Dream location: The Lazor Garden Alivila Cristea Chapel set against Okinawa's azure sky. Photo: Bridal House TUTU
You’re in love and have made the commitment to seal the deal. But where to hold the wedding? Okinawa, Japan, naturally.
Standing on a stretch of white, sandy beach in Okinawa, Japan, I feel as though I’m striking a pose in a photo studio or against a holographic mural. The sky is a bright azure blue that looks almost unreal, while the sea that stretches out ahead of me is a luminous emerald which then turns into a shimmering navy blue.
But the sun beating down on my face, the cold wind blowing through my hair and the sound of waves crashing against the shore bring me back to reality.
It is so easy to see why Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan comprising 160 islands, is the country’s top resort wedding destination for couples searching for the perfect scenic spot to tie the knot.
Because it also enjoys a subtropical oceanic climate with an annual average temperature of around 22.7°C, couples are virtually guaranteed that their wedding day weather will be perfect – cool with sunny blue skies.
So what exactly is a resort wedding? Simply put, it’s a one-stop destination where you can do a photoshoot for your wedding photos, arrange a wedding ceremony on the resort grounds which then transitions immediately to your honeymoon without needing to pack or fly anywhere else.
All you need to do is wake up the next day and get ready to enjoy your first few weeks as husband and wife by exploring the various delights Okinawa has to offer, including marine sports, shopping, dining, beauty treatments, sightseeing and cultural exhibitions.
But an additional and significant pull factor about Okinawa’s resort weddings is that almost all of them offer extremely popular “chapel wedding” packages – with no religious affiliation needed.
In co-operation with selected bridal houses, wedding chapels have been built on resort grounds, and couples can choose which resort/chapel they feel best reflects their vision of a dream wedding.
These chapels were constructed specially for wedding ceremonies, not religious services, and it is a concept that has struck gold among many couples who are simply in love with the idea of romantic church weddings.
Picture the blushing bride walking down the aisle in her flouncy white wedding gown; her tuxedo-clad husband smiling at her as they exchange rings; and the moment when they emerge from the church as a married couple while their loved ones shower them with floral petals.
As the number of wedding chapels has burgeoned from a mere three in 1999 to 27 today, so has the number of couples flooding into Okinawa to get married. Although it is mostly Japanese couples who book their weddings there, an increasing number of couples from nearby Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai are also doing likewise.