"Wedding tourism" - a welcome source of income for municipalities

Most people would probably say that the most romantic city in the world is Paris. But the Czech capital Prague is now also staking its claim, as it is becoming an increasingly popular wedding destination for couples from all over the world. Czech town halls can only welcome this new type of tourism, as it brings extra cash into their coffers.

Every year around 500 couples get married in Prague 6, a leafy residential district - which also happens to be just a fifteen-minute drive away from Prague airport. And that may be the reason why more and more foreign couples are choosing the Prague 6 town hall as their wedding venue.

"A quick wedding in Prague 6 has become a real hit. While five years ago only local people were getting married here, half of today's weddings are made up of foreigners."

Martin Salek is a spokesman for the Prague 6 town hall.

"A typical wedding day in Prague 6: Arrival at Ruzyne airport, wedding at the town hall of Prague 6, taking photos at Prague Castle, and departure in the evening."

These one-day wedding trips are preferred by couples from Israel which does not allow civil ceremonies but recognises civil weddings concluded abroad. In Prague 6, Israeli couples account for an overwhelming majority of non-Czech weddings.

Those couples who choose Prague for a romantic wedding typically come from Great Britain, the United States, Australia, and more recently from Japan or China. As Petra Hofman from a Prague wedding agency says the multitude of romantic venues is not the sole reason why Prague is becoming such a popular wedding destination.

"The first fact I need to mention is that civil and religious weddings in the Czech Republic are fully recognised by the respective legal systems of all nationalities from around the world. Secondly, I believe what makes Prague very attractive are great restaurants that suit every gourmet's taste. And also, lastly and very importantly, that fact why Prague is very attractive for destination weddings is the price. The price is very reasonable. So I believe gone are destination weddings that are just elopement weddings for two - when they escape to Prague to get married. Now we have more weddings when people come to Prague and bring twenty to fifty guests because they can afford that."

These weddings, of course, bring extra money to the local authorities.

"The Prague 6 budget profits out of this new type of tourism. Around ten thousand dollars is collected yearly in fees and this money can be used for the development of Prague 6."

As Martin Salek of the Prague 6 town hall says, the annual fees could now pay for an illuminated zebra crossing or a children's playground. So the municipality is now planning to encourage more foreigners to come and tie the knot in Prague 6.