All of us at Invitations by R Squared LOVE love, and we LOVE weddings. Every single wedding.
As of April 2016, there are 22 countries where lgbtq destination weddings are legally performed.
While a number of these countries have allowed gay weddings for more than a decade, the United States made headlines when the Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriages were unconstitutional. Now, gay couples in all 50 states can legally exchange vows. Literally hundreds of thousands have said “I do” in beautiful states that previously didn’t allow it.
As times are naturally changing for the gay and lesbian community, iconic wedding destinations will forever be rooted in place. Today, many US cities effortlessly make for magical nuptial moments. Popular places with years of same-sex wedding laws and strong LGBT communities like Boston, Vermont, and New York City have witnessed more gay weddings than you can count.
Couples are also traveling to other welcoming places like Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Miami for their big day.
But gay couples are also thinking outside the box when exchanging vows now that there are more destinations that allow it, and it’s not just limited to the United States. Couples appreciate the allure of destination weddings in atypical places that are spellbinding for their scenery, romance, and exotic environs.
The most obvious reason for a destination wedding?
The opportunity for couples to travel to an unforgettable place with their closest friends and families.
Couples should consider destinations with large LGBT populations, such as New Orleans, Orlando, and Portland, or gay-friendly tropical locations like Puerto Rico, St. Croix, the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao), and Mexico. Or they can head to one of the number of countries where same-sex marriage is legal, such as South Africa or Iceland.
Due to residency requirements in many countries, it’s probably easier to legally marry in the US than in those countries where same-sex marriage is legal, so consider marrying stateside and hosting your celebration abroad.
We rounded up amazing destination wedding locations both in the United States and abroad that allow same-sex couples to get married.
From Key West to Norway, these incredible destination wedding locations are less traditional, though it hasn’t stopped hundreds from exchanging vows. Providing excellent hotels and restaurants, dynamic culture and lifestyle, and wonderful scenery, these gay-friendly destinations are exceptional choices.
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND –
Just a short drive from the nation’s capital, Baltimore is one of the most underrated destination wedding locations in the US. The city has its quirks (like the historic and educational Edgar Allen Poe House that’s worth a gander), and it’s laden with artsy locals, hipsters, and a strong LGBT community.
Much can be credited to famed gay director John Waters who put Baltimore on the map. he based many of his films in Baltimore. This creative neighborhood is all about being original and unique, and gay couples that thrive on escaping the norm exchange vows here.
The burgeoning Harbor East neighborhood right on the water is a must for wedding photos. It’s home to bustling cafés, historic seafood restaurants, and excellent harbor views. Here, the five-star Four Seasons Baltimore features a decadent spa, a stunning outdoor pool, and the hotel’s signature Wit & Wisdom restaurant. For a nightcap, Leon’s of Balto has been serving drinks for 53 years; it’s the longest-running gay bar in town. Locals and visitors alike refer to it as the Cheers of Baltimore. It’s a truly historic place for cheap (and stiff) drinks during the wedding weekend.
Check into the Ivy Hotel, a gorgeous new boutique hotel. With only 18 rooms and suites, most equipped with fireplaces and stand-alone bathtubs, The Ivy is the most intimate hotel in Baltimore. It’s split between two connected buildings, one of which is a 19th-century mansion, and the outdoor courtyard is perfect for wedding receptions.
KEY WEST, FLORIDA –
It’s no surprise Miami and Fort Lauderdale are top destinations for same sex weddings. They are some of the most LGBTQ friendly destinations in Florida. The two coastal havens lure the LGBT communities with luxury hotels, sprawling beaches, excellent restaurants, and exciting gay nightlife.
Key West, the southernmost city in the United States, is equally appealing, especially for those who want to escape the crowds. Gay couples that prefer a more laid-back environment completely immerse in the bohemian-minded, carefree culture that’s blessed Key West for decades. The low-key gay mecca is home to gay-owned B&Bs, hilarious drag shows, and unforgettable sunsets the entire town comes out to celebrate. It’s a tropical gay paradise where couples are exchanging vows on sandy beaches, in the courtyard of guesthouses, and community churches. This would include Key West’s Metropolitan Community Church, a gay-oriented nondenominational church where pastors have been performing same-sex commitment ceremonies since 1984.
