Getting married at Christ Church
Who can/cannot get married at Christ Church?
We can marry people of any nationality, Christians from any denomination, but we cannot marry anyone who is Muslim though we can pray for them. We cannot marry couples of the same gender. We require that at least one of the couple has been baptised as a Christian. Non Christians need to be comfortable with a Christian ceremony.
Does denomination matter?
Christ Church is an Anglican church, but we are willing to marry members of any Christian denomination. However, if you both come from one of the other churches whose ministers can conduct services here, for example the Roman Catholic church, then we are likely to ask you to go to them.
Will you marry people who have been divorced?
Some of our weddings involve people who have been divorced. But divorce always raises questions, and you will be asked to discuss them with the Chaplain. A main concern will be whether the divorce came about because of the present relationship and whether any lessons have been learnt from the past that will give strength for the future. We will not accept an application from anyone who is still legally married, or who has been divorced three times.
Can our wedding in Dubai be on the beach/at our hotel?
Weddings can only be conducted in the church. A wedding blessing/thanksgiving can be conducted at another location, after a service in church.
We’d really like to be married by another minister we know. Can this be arranged?
If there is another Christian minister whom you would like to be involved in your wedding in Dubai, we can usually arrange for him to be involved in the service or even conduct it. Ask for more details.
Does nationality matter?
Does it matter if one of us doesn’t speak English?
English is the only language in which the Chaplain can conduct services. It is important that you are both fully aware of what is going on. Normally we expect both of you to be able to understand/speak enough English to follow the service and speak the vows. If you are both unable to speak English, and are coming through another church here, then it may be possible that your pastor conducts the relevant parts of the service in your language.
We want to get married somewhere else and then have a blessing/thanksgiving in Dubai. Can that be arranged?
If you marry in a civil ceremony elsewhere, we would encourage you to think of having the thanksgiving in church, but a ceremony elsewhere is possible.
I am pregnant, what should i do?
The Church teaches that sex outside marriage is not a Christian practice and for the good of your marriage we recommend abstinence until the wedding day, however, if you are pregnant, please do not be embarrassed about telling us. It will lessen your stress at a sensitive time to be honest with us and we will help if we can!
About Christ Church Jebel Ali
Where is the church?
Near to Jebel Ali village, about 20km South West of the centre of Dubai, near the main Sheikh Zayed Road. It is in a group of churches of different denominations, so make sure you come to the right one! You can find a map from Sheikh Zayed Road as well as a Google Map here.
Where can we park?
There is a large car park outside the front of the church (though it can get very busy on Fridays). We also have an underground car park, accessible by a ramp at the right of the church.
Can we arrive/leave by helicopter?
It has been done! The car park is big enough, and there are helicopter companies in Dubai. But don’t try it on a Friday; the car park will be too full.
Is there disabled access?
Yes. Wheelchairs can enter by a ramp at the front of the church.
What are your office hours?
9:00 am until 4:00 pm Sunday to Thursday. Appointments with the Chaplain can be made through the office – use the wedding contact form here on the website.
Planning the wedding
When should I fix a date for our wedding in Dubai?
When you have completed and handed in the application form, together with all documents it asks you to attach, and we have agreed to marry you. We will not even pencil in a date until we have that form. We do not agree dates more than a year in advance.
What is the minimum time to plan a wedding?
At least four weeks from the time you send us your application form. It can take longer depending on your nationality and circumstances. We will normally require all documentation to be in our hands 2-4 weeks before the date of your Dubai wedding.
What days do you perform weddings?
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
So if we avoid Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, can we assume we can have the day we want?
No. The day may have been fully booked by other couples, or the Chaplain may be away for some reason. Please wait until we’ve agreed a date before you incur major expenses like booking the reception and honeymoon.
Will you help us organise other aspects of the wedding?
Of course we’ll be as helpful as we can with regard to the church ceremony itself, but you will need to organise things like printing, flowers, the catering, etc. With your wedding pack, you should receive some contact details that may help you. They include professional wedding organisers, if you want to contract out all the work. You can find some links here and on our links page.
Do we need marriage preparation?
Yes. We will invite you to meet the Chaplain for a session with perhaps one or two other couples, or join one of the larger seminars that we arrange on three or four Fridays each year for couples considering marriage in Dubai. If you don’t live in Dubai, we’ll ask you to go to your local church, for whatever preparation they normally offer, or to go on some other marriage preparation course, for example Engaged Encounter.
Do we need to meet the Chaplain before the wedding?
Yes. If he has not conducted the marriage preparation, he will still want to meet you before the ceremony. Our Weddings Secretary will arrange a time for you.
What do you need immediately?
The application form, with passport copies (with visa page if resident). We will not take any action, or fix a date, until we have that form. If one or both of you is divorced you will need to send a copy of the decree absolute with the form (will need to see hard copy original).
Can the other paperwork follow?
Yes, though we like to see it as soon as we can. The one exception is the Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage, which should be sent to us about a month (and not more than three months) before the wedding. Some embassies take a long time to give the Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage, so we suggest to process it in your embassy as soon as possible.
Why can’t we send the Certificate of No Impediment to Marriage earlier?
