Tirsdag, 18. oktober 2016 – 8:55 – af Maja Kristine Lorentzen. Foto: Jørgen Ploug
Press & Blog
Las Vegas is about to lose its crown as the Wedding Capital of the World thanks to one tiny Danish island
The Wedding Capital of the World, Las Vegas, has some stiff competition… For in place of the singing Elvis, slot machines and kitsch décor is fishing cottages, cobble-stoned streets and picturesque beaches. The small island of Ærø near Denmark has become a fast-favourite with foreign brides and grooms who want to tie the knot quickly and in style.
So unbürokratisch wie in Las Vegas, nur viel romantischer: Die dänische Fünen-Insel Aerö ist eine international begehrte Hochzeits-Kapitale.
Genau so hat man sich ein romantisches Liebesnest schon immer vorgestellt: auf einer Insel, nicht anders zu erreichen als mit dem Schiff. Ein Zimmer in einem dieser Fachwerkhäuschen mit leicht schiefen Wänden, kleinen Fensterchen und Blumenschmuck, wie sie entlang der Gasse mit ihrem holprigen Kopfsteinpflaster stehen. Aufgereiht wie Perlen auf der Schnur, bis zum Hauptplatz bei der Kirche. Kurz gesagt, ein Ort genau so wie Aerösköbing.
Aerösköbing, das Hauptstädtchen der beschaulichen Insel Aerö ganz im Süden Dänemarks, ist allerdings weniger ein Ort, wo Liebe aufkeimt oder entflammt – wohl aber, wo sie amtlich besiegelt wird. Und das an manchen Tagen im Zehnminutentakt. In Aerösköbing nämlich wird geheiratet, was das Zeug hält. Mit über dreitausend Eheschliessungen pro Jahr ist es die Hochzeits-Kapitale Dänemarks.
Hochzeiten am Laufmeter
Davon können etwa Tina Eriksen oder Joan Lykke Ammersböll berichten. Die zwei Frauen sind Teil eines Teams mit einem halben Dutzend Standesbeamten in einer Gemeinde mit gerade einmal sechstausend Einwohnern. Tina Eriksen hat an diesem sonnigen Spätsommertag eben vier Arbeitsstunden mit knapp zwanzig Zeremonien im speziellen Heirats-Trakt im Komplex der Gemeindeverwaltung hinter sich. Joan Lykke Ammersböll hingegen ist vom «Aussendienst» aufs Gemeindeamt zurückgekehrt – sie verheiratete Paare, die sich über eine der Agenturen, die auf Aerö tätig sind, an einem speziellen Ort trauen liessen. Etwa oben auf dem Leuchtturm, am Strand oder im noblen Salon im ersten Stock des historischen Kaufmannshauses am Hauptplatz.
Ehen können in Dänemark auch von Ausländern mit sehr wenig bürokratischem Aufwand geschlossen werden, im Gegensatz etwa zum benachbarten Deutschland.
Im Parterre dieses stattlichen Gebäudes nimmt der Engländer John Moloney vor dem Büro der Agentur Danish Island Weddings gerade zwei Kisten Champagner entgegen, während seine dänische Frau Louise vorbeieilt, um ein neu angekommenes Hochzeitspaar zu empfangen. Ihr ist es vor allem zuzuschreiben, dass Aerö sich von einem Ort, der als Pensionärs-Sommerfrische vor sich hin dämmerte, in eine dänische Liebesinsel verwandelt hat. Vor acht Jahren hatte sie die Idee einer Hochzeits-Agentur, und der Businessplan war denkbar einfach: Ehen können in Dänemark auch von Ausländern mit sehr wenig bürokratischem Aufwand geschlossen werden, im Gegensatz etwa zum benachbarten Deutschland. Von Deutschland aus gut erreichbar, weil praktisch direkt an der Grenze, könnte man Aerö zum Heirats-Mekka aller machen, die in ihren Ländern mit dem Amtsschimmel kämpften, dachten sich die Moloneys.
Es funktioniert hervorragend. Kunden sind zahlreiche Paare, wo mindestens ein Partner von ausserhalb der EU stammt, ebenso aber auch mit beiden Partnern aus EU-Ländern, wo inkongruente bürokratische Anforderungen bestehen. Oder Expats mit Wohnsitz in einem Drittland, was die Sache gleich ein paar Grade komplizierter macht. Ferner gleichgeschlechtliche Paare, denen in Dänemark aufgeschlossen begegnet wird, während sie in anderen Ländern mit Vorurteilen, gesetzlichen Hindernissen oder auch beidem zu kämpfen haben.