Travelers to the island also participate in excursions like charters to the Dry Tortugas and sunset cruises with gay-owned and gay-crewed Blu Q Key West, two popular activities that are perfect for wedding activities. A visit to Key West isn’t complete without seeing a drag show, and most visitors make a beeline to Aqua in the heart of Duval Street.
Get hitched at Casa Marina, a Waldorf Astoria Resort that offers gorgeous rooms, one of the largest beaches in Key West, and a fantastic beach side spa for the ultimate wedding vacation. The historic hotel opened in 1920 and is steps from all of Key West’s top highlights like Duval Street, historic Old Town, and Hemingway House. Most guests rent the in-house cruiser bikes to explore it all.
BORA BORA, TAHITI, FRENCH POLYNESIA –
For decades, couples have been flinging far to the middle of the Pacific for romantic hideaways and destination weddings alike. The weather is perfect year around, the hotels are top notch, and you couldn’t ask for better tropical landscape.
While Hawaii dominates the destination wedding marketplace, the islands of Tahiti attract gay couples who seek a more exclusive experience when exchanging vows. A favorite getaway for the LGBT community, Tahiti was ahead of the curve and legalized same-sex marriage in May 2013, seven months before Hawaii. Bora Bora is unarguably a dream destination.
Thanks to the ever-famous lagoons with calm, crystal-clear waters and decadent, over-water bungalows, Bora Bora’s romance factor is unparalleled. The five-star resorts here, each on their own atoll, arrange unforgettable weddings and exciting excursions like snorkeling and scuba diving with the feeding of nurse sharks and manta rays – a trademark island adventure.
Four Seasons Bora Bora, regarded as one of the best places in the world to get married, offers more than 100 overwater bungalows, several private beaches, and an intimate chapel. The luxury resort also arranges traditional Tahitian weddings with outrigger canoe arrival, local musicians, and even fire dances in its exotic paradise.
Scandinavia has been pro-gay marriage from the beginning, and all the countries have legalized same-sex weddings. But Norway was the original supporter. The country was the first in Scandinavia and the sixth country in the world to legalize same sex marriage.
While heavily explored countries like Denmark and Sweden serve as incredible Nordic getaways with myriad attractions, Norway is just as memorable. In fact, the country is almost 40 percent cheaper than in years past, and the country has been making great strides to become more progressive.
This is obvious in Oslo, the capital city, where flourishing new neighborhoods like Thief Island and Barcode offer excellent restaurants, nightlife and boutiques. The recently opened The Thief Hotel now stands as the city’s most progressive hotel with swanky rooms and views of the harbor. Plenty of gay-friendly attractions like the Munch Museum and the exciting Opera House (in a new location that houses opera and ballet) ensure culture is a priority here.
No trip to Norway, however, is complete without visiting the fjords on a cruise or heading north to check out the Northern Lights. Outside the historic town of Narvik, animal-loving gay couples can visit Polar Park, the only place in the world visitors can kiss socialized wolves and stay overnight in the wilderness in the Wolf Lodge.
For seamless travel, Off The Map Travel tour operators specialize in the Northern Lights and arranges unforgettable trips that include the Wolf Lodge and other activities.
Wherever you ultimately choose to wed, we know it’s going to be amazing!
Everyone will tell you that planning a destination wedding is stressful. Planning any wedding is stressful to some degree. We know that inspiration can flag sometimes, so the team put together these fabulous inspiration boards just for you! Still a bit stuck? Get in touch with us and have a chat with the amazing Fran, our fearless leader. She can walk you through the process of choosing a destination wedding stationery suite that your guests will be sure hold onto as a keepsake of your most memorable and magical day!
We’re so happy for you both, and all of our LGBTQ couples planning on wedding this year!