From the Danish Caribbean with Love
What is it like to get married in the permanent paradise of the world’s happiest country? Can a place like that even exist, given the world we live in and the news we read? Well, as much as I am rebellious I can also be quite romantic and last weekend I visited the tiny Danish island of Aeroe, known also as “the” wedding island of Europe, to see for myself how a community of around 6000 people have turned challenging financial times into blooming wedding business.
Monique from the US and Sacha from Germany married on Aeroe on Saturday.
I bet the mayor of Aeroe will never regret his decision to get back to basics and prioritise on romance. He wanted to start marrying couples on the island with the same level of easiness as they’d get in Las Vegas. The only difference being that breathtakingly beautiful, quaint and peaceful Aeroe could not be further from the tackiness that is the real Vegas.
In Aeroe you get a bit of the Seychelles, Tuscany and Denmark wrapped into one – and without the cost and hassle of travelling to the other side of the world for your big day. So it’s not a surprise it is being held as the Danish Caribbean. (There are even t-shirts to prove it.)
On Aeroe you can “I do” anywhere: in one of the beach huts, in the garden or on a plane above it all.
Aeroe – the product of its people
A big part of Aeroe’s appeal to a reality-loving bride like me is the fact that things haven’t always smelled of roses. I believe that this might also be one of the reasons why people on the island clearly appreciate what they have. On Aeroe, you don’t hear anyone moan.
– Around five years ago the financial crisis hit the island. Tourists were going away and shops were having to close, says Louise Moloney, the island’s No 1 wedding planner. Louise had started her business, Danish Island Weddings, in the capital Aeroeskobing in 2008 and as an entrepreneur came up with the idea of giving a former Spar market a new lease of life. Together a group of local people turned it from a sad sign of recession into a now bustling coffee shop and food hall for local produce. The concept, now employing five people, was created simply because residents refused to just stand there and watch businesses around them die one by one.
Louise Moloney, the woman behind Danish Island Weddings, outside her office in Aeroeskobing.
Today weddings bring around three million euro to the island each year and there are no “sorry we’re closed” signs catching the eye. As much as the smiley, happy people of Aeroe are the product of their gorgeous and easygoing environment so is the success story of the island the product of its people.
In my special series of reports from the Las Vegas of Europe (without the plastic) I will be introducing you to a few of those people. I will also be taking you for a visit to Louise’s world of weddings on a video tour! If you are looking to get married somewhere special but without the usual shenanigans, do not miss this and the story behind Danish Island Weddings.
The residents of Aeroeskobing having a street dinner party on Aeroe Day.
Aeroe – the well kept secret
Last year over 3000 couples from 130 different nationalities got married on Aeroe, largely thanks to Denmark’s hassle-free marriage laws. Many of the couples arrive on the island the day before and leave the day after the wedding, some bring families and friends with them, some want to get married in total secrecy. In Aeroe secrecy, too, is possible as the island in itself is one of the best kept secrets of Scandinavia. Not that the Danes have anything to hide:
– In Denmark the law is not as strict as in many other countries. Couples need to have a passport or visa to Schengen (EU). They do not need to show their birth certificates, they just need to fill out a notice of marriage and prove they are not married already. If they are divorced or widowed, they need to provide proof of that. If they are divorced or widowed in a foreign country, then some of them need an apostille or legalization, registar Joan Lykke Ammersboll explains.
For those who are either forced to or want to marry without friends or family as witnesses, there is even a local team of voluntary witnesses to help. The ceremonies are conducted in Danish, English or German and take 15 minutes on average.
Louise and her sister Yuki assisting the registrar with documents on Michelle and Rona‘s big day.
Aeroe – the fairytale that’s real
As part of my series of blog posts I will also be sharing with you some very special moments from a wedding of two beautiful ladies from Israel (above). As much as you might imagine an island to suffer from island mentality and certain narrow-mindedness, Aeroe couldn’t be further from it. Same-sex marriages are on the rise and people on the island welcome LGBT couples with open arms. Denmark legalized same-sex marriage in 2012.
– People here have learned to take people for what they are. We don’t have crime, we don’t do traffic jams or stress, so we have the time and the energy to focus on the people and what they want. It is quite real here in a fairytale sort of way, smiles Louise. And even though on Aeroe it is possible to marry any day of the week, Louise likes to keep Sundays to herself and her family. The focus on what’s really important applies to everything and everyone.
Visitaeroe.dk to see for yourself!
Preparations for the annual Aeroe Day, the island’s “thank you” for its people.
Follow Rebellious Bride’s posts from Aeroe on www.raggarimorsian.fi, Facebook and Twitter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Take a look also at the Rebellious Wedding Guide (Raggarimorsiamen hääopas), written by journalist and author Minna Dufton and published by Gummerus.