With Weddings in Cyprus, Israelis and Lebanese Bridge a Divide


  • With Weddings in Cyprus, Israelis and Lebanese Bridge a Divide - The New York Times

    They eat falafel, live on the Mediterranean and worry that a new war could erupt across the hostile border that separates them. But many Israelis and Lebanese share something else: a desire to circumvent their respective religious authorities when getting married.

    In both Lebanon and Israel, only religious leaders can perform marriages, so lovers who wish to keep the rabbis, sheikhs, priests and pastors out of their love life have to tie the knot elsewhere.
    Cyprus owes its rise as an international marriage destination to geography, economics and law. Its airports receive direct flights from cities across Europe and the Middle East; its prices are good; and its laws permit foreigners to contract marriages with no clerics involved.

    And its palm-studded beaches, historic sites and abundant hotels are inducements for couples to start honeymooning as soon as the ink on their marriage contract is dry.

    About 7,000 marriages are conducted in Cyprus per year, adding 1 million euros, or over $1.1 million, to the economy annually, according to the Cyprus Tourist Organization. While European lovers prefer more picturesque towns elsewhere on the island, Israelis and Lebanese tend toward Larnaka, which can be reached by air from both Tel Aviv and Beirut in less than an hour.