Put your best foot forward because you are cordially invited to enter the extravagant world of UAE weddings. From underwater ceremonies to holographic processions, UAE wedding planners reveal some of the most outlandish requests they have received to create unforgettable experiences.

Florian Unghetti and Liz Nunez, founders of Easy Wedding, said that the range of unique requests they have received for wedding ceremonies span from jaw-dropping creativity to redefining the art of quirkiness.

"We have received requests for the underwater wedding ceremony to be accompanied by a personalised marine life show," said Florian. "We have also been asked for personalised fireworks displays with embedded QR codes for some weddings. For the holographic wedding procession, the bride and groom wanted to enter via a projected holographic walkway instead of the traditional aisle walk. We had to turn down many of those because they were not practical or were too expensive."

Earlier this month, celebrities, politicians and public figures worldwide flew into India for the pre-wedding celebrations of Radhika Merchant and Anant Ambani, son of Indian business tycoon Mukesh Ambani- the richest person in Asia. With never-seen-before décor, expensive clothes and a performance by pop star Rihanna, it was one of the most grand ceremonies in recent times.

With the UAE becoming one of the most popular destinations globally for weddings, Khaleej Times looked into how ceremonies in the country are becoming more opulent and extravagant than ever before.

"One of the most unique and costly requests we've received while organising a wedding was to include a white tiger and elephants in the baraat (groom's procession)," said Tasneem Alibhai, founder of TA weddings and events. "However, due to legal restrictions, this request could not be accommodated."

Rhiannon Downie-Hurst, founder of www.brideclubme, an online platform for the wedding industry, said she has seen her fair share of extravagance at many weddings here. "I've seen planes fly overhead during the end of ceremonies, releasing colour clouds," she said. "I've seen giant 6ft tall cakes suspended from ceilings. I have also heard of brides and grooms entering their wedding in vintage or luxury sports cars."

Cost of weddings

In true UAE style, wedding costs could range from as little as Dh4,000 to more than Dh5 million.

"Some clients have even chartered private jets to fly in their guests and booked out hotels for up to a week to accommodate 400 guests," said Tasneem. "These weddings have seen hundreds of thousands of dollars on flowers and production expenditures. Ultimately, the cost of a wedding is influenced by the couple and their family's vision for the event and their budget constraints."

However, planners say it is possible to have a wedding in the country with a limited budget. "To work on an economical wedding, couples usually ask us to look at diverse venue options beyond luxurious hotels, like parks, beaches, community halls, and smaller hotels, often at more budget-friendly rates," said Florian. "Looking for hidden gems, local catering, photography, or entertainment vendors can be significantly cheaper than opting for international or high-end options."

Rhiannon shared the details about one of her favourite budget-friendly weddings. "It featured a mixed Emirati/Thai/Uzbek couple, who planned their own retro-style wedding in a local café," she said. "They got their friends involved with DJing, and they also designed and styled all the decor themselves with the help of their close friends. It was a very intimate and personalised wedding. I'm not privy to how much they spent, but I would estimate between Dh10,000 and Dh25,000."

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