We tend to think of weddings and honeymoons as two separate things: sort the wedding, then think about the honeymoon, but if you are planning a same-sex destination wedding then surely it makes sense to consider combining the two. After all, you are going to the trouble and expense of going somewhere you love, to marry the someone you love, so why not use it as your jumping-off point for the honeymoon? We’ve worked with digital marketing agency INK. to choose a bunch of delicious wedding destinations to consider.
There are now 28 countries around the world who embrace same-sex marriage. In the US, in 2015, all 50 states opened their minds to love without boundaries. With such a choice comes freedom. LGBTQ+ couples can now confirm their vows in countryside churches in peaceful havens through to the sulphuric delight of a volcano-side retreat.
Here we explore the best destinations for same-sex weddings. We have been selective. Only the most fabulous destination weddings will do. You will be welcomed and made to feel comfortable – as these gay-friendly venues embrace love in all its colours. Take your seat, sit back and be prepared to drift along on this tide of pure romance – with more than a hint of fun.
What makes the best same-sex destination wedding?
Before we get to our exploration of some of the most amazing wedding destinations for your LBTQ+ wedding, we are going to look at the details that will help to refine your choice.
The level of hospitality you feel is going to be an essential ingredient to the specialness of the day. You will need to be sure of your budget and your date.
When you start ringing around your choice of venues, you need to avoid disappointment by being clear in your expectations. If you choose a same-sex destination wedding in a far-off land, you should also be fair to those guests whose presence at your wedding is essential. Make your guest list before you book your venue. Look at how many people you want to attend and who could participate if you were to go abroad.
Finally, though by no means exhaustively, sit down and think about the wedding photographs and the video produced of your day. Like the setting of a film, the backdrop for your wedding will add the magic to the moments you will look back on for years to come.
Now, with all this information at your fingertips, it is time to dream of the wedding of a lifetime. Here are some of the most stunning wedding destinations in the world!
The ultimate destination guide!
1. San Francisco or bust, baby… USA
If you want to go big rather than go home, than why not opt for the granddaddy of LBGTQ+ wedding destinations. The Castro District has been the epicentre of the gay culture in this US city, maybe even the world. You will find vast numbers of bars, hotels, and eateries of different kinds that would welcome your ceremony. It is not just about going somewhere iconic to celebrate with a flourish. You will want to choose San Francisco because it will offer the ultimate sense of belonging and togetherness on your day.
It just happens you can also take in the stunning scenery – the hills and the giant redwoods – or you could get lost in the cultural, foodie paradise that makes San Francisco such a haven. Just imagine the vibrancy of your photographs – so many insta-moments to share and bliss out with well into your future together. This should be your moment to celebrate your moment of togetherness in a place that hugs people who dare to be different.
2. Devon, UK
A retreat into the treetops…
Are you and your partner more private? Do you want something more intimate? There are stereotypes that suggest the same-sex wedding should be loud and garish. However, you too may want the choice of a romantic and intimate location. Such locations are harder to find, as they too are quite traditional.
There is a wonderful wedding location in a remote chalet in the treetops in Devon, which could be the perfect wedding venue. Braggs Hill in Umberleigh, Devon is a stunning woodland venue beside a calm lake, who actively promotes itself to same-sex couples.
Tree Top Escape welcomes up to 14 guests for your intimate wedding ceremony; enjoy a total dining experience in the stunning Nest with your very own private chef and have your ceremony amongst the lusciousness of this beautiful land. Tree Top Escape offers the latest in technology and no expense spared quality and luxury.
We think this hideaway venue is perfect for your photographs – and could be the best option if you want to elope and marry on the impulse of the most romantic moment. Having a destination where you can elope at a moment’s thought is such a luxury for the LBTQ+ couple.
3. Cape Town, South Africa
Panoramic beauty to match your love…
The reason to go to South Africa is of course that this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Marry in a safari lodge or vineyard then set off on the Garden Route road trip, taking in cage diving, whale watching, wine tasting, and safaris.
If you seek a dramatic backdrop to your wedding vows, then you can do no better than Cape Town in South Africa. Cape Town is an open-minded, diverse city that wants to welcome the world to its streets. Head to De Waterkant where you will find a welcoming venue for your vows. Here the LBTQ+ community is open and comfortable – and loving. As with San Francisco, the Cape Town gay community will give you the confidence to celebrate your marriage without limits.
It just so happens that this same-sex destination wedding offers an outstanding lifetime experience at the same time. Not only can you visit the top of the flat-topped mountain and rest on the glorious beaches, but you can also be more daring – swimming with sharks or hippo spotting on a safari. If this sounds too dangerous – there is the option to spot penguins – a bird that always comes dressed in its best tux.