There is a nice report on Junebug about Kirsten and Hardy’s beautiful wedding with us earlier this summer – see link above, a taster below.
Botanical Danish Island Wedding at the Garden of Badehotel Aero
This botanical Denmark wedding features timeless international style and sweet family moments! Kirsten and Hardy tied the knot in front of their closest family and friends in a sweet Danish island destination wedding at Badehotel Aero. We especially love how the couple drew from local Danish culture and seasonal flora to decorate their organically minimal wedding with fresh lilac! From an incredibly joyous first look to a gourmet dinner with four wedding cakes, photographer Camilla Jørvad perfectly captured the emotions of their entire day.
See more here http://junebugweddings.com/wedding-blog/botanical-danish-island-wedding-at-the-garden-of-badehotel-aero/?utm_source=Real+Weddings+%26+Editorial+Features&utm_campaign=187e33051a-Kirsten_and_Hardy_Vendor_Notification8_19_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_50cb3adb6f-187e33051a-191329257
NEW YORK TIMES ONLINE JULY 28th
The brides were everywhere — they floated like flower petals on the constant wind that wafted across the isle of Aero in Denmark. White dresses billowing, they ran into the red brick building of the municipal registry in Aeroskobing; they alighted before the landmark Old Merchant’s Court, one of Aero’s historic attractions.Look closely at any location, sea or beachscape, and a wedding couple will pop up — brides and bridegrooms in mixed and matched pairs: opposite sex, same sex, varied races and nationalities. Nuptials are held all over the island, airborne in helicopters, or afloat, on the ferries that import the marriage-bound.
In recent years, Aero has gained a reputation as the go-to place for mixed-nationality and same-sex couples and many prospective spouses with document-approval issues. As one private wedding provider put it, the island, a scenic four-hour journey from Copenhagen, has become a “challenge-solving” wedding destination site.
“Last year, only 50 weddings were of Danes,” said Joan Lykke Ammersboll, a registrar at the Aero Kommune, the government agency where wedding applications are filed and approved and where registry weddings are held. Indeed, for the last three years, the number of marriages of foreigners registered at the Town Hall outnumbers the population of the main town, Aeroskobing (937).
Nuptials on Aero have all the advantages of the quickie Las Vegas marriage mill — fast service and little bureaucracy — yet are stylistically the opposite, set in this charming 17th-century village, whose cobblestone streets are lined with marzipan-colored tiny houses on an island with stunning beaches. Aeroskobing was given the prestigious Europa Nostra Award for its outstanding state of preservation.
John Moloney, a former British air force pilot who runs Danish Island Weddings with his wife, Louise, an Aero native, said the spirit of love and celebration never fails to boost his spirits. “We see people at the happiest moments of their lives.”
Even the civil ceremony features candlelight and a toast of muscat wine, and the registrars have performed special marriage services when emergency strikes: “When one man’s mother died and he had to leave, we rushed to the ferry and married him there,” said Ms. Ammersboll.
Mr. Moloney of Danish Island Weddings said his wife even comforted a jittery bride who almost backed out. Their service provides custom cakes, professional hair styling, horse-drawn buggies and vintage cars. Most accommodations and facilities for weddings are within walking distance.
It is possible for prospective spouses to apply directly to AeroKommune.com to complete applications by email and mail and receive an approval within six months, generally, if their documents are in order. Even so, many foreigners, wishing to avoid any mishaps or language barriers, choose private agencies to navigate approval of their paperwork even before they arrive on the island. The agencies can often expedite the process and get the approval in 24 hours if documents are in order, sometimes achieving an exceptionally fast 36-hour turnaround from first phone call to ceremony. The residency requirement is only 24 hours before a couple can marry.
The hope is, of course, that the nuptial bliss found on Aero will never fade. For one pair of newlyweds, the honeymoon lives on in Aero. They just bought a house there.
