If you’re seeking the perfect island destination for a destination wedding, may we suggest a true South Pacific paradise? The Cook Islands! No crowds or big-city bustle here: you won’t even find a traffic light. Just screensaver scenery, chilled island vibes, plenty of Polynesian charm, and what is widely touted as the world’s most beautiful lagoon, Aitutaki. Want to Say ‘I Do’ in Paradise? Our Ultimate Guide to Getting Married in the Cook Islands will show you how!
Its pristine beaches, lush greenery, and translucent lagoon waters teeming with colourful fish make the Cook Islands a breathtaking wedding backdrop. And your honeymoon is sorted with a tempting range of resorts, hotels, and boutique villas (Aitutaki even has those coveted overwater bungalows!). But where to find the best wedding venue in the Cook Islands? What do you need to consider? And how do you legally marry in the Cook Islands?
Well, get your passports ready because we’ve compiled the ultimate guide for getting married in the Cook Islands. It covers everything from legal requirements and local weather to finding the best wedding venue. Whether you want a private beach ceremony, a touch of tradition in an island chapel, or a resort wedding with family and friends, the Cook Islands has you covered. And we’ll take you through everything you need to know to bring your vision to life.
So, sit back, relax, and let us help you plan the destination wedding of your dreams in the Cook Islands.
Is the Cook Islands good for a wedding?
One look at that bright turquoise water and you’ll know the answer – it’s a huge YES! Whether you’re dreaming of a toes-in-the-sand ceremony or ‘I do’ in a charming local church, The Cook Islands is a stunning wedding location, especially for beach lovers. And the friendly, easy-going Cook Islanders and warm Polynesian hospitality will only endear you further to this dreamy destination. The Cook Islands is also surprisingly close to Australia’s east coast, positioned between Samoa and French Polynesia, with the capital Avarua located on the southern island of Rarotonga, so it’s relatively easy for you and your guests to travel to.
Good to know when planning a wedding in the Cook Islands: English is widely spoken and direct flights from Sydney to Rarotonga take as little as 5.5 hours.
What to consider when choosing a Cook Islands wedding venue
Choosing your wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make, especially when planning a destination wedding. It sets the tone for your entire wedding experience and creates the backdrop for all your memories. When choosing a wedding venue in the Cook Islands, there are a few things to consider:
Located in the heart of the South Pacific, the Cook Islands isn’t short on sublime backdrops amongst its family of 15 islands. Best known are the beautiful main island of Rarotonga, and heavenly Aitutaki (a 50-minute flight north of Rarotonga), home to that famous lagoon. More under-the-radar gems include the unspoiled eco-paradise of Atiu and the ‘garden island’ of Mauke.
You’ll want to choose a venue that is easily accessible for you and your guests, or perhaps a private island venue to call your own. Consider proximity to the airport, accommodation options on site and nearby, and other facilities to bring your wedding vision to life.
Are you planning an intimate elopement or a larger destination wedding for family and friends? Ensure the venue can comfortably accommodate your guests, checking for any minimum and maximum guest requirements before booking.
Consider the overall vibe you want and choose a venue that aligns with your vision. For example, are you planning a private adults-only soirée or a family event at a beachfront resort? Are you dreaming of traditional thatched villas or more modern bungalow accommodations? Don’t worry, the Cook Islands has plenty of wedding venue options!
Why you’ll love a destination wedding in the Cook Islands
Having a destination wedding in the Cook Islands offers a range of benefits. Here are just a few:
A destination wedding in the Cook Islands offers a unique experience you’ll cherish forever. Design a romantic adventure for two or a tropical island holiday to share with your nearest and dearest.
Destination weddings tend to be more intimate than traditional weddings, as only your inner circle will travel to attend. The Cook Islands delivers a choice of locations perfect for this style of event. For example, Rarotonga is so compact you can circle the entire island by car in around 45 minutes. But it’s also packed with scenery, activities, accommodation, restaurants, and cafes, and gorgeous wedding venues. Sister island Aitutaki is a little slice of paradise where you and your guests can leave the world behind, celebrate amongst sublime scenery, and explore pristine white beaches by bicycle or scooter.
Many wedding venues in the Cook Islands offer all-inclusive packages, which can make planning a destination wedding much easier. Expect to find everything from flowers and ceremonies to reception options, accommodation, and more.
A Holiday for Guests
One of the best parts about a destination wedding is the chance to enjoy a fabulous wed-fest with friends and family. There’s so much to see and do in the Cook Islands for your wedding group — from snorkelling, jungle tours and sunrise SUP on the lagoon to sunset cruises and nights spent partying beneath the stars.
