The Cook Islands- a jewel in the South Pacific, is the ultimate romantic setting in which to exchange your wedding vows or choice of honeymoon destination.
Imagine your wedding ceremony on a sun-drenched beach with sand between your toes, under an archway of tiare akaipoipo (jasmine) and frangipani with a turquoise lagoon backdrop. Make a dramatic entrance arriving on a traditional vaka (outrigger canoe) paddled by a warrior. Add some local tradition with ei katu’s (flower garlands) for your head and atmospheric sounds from a ukulele and you’ll have a simply unforgettable experience.
As a wedding destination the Cook Islands are most famed for their picture-perfect beaches, however many alternative wedding settings are available. The main island of Rarotonga offers an interior dominated by spectacular volcanic peaks, cloaked in dense vegetation. To get that spectacular wedding shot you can exchange vows on the mountains, with a view of the reef encircled lagoon below. Equally idyllic photo locations include tropical gardens where you’ll be surrounded by the beautiful and fragrant local plants, flowers and endless greenery.
If you would like to do something completely different, some couples have even taken the plunge quite literally by diving beneath the sea to wed amongst the dazzling aquatic environment.
Cook Islanders have a strong Christian (Protestant) faith and if you wish to have a church wedding in one of the picturesque white limestone churches then that is also a possibility. The setting set with the sounds of a Polynesian choir whilst the sunshine streams through the church windows.
Local wedding planners, celebrants, stylists, photographers, musicians, caterers, hairdressers and makeup artists are on hand to ensure that you have all you need for your perfect day. There are wedding planners that can be employed to take on all the arrangements, or many of the resorts have their own in-house wedding planner.
The legalities of getting married in the Cook Islands are very simple. You must be at least 21 and are required to lodge your “Notice of Intended Marriage” with the Registry Office in person at least three days before your marriage, and present your passport and birth certificate (plus divorce decree or divorce certificate for divorcees or the death certificate of your previous spouse for widow/widowers). Cook Island marriages are legally binding worldwide.
The climate in the Cook Islands is warm and sunny year-round, with temperatures rarely below 24°C and only around 4 degrees difference between the warmer and cooler months and the ‘wet season’ from late November to April bringing just occasional rain in the late afternoon, meaning you can have an outdoor wedding any time of year and it is a great choice as a year-round honeymoon destination.
There are a range of romantic accommodation choices throughout the Cook Islands, from ultra-luxurious and secluded, to natural and simple, or something in between. Many of the resorts are adult-only, ensuring a relaxing and quiet getaway to enjoy as husband and wife.
During the day you can do as much or as little as you please; snorkel in the azure blue waters of the lagoon experiencing the diverse marine life, explore the lush island interiors by bike, hiking, quad bikes or 4WD, take a boat trip to uninhabited islands, indulge in a luxurious spa treatment or take a guided tour to learn about local culture and traditions.
When the sun goes down, romantic dining options include ‘feet in the sand’ dining experiences where you enjoy beachfront dining by candlelight, eat home cooked food at the Plantation House or take in one of the ‘Island Night’ cultural shows. For those wishing to carry on the night you can sip cocktails in one of the many beach-front open-air bars, take the party bus on a bar crawl and end up in the island’s nightclub to dance the night away.
However you choose to spend your time in the Cook Islands you can be guaranteed lifelong memories of an unforgettable trip.
Cox and Kings have 5 nights at Te Manava Luxury Villas and 4 nights at Pacific Resort Aitutaki (Premium Beachfront Bungalow) from £4,195 pp (two sharing) including economy return flights from London to Rarotonga and private return transfers on Aitutaki and Rarotonga. www.coxandkings.co.uk To book call 0203 6420861.
For more information on the Cook Islands go to www.cookislands.travel