July 2016 – “Liv” http://magasinetliv.dk/ )is one of the best known glossy mags for Danish women. This month they asked our celebrity superstar Louise to explain why Ærø is so great and recommend her favourite places – see Liv magazine Jun 2016
This means “Second time lucky” in Finnish – another nice international Blog about us – read more here (in English) in 2 instalments
Danish Island Weddings – fairytales for 150 nationalities
What does a Finnish woman living with an Australian man in Dubai do if she wants to get hitched? She contacts a wedding agency on the Danish island of Aeroe. In fact today she could contact four of them. Louise Moloney runs the oldest one, Danish Island Weddings, founded in 2008 when there were 200 weddings on the island per year. Today, with around 3000 weddings on Aeroe per year, she employs her husband, two sisters and a part-time beautician and stylist.
|Louise Moloney with her company mascot. Nice choice of colour!|
Louise is an Aeroe girl born and bred. After working as an air hostess for Japan Airlines she returned home to the island for the Aeroe life – no crime, stress or traffic jams – the kind that is hard to even imagine. Unless you live in Denmark, the happiest country in the world.
– I always thought this place was perfect for weddings. And after 1300 of them we certainly know how to take the stress away from couples so that they can enjoy and learn to “let go”. It’s back to basics here on Aeroe really, back to what’s really important in life, Louise knows. It doesn’t take long to understand why everyone on the island loves her so much.
|Louise with her sister Yuki in the “nerve centre” of Danish Island Weddings.|
The good thing about getting married on Aeroe is that you can get married whenever and wherever you want – no-one is going to get an allergic reaction if you pack your own ideas with you. There are the gardens that make you feel like you’re in Tuscany, the beach with the colourful wooden beach huts, the lighthouse, even a plane that can take you up in the clear blue skies for your vows. Unless you own your own private jet, of course (which some of Louise’s more extravagant customers do).
On Aeroe the new social reality really comes to the fore: non EU brides and grooms marrying each other, rich Russian and German men marrying much younger women, rock stars wanting to get married in secret, a poor Albanian couple sleeping in their car just to get the official part over and done with. Louise and her colleagues on the island have seen it all. On the wall in Louise’s office is a world map with pins on it to mark the 150 nationalities Danish Island Weddings have joined in matrimony, so far. Where you are from really has little significance on this island.
|The world map in Louise’s office.|
Danish Island Weddings is also very popular with same-sex couples. Rebellious Bride had the joy of witnessing the wedding of Rona and Michelle whose story I will share with you here as soon as the happy couple are back from their honeymoon. Usually couples arrive on the island the day before the wedding and leave the day after – and come back for a holiday after falling in love with it.
|The island of Aeroe offers many a romantic setting for making things official.|
“With goodness you always get goodness back”
– Louise Moloney –
With so many weddings each year, how do Louise and her family team manage to make all the couples feel special and not like they’re on a marriage production line?
– It can never be routine when it is someone’s wedding. We always look forward to meeting all of our couples and so are the residents on the island. They actually know many of my couples by name and always make sure they feel welcome, which is lovely. Everyone here sees the weddings as an opportunity to make something good – and with goodness you always get goodness back.
|Louise’s husband John is also a big part of the success story that is Danish Island Weddings.|
Despite being a wonder woman who can magic up a wedding in the matter of hours, Louise does not seem frazzled or stressed and neither do the rest of her family. They seem the perfect team for the job.
– I see last minute requests as a challenge and the end result always inspires me. Our record is 36 hours from first contact to exchanging rings. If there is ever a tricky situation with a wedding dress, I call my mother, says Louise.
Check out Louise’s website www.getmarriedindenmark.com as well as visitaeroe.dk for weddings and accommodation on Aeroe. Stay tuned for more in Rebellious Bride’s series of reports from the wedding island, including recommendations on where to stay when you visit.
This means “your fairy tale wedding” in Chinese . Danish Island Wedding was featured in a Copenhagen-based Chinese travel blog, Nih Hao CPH. For you Chinese linguists here is the text – for everyone else it is worth looking at just for the pictures.
丹麦可以说是全欧洲最适合结婚的国家。 每年来自世界各地的情人在这一被媒体戏称为“结婚岛”的美丽海岛举行属于两个人的婚礼。这都要归功于Louise Badino Moloney这位来自这个小岛的婚礼策划师。自从她2008年开业以来，岛上国际婚礼的需求量已经从200百每年激增到现在的每年3000。 这么个受欢迎究竟为什么？
举办人生大事，最重要的果然还是相信专业重视体验呢。 话不多说， 直接上图看看歪果仁在岛上都如何秀浪漫的。另外这家全岛唯一的婚礼策划公司也服务过来自中国的客人，如果想把婚礼搬到丹麦可以联系他们哦!
