A Lancaster woman was among the first to marry in Japan under a new scheme aimed at attracting more foreign visitors.
Emma Michelle Mulcahy, 29, and Stuart Roy Loakes, 34, tied the knot at Kamigamojinja shrine in Kita Ward, Kyoto, and afterwards were presented with a memorial marriage certificate from the city by mayor Daisaku Kadokawa.
Although not an official document, the certificate, which bears the mayor’s signature, has a congratulatory statement that reads “I hope that during your life journey you will once again visit Kyoto and refresh the unforgettable memories you are making now.”
The free program got under way earlier this month and is available to foreign couples who get married in Kyoto.
The city aims to boost tourism with the measure, although the certificate is not a legal document.
Mr Kadokawa told the couple: “I am proud that you have selected Kyoto, a city with more than 1,200 years of kaleidoscopic and brilliant history, as the starting point for such an important stage of your life.”
Emma went to Our Lady’s Catholic College before studying for a teaching degree at Leeds University.
She taught in Bradford for three years before travelling around the world for a year and then found a teaching job in South Korea.
Emma said: “We had planned a small wedding as we are currently living in Korea until October.
“Little did we know that the date we had chosen was of significance! It wasn’t until the day that we knew that we were to meet the mayor of Kyoto and receive our wedding certificate from him.
“It was very surreal when we entered the shrine and in poured the cameras!
“We were really honoured to be the first to receive the certificate.
“The ceremony was really beautiful, along with Kyoto and Japan itself. We are already planning to go back to visit.”
Stuart is from Shropshire and is an ex-British Army soldier who is now working in security in Iraq.
The couple were surprised to see their wedding had attracted local TV cameras and media.
Emma’s mum Philomena said: “It was all very exciting.”
Stuart said he was proud to be the first to receive the certificate. The groom added that he came to like Kyoto so much during a previous visit that he wanted to return one day with his wife.