiose family-style affairs to package deals, know the trends and pick what suits your budget

  • By Muby Asger, Staff Reporter, XPRESS
  • Published: 00:00 April 5, 2012

Atlantis, The Palm offers couples a selection of indoor and outdoor wedding venues
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Atlantis, The Palm offers couples a selection of indoor and outdoor wedding venues.
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DUBAI: Weddings aren't everyday affairs. They require time. They require effort. They require a commitment. And, most of all, they require money.

As the average family-style wedding gets bigger and fatter, so do the budgets to support those weddings.

"A couple today should expect to spend a minimum of between Dh300,000 and Dh500,000 on their wedding day," says Zainab Al Salih, wedding planner and managing director of Carousel. "Based on our experiences of organising mid to high-range weddings, we can say that a realistic budget would be anywhere between Dh1,200 and Dh1,500 per guest."

According to Carousel wedding planners, the trend is moving away from either large-scale or thumbnail weddings, with the average couple inviting approximately 250 guests to their reception. That's already over Dh300,000 for the reception alone.

Going bridal

Nina Iskandar, an image consultant who's given advice to hundreds of brides, says every wedding story begins with grandiose dreams of the dress. "Most women have grown up with an image of what they'll look like on their wedding day," says Iskandar.

"A basic dress, without frills, fancies and embroidery, would cost a minimum of Dh15,000, with the sky being the limit. Even the brides with the smallest budget would find it a challenge to get a beautiful wedding dress for under Dh10,000. Add to that hair, make-up, shoes... and you push the price up by another Dh10,000 at least. On top of all that is the one bridal expense that's as unavoidable as the dress: jewellery," she says.

According to the image consultant, bridal jewellery varies based on culture and nationality. Although impossible to generalise, cultural influences play their role with Western brides tending to spend approximately Dh3,000 on crystal jewellery, Arab brides Dh5,000 on brands such as Swarovski and Indian brides on the highest end of the scale with a minimum of Dh30,000 onwards for gold jewellery, notes Iskandar.

"In the Middle East, the wedding industry is big business and a recent survey, Bridal Attractions 2011, which polled nationals and Arab expatriate women across the GCC, found that 12 per cent have budgeted or plan to allocate more than $100,000 (Dh367,000) for their wedding, while more than 40 per cent say they have spent, or intend to spend, more than $50,000 (Dh183,500). The average Emirati weddings are valued at an average $82,000 (Dh300,940), compared to Western weddings which average at $20,000 (Dh73,400) [for the reception]," says Engie Osei, Marketing Manager, The Bride Show Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The company's ongoing Dubai Bride Show, until April 7 at Dubai International Exhibition Centre, is a platform for bridal couples to find solutions to all their needs under one roof.

The budget bride

While for some brides emptying out their savings account for a wedding is the norm, others would rather cut costs on the reception and save towards their honeymoon fund or on planning a family.

Marilou Agadier, a 29-year-old Filipina bride is planning her October wedding with her German fiancé Kris sans a wedding planner. "We found that over and above all the charges for the venue, food, beverage, décor, etc, planners have a flat fee for their services which just pushes our budget over the top."

Although the couple have yet to finalise their dream wedding, the budget remains non-negotiable.

"What I want is a dream wedding, with butterflies and flowers and clouds in the sky, and the earth beneath my feet, while at the same time, being romantic and fairy-tale like. In other countries, this is the budget option. Here in Dubai, it's not allowed. I can't really have my wedding in a park, or on the public beach, can I? As a result, we'll have to go somewhere five-star and pay accordingly," she says.

Package deals

Fortunately for Agadier and the other brides-to-be in Dubai, the city is in the midst of wedding season, with hotels offering all sorts of packages and discounts.

Atlantis, The Palm offers couples an enviable selection of indoor and outdoor wedding venues from a barefoot ceremony on the beach to a lavish reception; a timeless white wedding; or something out of the ordinary, with prices ranging from Dh300 per invitee going up to Dh430 per guest, provided the minimum spend is Dh60,000. Although flowers, linen and stage décor are included in the package, Carousel's Al Salih says brides tend to want more than what a mass package provides.

"The trend today is a bespoke service. Even brides with a smaller budget want their reception to look different from everyone else's. Venues tend to offer a very generic service with basic white table cloths, basic flower settings and a no-fuss stage set-up. None of our clients ever go with what the hotels provide. Moreover, depending on culture, certain elements are more important for some nationalities than others. Arab brides, for example, need to have an elaborate stage décor, while the Western bride would rather pay attention to detail for the head table or the dance floor. A wedding is supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime deal, right? Most girls grow up dreaming of the day they get married. They don't want an everyday setting for the big day. Couples want to customise their venues, their table linen, the wedding favours, and all that comes at an additional cost."

