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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

Many say 'I dos' in paradise

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

SIKESTON -- When La'Krisha Jackson married her husband, Michael Graf, last month, the Sikeston couple said their "I dos" in total paradise -- that is, Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

"With my family living in East Prairie and his family living in St. Louis, we just thought it would be less of a hassle," La'Krisha Graf explained. "We both just wanted a small wedding."

Apparently the Grafs aren't the only couple opting for a matrimonial getaway.

Ten percent of the 2 million American couples who marry each year now say their vows away from home in what are called "destination weddings," a 200 percent increase in the last decade, according to Conde Nast's Bridal Group Infobank and Modern Bride magazine.

Places like Hawaii, Jamaica, Fiji, Bermuda and Las Vegas are the top locations for destination weddings, Conde Nast and Modern Bride report.

Graf, her husband and about 20 relatives and friends jetted off to Paradise Island on June 8. They were married on June 11 and stayed for a week-long honeymoon.

Once they arrived at Paradise Island, three or four wedding concierges greeted the couple and whisked them off to make decisions about their wedding -- from traditional vows to modern vows to types of flowers and the site of their wedding ceremony.

"They walked us around and showed us everything, and within an hour we had everything picked out," Graf said. "We kept everything fairly simple, but you can make it as elaborate as you want."

Graf was told she and her husband were the fourth wedding for that day, and that eight to 10 weddings is a good day for the resort.

"We had everything a normal wedding has," Graf said. "We had a reception with a cake, a five-course meal, the toast, a bouquet toss and garter toss -- It was really neat. We're glad we did it."

Although the couple chose a religious ceremony and said their own vows, the Bahamanian culture was also incorporated into their wedding.

"It seemed really different than weddings here," Graf noted. "The ceremony included the moms, and that was really neat. There was no rehearsal, and we just went out and they told us what to do as it went along -- but it was organized."

The latest time couples can get married at the resort is 5 p.m., Graf said, adding they were married in a white gazebo on the beach.

"We were married by an actual minister," Graf said. "And you have to be there two days before they marry you. We had to do an interview and went in and he just asked us a few questions."

It was very professional, Graf said. They had several different coordinators and an on-site photographer and videographer. She said they received copies of their digital wedding photos along with a disk and a permission slip so they could make duplicates in the United States. They were also given free china as a gift from the resort.

"I booked our reservations months in advance, but I probably could've done it a month before our wedding," Graf admitted. Graf noted it was really hard finding any information about destination weddings in books and even bridal magazines. She and her husband had been to the Bahamas before so that's why they chose it as their destination, she said.

"But now they're (destination weddings) are becoming really popular, and I highly recommend it to anybody," Graf said.

However, the couple did encounter one slight problem when they returned home.

"When we got married they said 'all you have to do when you get back is register your marriage license and the United States will recognize it,'" Graf recalled.

But when Graf called her local courthouse, she found out there license couldn't be registered.

"All marriages are recognized all over the United States, but to have one registered in the state and have it filed in each courthouse, you have to have a Missouri marriage license," said Scott County Recorder of Deeds Tom Dirnberger.

Some people take it and put it on a miscellaneous record, but the record of their marriage is not in the marriage record files at the court house, Dirnberger explained.

Dirnberger said the other option is to apply for a marriage license in Missouri and then get married again, which is something Graf prefers not to do if she can help it.

"It's a shame to have to go and get a second license just to get our marriage recognized," Graf said.

But Dirnberger, who is also the vice president of the Recorders' Association of Missouri, pointed out getting a second license isn't really a bad thing.

"It shouldn't actually change their wedding date," Dirnberger said. "It just means they will have two sets of marriage licenses with one that is more valid in the United States than the other."

Regardless, the Grafs are married. They've got a marriage license and the memories to prove it.

"We got a vacation with our friends and family out of it, and it was fun having a big group like that," Graf recalled. "It was definitely worth it."