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Gibraltar was never on Bruno Miani’s list of places to visit. –But that all changed when the pandemic upended his plans to marry his girlfriend in Dublin, where they live.
With government offices closed due to coronavirus restrictions, the 40-year-old photographer and his partner, Natalia Senna Alves de Lima, struggled to get the documents they needed for a wedding licence and faced a long wait for an available time slot for the ceremony.
So the Brazilian couple travelled to Gibraltar, a tiny British territory at the southernmost tip of Spain, where they tied the knot at the local registry office.
“The fastest way to get married now is to go to Gibraltar,” said Miani. “We love each other a lot. We already live together as a married couple. This makes it official.”
Gibraltar requires minimum bureaucracy to get married and there are fewer border restrictions than other places, which has helped turn it into a wedding hotspot during the pandemic.
Couples just need to present their passports and birth certificates, and stay in the territory overnight either before or after their wedding. They then need to have their marriage registered by the authorities in their home country.
Wedding planners have reported huge demand from couples from outside the territory.
“It is absolutely insane. We just can’t get enough slots and spaces,” said Leanne Hindle, the director of wedding events company Marry Abroad Simply.
Many weddings held in Gibraltar involve couples of different nationalities in long-distance relationships who could not travel to each other’s countries to get married because of virus travel restrictions.
Often there is a pressing need to wed, such as the case of a couple whose insurance would not cover the expensive fertility treatment they needed to have a child unless they were married, said Hindle.
A common scenario involves a person being offered a job in another country and only being allowed to bring their partner with them if they are legally married, she added.
Scott Gerow, 41, a US national, married a 44-year-old Russian human resources manager at Gibraltar’s picturesque botanical gardens earlier this month.
The couple met in January in St Petersburg, where Gerow was working at the time, but after he had to return to the US in June, they were kept apart by virus travel bans.
As a married couple, she will now be able to join him in the US.
If the option of getting married in Gibraltar did not exist “we would still be video-chatting every day”, Gerow said.
Gibraltar is also drawing many couples from neighbouring Spanish regions because its rules on the use of face masks in public and the size of social gatherings are less strict, said Resham Mahtani, a wedding planner at Rock Occasions.
The territory has dealt with the surge in demand by increasing the number of weddings carried out daily at its tiny registrar’s office and expanding the number of outdoor venues where ceremonies can be held.
Gibraltar’s chief minister, Fabian Picardo, said he was “delighted that Gibraltar has become known as a place of love rather than a place of division”.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘Place of love’: Gibraltar becomes marriage hotspot in pandemic | Gibraltar