25 May 2016 TransferWise asked Danish Island Weddings to be the feature of their blog – the link is here
TransferWise Stories #3: Fairytale Weddings in Denmark
This edition of #WiseStories tells the story of Louise Badino Moloney, a wedding planner on the beautiful Danish island of Ærø.
Couples come from all over the world to marry on “bryllups-øen” – Wedding Island, as the Danish media have dubbed it.
Since Louise started Danish Island Weddings in 2008, the number of international weddings on the island has ballooned from 200 to over 3000 each year. International couples come to Ærø for two reasons:
1) Denmark has the simplest bureaucratic requirements in Europe.
2) The island is breathtakingly beautiful. The historic town of Ærøskøbing provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding – it is filled with timbered houses and cobbled streets, like something out of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
Plus, there are spectacular views out to sea and the surrounding islands.
Louise’s family-run business (including her sisters and husband) is all about making the wedding romantic and stress-free for the couples.
But, as with any wedding, occasionally the unexpected can happen:
“A German/US couple had just finished their ceremony and were enjoying champagne with their guests. I went to get the wedding cake in the kitchen. What I found was no cake…but a very happy Labrador covered in icing, and a horrible sticky mess on the floor. Luckily the couple saw the funny side to this situation”.
Weddings across borders
Having hosted couples from 150+ different nationalities, Louise has experienced the frustration of international payments. For years, Louise was outraged and felt helpless paying the high fees and exchange rates charged by banks. But that all changed when customer suggested TransferWise to her last year.
In addition to the savings, which Louise estimates at more than £950, TransferWise’s Request Money feature has also reduced the business’ accounting burden. Couples can now pay the exact amount regardless of where they are from (instead of trying to guess how much to allow for fees).
Danish Island Weddings is all about trust – couples arrive on Ærø from all over the world and trust Louise and her team in planning the most important day of their lives. Now with TransferWise, they also won’t be charged an arm and a leg for their big day.
Need inspiration for your own destination wedding on Ærø?
The Oldie magazine in UK ran an article in their February edition about Danish Island Weddings and Ærø.
(Apologies for the quality – I will improve this when I can)
Awful and funny wedding pictures were featured in the UK Guardian and made us laugh (especially the horse…!!) …http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gallery/2016/jan/14/when-wedding-photographs-go-wrong-in-pictures…it would not happen here…
Taken from the Guardian, Photograph: Hendra Lesmana/Caters News Agency
Feb 2016 TRANSFERWISE – we have been alerted to TransferWise, which is a new way to make international bank transfers and credit card payments. We are really impressed – it saves you and us money, and is easy to use. Please check it out before making a bank transfer or using PayPal. We are now using it for business and private transfers.
Rick Steves’ Travel Blog – Jan 2016
Rick Steves, the USA’s best-known travel writer, nominated Ærø in his top 10 sunsets with a view of the beach and iconic beach houses. Click http://blog.ricksteves.com/blog/sunsets-on-the-road-my-top-ten/ or see the Blog!
(Rick Steves’ is perhaps the USA’s best known travel writer and broadcaster, and loves Ærø. He tries to visit every year or so, staying at Pension Vestergade 44, and also brings lots of tourists to the island every year. This year his groups will receive a guided tour of our own Old Merchants’ Court, including the Wedding Room!)
I love sunsets. They can be a vivid and romantic capper for a beautiful day on the road. Here are a few dramatic and memorable sunsets that come to mind:
1. On the Greek isle of Santorini, nursing a drink with a single flower in a vase on my table, as I sit on the lip of the crater high above the glittering Aegean Sea.
2. On the Nile, just across from Luxor, as the sun sets, the temperature drops, and villages come alive. As I’m poled along the shore in a classic felucca boat, children frolic, long-legged birds strike a pose, and I glide like a silent voyeur through the reeds.
3. On Denmark’s Aerø Island, warming myself by a beach fire while children splash in the shallow waters of the bay, and parents sit peacefully on the porches of tiny beach cabins.
The sun sets on Denmark’s Aerø Island. (Photo: Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
BILLED BLADET Magazine 20 Oct 2015
Billed Bladet is a glossy Danish magazine a bit like “Hello”, with lots of pictures of the Danish Royal family (rightly adored throughout the country) and national and international celebrities. As a result of the DR1 documentaries (see below) they decided to run a feature on Louise and Danish Island Weddings. No link available so a scan below. The headline is “Ærø is my world”, and the pictures show Louise in the trabi with John, also with their two sons Max and Charlie, in the Wedding Room in the Old Merchants’ Court (which we use for romantic weddings), and in front of the Old Merchants’Court.
