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Dubai: A wedding is arguably one of the most expensive undertakings in life. This is true of every society across the world, irrespective of the customs and rituals unique to it. The simple decision of a man and woman deciding to marry and spending the rest of their lives together leads to one of the most memorable experiences — a wedding — but one which comes at a price.

Playing a role in determining this price are a host of factors — venue, food, guests, decoration, gifts, wedding planner, jewellery, clothes and entertainment, to name the most important ones. But what underlines the collective cost of these is the city in which the wedding takes place. Wedding costs in a small town would be vastly different to one in a big city and, even among big cities, some are more expensive than others.

Gulf News talked to Clare Ebbs, Founder of The Perfect Moment Wedding Planners, about the most expensive aspects of planning a wedding in Dubai. Here are her five top elements:


1. Venue: While picking a venue is usually the starting point of the wedding planning process, many couples find that making that decision can be daunting. Depending on the time of the year, the number of guests and the entertainment choices, a wedding venue in Dubai can range between Dh35,000 and Dh80,000 and above, said Ebbs. Working as a wedding planner for over two and a half years, Ebbs explained that the cost of venues is often high because of the minimum charge policy that many hotels implement. The policy places a minimum spending charge for a minimum number of guests, which includes catering services. “If a couple has a smaller budget, the trick is to look for hotels and venues that don’t have the minimum spend policy and can cater to any number of guests.”

While options include indoor venues, outdoor locations, and ballrooms, a couple must pick their venue depending on the date of their wedding and budget. “Many people who have their weddings between April and September tend to pick ballrooms for their venues to avoid the heat — but for those looking at outdoor venues, music restrictions are something they should check before making a decision.”


2. Photography and videography: When the big day is finally over, a couple can always relive some of their most cherished moments by looking back at their wedding snapshots and video clips. “Couples are usually willing to spend more on finding a great photographer and videographer because the pictures represent memories from that day,” said Ebbs. On average, photo-videographers often charge between Dh15,000-Dh20,000 for eight hours. Depending on the couple’s requests, number of hours, guests and the wedding venue, photographers can charge more or less accordingly. “There are plenty of cost-effective ways to hire a good photographer and stay within your budget,” explained Ebbs. Couples with a restricted budget can always hire a photographer for fewer hours and exclude some of the add-ons, which have additional costs. “Some photographers offer engagement shoots, wedding albums, several printouts — there are many variables that impact the total cost.”


3. Wedding decorations: The endless designs, colour combinations and themes of decorations for a wedding venue can leave a couple completely confused. Decorations usually include a glamorous stage, shiny centrepieces, flower combinations, and lights. “The cost for decorations can really vary depending on how glamorous or simple a couple want the arrangements to be,” said Ebbs. Centrepieces range between Dh250 and Dh700 per table on average, but can be less costly if they’re handmade. The most costly and central aspect of the decorations is the stage often known as ‘kosha’ in the UAE. “Koshas can vary between Dh20,000 and Dh50,000, while lighting costs on average Dh40,000 for the stage and hall.”

With so many details to cover, flower decorations are often the common element present at every wedding. Flower arrangements can cost an average of Dh10,000 and above depending on the season when the wedding is held and the type of flowers requested.


4. Wedding entertainment: No party is complete without the sound of music. With a wide range of cultures, tastes and themes of weddings in the UAE, the type of music used to celebrate a couple’s magical day also varies. The average cost of a DJ or wedding band can range between Dh4,000 and Dh8,000 per evening, said Ebbs. With some couples resorting to more classical forms of music, wedding entertainment can be less costly. “Some people like to hire an instrument player like a pianist or a sax player — this can cost between Dh2,000 and Dh4,000.” Just like other aspects of wedding planning, there are budget-friendly ways to celebrate and keep within your budget. “It’s important to hire a wedding planner who knows a lot of suppliers and can find you as many cost-effective options as possible that match your expectations and your budget,” said Ebbs.


5. The dress: For a bride to be really happy on her wedding day, she has to be wearing the perfect dress. While many girls dream of looking like a princess on their big day, finding the right bridal gown falls among a bride’s top wedding priorities. But at what cost? “To buy a decent dress from a wedding shop in Dubai, a bride has to spend at least Dh10,000,” said Ebbs. For brides with a specific style in mind and a smaller budget, custom-making the dress can be a cheaper option. “A good option for brides who don’t want to spend too much on the dress is copying a certain style or design they like from a magazine and making it from scratch.” Along with making the dress, ordering a ready-made dress online is also another budget-friendly option. “You’ll often find that ordering the dress online is cheaper than buying the exact dress from a bridal store.”

Brides can also rent the dress for the night to cut down on costs.