Wedding experts share their true stories from a Dubai wedding
Home to the tallest building, the biggest mall, the highest fountains and a whole host of other accolades, it is no wonder the city’s brides also want to make sure their big day is packed with superlatives. With so many stunning beaches, ballrooms and hotels, and companies offering all manner of services to make your day unique, the possibilities in Dubai are endless, and the Bride Dubai show, which returns on Wednesday April 10 to Saturday 13, will no doubt be doing its very best to showcase this.
‘There is never anything that can’t be done,’ explains Clare Ebbs, a British wedding planner who runs The Perfect Moment in Dubai. ‘If you want to hire a private island, or have a blessing in the desert, or even celebrate with just your loved one in a hot air balloon, it’s all possible. It just depends on your budget.’
But of course, that’s not to say the big day comes without any drama. ‘At one wedding we worked with, the bride was absolutely irate with one of her bridesmaids,’ reveals Julie Leblan, French co-founder of Dubai gift registry service MyList.ae. ‘She had turned up in a long, white dress and wearing exactly the same hairstyle as the bride. That was a big moment!’
Perhaps surprisingly, grooms are increasingly proving themselves to be just as highly strung over the big day. ‘I’ve been quite lucky on the bride- or groomzilla front, but I have had a groom who was far more emotional than the bride. I think he had me on speed dial, he was calling ten times an hour to check up, and there were lots of “what ifs?”’ reveals one Dubai planner, who wishes to remain anonymous. Another recalls her most unusual request, when she received a text from the bride on the morning of the wedding, ‘asking me to go and buy some “rubber boobs” – she meant chicken fillets. I had two hours to search every mall in Dubai. It took time, but I got there in the end.’ Julie, meanwhile, recalls a special demand made by one couple for their big day. ‘We had a request for 350 electronic Qur’ans to be given as wedding favours to the guests. Luckily one of our stores supplies electronics, so we were able to deliver in time for the wedding,’ she says.
As Virginie Dolz, a French wedding planner based in Dubai explains, ‘Challenge is just part of our daily routine. Our clients are sometimes super VIP, they are demanding, and they expect the best.’ She’s used to last-minute requests, such as finding an extra 500 chairs, tables and arranging more food when 1,500 turned up to attend one particular wedding, when only 1,000 had been expected. ‘One of my craziest requests was from a couple who wanted to skydive on their big day. I was amazed they would even think about it, but they were really determined to have that adrenaline rush.’
Emirati weddings are typically the most extravagant in the city, explains Julie, as they usually host the largest number of guests. Clare notes that the typical budget for her clients is anything from Dhs40,000 up to Dhs250,000. ‘I love coming up with thrifty, cost-saving ideas and involving the bride – if she wants to be – as it makes the day even more personal,’ she explains. This year, she’s seeing an increase in requests for weddings on yachts, as well as a rising number of mixed-culture weddings taking place – she most recently organised a British-Lebanese wedding. ‘That is so much fun for a wedding planner. It’s exciting because you learn about the different traditions, and get creative about bringing the two together.’
Whatever the budget and background of the couple, all the experts we spoke to were in agreement on one thing: when you’re planning a wedding in Dubai, there really are no boundaries. Clare Ebbs, The Perfect Moment, www.theperfectmoment.com (050 826 8006). Virginie Dolz, Virginie Wedding Planner, www.virginieweddingplanner.com (04 346 8522).
Where to get married
Tipi in the desert Host your big day in a unique tent in the desert (or in your own garden if you’re lucky enough to have lots of space) with the help of Canvas & Wood, a local company that specialises in tipi-style tents for big events. If you’re far away from a power supply, they can also provide a generator. Price upon request. Canvas & Wood, Al Quoz (04 380 5146).
Beach and beyond Arabian Adventures doesn’t just do desert safaris. If you want to do something a little different for your wedding, let this operator take the reins and tailor an experience to your specifications. Have an intimate blessing in the desert in the morning, take an aerial tour of the city at lunchtime and celebrate with a beach reception in the afternoon. Price upon request. Arabian Adventures, Emirates Holiday Building, Sheikh Zayed Road (04 343 9966).
On the water Weddings on yachts are becoming increasingly popular in Dubai, and many companies can help you organise your engagement party, reception or ceremony on board – Eden Yachting can even arrange a Rolls-Royce transfer, catering, flowers, entertainment and photography. Price upon request. Eden Yachting, JBR (050 371 6377).
LaceInTheDesert.com A blog that acts as more of a directory for UAE brides and grooms than a series of personal recommendations. There are also hundreds of photos and themes to provide inspiration if you’re just starting out with your planning.
MyList.ae The UAE’s first online gift registry service is partnered with more than 30 stores and services, stocking in excess of 1,000 brands, and you can even have guests make donations to charity through your registry.
MyLovelyWedding.com This Dubai wedding blog features recommendations from the author on everything from where to get the perfect dress made (Montexa) to which cake designers to trust and which florist to put your faith in. There are also photographs from real Dubai weddings to get you inspired.