The southern Cypriot port city of Larnaca is about to host as many as 170 Israeli couple, who will take part in an unusual mass wedding on Friday.
Every year, some 1,500 Israeli couples marry in a civil marriage ceremony in the neighboring island. The proximity to Israel, the relatively low costs of flights and accommodation, the lack of bureaucratic difficulties and the fact that the Israeli Interior Ministry recognizes the Cypriot marriage certificate have all turned Cyprus into a particularly popular destination for those who can't or don't want to wed in a religious ceremony in Israel.
"Cyprus is the first or second destination Israelis prefer to go for a civil wedding, alongside Prague," says Deputy Israeli Ambassador Shani Cooper. "The couples arrive for a day or two to get married and combine it with a vacation."
This Friday, Israeli brides and grooms are expected to flock to Larnaca to take part in a mass wedding ceremony organized by the municipality. According to the plan, the 170 couples were to sail to Cyprus from the Ashdod Port on Thursday.
On Friday they will be invited to sign the wedding certificates in a ceremony attended by the Larnaca mayor, which will be followed by a huge wedding party into the night on the deck of the cruise ship they arrived on.
"Most young couples that marry here are foreign, and many of them are Israeli," says the civil marriage officer of the Larnaca Municipality. "Only tomorrow I have eight weddings, five of them of couples from Lebanon."
Eitan Glickman contributed to this report