Wallet-friendly weddings in Dubai

There is no need to blow your savings when getting married in Dubai

It’s the season to get hitched, but whether you’re the one walking down the aisle or sitting in the pews, there’s no need to blow your savings on the big day. Louise Emma Clarke gets top planning tips from local experts.

For your big day

Rhiannon Downie, founder and editor of www.brideclubme.com, an online resource for brides in the UAE, and Joelle Clute, editor of www.mylovelywedding.com, reveal how you can have the personalised wedding of your dreams in Dubai without decimating your savings account…

Get creative with food
Opting for a barbecue or live cooking stations instead of a formal sit-down dinner can shave money off your food and beverage bill. A barbecue is perfect for an outdoor wedding in season.

Shop the summer sales
Wedding specialists and bridal boutiques often offer large discounts and sale items during certain months. Many companies in Dubai offer festive
and seasonal specials during summer and Christmas periods.

Consider alternative decor
Flowers can take up a large chunk of the overall wedding budget. Consider opting for mood enhancing candles and lanterns instead for your table décor. For a wedding arch, use large balloons on either side of you and your fiancé, flowing drapes under a large tree, or simply allow a stunning backdrop to say it all.

Choose Blooms That are in season

If you do really want flowers, choose ‘in-season’ blooms or better yet, flowers that are grown locally. Bougainvillea for example, are both beautiful and plentiful in this region.

Downsize the bridal party
The more bridesmaids you have, the more cost you will incur in clothes, gifts and bouquets. Why not downsize the number of attendants and ask the others to do a reading or joint speech?

Consider lighting
Give some thought to lighting before you book your venue. Hiring trussing and structures to light a large venue could cost you an additional Dhs20,000 that you didn’t budget for.

Wed on a weekday
Not only are venues likely to be cheaper during the week, but you’ll also less likely be required to commit to a minimum spend. Vendors, such as photographers, videographers, and musicians, are more open to offering discounts for mid-week weddings too.

Create a hashtag

One fun wedding idea that costs absolutely nothing is to create a hashtag for your guests to use on social media. Design signs for every table with details of the hashtag, and the next day, click through the posts to see your wedding through their eyes.

Celebrate indoors
Celebrating your wedding in a restaurant, rather than an outdoor venue, can save you a lot of money, given that you won’t need to hire chairs, linens or serving staff.

Make your own stationery
Save yourself a small fortune by getting crafty with your wedding stationery. Make your own name cards, seating plans and menus. There are lots of templates online that you can download for fraction of the price of professional designs.

Bride Dubai
Now in its 18th year, Bride Dubai will be back to provide you with inspiration. The event will be held at Dubai International Exhibition Centre from Wednesday March 25 to Saturday 28. It will showcase everything from dresses, jewellery, photographers and entertainment to where to spend your honeymoon. From Dhs40 for two standard tickets. March 25-28. Wed, Thu, Sat, 2.30pm-10.30pm; Fri 3pm-11pm. No children under 12 years not permitted. Dubai International Exhibition Centre, Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, www.thebrideshow.com.

For your friends' big day

For your friends' big day

Splashing out on outfits, gifts, hen nights, stag dos and, in some cases, flights overseas might seem daunting, but getting to all your friends’ weddings this year doesn’t mean you must face financial ruin. Here’s how to do it while keeping your bank balance intact.

Save on gifts
Gift greenery
‘For an affordable and thoughtful gift, why not give the happy couple a selection of succulent plants in a wooden tray tied with lace or a fruit tree in a beautiful pot?’
Theresa Tsui, chief creator at reMADE DXB, www.remadedxb.com.

Compile a book of recipes
‘Put together a recipe collection for the newlyweds as a unique gift. Ask the couple’s family and friends to contribute a recipe and gather them all together in a folder or book. It will make a lovely (and useful) keepsake for married life.’
Anna Bolton-Riley at www.littlemajlis.com.

Buy early

‘Want to buy from the registry? Log on as soon as it opens. Having time on your side means having the best selection possible to match your budget.’
Rhiannon Downie at www.brideclubme.com.

Frame a photo
‘Get a photograph taken from their wedding framed as a belated gift. You don’t need an expensive camera – I have printed well-exposed iPhone pictures as big as 50cmx50cm. Try not to get in the way of the professional photographer, after all, the bride and groom will have shelled out a good portion of their wedding budget to get those shots. Try to snap a candid moment between the couple.’
Chloe Lodge, Dubai-based wedding photographer, www.chloelodge.com.

Share the cost of gifts

‘If your budget for a gift is very small, why not team up with a group of friends and purchase together? You could each add a small amount to buy a more expensive gift from the registry.’
Joelle Clute at www.mylovelywedding.com.

Give a gift that keeps on giving
‘Rather than buying a pricey gift for the big day, send something small and thoughtful each year on the couple’s wedding anniversary. Go for a jar of something delicious, such as homemade jam or honey.’
Anna Bolton-Riley at www.littlemajlis.com.

What to wear
Make a fascinator
‘Save on the cost of expensive hats and fascinators by making your own. Head to Satwa to a trimmings supplier (I love Nippur) and buy some feather trim (Dhs25 a yard), a small hair comb, crystals and E600 glue. Trim the feathers to your desired width and glue to the comb. Add a second layer for drama and cover the ribbon with jewels.’
Theresa Tsui, chief creator at reMADE DXB, www.remadedxb.com.

Recycle outfits
‘Choose a two-piece rather than a dress. You can mix things up and your friends won’t even notice that you’ve worn the same thing to every event in the past three months.’
Joelle Clute at www.mylovelywedding.com.

Flights and accommodation
Find affordable flights
‘The best way to look for cheaper flights is with low-fare websites such as
www.booking.com and www.agoda.com. Use these by signing up to their email and text alerts for lower fares as they are reported to the website. If you have a preferred airline, look into buying more frequent flyer points to supplement your existing ones.’
Rhiannon Downie at www.brideclubme.com.

Share hotel rooms
‘If you are going to a wedding alone, consider teaming up with a friend to halve the cost of a hotel room. It’s a luxury to have your own room, but you will barely spend any time in it if you are partying until late.’ Chloe Lodge, Dubai-based wedding photographer, www.chloelodge.com.

For your big day

Blue and white walkways have been installed in more places

Prepare for a 5km and 13km course at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Racecourse next month

HiU messenger is available for download for Etisalat customers

Get deals at restaurants including Zheng He’s and Palace Downtown

You’ll also get discounts at spas, bars and restaurants

Whether you’re surfing, floating, or plummeting, here’s where to make a splash


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