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How to Get Married in Paradise

Who hasn’t dreamed of a white wedding on a palm-fringed beach, witnessed by no one but one’s closest friends, and dining to the sound of the sea? All of this can come true in Mauritius. Two ladies fortunate enough to tie the knot on the island tell us about their weddings and what to take into account.

A gentle breeze caresses the beach, causing the bride’s long hippie-style dress to flutter in the wind. Her toes slip through the sand as she is led by her father to the white archway where her husband-to-be awaits her. The ceremony is romantic and familiar, and the festivities last until the following morning when the sun rises above the ocean waves. The desire to get married in Mauritius is an understandable one and something most future bridal couples are likely to dream of. But, as so many things in (real) life, there are two sides to the coin: getting married inevitably involves a degree of bureaucracy. In order for a wedding ceremony held in Mauritius to be both a dream come true and recognised in Switzerland requires some thorough planning.

Photos: Manta Reisen / Syrina Jeetun / Pavla Huber

More than a bogus wedding

“The main reason we decided to get married in Mauritius is because we didn’t want a bogus wedding ceremony, but one that is recognised in Switzerland. The idea started out as a joke between my future husband and me. But, at same point, we got serious about going ahead with it,” Pavla Huber from Switzerland explains. She celebrated her dream wedding in 2011. Pavla and her husband did not want an ordinary wedding. “Our wedding was a very private affair, celebrated at the beautiful ‘Lakaz Chamarel’ lodge located in the interior of the island. The ceremony was exclusively for me and my husband. Only my parents were privy to our wedding intentions. We informed our friends and relatives later, with a wedding picture,” she explains and adds with a laugh: “Since we had no guests at our wedding, the hotel manager and a member of his staff stepped in as our witnesses!”

Double wedding in paradise

Syrina Jeetun also fulfilled her dream of getting married in Mauritius. Her husband grew up there – which explains the stark contrast of a small Catholic ceremony followed by an Indian ceremony (in keeping with her husband’s Hindu faith) with 300 guests in attendance. Their first ceremony was held in the “Notre-Dame-Auxillatrice” chapel. Situated in the north of Mauritius, it is arguably the most photographed building of Cap Malheureux. The small red church enchants with vistas of gleaming white sand and black lava rock. The couple’s Catholic wedding was attended by about forty guests. “This type of wedding will only include people whom you are very close to, which made it so nice and personal.” But Syrina, who is from Switzerland, was equally enthralled by her Hindu wedding ceremony: “The guests were mainly my husband’s family and his local relatives. Different from usual, the purification ritual with saffron, followed by the ceremony and the festivities, were all held on one day. A high-speed Indian ceremony, so to speak, that in no way tarnished the ambience. I would do it all the same way again!”

Preparation is everything

That leaves just one last question: how to make it all happen? The Swiss tour operator “Manta Reisen” is a specialist for dream weddings on the island of Mauritius. Pavla Huber also used the services of “Manta Reisen” to plan her wedding. As well as helping choose the perfect location, the tour operator’s staff are highly skilled organisers. Olivia Koch, Sales Manager at “Manta Reisen”, explains what needs to be considered: “Make sure you arrive with sufficient time, as a wedding ceremony can be performed at the earliest two days after you arrive at your hotel in Mauritius. We recommend staying at least five nights. Timing is also very relevant: no wedding ceremonies are held on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays,” Syrina says: “We arrived a week in advance, because I personally wanted to oversee and choose many of the details myself.”

Documents and certificates

And then there is the paperwork to consider. Getting the necessary documents together can present a challenge when marrying in Switzerland – and such matters are no simpler in Mauritius. The official documents required (always for both partners) include: copies of the first three pages of one’s passport, a birth certificate, a confirmation of residence and occupational title as well as certificates of one’s marital status. In the event that one/both of the spouses-to-be is/are divorced or widowed, former wedding certificate/s and divorce or death certificate/s must also be provided. All of the documents have to be presented in English or German and officially stamped. Once the necessary papers are at hand, the news is good: couples who decide to use “Manta Reisen” do not have to submit the documents themselves. Provided the required papers are presented six weeks before departure, the future bride and groom can leave the rest to “Manta Reisen”. Pavla explains: “You have to do the paperwork anyway, regardless of where you hold your wedding. But as soon as I had all the documents, ‘Manta Reisen’ took matters from there.” There is just one other point to consider: the newly issued wedding certificate needs to be certified by the Swiss Consulate on site in Mauritius for it to be recognised in Switzerland. “Manta Reisen” will help organise this too.

The lovely aspects of marriage

Good to know: “Manta Reisen” offers future newly-weds some generous discounts on their journey to marital bliss! Besides coordinating and organising the transfer for registration in the Mauritian capital of Port Louis, the tour operator will also arrange a translator as well as various specials. Depending on the couple’s wishes, they can enjoy champagne, flower bouquets, massages and spa treatments, live music, a photographer and much more on the happiest day of their life. And if an extravagant wedding on the island of Mauritius doesn’t seem quite enough, wedding ceremonies can also be performed on a catamaran or even under water! “We tied the knot on the lodge’s yoga platform, with breathtaking views of the island’s unparalleled nature!” Pavla chose the flowers, the decorations and the wedding cake in advance. The ceremonial procedure was also planned in advance. Rather than a lot of fuss, Pavla wanted to simply enjoy the moment. But in spite of all the preparations: “I was still nervous! As I walked towards my husband in my wedding dress, I could feel my heart beat in my throat.” Syrina still talks euphorically about that special moment too: “The beautiful, exotic flower decorations, the light, the catering, it was all a dream come true! And my wedding was so appealing that two of my cousins decided to get married in Mauritius, too.” As for Pavla, she is sure about one thing: “My husband and I will return to Mauritius to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary!”

The best locations for a dream wedding

Needless to say, a wedding celebrated on the island of Mauritius can be held on a beach. But there are other options, too. Below are three very different, but equally beautiful locations for tying the knot. The hotels can be conveniently booked through “Manta Reisen”. Information is available at http://www.manta.ch/reisen/beach/hochzeitreisen (in German) or http://www.manta-voyages.ch/offres/beach/voyages-de-noces (in French).

Elegantly beautiful: This is where to celebrate a picture-perfect beach wedding in Mauritius. Guests staying at “LUX* Le Morne” are treated like royalty. The hotel staff have plenty of experience with weddings on the beach or, if desired, in any other area of the hotel. The tropical garden brimmed with flowers and the long white sand beach provide the perfect wedding ambience and are a magnificent backdrop for cherished wedding photographs.

In the heart of the jungle: The “Lakaz Chamarel” is an exclusive lodge in the heartland of Mauritius. Mass tourism? Most definitely not! Featuring just twenty rooms, there is no risk of weddings being disrupted by unwelcome guests. After the ceremony, the hotel’s infinity pool provides spectacular views of the “Black River Gorges National Park” and offers the perfect honeymoon setting.

A church set in paradise: Thanks to the little red chapel “Notre-Dame-Auxillatrice”, a Catholic wedding is also possible in Mauritius, and includes a very special touch. The small landing stage near the church offers fantastic vistas of the beach, the lava rock and the Indian Ocean as far as Coin de Mire, a triangular-shaped islet that is also a conservation area.

More details about the destination, activities and planning are available at: https://www.tourism-mauritius.mu/en-uk

Text: Malin Mueller