Same-sex marriage was finally made legal in all 50 states across America in 2015, and so there is a lot of choice within the US for a destination wedding. Many couples head to Hawaii (which legalised gay marriage in 2013), but West-coast cities like San Diego and San Francisco have become popular locations in the last three years. However, old prejudices in certain states, and pressures from the current administration mean that you might be looking for a more LGBT-friendly destination for your wedding outside of the country. To help facilitate this process, Zankyou has compiled the following guide on choosing the best place for your LGBT Destination Wedding – alongside inspiring you and your partner to do some travelling!
Initially, you have to cross out everywhere that doesn’t yet permit LGBT weddings – this is not a pleasant task, but helps to rule out where it’s not going to be possible to have your ceremony (and it’s nice to know that this list is growing smaller every year!). Across the world there are 23 countries who have legalised same-sex marriage, but many working to push through legislation in coming months!
17 of these countries are in Western Europe, making it a very good bet for a destination wedding – the sublime sophistication of Paris, the bustling beauty of Madrid, the picturesque perfection of Stockholm… All of these options are open to you if you choose to look to Europe as your preferred destination.
In particular, Zankyou recommends Portugal as an ideal destination for your LGBT wedding. Alongside being a bastion for the protection of human rights, Portugal has some of the most stunning scenery in all of Europe. Only thirty minutes from the centre of Lisbon is the beautiful town of Sintra, world-renowned for its timeless architecture, and immersion in nature. Check out Amanda and Rob’s wedding photos for an idea of the kind of intimate ceremony you and your partner could enjoy.
Contrastingly, the popular town of Belém (which quietens down in the latter summer months!) is a perfect backdrop for anyone wanting to marry near the sea. Within Belém stands the 15th-century Jerónimos Monastery, a gorgeous structure which can be hired out for LGBT weddings as it was secularised in the 1890s. For anyone looking for a more historical, romantic wedding, then there is no better place!
2. Latin America
If you don’t want to travel as far as Europe, there are many options within Latin America. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Uruguay all recognise same-sex marriages, with Chile, Ecuador and Mexico all transitioning from civil partnerships to marriage for LGBT couples. Flights to these countries are often cheaper than those to Europe if you’re trying to adjust your travel plans to your budget, and Latin America can offer you the chance to experience a complete cultural shift (not to mention having some of the best culinary options in the world!)
In particular, we recommend Argentina for your destination LGBT wedding – from the dazzling capital of Buenos Aires to the rolling wine valleys of Luján de Cuyo and the Uco Valley, there is a variety of potential venues to suit couples with all different tastes. Argentina has been historically very gay-friendly – the first Latin American country to fully legalise gay marriage, civil rights have been enshrined since 2010, and locals are very friendly to foreign LGBT couples. For a really impressive ceremony assured to leave your guests awestruck, check out the Cavas Wine Lodge in Mendoza – with gorgeous views, and plenty of wine included, this is a sublime spot for a wedding.
3. South Africa
The African continent as a whole is not famed for being LGBT inclusive, but the southernmost country of South Africa has been an ardent supporter of gay marriage since 2006. A country famed for its luxurious white-sand beaches, South Africa would be the perfect place for a beachside ceremony if you’re looking for a more relaxed style of wedding. For example, the beach at Camps Bay, Cape Town, is a hugely popular place for weddings, particularly because of its sapphire seas, and backdrop of the majestic Table Mountain.
If your dream wedding destination is a departure from the cosmpolitan, lavish shores of Cape Town, and something a little more rustic, check out the Botlierskop Private Game Reserve in Little Brak – a four hour drive from the capital. Doubling as a luxury hotel and an animal reserve, this location has views of the beach, and offers its couples access to private safaris – they have 26 different species, including giraffes and rhinos! Any animal and nature lovers will feel at home getting married here.
An overwhelming number of Australians voted to make same-sex marriage legal in 2017, with over 3,000 couples registering to marry within a month of the law being enshrined. Australia has been a popular honeymoon destination for many years, and so we at Zankyou think the entire process could be streamlined by marrying out there as well. With incredible desert backdrops, such as the Uluru Rock, Australia is a picturesque location for your LGBT wedding – you need only find a minister willing to travel with you!
And across a short stretch of ocean lies the jewel of Oceania – New Zealand. Universally recognised for its stunning natural beauty, and unbeatable mountain views, New Zealand is the perfect place for any couple with the urge to travel in their blood. Since 2013, thousands of LGBT couples have flocked here for their big day, exploring tracks of land from Lake Brunner to Hokitika Gorge, and marrying in the outdoors. However, more traditional weddings can be held in many other locations in the country. For example, NZ High Country – a family estate recently opened to the public – hosts weddings for up to 200 guests, with unbelievable views over Lake Wakatipu.
The only requirements for obtaining your marriage license in Australia and New Zealand is your ID, and a request to marry at least 3 days before the ceremony is to take place – this notification period varies from country to country however, and so it is vital to check what paperwork must be done before you travel anywhere.
If you’re still not convinced about getting married abroad, then don’t despair! There are still plenty of options available to you within the United States – and despite growing tensions between the state and the LGBT community, public opinion remains firmly on the side of gay marriage.
With almost too many locations to offer, one very special place that Zankyou recommends is the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York. The home of the LGBT movement, and a sacred place for most of the American LGBT community since 1969, this is the perfect historic location to celebrate your marriage with your partner.
We hope we have helped you narrow down your choices for your Destination Wedding, and inspired you to go beyond the United States to new places! And we wish you the best of luck for your special day.