To make the most of the UAE’s striking skylines, more and more couples are choosing to hold their wedding ceremony or other celebrations aboard a yacht.
“There is definitely an increasing demand for weddings, along with engagements, pre-wedding dinners and reception parties,” says Jane Daly, the managing partner of Eden Yachting. Vessel hire with Eden starts from Dh40,000, and the company also offers a wedding planner and wedding stylist who can help you to tailor your day with flowers, catering, photography and entertainment. The happy couple will be driven to and from their yacht in either a limousine or Rolls-Royce. It certainly won’t be a wedding your guests will forget in a hurry.
“Last year we arranged a wedding for a small group of 20 on one of our superyachts,” says Daly. “It was a beautiful event, and the couple le the yacht for the hotel on a small boat with ‘Just Married’ on a banner across the back – just as if they were leaving a landbased reception by car.”
Some 828 metres above sea level is Dubai’s most iconic wedding venue: the Burj Khalifa, where the Armani Hotel guarantees a tasteful event from start to finish. Book the Armani signature package (Dh575 per head) and the hotel will supply personalised Armani invitations, a customised menu based on your nationality and tastes, a hand-finished, five-tier wedding cake and even the bridal bouquet. And you can add an extra layer of luxury by purchasing items from the Armani Prive collection – such as watches, sunglasses, perfumes and jewellery – as farewell gi s for guests.
But, of course, the main draw of using the Burj Khalifa is the incredible photo opportunities. Couples typically have their pictures taken on the pavilion, with a view of the Dubai Fountain and the Burj in the background. The hotel can also facilitate photography at At.mosphere, the restaurant on the 122nd floor.
If your tastes veer more towards a destination wedding, Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England – better known as Downton Abbey – is a tempting option. Echoing the many fictional weddings of the Crawley sisters, a bride can get dressed in a bedroom at Highclere before walking around the gallery and down a sweeping oak staircase to greet her guests. With meals available for up to 140 in either the dining room or the Victorian library, the entire castle and its grounds are available for hire at Dh110,000.
Another international option with a touch of celebrity sparkle is the Castello Orsini-Odescalchi in Rome. A fairy-tale castle dating back to the 15th century, it was the setting for the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, and, more recently, for Petra Ecclestone, the Formula One heiress whose nuptials cost a reported Dh72m.
SASHAY AWAY Should you want a destination wedding, the Highclere Castle in Hampshire (which is better known as Downton Abbey), is a charming choice, complete with lush grounds and sweeping staircases.