Many couples getting married in Dubai are now choosing more intimate and personalised destination weddings with just 50-100 guests, according to a spokesperson for Dubai Department of Economy and Tourism (DET). Millennials and Gen Z couples are also looking for ways beyond celebrations to drive societal changes and reflect their personal values.

“There has been an increasing demand for more intimate weddings, ranging from 50-100 guests, while larger-scale weddings remain in high demand,” said Laila Suhail, CEO of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships Sector at DET. “Other trends to emerge in the sector include the influence of social media on destination weddings, and how couples and planners are looking for ways to consume more mindfully with eco-friendly destination weddings. ‘Weddings with a purpose’ has also become a trend.”

Laila said that couples are also increasingly using artificial intelligence (AI) in their weddings. “Within the weddings sector we are seeing the increasing use of new technologies such as using AI for writing vows and creating digital portraits, which differ from traditional photos and look great on social media,” she said. “Virtual reality (VR) is also being used to create post-wedding VR experiences to enable couples and guests to relive the moment.”

Perfect destination

Since the Covid pandemic, Dubai has emerged as one of the top destinations for weddings globally. “After reopening to international visitors in July 2020, Dubai was the first city in the world to relaunch the live events sector and has hosted a variety of wedding shows and high-end weddings of foreign couples,” said Laila. “Destination weddings in Dubai have increased threefold in the past two years, surpassing the number held in 2019.”

Several wedding organisers agree that Dubai is unmatched in terms of venue. Tasneem Alibhai, founder of TA weddings and events, is well-known for organising several high-profile weddings in the UAE including that of Kris Fade and Brianna of Dubai Bling fame. According to her, there are several reasons why the emirate is a popular destination. “The weather is great and there are so many resorts and hotels to choose from,” she said. “In fact, if I had to choose a place to get married all over again, I would definitely pick Dubai.”

Laila further explained why the popularity of the emirate. “This is largely due to the city’s world-class infrastructure and facilities, along with our renowned Arabian hospitality,” she said. “Also, as a global aviation hub, Dubai ranks as one of the top cities in the world when it comes to connectivity and its location means it’s within easy reach of Europe, Asia and Africa.”

Specialised packages

As part of Dubai’s strategy to promote the wedding market, the emirate has been working closely with its industry partners to develop tailor-made options for destination weddings.

“The majority of our hotel partners have dedicated wedding packages, with one notable example being Weddings by Emaar,” said Laila. “This dedicated portal provides a one-stop-shop platform that enables couples to see all of Emaar’s wedding venues, along with essential tools such as 3D venue planning and wedding packages with detailed information on offerings. One example package is at The Terrace in the five-star Address Dubai Mall, which starts from Dh325 per person and offers a stunning background of Downtown Dubai and Burj Khalifa.”

Apart from weddings, Dubai has also become the hotspot for milestone anniversaries and honeymoons. “With experienced wedding and event planners from a diverse range of nationalities– plus the availability of quality suppliers, logistical experts, skilled caterers and extraordinary entertainment – Dubai can deliver bespoke, memorable experiences for all couples and their guests,” said Laila.

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