DR1 DOCUMENTARY “Business på Bryllupsøen” (Business on Wedding Island)
The Danish national broadcasting network, DR1, broadcast a 3 part documentary about Louise, Danish Island Weddings, and Ærø. It went out at prime time (2030) on Thursday evenings in Oct 2015 and attracted an enormous amount of positive interest. The links are here:
Although they are mostly in Danish (some English too) there are some great pictures of Ærø, Louise, Lone, John, and Yuki. It features weddings in the Old Merchants Court and also in the garden of the Badehotel in Ærøskøbing. They are only 25 minutes each and fun to watch.
Wall Street Journal
Snippets from the article below…a lot of it was rubbish, sadly, so I’ve cut those bits out!!!
Sep 11 2015
Why Get Married in Las Vegas When You Can Do It in Denmark?
By Neetha Mahadevan
Updated Sept. 11, 2015 10:13 a.m. ET
The Danish island of Aero doesn’t look like Las Vegas. There are no all-night casinos, Elvis impersonators or fake volcanos. The closest Aero comes to glitz is a museum displaying 1,700 ships in bottles, open daily from 10 to 5. But Aero is a magnet for people looking to get hitched quickly. The Baltic island has built a small industry thanks to Denmark’s hassle-free marriage laws.
(…) The island of about 7,000 residents registered 2,460 weddings last year. Only 60 involved Danes. Aero and southern Danish towns are particularly alluring to engaged couples in Germany, which demands layers of documentation to tie the knot. Call it a marriage of convenience: Danes are applying German-style efficiency to a field not generally considered Germany’s strength—romance.
“We don’t like to see the course of true love stopped by endless bureaucracy,” says Louise Moloney, a wedding planner in Aero.
…… Ms. Moloney runs Danish Island Weddings. Her agency has planned ceremonies for non-Danes including parents-to-be, expats leaving for the Middle East and a couple that risked not marrying in time for their wedding reception. She recently planned a wedding for a gay couple from Malaysia. Denmark legalized same-sex marriage in 2012.
For couples with time to spare, Ms. Moloney offers a “fairy tale wedding” with ceremony venues including a lighthouse, a beach, ship or plane. Ms. Moloney can arrange a photographer, hair and makeup stylists, the cake and flowers. Friends and relatives can watch live on Skype.
Write to Neetha Mahadevan at firstname.lastname@example.org
“FlyAwayBride.com” feature on Lisa and Marco’s Wedding in Aeroeskoebing in May 15
Recent Events (12 May)
- “The Dish” is a serious US political Blog – but scroll down to the bottom of this link and there’s a good piece about Aeroeskoebing and Louise
- TV coverage Aeroe, Louise and DGK were on the national news and also “Money Programme” on the Danish national broadcasting channel. Click the timeline at 19:13 on News Wed 22nd April to see Dolores and Mike getting married here with DIW. And click on the Money Programme to see all about our whisky distillery project and Heber and Peter who got married here – and bought a share in the whisky distillery!
- AWARD!!! Louise was presented with an award on Saturday 3rd Feb – Businessperson of the Year 2015 for Southern Denmark! Sadly she did not win the national award (beaten by a farmer who invented a new cow feeder….!) Link here.
- AWARD 2 !! Camilla was in the top 3 wedding photographers in Scandinavia in a recent competition held by Norwegian Wedding – no surprise, but congratulations! Camilla has also updated our Pinterest page to great effect – do have a look
“6 Reasons to visit the magical island of Aeroe” 31 Dec 2014
The travel website “Food Republic” did a short piece on Aeroe recently – link here http://www.foodrepublic.com/2014/08/14/copenhagen-side-trip-6-reasons-visit-magical-danis. One of their 6 reasons was to visit the Old Merchants’ Court:
“4. Stock up on Danish food souvenirs
The Old Merchant’s Court (a.k.a. DGK, for the Danish name), right on Ærøskobing’s main square, sells local food and drinks like Danish sweets, whiskey and beer, rapeseed oil and other products that might just make great souvenirs. There’s also a café, with seating for diners in the back courtyard, as well as some onetime outbuildings from the late 18th century that the owner is converting to office space and other uses. dengamlekøbmandsgaard.com“
We didn’t tell them about the weddings!