Because a CNIM is usually only valid for 3 months. If it expires, we’ll need to ask you for a new one.
What papers do we need to get a CNIM?
That depends on the rules of your home country. Please ask your authorities or your embassy. Most will require birth certificates, passports and divorce papers (if any) but they vary. Please note your Embassy’s requirements very carefully. If you leave the country for more than a few days you may need to re-establish residence before you can apply for your CNIM.
When do I need to pay the fee?
Anytime before the wedding. Details of the current fees will be provided for you when you get in touch. We will also arrange for the necessary registration at Dubai Court and other ministries after the wedding for an additional fee – because this is subject to change at any time, again we will give you this information once you are in touch.
We can’t find our baptism certificates.
If you have had some other formal ceremony of Christian commitment, for example confirmation, evidence of that will be acceptable. Alternatively, if you attend church regularly, a letter from your pastor will be acceptable.
My divorce papers haven’t come through yet.
We will not look at your application form until they have. Besides, the Chaplain will normally be reluctant to conduct a wedding within a year of a divorce date even if the circumstances are such that this relationship didn’t cause the divorce.
The Wedding Service
What form does the service take?
It will follow the standard form for the Church of England.
How long does the service take?
30/35 minutes, depending on whether you have hymns. We allow 1 hour, so there is time for photographs after the service.
Can we choose our own readings/prayers?
Yes, we encourage you to do so. Some suggested readings are on the sheet you will have received with your wedding pack. At least one reading must be from the Bible, but you are welcome to have other readings if you wish, subject to agreeing them with the Chaplain. If you don’t want to choose your own readings, he will choose one. You are also welcome to suggest prayers you would like included.
Can we ask for someone specific (for example a family member) to read or pray?
Yes. We certainly encourage this.
Can we choose something in another language?
Yes. We strongly encourage you to include something in the service in each of your mother tongues, as a symbol of the different backgrounds and cultures that you bring to your marriage. Of course you will need to make sure that someone who knows that language is available to read it. If you have nothing else to suggest, we can provide the text of the Lord’s Prayer in a wide variety of languages.
Can we choose our own music (hymns, entrance, exit, during the signing of the registers)?
Yes. Again there are some suggestions in the wedding pack. But please make sure you have a musician who can play it, or a CD/Ipod of the music to give to our caretaker to play. If you make your own CD, please use a CD-R; our system does not like CD-RW. We have CDs of a large number of hymns – if you decide to use that instead of an organist for hymns, ask the administrator. Hymns are not obligatory. If you expect to be a small group, we suggest you only have hymns if you know your guests will sing out.
Can we bring our own musicians?
Yes. If they will need time to set up, please contact the Weddings Secretary.
Can we write our own vows?
We believe that we have to stick with the vows in the standard Church of England service, not least to ensure that the marriage is legal. But if there are words you specially want to say to each other, it may be possible to incorporate them elsewhere in the service.
We have a special wedding tradition in our country; can we include it?
Every country has its own wedding traditions (for example lighting candles at a particular point). We are usually very happy to include them, but do ask the Chaplain in advance.
Will you set and print the service for us?
No, we can’t do this. Normally there is no need for a printed order of service. If you really want one, our advice is: keep it simple! A simple folded A5 sheet with the Lord’s prayer in both your languages and your picture on the front is much easier for guests to treasure than an elaborate scroll that won’t fit in a handbag or jacket pocket.
How many people do we need at the service?
The legal minimum is the couple plus two witnesses, who can be of any religious faith but must be over the age of 18 and understand what is going on. But even if you want to keep it small and informal, we do encourage you to let your friends know about the wedding, so they can come and support you, and if they cannot all come to the reception they will understand.
Does someone need to give the bride away?
This is not so common here, but if you wish, and one of your parents is able to do it, then it’s fine. We do recommend that the bride has an escort (male or female) to bring her down the aisle. It helps calm the nerves.
Can we throw confetti?
Yes, outside the church, but please, no rice; it attracts the rats and is bad for the local birds. Please avoid red rose petals, especially in the church. They stain the floors, and sometimes the bride’s dress.
How early can we get in to set up flowers etc?
That depends whether there is another wedding scheduled before yours – if there is, you may want to consider sharing flowers. Ask the Administrator when making the final booking.
What do we wear?
That depends on your tradition, and how formal you want to be. The choice is yours – we’ve ranged from Gothic, Bahamas, full top hat and tails, to normal informal. We ask only that you remember that this is a church service. It is also a special day for you, and you will want to honour that in whatever way is appropriate for you. If the bride is thinking of wearing a low-cut dress, remember that it won’t be the groom who has the best view!
Can we take photos/video during the service?
Yes, but please ask your photographer not to intrude too much into the service.
After the wedding
When do we get our marriage certificate?
You will sign the register and two certified copies at the wedding. All that remains is to register the marriage with Dubai Court and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We will do this for you and it usually takes seven to ten days. If you think you need more copies, just ask (preferably about two weeks beforehand).
Can we get extra copies of certificates later?
Copies of your marriage certificates can be obtained later, but there is an additional charge for this.