From the legal material to choosing the venue and beyond, here’s how to say ‘I do’ in Abu Dhabi.
You’ve already got down on one knee, popped the question and you’re ready to start planning for your big day with your spouse-to-be – and what better place to tie the knot than in Abu Dhabi?
With its year-round amazing weather, fabulous locations and amazing vistas, the capital is becoming an increasingly popular wedding destination.
So how do you go about getting married? Here’s your guide from registering your intent to the big day and beyond.
Making it official
Once you’re engaged, the first thing you need to do is fill out some paperwork. Whatever your nationality and religion, head to Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD), where you’ll need to fill in some documents and pay the fee before you can be legally wed. Depending on where you’re from, you may also be required to post your intent to marry at your embassy or consulate.
The exact personal documents you will be required to present depend on your nationality, but in general you will be asked for your birth certificate, original passport, Emirates ID, a medical certificate and a certificate stating that you’re free to marry.
When it comes to the ceremony, you’ll need a couple of witnesses who hold national ID cards. If you’re a Muslim couple, then your witnesses should be too, but if you’re not, your witnesses can be any religion.
Non-Muslims may also choose to get married in a church or temple, embassy or licenced venue, but religious locations may ask that the future couple produce proof of belonging to a particular sect or religion.
For more information, visit: adjd.gov.ae
Planning the big day
The legal part is over, which means it’s time to plan the ceremony. Settling on your venue and supplier should be the first thing on your list. But when you go for viewings, be sure to have a theme or style in mind beforehand, suggests Teegan Deck, director of catering and conference services sales at Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal.
“Planning is the key – you can never be too organised,” Teegan notes. “Ensure that the first element of your wedding that you confirm is your venue. Having the venue locked in
will assist with envisioning the style of the wedding day. This will also assist with sourcing and confirming suppliers as the venue will be able to provide you with a list of preferred, reliable suppliers that they have worked with in the past.”
From barefoot beach weddings to city locations and more, Abu Dhabi has a lot of diversity venue-wise – and each couple needs to figure out what works for them. With year-round warm weather, Abu Dhabi doesn’t really have off-seasons like other countries – but you’ll find venues get busiest in November and December, when the weather is cooler.
“Really, it’s about the couple, so you need to find the ideal venue based on what your likes are: the style, colours, what the hotel holds as well,” Teegan advises. “It needs to suit the bride and groom’s style so that you don’t have to transform the ballroom or the venue space into something entirely different and you can use the surroundings to style your event as well.
“Wedding trends are definitely region specific,” Teegan adds. “For 2019, couples seem to be stepping away from the soft pastel colour palette and [are] opting for bright, bold floral colours.”
If you have an idea in mind, it’s time to do your research: Collate prices, reviews and any other relevant details before coming to the final decision – and see if you have a rapport with those working with you.
“You need to get suppliers that are reliable and you need to create a connection with them – these are the people you’ll be working with to plan your wedding,” Teegan notes. “It’s your special day and nothing can go wrong with it, so it’s important that your supplier and venue understand what your wants and requirements are because you’re relying on them to deliver everything that you want on the wedding day.
“I always suggest to get three quotes from different suppliers and then straight away you’ll know whether they are in line,” she adds. “For things like styling and wedding cakes, I also recommend that you present the supplier with your budget and ask them to provide quotes that go over it, under it and in the middle. This will help you to see what you will get if you spend more, and how you can make it work if you need to cut anything out.”
From the venue to the topper on the cake, planning a wedding includes a lot of detail, so if you’re finding it overwhelming, Teegan suggests enlisting the help of a planner.
“It is highly recommended for a wedding planner to be involved for any wedding,” she agrees. “There are different levels of wedding planner services and the requirement will vary for each bride and groom. Whether it be full scale wedding planning including budget management, supplier sourcing, menu tastings and styling to pure on-day wedding coordination to ensure all details planned are executed to perfection, having a wedding planner takes any pressure off the bride, groom and family.”
When you’ve said the “I dos” and enjoyed your first day as Mr and Mrs, there is still some housekeeping to take care of in terms of your documents by checking in with your embassy and informing them of the marriage. For international marriages, don’t forget that you’ll need to register with both of your respective embassies.
It’s impossible to list all of Abu Dhabi’s suppliers, but here are some to get you started…
♥ Rosa Clará Bridal: Hamdan Street. Sat-Thu 10am-1pm and 5pm-10pm, Fri 4pm-10pm. Contact: 050 466 5885, rosaclara.ae
♥ The Dress Boutique: Modern National Laundry building, near Lake Park, Corniche. Sat-Thu 10am-9pm. Contact: 02 626 3332, thedress.ae
♥ Pronovias: Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Zahiyah. Sat-Wed 10am-10pm, Thu-Fri 10am-11pm. Contact: 02 677 7848, facebook.com/pronovias
♥ Exotica Flowers: Mina Zayed. Sat-Thu 9am-7pm. Contact: 02 644 4416, exotica.com/uae
♥ Ghantoot Flowers: Hamdan Street, near Emirates Diplomatic Academy. Sat-Thu 8.30am-10pm, Fri 2pm-10pm. Contact: 02 667 8500, ghantootflowers.com
♥ Antheia Flowers: Abu Dhabi Mall, Al Zahiyah. Sat-Thu 8am-7pm. Contact: 02 642 1155, antheiaflowers.com
♥ Cake Gallery: 56th Street, Khalifa City. Daily 8.30am-11.30pm. Contact: 056 416 6670, cakegallery.ae
♥ SugarMoo: Various locations. Visit: sugarmoo.com
♥ Chateau Blanc: Marina Villas, behind Marina Mall. Contact: 02 626 2651, firstname.lastname@example.org
♥ Ethereal: Foutouh Al Khair Mall, Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street. Daily 10am-10pm. Contact: 02 633 5550, facebook.com/etherealuae
♥ Alvin Mark Buen Photography: Contact: 050 905 7408, facebook.com/alvinmarkbuenphotographyvideography
♥ Loft Studio: Contact: 02 446 8488, theloftstudio.ae
I do to-do
♥ Birth certificate
♥ Passport – original plus copies of your
personal data and valid visa pages
♥ Medical certificate
♥ Emirates ID – original and copies
♥ Passport photos
♥ Certificate of marital status
WORDS Camille Hogg