Queen Margrethe II’s visit to the Old Merchants’ Court
You might enjoy this film of HM Queen Margrethe II of Denmark who came to see the Old Merchants’ Court, where our office and our beautiful Wedding Room are. This clip shows Queen Margrethe leaving the Old Merchants’ Court – with Louise (peach jacket) and John bidding her farewell.
Denmark’s Las Vegas??? 30 Dec 2014
Right back in 2008 when Louise started Danish Island Weddings (and there were very few international weddings on the island) she was interviewd by a Danish newspaper – and mentioned that Aeroe would become Denmark’s Las Vegas. What she meant was that it would be the place people came to to get married quickly and simply..and the phrase has stuck. To the point that every journalist who ever writes about weddings on Aeroe calls it “Denmark’s Las Vegas”!! Louise is appalled, but it seems to be unstoppable.
Sure enough when our local paper reported on the number of weddings on Aeroe they gave it the headline….”Denmark’s Las Vegas”! Just for the record, Louise would like to make it clear that whilst it is very easy and straightforward to get married here, there are no Elvis chapels or drive thrus….and the image is entirely misleading!
New Article on Aeroe 18 January 2014
A new article on Aeroe has just appeared on the travel website “EuroCheapo” (click to see the article). It was written by Nicky Gardner and Susanne Kries, who are the editors of “Hidden Europe” magazine. They arrived for a quick look at den Gamle Koebmandsgaard (the Old Merchants’ Court, where we also have our offices and hold “Romantic Package” weddings) and ended up staying for a couple of hours to enjoy the atmosphere. Here’s a couple of bits but do click on the link above to see the full story and pictures.
Portrait of a Danish Island: Ærø
“There are a dozen good reasons for visiting the Danish island of Ærø—not least because it is a perfect place to get married. More on that in a future article…Every island has its own special appeal, and for us Ærø ticks all the right boxes…
… This is an island with a buzz—a very good buzz. A keen maritime history has ensured that Ærø is outward-looking. It keeps in touch with wider trends. The island has been a leader in alternative energy and is now set to cut a dash in the slow food movement.
For after-island adventures and recreation, visitors demand Ærø on a plate. A local champion for real local food on Ærø is Louise Badino. Louise describes herself as a “learning-by-doing” entrepreneur. She already has a niche in the Ærø marriage market but has latterly created the island’s first serious store for local produce. With a plum spot on the main square in the island’s ‘capital’ of Ærøskøbing, Louise’s shop is the obvious first stop for visitors…”
Longest Engagement? 26 June 2013
Superquick weddings – a new record? 28 March 2013 We first heard from Tyler mid-morning on Friday 22nd Mar; by 1040 on Monday 25th he and Danielle were man and wife! Given that the town hall is shut over the weekend…there wasn’t a whole lot of time to sort this wedding out. It’s not always possible to work that quickly – in this case Tyler and Danielle had all their documents in order and emailed them immediately on Friday morning. Louise happened to have a time free in the Old Court House on the Monday, and because she has such a good working relationship with the excellent staff at the town hall they were happy to help despite zero notice. Fortunate too that Tyler and Danielle were happy to set off from the south of Germany pretty much on trust that we would have everything sorted out, and that Tyler drives fast (or more likely Danielle as she’s Brazilian…). And of course there was place for them to stay at Vestergade 44, and the sun shone…some people are born lucky! We wish them a long and happy life together.
Favourite People 21 Mar 2013 Danish Island Weddings has the pleasure of working with some really nice, really talented people. One of these is Susanna, who runs the beautiful guesthouse Pension Vestergade 44. We love Vestergade 44, and it is always a relief when any of Louise’s wedding couples book there, because we know that from the first moment they will be happy and relaxed. I checked on Trip Advisor to see if everyone else agrees, and of course they do – a straight 5 star rating and comments like “exceptional” and “perfection”; indeed it was recently suggested that V44 might be the best B & B in Denmark (although amazingly there are 2 very good challengers to that title on the island – Tolbudhus and Bakkehuset). So what is Susanna’s secret? “Liking people” she says simply, and of course having an amazingly beautiful house decorated with impeccable good taste probably helps. I asked about their guests – “60% are Americans; they come recommended by the US travel writer Rick Steves”. I checked this out too, and sure enough V44 gets a glowing recommendation from him. He stays there himself, every second year. “But I love Loulou’s wedding couples – always so sweet, and the way they greet Louise like a long lost friend is amazing and a pleasure to see. But that’s only about 10% of the business. I’d love more, especially in the winter”. So what about the Marmite, Susanna? She laughs “It’s true! I love it! And now the Danes have banned it! (Something to do with the added vitamins, strangely). Anyway, all my English guests know about it and kindly bring me jars of the stuff.” So do they get special treatment as a reward? Susanne looks disapproving. “All my guests get special treatment!” I am sure it is true.
