GIBRALTAR’s reputation as a wedding destination first gained notoriety when John Lennon and Yoko Ono tied the knot on the Rock back in 1969.
John infamously described the wedding as ‘very quick, quiet and British.’
In 2006, out of the 822 weddings conducted on Gibraltarian soil, at least 641 of them involved two ‘outsiders’ – the vast majority being Brits coming from the UK or their homes on the nearby Costa del Sol to tie the knot.
It’s easy to see why Gibraltar appealed to Mr Lennon and Ms Ono.
The Rock possesses a subtropical climate and formidable scenery; services are also conducted in English and the married couple and their troupe can head for the familiarity of one of Gibraltar’s pubs to carry on their nuptial celebrations.
However, in recent years the once booming industry has entered a steady decline.
While the overall number of weddings in Gibraltar has remained stable, the number of Brits contributing to this figure is believed to have fallen dramatically.
Kay Sharma of Bridge Gibraltar, which is entering its twelfth year organizing weddings for Brits in Gibraltar, has highlighted her concerns.
“When I first started out in 2005, I was arranging between 120-140 weddings a year in Gibraltar. This was the trend up to 2011,” she says.
“Now it’s around half of that which also includes blessings (symbolic weddings).”
It appears the falling numbers can be attributed to two main factors.
Firstly, the advent of new, unscrupulous start-ups moving in on the market has resulted in inexperienced and error strewn wedding services for disappointed Brits.
As a result, Brits and their wedding guests have reported back to friends and family in Blighty about the sub-standard marital experience they had encountered on the Rock, putting off others from making bookings.
Kay says these cowboy wedding providers have ‘ruined the wedding market and, our reputation as wedding planners, in Gibraltar.’
Secondly, heightened tensions between Spain and Gibraltar following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union are believed to have put off Brits from crossing over the border.
The last thing anyone wants on their wedding day is a border blockade.
Kay hopes that once these uncertain political times pass and there is increased regulation on wedding providers business will pick up again.