A Cook Islands Honeymoon
Whether you spend your time island-hopping from Rarotonga or sipping cocktails in an overwater bungalow on Aitutaki, your Cook Islands honeymoon is bound to be a highlight. Just imagine the itinerary: starlit dinners, beach picnics, sunlit lagoon swims, snorkelling jaunts, beach walks, massages, and market shopping! Adventurers will love the challenge of trekking Rarotonga’s volcanic cone or learning to scuba dive among the colourful tropical fish while more chilled newlyweds will be in holiday heaven lazing under a coconut palm. And you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to Cook Islands accommodation with the range of resorts, hotels, and boutique villas.
Tips for planning a dream destination wedding in the Cook Islands
There can be more to consider when planning a destination wedding compared to planning a wedding at home. On the plus side, many wedding venues will help streamline the process with their package inclusions and local expertise. Here are some tips to make planning easier and help lock in the best Cook Islands wedding venue for your unique celebration:
Give yourselves plenty of time to research and book the perfect wedding venue and accommodation to secure your chosen dates. Give guests plenty of notice (a save-the-date is always a good idea) so they can save and make travel arrangements.
Do Your Research
Start scrolling to see which Cook Islands venues catch your eye and which can comfortably accommodate your guest list. Read reviews, check out socials and websites, and seek recommendations from wedding planners and other couples who have married in the Cook Islands. Then ensure your shortlist also offers easy transfers to and from the airport and accommodation on site or nearby.
Consider Your Budget
Set a wedding budget and list any non-negotiables for your dream wedding experience. Consider the cost of the wedding venue, as well as other expenses such as accommodation, transport, and activities.
Consider the Style of Your Wedding
Delve a little deeper into your shortlist to discover those wish-list items such as a church or chapel on site or nearby, beach ceremony options, and open-air reception spaces. Also ensure your venue has a covered backup venue, just in case.
Hire a Wedding Planner
Consider hiring a wedding planner familiar with the Cook Islands. They can help choose a wedding venue, arrange accommodations and transport for your guests, and coordinate all the details of your wedding day. Many venues will offer a planner or coordinator as part of their wedding packages.
Choose Local Vendors
Having a dream team of local vendors in your corner will help create an authentic, stress-free wedding in the Cook Islands. This can include everything from your wedding planner and photographer to your caterer and musicians — all will be familiar with the area and able to offer a unique local experience.
COOK ISLANDS FACT FILE
You might already be falling for the Cook Islands as a wedding destination. Let’s get into those need-to-know details to help plan the ultimate romantic getaway.
Best time to get married in the Cook Islands for good weather
The Cook Islands enjoys a warm tropical climate year-round with plenty of sunshine. The drier months are April to November while November to March marks the more humid ‘wet season’, with the chance of showers between December and March. If you’re looking for the best time to visit the Cook Islands, consider the shoulder months of April, May, September, and October for sunny, dry skies.
How to legally get married in the Cook Islands
You’ll need to be in Rarotonga at least three working days prior to your wedding to apply for your marriage licence (also called Notice of Intended Marriage) at the Registrar of Marriages. As with most weddings, you’ll need two witnesses and a registered officiant to complete the legal side of ‘we do’. Couples must be at least 21 years old to be married in the Cook Islands and marriages here are legally binding and recognised worldwide.
Here’s what you and your partner will need to bring:
- Current passports
- Birth certificates
- Legal divorce documentation (if applicable)
- Death certificates of previous partner if widowed
- Catholic couples will need to complete a course and bring their Baptism certificates
What is the currency of the Cook Islands?
The New Zealand dollar (NZD) is the official currency of the Cook Islands, and the islands also use their own currency: the Cook Islands Dollar (CKD). Credit cards are commonly accepted in shops and hotels but ATMs can be limited beyond Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
How to travel around the Cook Islands
International flights arrive on Rarotonga with connecting domestic flights to many other islands including Aitutaki and Atiu. On your island of choice, it’s easy to get out and explore via car, bus, scooter, bicycle or on foot.
Considering the Cook Islands?
A wedding in the Cook Islands offers a unique experience that you and your guests will cherish for a lifetime. With stunning scenery, vibrant Polynesian culture, and a range of wedding venues, the Cook Islands strikes a balance between castaway charm and holiday comforts. Whether you’re looking for budget-friendly or barefoot-luxe, traditional or bespoke, the Cook Islands has something for every couple. So, start planning your dream wedding in paradise today!
Discover some of the best wedding venues in the Cook Islands