Louise’s Perfect Wedding 18 Mar 2013 Louise tries hard to make her customers’ dream weddings happen – and they have included beach weddings, receptions on tall ships, ceremonies up the light house, vintage cars and a lot more. But what if Louise wanted a perfect wedding for herself here on Aeroe – what would she plan? Firstly, the wedding would be in May – surely the most beautiful month of all on this lovely island. Just a small group of friends and family would be invited – maybe a dozen in all. They would meet up in Svendborg for the ferry trip to Aeroe – a treat in itself with fantastic views of Svendborg Sound and the many small islands of the South Funen Archipelago, through which the “M/F Aeroeskoebing” threads its way. Out on the sundeck they would have their first chance to “hygge” (pronounced “hooga” – it’s central to Danish life and is usually translated as “having a cosy time”, but that doesn’t really cover it) with a glass of white wine. We’d meet them at the ferry in the old port in Aeroeskoebing and take them to Pension Vestergade 44, which we would have all to ourselves. It is a wonderful guesthouse, with beautiful rooms, a gorgeous garden, a perfect hostess, and it is located right in the old town. Our guests, forewarned, would be armed with huge pots of Marmite (banned in Denmark! but for which our hostess has a serious weakness). Time for a Prosecco in the garden and more hygge before a stroll through the old town and then down to Aroma, an excellent cafe by the harbour with tables outside. The next day I would make sure there was plenty of time before the ceremony for the hairdresser and make-up specialist to come to the Pension and work their magic. The ceremony would be smart but not formal, starting with a horse and carriage and 3 vintage cars to take the guests around the town and up to the Old Court House on the town square for the ceremony – which would be conducted by Joergen Otto Joergensen, the mayor. Plenty of time after the ceremony to enjoy a glass of champagne and a slice of wedding cake in the Court House. Then there would be photos with Camilla, who has a special talent for getting the most out of people and our beautiful surroundings. Then back into the carriage and cars for a slow ride out to the beach for an afternoon paddle in the sun, and an al fresco reception by the beach house. The food? White wine, locally caught shrimp, and antipasti. Only once the sun was low in the sky would we head back for dinner in the excellent Restaurant Mumm, with tables out in the courtyard amongst the flowers. The next day, a leisurely breakfast in the garden – and then finally everyone would board the ferry to sail back to Svendborg ( and a last chance to hygge). That would be it – simple, but perfect.
Ærøskøbing 7 Mar 2013 This picture of the lovely old town centre of Ærøskøbing was taken last week by Camilla Jorvad and gives a great view of the church and the market square (with the tree in the middle). Above the tree, the yellow building with the pale blue open doorway is the Old Court House, which Danish Island Weddings used to use for wedding ceremonies. The imposing building to the left of it is the old Kommune (town hall) now used as a library. Also on the town square, on the right hand side, the big white building is the old Merchants’ Court (“Den Gamle Koebmandsgaard”); this is Louise’s pet project. She has started a local association dedicated to reviving it, with a shop for promoting and selling local produce, a cafe, and room for local businesses to move in (UPDATE 23 Nov 2015 – 8 small businesses, including Danish Island Weddings, now have offices there, the Wedding Room is in regular use for romantic weddings, there is an apartment in the top floor, and whisky distillery in the courtyard!!). There’s more about this brilliant project on facebook here. (…) Camilla took a whole load of excellent pictures which are on her facebook page and her website. We love her work.
Update Dec 2014 – the Old Merchants’ Court has made lots of progress since this was written – and in particular the beautiful wedding room on the first floor is now used for our “Romantic” weddings. Sonedergade 13 is now a private house and our offices have moved to the Old Merchants’ Court.
