IT’S the perfect symbol for enduring love: a Rock so solid that nothing can break it.
And for decades Gibraltar has been luring in couples from all over the the world to tie the knot.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s rather impromptu registry office affair might be the most famous, but it’s just one of a host of celebrity weddings to have taken place here.
Names include film stars Laurence Harvey and Margaret Leighton, bestselling crime writer Frederick Forsyth, Status Quo frontman Rick Parfitt, as well as comedian Des O’Connor.
James Bond actor Sean Connery’s 1962 Gibraltar wedding to actress Diane Cilento ended in divorce, but he was sufficiently shaken and stirred by the setting to return in 1975 to marry his present wife Micheline Boglio Roquebrune.
Of course, there are also thousands every year who descend on Gibraltar to celebrate the happiest day of their life who aren’t famous.
Interestingly, only around one third of the couples are from the UK, the rest coming from America, Canada and the world over.
The Rock is a simple and quick place to wed (only 24 hours’ notice is required), and sunshine is almost guaranteed. And there is no shortage of top venues in which to celebrate afterwards.
Gibraltar’s top-quality, fully licensed wedding venues include the Waterfront restaurant at Queensway Quay. The Waterfront offers a special wedding service, as well as a mouthwatering wedding menu (lobster thermidor and chocolate fondue, anyone?).
And in terms of swanky wedding venues, there is nowhere quite like the Sunborn Yacht Hotel, a luxurious ‘love boat’ docked in Ocean Village.
Three other hotels – the Caleta in Catalan Bay, the O’Callaghan Eliott in the town centre, and the Rock Hotel – are also approved for weddings.
For a more natural and tranquil setting, head to Alameda Botanical Gardens. First developed in 1816 to provide Gibraltar’s residents with a green space to rest and relax, the gardens have grown into a place of serene beauty. At their heart is the Dell, an Italian-style garden designed in 1842, where weddings are also permitted.
If it’s unbeatable views you’re after, it has to be Mons Calpe Suite. Located within the Cable Car’s top station, this unique spot won the prestigious award of Best Mediterranean Wedding Venue last year, as chosen by Destination Wedding & Honeymoons Abroad magazine.
“It is a very special venue which has now been recognised by a leading wedding magazine, which is a fitting tribute to my entire team,” says manager Fernando Valdivielso Gomez.
Finally there is the Mount, a former residence of the Royal Navy’s senior officer, which boasts wonderful gardens.
Weddings in Gibraltar have become a significant part of the tourist trade, and services have blossomed to cater for a wedding party’s every need.
Professional photographers, makeup artists and florists can be easily arranged, either through the chosen venue or externally.
The government website offers information on marriage in Gibraltar and details the requirements. Enquiries can also be addressed to the Registration Office or recognised travel agents and wedding planners.