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Wedding bells ring at Okinawa Summit site

Date Posted: 2004-10-01

The September wedding party was a huge success.

It marked not only the union of a man and a woman, but also the start of a new enterprise on Okinawa.

The first wedding party at Nago City’s Kise International Convention Hall, used in 2000 for the G-8 Summit which brought world leaders to the northern Okinawa city, was the beginning of a new business venture for the Okinawa Prefecture Convention Bureau.

Few international conferences were being booked at the sprawling facility, so officials decided to go a new direction, developing Okinawa as a wedding resort island. At Nago City, the idea was to use the wedding party hall, with its beautiful views overlooking the ocean and sugary white beaches, as the idyllic spot for weddings.

The first couple to tie the knot, Teru Sasaki, 32, and his bride Keiko Sasaki, 30, are from mainland Japan. They brought 90 relatives for the wedding party.

“It’s a wonderful place to have a wedding here. Beautiful. Beautiful Hall, the ocean beaches and the breezes. The wind smells good. We are so happy to have our wedding here, he said. His bridge echoed the praise for Okinawa. “Our guests are so happy to see Okinawa and to spend some time with our wedding. And the sightseeing makes it double happiness.”

The prefecture is pressing the wedding resort island concept seriously. There’s a one year waiting list already, with 2,000 reservations in place. The prefecture’s goal is to have 10,000 couples a year marrying on Okinawa within five years. The Nago City convention hall has a capacity of200-230 weddings a year.

The cost? The budge for a total wedding party for 100 guest, including foods, the ceremony, photography, arrangements and everything: ¥2,000,000. Several Tokyo companies are coordinating the weddings business now, but Okinawa Prefecture officials say they’re going to recruit local wedding planners, beauticians, etc., to get involved.

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