Getting Married as an Expat in Dubai: A Comprehensive Guide

22 Jun 2024·0 min read

At Easy Wedding (, our team is here for you. We have both locals and expats working to make your day unforgettable. We help you from the moment you touch down to the last goodbye. This thorough guide tackles every aspect of your expat marriage in dubai and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Dubai is a vibrant, multicultural city that welcomes expats to get married.
  • Navigating the legal requirements and cultural traditions is essential for a seamless expat wedding experience.
  • Understanding the different types of marriages, including traditional Emirati, expatriate, and civil ceremonies, is crucial.
  • Obtaining the necessary documentation and meeting pre-marital requirements is a crucial step in the marriage process.
  • Expat couples can choose from a variety of venues and wedding packages to celebrate their special day in Dubai.

Understanding Arabian Wedding Traditions

In Dubai, Arabian weddings often start with Al Khoutha, a form of marriage proposal. It’s seen as when two families join together, with the groom’s father seeking the bride’s hand. There are traditional steps like signing the marriage contract, known as Al Akhd, and a 40-day beautification period for the bride.

This time is for preparing the bride to look her best. Her body is covered in oils, and her hair is decorated with flower extracts.

The Henna Night: A Vibrant Pre-Wedding Celebration

The lively and joyful Henna night is a must before the wedding. The bride’s female friends and family gather. They dance and enjoy a feast while the bride’s hands and feet get beautiful, intricate henna designs.

This event is more than just a time for putting on beauty. It welcomes the bride into marrying life with gifts and blessings. These gifts, like jewelry, dresses, and perfumes, are very special in Emirati culture.

The Grand Wedding Affair

The wedding day itself is grand, with separate parties for men and women. This setup lets everyone enjoy the festivities fully. There is dancing and showing off of expensive dresses and jewelry.

During this time, the groom gives special gifts to the bride, like silk and perfumes. The bride’s dress is usually luxurious and signifies her importance at the celebration.

The Nikah: The Sacred Marriage Ceremony

The nikah is the actual marriage ceremony, a serious and sacred occasion. It officially brings the couple together in front of family and religious representatives.

After this, there are big receptions. Women get to celebrate openly, without their hijab. Men enjoy traditional music and dance. The feast at these receptions is very important, with plenty of Emirati dishes showing hospitality and abundance.

Types of Marriages in The UAE

Traditional Emirati Weddings

Traditional Emirati nuptials are both big and detailed. They usually keep men and women apart during the fun, celebrating separately. The wedding comes after stages like the engagement, the Nikkah signing, and a big party.

The Nikkah, a legal and religiously important step, is a key part. Here, it’s okay for Muslim men to have up to four wives if they can treat them all fairly and equally.

Expatriate Weddings

The UAE welcomes people from around the world, so you see all sorts of weddings here. There are ceremonies like Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and many others. Non-Muslims can follow their own marriage laws, allowing Christian weddings in churches.

These weddings can get legal registration too, making them recognized by the state. It’s all part of the UAE’s openness to different faiths and cultures.

Civil Marriages

In the past, marriage laws here mainly followed Islamic rules for Muslims. But that changed in 2021. The UAE introduced civil marriage for everyone, part of updating its legal system.

This new law means non-Muslims can get married without religious ceremonies. It’s great for couples from different faiths or anyone not wanting a religious marriage.

The Legal Requirements for Marriage in The UAE

First, you need to know what’s needed to marry in The UAE. No matter your background or where you’re from, certain steps and documents are a must. The bride must agree to marry. For at least one of you, you need a Dubai residential visa. You must get a health certificate together from a UAE clinic beforehand. Both of you can’t be Emirati Muslims. You both should agree to marry and be 18 or above. Also, you shouldn’t be closely related and you must be single.

Islamic Marriage Requirements

For Islamic weddings, the rules are these: The groom and bride must be 18 or over, unless a judge says otherwise. Both of you must be there, as well as the bride’s father or his choice. Two Muslim men have to witness the marriage. A Muslim bride needs her legal guardian’s okay. If her father isn’t alive, another male guardian must come. Anyone previously married should show papers. If the bride’s dad is non-Muslim, she needs a letter from her embassy here. Finally, the marriage must be recorded in a UAE Sharia court.

Special Cases

Some rules are different for certain people marrying in the UAE. For instance, all Emiratis are limited to a maximum dowry of AED 50,000. They must pay AED 20,000 in advance. Military or government workers who want to marry a foreigner need approval from their job. An Ajman native marrying outside the GCC should have the Ajman Sharia Court’s blessing. If an Emirati woman marries a foreign man, she needs family consent and a work permit if she’s in the military. She can’t marry a stateless man.

