Wedding bells on the horizon? Find out how to get married here

So you’ve found the love of your life and you want to get married but what steps do you need to take to do so here in the capital?


Getting married is an incredible experience and luckily there’s help at hand here to make sure you can make the commitment to your significant other without any added stress.

If you’re a resident in Abu Dhabi, you can legally get married but there are a number of steps you need to go through before you can celebrate and cut the cake.

It’s important to remember, behind the romance of the occasion, marriage is essentially a legal contract between two parties and a number of official procedures are required in order to wed.

Preparation and procedures

The first step the happy couple should take is to visit the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD) and inform the marriage department of their intention to marry.

The ADJD will inform the couple of the required paperwork as well as the fee that will need to be paid.

Documents that are normally required include a copy of your passport with valid residency visa, birth certificate and proof of your marital status usually obtained from your embassy. Furthermore, both bride and groom may have to sit a medical and submit the appropriate paperwork.

It is also advised that the couple visit their national embassy to get advice and additional information that may be useful in the application process.

Requirements for the ceremony

The father of the bride plays a significant role in a marriage in Abu Dhabi as carried out by the Sharia court.

If her father is deceased or unable to attend, then a copy of the death certificate must be presented or the closest male relative can act as her guardian. If there is no relative available the cleric sheikh may act as a temporary guardian.

Two witnesses are also required at the time of marriage; if both bride and groom are Muslim the witnesses should be male Muslims, but should not be any relation to the bride. If you are not Muslim, any two people with valid UAE identification can be asked to be a witness.

Christians wishing to get married in the capital can do so at a number of churches in the city. Procedures will vary but in most cases the couple must both be members and a notice must be posted in advance.

Arrangements for other religious denominations can also be made including Hindus. Your national embassy will be able to provide detailed information on appropriate venues depending on your religion.

Civil marriage

If the couple does not belong to any religion and wishes to have a civil marriage, it’s important to know that although the emirate of Abu Dhabi acknowledges these ceremonies, it does not perform them.

Couples who wish to have a civil marriage must travel to a nearby destination to complete the union before returning to the UAE. Once married the couple will then be required to have their marriage certificate ratified by their embassies and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Documents will also need to be translated and attested at ADJD for the union to be officially recognised in the capital.

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WORDS Colin Armstrong
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