How Gibraltar Became Europe’s Pandemic Wedding Hot Spot

Olivia Windham Stewart, a 34-year-old British human rights specialist, who married her American partner in Gibraltar’s botanical gardens last week, echoed that determination. “It’s been such a frustrating and disappointing year, having to slow down all our life plans, so it was such a big relief when we found Gibraltar and realized that there was a place where we could actually get married,” she said.

Throughout the day, couples line up outside Gibraltar’s Civil Status and Registration Office, waiting in anticipation for their ceremony, which takes place in a drab room, brightened up by a youthful portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and typically lasts around 15 minutes.

Afterward, couples stand in front of the building’s blue shutters and pose for photos, some wearing full wedding attire, complete with bridal veil and pocket square, others in summer dresses and slacks.

One item of clothing is mandatory for the ceremony: a face covering (even during the first kiss).

The bizarre circumstances bring couples from all over the world together and on a recent weekend, after their ceremonies, many of them joined locals and tourists at the Ocean Village Marina, a popular drinking spot on the harbor, and celebrated in the bustling restaurants and bars with Champagne and live music; those sitting outside at the bars and restaurants mostly did not wear masks.

Amanda Durocher, an American teacher, married her British fiancé on a quick trip to Gibraltar in August.

Emotionally, she said, the process had been draining. “For us, leading up to it was super anxious and then it was a relief,” she said. “And now we just feel so overjoyed by knowing that we have some more control over our lives.”

Still, like other brides who traveled with their partners to Gibraltar alone, Ms. Durocher found aspects of the process surreal and lonely.

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