Because Dubai is such a glitzy and glamorous place, for some people it is the perfect location to get married.  After all, for a lot of couples a wedding is about opulence and having a great time – two things for which Dubai is of course world famous!

However, getting married in Dubai is not that straightforward – although efforts to simplify things have been made in recent years as a result of supply and demand!  But there are a lot of paperwork obligations that have to be fulfilled before and after the big day.

In this article we’ll cover everything you need to know if you’re getting married in Dubai and you’re a Christian marrying a Christian partner.  In future articles we will cover the protocols and practices for other religions.

If you’re not living in Dubai but would like to get married there – here’s a suggestion for you.  It may be easier for you to get married at home and then travel to Dubai and have a blessing ceremony in a hotel followed by your big wedding reception party.  This will save you hours of paperwork and hassle!  Having said that, whether you’re resident in the emirate or not, if you want to get married there then that is your choice and this article is here to help you get everything in place for your big day.

Firstly we will cover the boring but essential protocols, paperwork and procedures – before moving on to talk about venues and getting ready for the big day itself.

Possibly one of the most important things to mention is that if you’re an unmarried woman living in Dubai and you become pregnant you have two choices to make very quickly indeed.  You either leave the emirate ASAP or you leg it down the aisle.  This is because it is illegal to have a child out of wedlock, and you will need to show your marriage certificate when you start going for antenatal checks.  If there is a fairly obvious gap in between your conception date and your marriage date, you may find yourself in some serious trouble.  This is no joking matter, so please do not underestimate the fact that you have to make decisions very swiftly if you do find yourself unmarried and pregnant.

Moving swiftly on!  As stated this article is about Christians marrying Christians in Dubai – as rules for Muslims, Catholics and inter-denomination marriages differ.  Firstly you should go to your embassy and explain that you want to get married – the larger embassies such as the British one will be able to assist you with getting everything in place that you need.  The British embassy will also display a notice of marriage, the equivalent of marriage banns, for 21 days showing that you intend to wed and assuming no one objects, you are then free to proceed.  By visiting your embassy you can also ensure that the marriage in Dubai will be legally recognised in your home nation.

Generally speaking, as long as you adhere to all the guidelines and have a legitimate marriage ceremony in Dubai, your wedding will be officially recognised elsewhere in the world.  You then have the choice of either having a church wedding with a congregation, or of having a small service at the church before having your wedding blessed before your guests at the hotel where your reception is being held.  Depending on who you are, your nationality and that of your partner as well as the church that you attend or intend to get married in, the church may require you to have a ‘legal eligibility for marriage’ certificate witnessed at your embassy.  They may also insist you attend pre-marriage counselling sessions.

At your church service you will have to have your wedding certificate signatures witnessed by two people.  After the wedding you will need to have this certificate officially translated into Arabic by a court approved translator.  Then go to the Notary Public Office at the courts with this translation, your original certificate as well as your passports, birth certificates and all so-called ‘essential documentation,’ and have your certificate certified.  Following this process you will have to go to the Ministry of Justice to have the signature and seal of the Notary authenticated!  And finally, one last visit to your embassy for a final legal verification and you’re all done with the legalities and the paperwork.

And now for the interesting part of getting married in Dubai!  Many of the best hotels in the emirate offer outstanding wedding packages.  You can use their in-house wedding coordinators, or there is a wedding planner in Dubai’s Media City who can help you organise everything – from venues to flowers, from dresses to transportation.  If you live in Dubai you’ll already be well aware which are the best hotels or beach clubs for a reception – but if you’ve yet to explore the emirate then check out the likes of Burj Al Arab or any of the Jumeirah Group of Hotels, Atlantis the Palm, The Royal Mirage, Ritz-Carlton or Park Hyatt.

As Dubai is really synonymous with luxury and sophistication, you can probably have anything you wish for in terms of your wedding reception – the key is planning far enough in advance to coordinate everything.