Documentation Requirements

For a civil marriage in the UAE, you need the right paperwork. This includes a filled and signed marriage form, your passport, or Emirates ID copies of both. Also, evidence that you’re free to marry (like divorce papers). It’s optional, but you might need a pre-nuptial agreement too. If your documents are not in Arabic, they must be translated by a UAE-approved translator. Foreign documents should be legalised or have a MOFA stamp to be valid in the UAE.

Wedding Requirements

How to Get Married in The UAE

Get a Residence Visa

In the UAE, especially in Dubai, getting a valid residency visa is a must for one of you. Without a residency visa, marrying legally is not possible for foreigners here on a visit or tourism visa. This rule changes if one of you is already a resident.

If you both are in the country on a visit or tourism visa, you need to first get a residence visa. This allows you to continue with your marriage plans.

Can Expats Marry in Dubai?

Dubai is known as a safe and warm city, great for families. This makes it popular among people from all over. Many expats choose to get married there. The pleasant weather, many housing options, good schools, and the freedom to practice their beliefs or culture adds to its charm.

For foreigners looking to marry in Dubai, it is doable. The marriage should be legally registered with either the courts or the relevant embassies. Also, non-Muslim expats can marry following their home country’s rules.

Requirements for Marriage in Dubai

General Pre-Marital Requirements in Dubai

Marriage requirements in Dubai change based on where the couple is from and their faith. Partners should have the bride’s consent. They need their Emirates IDs, valid Passports. There’s some paperwork to handle based on their visa status.

Also, one person has to live in UAE. And, both need a clean bill of health from DHA.

Marital Requirements for Muslim Expats in the UAE

If you’re a Muslim expat wanting to wed in Dubai, here’s what you need. The groom and bride must be 18. They both must attend. There should be two Muslim male witnesses. A woman needs her guardian’s okay.

If the bride’s dad can’t be there, another close male relative takes his place. People who were married before should prove their status. If a bride’s dad is non-Muslim, she needs a note from her embassy. The marriage must be legal in a UAE Sharia court.

Requirements for Non-Muslim Expats Getting Married in Dubai

Non-Muslims can follow their home country’s marriage rules in Dubai. For Christians, weddings can happen in Dubai churches. Partners should both be 18 and have witnesses.

The church or embassy might ask for extra papers like passports or proof of any past marriages.

Requirements for Court Marriage in Dubai for Foreigners

A court marriage in Dubai can be easy for foreign couples. You will need birth certificates, your passports, and location proof in the UAE.

Bring your Emirates ID, and show you’re in good health for the marriage. Also, prove your past marital status with recognized documents, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Consulate if from abroad.

Expat Marriage Officiators

Islamic Marriages in Dubai

In Dubai, Muslim marriages happen following Sharia rules. These rules apply to both locals and expats. They include any couple’s nationality. Marriages get conducted in Dubai if both or one person is Muslim. For the cases where the bride is from Ahl Al-Kitaab, it also applies.

Sharia courts or official marriage officers handle these marriages. They’re selected by the Ministry of Justice. Also, the ministry provides an eMarriage service for those marrying in the UAE.

Non-Muslim Expat Marriages in Dubai

If both partners are non-Muslim expats, the marriage process differs. It takes place at their country’s consulate or embassy in the UAE. Or it happens in a church or temple matching their faith.

Expat Marriage in Dubai

Getting married in Dubai can be challenging if the couple is from different countries. To make their marriage legal, they need to register it at the embassies of both their countries in the UAE. Rules change a little depending on if they are Muslims or not.

Requirements for a Filipino to Marry an Indian or a Nepali

If the man and woman are Muslims, they can get a court marriage in Dubai. The process will follow Shariah laws in the UAE, making the marriage officially recognized.

Can a Filipino and Pakistani Marry in Dubai?

Even non-Muslim pairs can marry quickly in Dubai through the 24-hour marriage service. If they fit these conditions, they can get a marriage certificate in just one day. They both must be non-Muslims; one should live in Dubai; they should be 21 or older; their single status must be embassy-attested; they or their representative with a power of attorney must appear on the day; and all documents have to be legally translated into Arabic by a specific agency and verified by the UAE authorities.

24-Hour Marriage Service

Non-Muslim couples can also opt for the 24-hour marriage service in Dubai, where they can get their marriage certificate within 24 hours if they meet the criteria. Both need to be non-Muslim; one must be a Dubai resident; they should be 21 or older; they need an embassy-attested single status; at least one of them must be there or their representative with a power of attorney; and all necessary document translations have to be done by an approved UAE agency and authenticated by the UAE authorities.

expat marriage dubai

Preparing for Your Expat Wedding in Dubai

Contacting Your Embassy or Consulate

If you’re an expat planning to marry in Dubai, start by contacting your embassy or consulate. They’ll guide you on the rules for your wedding. Some embassies help with the ceremony, but not all do this regularly.