A true story from the DIW scrapbook – “Where ferry tales begin” 5 Jan 2013 The young couple sat in their car in the tiny deserted harbour. It was dark, freezing cold, and all they could see was snow. Behind them the roads were blocked by snowdrifts. Ahead of them there was only the rough, inky-black, snow-swept Baltic, and somewhere out in the darkness an hour’s ferry ride away was Ærø, where they were supposed to get married. But the ferry which should have taken them there had been cancelled. Things didn’t look good, especially as it was nearly Christmas; tomorrow was the last possible day to get married, and the following week he was leaving with the US Army for Afghanistan. Then the phone rang. It was Louise. “I think I have a plan…” she said. December 17th 2009; the day the coldest, longest, snowiest winter in recent memory began. And also the day when our hero and heroine, Art and Maria, set out from the south of Germany to get married with DIW on Ærø. Art was an American serviceman stationed in Germany, and his fiancée was a charming Romanian girl. They were in a hurry – they needed to be hitched before he went off on operations. They had only contacted Louise a week before, but everything was in order and the wedding planned for December 18th. As they drove north the snow started, but the forecast was not too bad so no one worried too much. Nonetheless it was a relief that they reached the Danish border and it became clear they would make the 4 o’clock ferry from Mommark to Ærø. It was just about then that Ærø Ferries called Louise; the ferry had a mechanical problem, was stuck at Ærø, and would not be sailing. That was not good, but we had a Plan B – Art and Maria could drive the long way around to the other ferry, from Svendborg. But even as we were checking the ferry times and preparing to call them, the first reports of road closures started on the radio. The snow was getting heavier, the wind was picking up, and the roads and bridges all over southern Denmark were closing, one by one. Plan B was not an option. At about this time Art and Maria trundled, blissfully unaware, into Mommark. They’d made it! But it seemed very quiet. In fact they were the only car, there were no lights anywhere, and with the driving snow they could hardly see anything and began to worry if they were in the right place. They called Louise to check. Which is when Louise told them that yes, it was the right place, but otherwise things were not looking too good. There were no hotels in Mommark, but they might be able to make it the 20km back to Sønderborg. For the moment they agreed to stay put, while we looked for Plan C, which looked like sleeping in the car in a blizzard. In fact Plan C was to call the ferry people back just in case, and at last there was some good news – sort of; they were fixing the ferry right now. But with the terrible weather and the likelihood that there would be no passengers anyway, they had cancelled sailings for the rest of the day. Louise explained that there were two passengers, waiting right now in Mommark. She told the story – they had to get here to get married, they had to do it now, and this ferry was their only chance. Please would they sail and pick them up! Fortunately our ferry company is famously helpful. “OK”, they said, “if we can fix the ferry we’ll sail. But promise us your couple will still be there when we reach Mommark.” So Louise called Maria, and made them promise to stay where they were. And so they waited, in what seemed to be a ghost port, in a blizzard, unable to see anything whatsoever. An hour passed… and another hour. Finally the ferry Captain was ready to sail – were the bride and groom still at Mommark? We phoned Maria with the good news – the ferry was on its way. Fifty minutes later, Art and Maria could still see nothing through the snowstorm. But suddenly a car drove passed them on to the jetty and, pointing out to sea, started flashing its headlights. Minutes passed – and the lights of the ferry appeared right in front of them, and as suddenly as the mystery car had appeared, it drove off again. The deserted ferry docked and they drove on board, the only passengers, and moments later the ferry was heading out into the snowy darkness. The ticket collector refused payment – the ferry company would pay. But the story was not over yet. As the lights of Ærø and the little port of Søby came in to view the ticket collector came back; “We’re there – but we can’t get your car off!” The weather had put the vehicle ramp out of action and their car was stuck on board. “But,” he said, “We have a plan! There’s a taxi waiting. Meanwhile we’ll see about your car.” When they arrived at Tolbodhus (an exceptionally good B&B in the heart of Ærøskøbing – now closed, unfortunately) the taxi driver refused payment – the ferry company had paid. They staggered gratefully in to the warm welcome of John and Karin (who had been kept informed by Louise during the evening), and tried not to worry too much about their car. The next morning Ærøskøbing looked even more magical than usual, under thick snow – and there outside Tolbodhus was their car, somehow delivered early that morning. Art asked John who he owed for delivering it – “No one”, said John, “the ferry company paid”. They were married that morning, and there this ferry story ends, and as far as we know Art and Maria lived happily ever after. (To Art and Maria, should you read this, I have changed your names but you know who you are! If you would like to get in touch with your version of events we would love to hear from you again.)