No, this is not an invitation to the Menorca TechTalk. Those went out already. Nina and I are looking forward to seeing our friends next week. This post instead is about an idea to radically improve the economy of the island of Minorca converting it not into a tax haven but into a wedding heaven.
If you are American you probably don´t know that in Europe, it is very complex to get married. In the USA, where Nina Wiegand my fiancee and I, will get married in December, you just show your ID, sign an affidavit in which you swear that you are fit to be married and you get married. In Europe there are waiting lists to get married and even in places where there aren´t, it is unbelievably bureaucratic to get married. Moreover getting married itself is a rigidly structured event with little opportunity to make it your own as people do in the States. And if the bride and groom come from two different European nationalities, something that is more and more common every year since in the EU, as opposed to NAFTA, citizens can freely migrate from country to country, the request for translated paperwork can be endless.
So my proposal is to combine the beauty of the island of Menorca with a new regime that would be unique in Europe and that would make it very easy, and truly special, for people to get married in this beautiful island. A set of rules about marriage similar to those that exist in USA.
First of all, for this new regime there is already the advantage that Spain allows Gay marriage. That in itself should be of help to attract more tourists who want to get married there. But what Menorca should do is to make it easy and fun to get married there. It should make it very simple to get married through affidavit and not this absurd certificates in which people must prove that they are single as if they had to prove they don´t have a “lien” on them. It should also make it simple for anyone, after a day course, to be allowed to officiate weddings – so Menorca would be the only place in Europe where people can get married by their friends. Getting married by your peer is what the Facebook generation wants. Menorca can change the rules to allow that. This is also important because getting married is a very cultural experience and people prefer to get married by somebody akin to them or close to them.
If Minorca created this new “wedding friendly regime” it would do something similar yet distant to what other islands do. The Canary Islands for example have created a tax haven regime. So have Bermuda and many other fiscal havens. But I find an island of florists, bakers and musician somehow nicer than an island of dodgy bankers. If Menorca did become the marriage capital of Europe – celebrating say 1000 weddings a week – the island´s GDP could grow by half a billion euros per year, something huge in an island of only 60,000 people. Let French Polynesia and Maldives do the honeymoons. Menorca should do the weddings!
And the slogan would of course be “Come to Menorca and live happily ever after.” But as it is right now, so beaurocratic and complicated, Nina and I will marry on another island, Manhattan, away from dodgy bankers, and enjoying the close company of our friends and family.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars