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By Matariki Wilson

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Dec. 3) – The love bug is catching and the Cook Islands are where to catch it.

Thanks to promotion of the Cooks as the ideal marriage destination, the number of weddings continues to rise.

Cook Islands Statistics show that marriages for the three months ended June 2005 totaled 187.

By comparison with the first quarter 165 weddings, this was an increase of 22 marriages or 13 per cent.

Surprisingly, it's not locals tying the knot - more than 90 per cent of the marriages were between non-residents who traveled here for a wedding in a tropical setting.

The only criterion for lovebirds tying the knot in the Cook Islands is to be residents in the Cooks for three days.

Visiting wedding couples can choose from a variety of different settings for their ceremony.

From tropical bush clad mountainous to white sandy beaches or a more traditional church setting, the most popular setting is the motu (islet) setting in the lagoon of Muri.

[PIR editor’s note: Muri lagoon is located on the southeast side of Rarotonga island, the capital of Cook Islands.]

According to a spokesperson for the Edgewater and Spa, most of the couples that come to the Cooks want a romantic wedding with candlelit dinners and champagne, which they can get with the various wedding packages on offer.

For locals, it's traditional church weddings that are more popular, with the reception at a residential home or the trusty rugby club.

Non-resident marriages are expected to grow in number.

December 13, 2005

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