Choosing a Venue

In Dubai, weddings must be religious. They can happen in a church or an approved venue with a wedding license. A couple needs to fulfill certain requirements to marry in a church. This includes being baptised if you choose a church wedding.

There’s also an option for a smaller church service. After this intimate ceremony, your wedding can be blessed in a hotel. This way, all your guests can take part, even if the main event isn’t in the church.

Church Wedding Requirements

For an Anglican ceremony, you can choose from certain churches in Dubai. These churches are approved by the UAE government. Both partners need to meet certain criteria to have a ceremony there. Roman Catholic weddings can also occur in specific churches.

If one partner in a Roman Catholic wedding is Roman Catholic and both are living in Dubai, they qualify. Other churches might have different rules, so it’s best to check with each.

Documentation and Legal Formalities

For a church marriage in Dubai, you need a Banns certificate. This document, or a ‘certificate of no impediment,’ is must-have for most places. It can take about three weeks to get this. You must apply for it in person at your embassy.

Your wedding needs to happen within three months of getting this certificate. If it’s after that, you’ll need to get a new one.

After the wedding, your marriage certificates need to be translated into Arabic. Then, they must be legalized by various government offices and embassies. This process allows the marriage to be recognized back in your home country.

Wedding Celebrations and Receptions

Hotel Wedding Packages

Many of Dubai’s top hotels offer amazing wedding packages. They have wedding experts to help with everything. This includes choosing venues, flowers, dresses, and even transport. Some top places are Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Hotels, Atlantis the Palm, and more.

Popular Venues for Receptions

If you’re in Dubai, you might know the best places for a wedding reception. Places like Burj Al Arab and Jumeirah Hotels are always great choices. If you’re still looking, check out Atlantis the Palm or The Royal Mirage.


Getting married as an expat in Dubai is an amazing adventure. You need to follow certain legal rules and embrace local culture. This guide helps you understand Arabian wedding customs and UAE’s marriage laws.

Choose how you want to celebrate your union. Whether it’s a traditional Islamic way, civil, or through your embassy, Dubai is a perfect place. It lets you start your new life with a memorable ceremony.

Know the steps and papers needed for your wedding to go smoothly. Make sure your marriage is accepted in both the UAE and your home country. Getting legal advice is also wise to avoid any hiccups.

Your wedding in Dubai, as expats, can be full of joy and unique. With care, details, and advice, you can have a memorable ceremony. Enjoy the city’s mix of cultures, beautiful places, and friendly vibe for a special wedding.


What are the general pre-marital requirements for getting married in the UAE?

To get married in the UAE, both the bride and groom must have Emirates IDs and valid Passports. Their visa status should be checked. At least one of them needs a UAE residence visa. Also, they have to pass a health screening from DHA primary healthcare centers before the wedding.

What are the requirements for Islamic marriages in the UAE?

If you’re planning an Islamic marriage in the UAE, both partners must be at least 18. If you’re younger, you need a judge’s OK. You must have two Muslim witnesses present with the bride and her guardian too. In case of death or divorce, widowed or divorced people must prove it. If a Muslim bride’s father is not Muslim, she needs a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from her embassy. The marriage has to be officiated by a UAE Sharia court.

What are the special cases for certain nationalities getting married in the UAE?

Around the UAE, there are special rules for some marriages. UEA nationals have a specific dowry limit and need approval for specific marriages. If you work in certain jobs and want to marry a foreigner, your employer’s approval is required. An Emirati woman marrying a foreign man needs consent and employer’s permit. She can’t marry a stateless man.

What are the documentation requirements for civil marriages in the UAE?

For a civil marriage in the UAE, you need to fill out a form and show identification. You also need to prove that you’re not already married. If any documents aren’t in Arabic, you must get them translated by a certified service. Plus, all foreign documents must be legalised.

What are the requirements for non-Muslim expats getting married in Dubai?

Non-Muslim expats in Dubai can marry at their embassies or churches. To do this, they must be at least 18 and have two witnesses. Additional documents may be needed, like passports and birth certificates. This process often includes an “intention to marry” application.

What are the requirements for court marriage in Dubai for foreigners?

If you’re getting a court marriage in Dubai, you’ll need your birth certificate and passport. Your residency and Emirates ID are also required. You must prove your marital status too. This means showing if you’re single, married, or divorced. For documents from outside the UAE, they must be legalised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Consulate.

How can expats in Dubai get married at a church?

Anglican weddings are possible at select churches. These churches are recognized by the UAE. For a marriage to take place, both partners must be over 18 and can’t be Muslim. For Roman Catholic marriages, one partner must be Catholic. Both should be Dubai residents.

What are the popular hotel options for wedding receptions in Dubai?

For wedding receptions, Dubai has many popular hotels. Options include Burj Al Arab and others. These places have wedding experts to plan and assist with everything you’ll need. From venue to flowers to transportation, they’ve got it covered.