Greek bishop bans ‘weddings with a view’

A Greek Catholic bishop on Monday said tourists can no longer be married in some of Greece’s top Aegean island destinations, including Santorini and Crete, in reaction to a growing trade in ”wedding with a view” packages offered by travel agents.

”We have taken the decision to bar [all weddings] to protect the sacrament’s holiness … and to prevent its commercialisation,” Bishop Frangiskos of Syros, Santorini and Crete told private Flash Radio.

In the past two years, hundreds of couples from the United States, Britain, Australia and even China have tied the knot on Greek islands renowned for scenic beauty and stunning sunsets, Eleftheros Typos daily reported.

About 500 were held every year on Santorini alone, the paper said.

”They ask for weddings with a nice view, or on the beach. When we say it cannot be done, they offer to pay. What are we, traders of ceremonies? They should forget about these things,” said Bishop Frangiskos.

In a letter to vicars last month, the bishop noted that tourist weddings ”offer no spiritual benefit” and are often ”flippantly” conducted with doubtful documents.

”On one occasion the couple turned up drunk. The strangest things happen,” the bishop said.

Travel brochures advertise weddings on the island of Mykonos for €1 099, while arrangements for Santorini and the Cretan capital of Iraklio cost €450 and €250 respectively, he said.

Other specialised websites offer packages of between €2 000 and €4 000 including witnesses, donkeys to transport the newlyweds and a complimentary bottle of French champagne.

”The priests see none of this money,” Frangiskos said. ”We do not ask for money to hold the sacrament.” — Sapa-AFP

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