Top wedding trends for 2012:
  • Average spend on wedding gown: Dh15,000
  • Average number of guests: 250
  • Average cost per person for reception: Dh1,200 to Dh1,500
  • Top trend this season: Traditional old-fashioned weddings
  • Top cultural wedding trend: Mixed-culture marriage with themes from each culture incorporated into the reception
  • Top floral trends for the season: Garden theme with colourful blooms.

Comments (13)

Share your views
  1. Added 13:15 April 5, 2012

    I tend to disagree with the people quoted in the above article and frankly I feel they're reflecting the market quite inaccurately and therefore misinforming people. I've had my wedding in Dubai very recently and the amount of money I spent was nowhere near that. While I understand and appreciate that people could choose to have extravagant dresses/flowers/jewellery etc, it's also very much because of the providers of these items that these prices are so high, as they make it look that this is the price range and that any other option would be considered "budget" options. My first tip would be not to hire one of these 'wedding planners' in the first place. I'm sure they have their advantages but I have organised my own wedding and never for a moment felt that things would have been better with an organiser. In the end, the organiser comes to you to make the decisions -- which colour for flowers, what kind of table cloths, what is the theme, how bright do you want the lights? Why would you need a mediator if you're going to answer all of those questions yourself. Second tip would be to stay away from the hotels. Go to Golf clubs. Boutique, cute and more flexible. And tha final one would be: bargain hard. Dont forget you are the customer and they need you. You will have your wedding somewhere in the end, and they should race with each other to make sure you chose them, not the otherway around.

    Aisha, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 12:56 April 5, 2012

    Well I think it is just a waste of money. according to Islamic teachings wedding should be very simple. it should not be a burrden on either bride or the groom and according to today's situation if someone can do such a costly marriage good for him or her. I prefer to go to a Masjid and get married there or to the court and have just a few witnesses.

    Fahad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 12:05 April 5, 2012

    It's true expenses are very high. For a simple one night wedding, I had to spend Dh320,000, which is a big amount in terms of buying a valuable asset that may have benefited us in the long run.

    Dawood, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 11:46 April 5, 2012

    The trend today is the bigger and grander the wedding the better, yet we tend to forget the true essence of being married - THE UNION OF TWO HEARTS BOUND TOGETHER BY GOD AND LOVE. I am not against this article and I too wanted a decent wedding for my soon to be wife. Bur, the wedding is just the start of a new life cycle -- where as marriages are life-time commitment. If you have the means to spend then go ahead, but if not, just keep it simple. It's just the same wedding ceremony even if you spend Dh30,000 or Dh300,000 (minus the butterflies and white horses of course) after all -- what matters is the sacrament of being ONE with the one you love -- which is the symbol of your union. Looking into it on a different perspective, isn't it better if the man / woman you are getting married to loves you because of who you are and not on how thick your wallet is? Who needs all these material things by the way when you already have the greatest gift - your lifetime partner!

    Rodel, Dubai, Philippines

  5. Added 11:28 April 5, 2012

    To be very honest, it all depends on budget here. Min. spend for a wedding in the UAE, even for normal people cannot be done below 100K. This number is primarily for the reception and for the number of people you need to invite -- unless you want to keep it a very small and private event and at the same time make it extremely grand. The only place where you can openly get married here is a 5 star resort, unfortunately since they offer the best venues and services + catering

    Anonymous, ABu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 10:53 April 5, 2012

    Elen, Abu DHabi, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 10:09 April 5, 2012

    Don't get married at fact if you have to, then make sure your partner is totally debt free and has at least Dh5 million in his/her bank -- open for your disposal. In today's difficult times....additional responsibility is not something that adds value unless done wisely. So invest wisely.

    Habeeb, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 10:08 April 5, 2012

    A poor man should never get married in Dubai and neither should he have the delivery of his child in Dubai as it is a costly city.

    mangesh, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 10:00 April 5, 2012

    Extraordinary costs of weddings make adultery cheap and easily accessible. It just starts from Dh20 for male/female prostitutes from China, Philippines, Bangladesh, CIS, etc., who are easily available in every second or third building all over the city.

    Gulf News Reader, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 09:39 April 5, 2012

    This is a very irresponsible story. The journalist doesn't seem to have to done his homework. Atlantis is not the only venue in town. Did Atlantis pay for this story to be published? We as the reading public need to know if that is the case? It should say 'advertisement' at the top. There are 5 star hotels in town, where you can manage to get a per guest price ranging from Dh120-Dh175. This article tries to give the impression that it is a must to spend this much to get married. This is not correct. There are more economical options available and none have been mentioned!

    Fahd, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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