Couple about to get married on Aeroe

Article in New York Times




Andrea Emilia, a Romanian, and Mike Pfau, from California, wander the streets of Aeroskobing on Aero before their wedding. Credit Alexander Wolfe for The New York Times

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.

 Why has this island in the Baltic Sea’s South Funen Archipelago lured the hugging masses, yearning to be wed?

Andrea Emilia and Mike Pfau enter the Badehotel. Credit Alexander Wolfe for The New York Times

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.

 Weddings of foreigners on Aero have increased more than tenfold in the last seven years, from 236 in 2008 to 2,832 in 2015, according to Aero government figures, and now outnumber those of locals.

“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.


A couple embrace on the ferry crossing from Svendborg to Aero. Credit Alexander Wolfe for The New York Times
 There are two types of wedding services available on Aero: the Town Hall ceremonies, which cost 500 Danish krone ($75), and the more costly, personalized weddings provided by private agencies. There are four such agencies on the island, and five more in Germany that funnel couples over to the ferry at Svendborg, the most popular departure point. Danish Island Weddings (, a family-operated agency, pioneered the wedding business on Aero and has the highest profile, offering full-out frills for fees starting at 990 euros ($1,094).

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.”

 At Aeroskobing’s Aero Kommune Municipal Hall ( where the registry marriage ceremonies are performed, couples recite their vows at a dizzying rate. Often, registrars conduct over 40 ceremonies a day. To keep up with the hectic pace in recent years, the office increased its staff to the current five registrars.

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.


A groomsman is pinned with a boutonniere of local flowers. Credit Alexander Wolfe for The New York Times

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.

 The fact that the idyllic island offers a legal solution for couples from countries with problematic document issues is a big lure when obstacles seem insurmountable. “Throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, different countries require different documents and types of notarization, often of original birth and citizenship certificates, and waiting periods to qualify for a legal wedding,” Mr. Moloney explained. “This can stall or even stop a marriage from taking place. Germany has some of the most restrictive rules: The couples must meet not only German laws but also follow the other partner’s native country’s rules.”

It is possible for prospective spouses to apply directly to 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.