Article in New York Times
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.dk 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.