In this special edition of our What We're Loving Page, Arts&Life reporter Mai El Shoush tours Bride Dubai 2013 and rounds up the best items, services and products available to brides-to-be in the UAE.
What we're loving: favourites from Bride Dubai including destinations, registry, health, food and gown
Often described as "other-worldly", the Seychelles encompasses 115 majestic islands along the Indian Ocean. Since January alone, it has welcomed more than 3,600 travellers from the UAE - a 49 per cent increase from the same period last year. Not only is it popular as a tourism spot but it is increasingly popular as a perfect location for a destination wedding, according to the tourism attaché Aliette Esther. An average wedding, which includes details such as the venue and catering, could cost anything from about ?500 (Dh2,400) onwards for that perfect romantic and intimate ceremony, excluding flight and accommodation.
"In 2012, we accommodated at least 300 destination weddings and up to 40 were couples from the UAE - and that is a number from only one of our travel partners, Mason's Travel, which also offers wedding planning services, so the actual figure is far higher," says Esther. "From the UAE, many Emiratis love the Seychelles for a honeymoon, and for the wedding ceremony we have an international mix."
The wedding planner Jeanette Violette, from Mason's Travels, says 90 per cent of the ceremonies are conducted on the beach in sought-after locations such as Denis Private Island, Praslin, La Digue and Anse Lazio. Check out www.seychelles.travel or www.masonstravel.com
Newly launched at Bride Dubai is Bliss, a programme offered by the Health Factory, a company specialising in healthy meal plans for those who wish to change their lifestyle, lose weight and look and feel better. Bliss is a dedicated programme for both brides and grooms and ideally should be started three months prior to the wedding for best results. Monthly meal plans, including breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between, are delivered daily to your preferred location across the UAE.
Chirin Watfa, a dietician with the Health Factory, says Bliss was born out of the growing demand from residents who wanted to not only look but feel healthy for their special day with an aim to continue on that path even after the wedding.
"Bliss provides the proper amount of nutrients our body requires. Our snacks are rich in minerals for example for the hair and skin. We offer no fad diets, simply reasonable eating patterns," says Watfa. "You will start to notice a difference after the first week and obvious skin improvement after 21 days."
In the past three years, the company has catered to more than 2,000 customers. Check out www.healthyfactory.com
One of the latest trends in wedding dresses is to add plenty of sparkle. Asfour Crystal promises an affordable service delivered right to your doorstep. First launched in Egypt in 1961, the company opened its base in Sharjah six years ago.
Many visitors to Bride Dubai stopped to admire and take pictures of the display dress that was adorned, from top to bottom, with Asfour crystals.
"We are one of the largest suppliers of crystal worldwide. We also supply to all wedding haute couture designers. Many customers rely on us because of our quality and attractive prices," says Jaber Shahdad, the UAE's exclusive agent for Asfour Crystal. "You can apply the crystals on shoes, bags, on the wall, curtains - it's really up to you."
It was two years ago, when the company began to exhibit with the Bride Show, that local demand increased.
"Many people are requesting many crystals on their dress [pointing to the dress on display] - but then others want the gown to look more simple. Fashion is fun; it's all about taste," he says. Check out www.asfourcrystal.com
Lazurd's top international chefs can create "unimaginable" delights to suit the taste buds of every bride and groom-to-be and its unique sushi vine leaves are already a huge hit with the UAE community since the company opened its base here just six months ago.
The three-year-old Kuwaiti-owned catering company, is using Bride Dubai as a platform to introduce more UAE-based customers to its delicate and handmade products.
"We have about 17 chefs here and a cake artist who can create any cake you want and can possibly imagine," says Nawaf Al Arbash, the company's development manager. "Our products are not limited to western or Arabic, we have an international team of chefs. Our theme is simple elegance. First comes the taste, then we create the look because they complement each other. You will not find anything so delicate in the Mena region."
Lazurd also offers complete dinner sets and services for receptions and corporate events. Check out www.lazurdcatering.com
More UAE couples are opting for online gift registries as was reflected in the popularity of Mylist.ae, founded by Julie Leblan in 2011. About 25 per cent of her clients are from the Middle East.
The company allows clients to create, manage and personalise their gift list online by choosing items from a catalogue of more than 2,000 products from its 33 partners in the home furnishing, health and fitness, leisure and art industries.
"We offer an international service - your friends and family who are abroad can also be involved," says Leblan. "We also work with wedding planners to suit your requirements and to make it personal."
One of the partners, Ruth Abela, the owner of the recently launched Abela's Bridal Boutique, orders bridal gowns and evening gowns from the UK, for those looking for an affordable range. "It's really a one-stop shop for the bride. Once the gown arrives, we can also offer a tailor so it is very convenient," says Abela. Brides to be in the UAE can visit www.mylist.ae and www.abelasbridalboutique.com
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