Saying 'I do' 16,000 km from home

By Chloe Johnson

Bride Tamila Efendieva, 27, chose the mountains above Queenstown to say 'I do' to her fiance Gleb Tumasyev, 39. Photo / Alpine Image Co
Bride Tamila Efendieva, 27, chose the mountains above Queenstown to say 'I do' to her fiance Gleb Tumasyev, 39. Photo / Alpine Image Co

For Russian bride Tamila Efendieva the "something new" on her wedding day is the country.

Efendieva, 27, and her groom Gleb Tumasyev, 39, escaped the rat race of Moscow this month to exchange vows on an isolated mountain in Queenstown.

They are one of at least 2000 foreign couples expected to tie the knot at "destination weddings" in New Zealand this year.

Figures obtained through Statistics New Zealand reveal continued growth in visitors who register their marriages with the Department of Internal Affairs.

More than 10,300 foreign couples married in New Zealand in the past five years compared to just 3900 during a five-year period in the 1980s.

Efendieva, a freelance journalist, said she never wanted a large traditional Russian wedding.

"For me, the wedding day is something magical and intimate only for two people, it's not for everybody," Efendieva said.

"Unfortunately our families were not with us but they also understood and supported us. We will arrange an intimate party for them in Moscow."

They chose New Zealand on a random click of the mouse.

A Google search of "romantic wedding destinations" pointed to Queenstown and they hired Minetta Hope, owner of The Wedding Company, who arranged their travel-themed day.

Efendieva said they turned their wedding into a movie and acted out the milestones of their two-year relationship.

It began with a tango dance and finished with a helicopter ride to Coronet Peak.

"The tango symbolises our meeting and our growing passion, and the second part of the film is devoted to our parents and relatives."

Hope said destination weddings were popular with foreigners because of the idyllic scenery and a simple registration process.

"You can arrive, go to the local court house, do the final part of the process and be married that same day.

"A lot of other countries have a minimum time that you have to be in the country before you get married," Hope said.

She said the most common nationalities were Australians, British and Americans.

- Herald on Sunday

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