How to take the headache away from your big day

Experience counts when it comes to wedding preparation.

Whether you have a budget of Dh5,000 or Dh500,000, we all want the same thing - for your wedding to be the best day of your life. I've planned weddings for 50 guests with a budget of Dh15,000, which included meal, church fees, dresses, hair, flowers and entertainment. I've also planned a wedding for 120 with a budget of Dh300,000.  With a larger budget everything is grander, but the essence remains similar.

I have packages for all budgets; a Dh750 "getting started" package offering a little guidance, a "one-month before" package for Dh4,000, a Dh5,000 programme that sees me involved from the very beginning and a package for Dh6,500 where I am heavily involved with planning, from sourcing everything for the wedding to booking appointments with tailors. I would advise couples to spend money on items you will have for the rest of your life, such as photography and wedding rings.

The most expensive part of the wedding is different for each bride and groom. The bride may decide the most important thing is an haute couture dress, and the groom may decide the most important thing is to arrive at the ceremony in a brand new Porsche.   However, most couples take great pride in entertaining their family and friends on their wedding day, and consequently, the reception is the area where most couples like to focus their spending.

I also advise any couple to sit down and work out how much they can afford to spend without going into debt.  Once they have worked out their budget, I'd tell them to account for all their purchases so they don't go over budget accidently. If you yearn for a Vera Wang or Oscar De La Renta, but your bank balance is more high street, consider having your dream dress made. If you live in the UAE you have amazing tailors on your doorstep.

When shopping for favours, head to the dirham discount stores. These are packed with knick-knacks and small gift items that can be used on your day. You can haggle over pashminas and have one draped over the back of each ladies chair for just a few dirhams each. I recommend Parmar Tailors in Bur Dubai (04 353 8313) for dressmaking, and The Wedding Shop in Jumeirah Centre (04 344 1618) has a great selection.

For flowers, Bliss Florist on The Palm (04 308 5014) are a very creative bunch. * As told to Jola Chudy by Rebecca Kinsville-Heyne, the managing director and planner, The Professional Planners To learn more about how to budget your wedding, visit