Northern Lights to brighten your aisle
Iceland legalised same-sex marriage in 2010, soon after which the head of state married her same-sex partner. With a population whose mind is open to a leader that is both female and gay, you could easily believe you will get the warmest welcome for LGBTQ+ marriages. To visit a place where they are accepting of people to such an extent that the countries’ leader can be open without fear must be worthy of celebrating too.
It is a bonus then that Iceland has the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes in the world. You can time your wedding to hit the height of the Northern Lights season – where the heavens will show its true colours too.
You could choose a glacier – or a beautiful waterfall – or the open-dive site where you can swim between the European and American tectonic plates. Memories are made with such experiences – and marriage to the love of your life deserves to burn into your mind for the longest time.
5. Vegas, USA
It doesn’t get much more glitzy-memorable than a classic white chapel wedding. Then leave your guests to casinos and head off on an American road trip, down to LA, checking out the LaLa Land view the Griffith Observatory, and up the Californian coast via Monterey and Big Sur, and on to San Francisco to eat at Melissa Perello’s Octavia. Don’t forget to pack some Beach Boys and Armistead Maupin.
6. Charente, France
Instant romance and an easy hop from the UK. There seems to be an achingly beautiful chateau around every corner in France, so you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding a dreamy location. Then, of course, there’s the amazing food and let’s not forget the wine. For your honeymoon, you could head for the Alps for the skiing, if that’s your thing, or promenade along the Promenade des Anglais in Nice or maybe just relax on the Cote D’Azur beaches. Find your French Wedding Venue
7. Float away in Amsterdam, Netherlands
World leaders in LBGTQ rights, the Dutch legalised same-sex marriage in 2001. They have had plenty of time to perfect the best gay weddings in the world. By day, you have a city of culture and beauty. There are the stunning canals, with lazy boat rides. You could even say your vows while cruising the waterways. There are those candlelit cafes and the stunning architecture to act as a backdrop for your wedding photographs.
Then, by night, hedonists come alive, and you can indulge in the nightlife. You can love to the throbbing beat of a city that genuinely taught the world to have fun.
If you are worried that you will be caught in tourist hell – then try out Bruges instead. As well as being the setting for one of the best films ever made, this Medieval city is enchanting – and they serve some of the best Belgium beers.
8. New York, New York
There’s no shortage of chic hotels and iconic restaurants to host your wedding and when you can finally tear yourself away from the delights of the city you can head to the Hamptons for some upmarket beach time or on up to Cape Cod for some of the best seafood in the world at incredible restaurants like Water Street Kitchen.
The gay community in New York has seen difficult times but it is wonderfully defiant. It is a space in the world that will open its arms to the rest of the gay world. You can find a comfortable home away from home in neighbourhoods like Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen and Greenwich Village – that embrace the gay lifestyle to the full. You will only know you have partied when you have danced in New York!
This is a city so alive that they named it twice – but also so good for some metropolitan madness as the backdrop for your wedding. Imagine walking down the aisle at the top of the Lincoln Centre – or in the zoo at Central Park. This park is the most iconic destination for a same-sex wedding. The great news for the shy amongst us, your outdoor, same-sex wedding in New York will not even turn heads from these worldly folk.
9. Ibiza, Spain
You probably won’t have too much problem persuading your guests to make the trip if this is your destination choice. Have a beautiful beach wedding and then slip away to a quiet villa and explore some of the island’s other delights, like the great contemporary art museum, watch the sunrise at Sa Talia, or indulge in a spa treatment at Hacienda Na Xamena.
10. England, UK
Lake Windermere Country House
For some, romance is more important than fun. The wedding destination must represent the passion and the beauty of the love between you. A great location is the Broadoaks Country House. This place is magical – and it was voted as the Wedding Venue of the Year at the Cumbria Tourism Awards in 2018. There are the most sumptuous gardens and the Lake District is the perfect scenery for your wedding video!
This country house is owned by a gay couple who understand your specific needs. You can avoid all those awkward questions with this experienced team of same-sex wedding organizers.
It gets better. There is a Michelin recommended restaurant onsite that can host 110 guests for a five-course meal. Your evening ‘do’ can be attended by 150 of your closest friends and family – who can stay in the stunning Victorian house – so dance until the sun rises!
Your day of dreams
Your choice of same-sex destination venues will now feel endless. It has not always been the case that a same-sex couple can be spoilt for choice – but we live in a time when you can choose the excitement of the inner city or the lush, relaxation of a rural retreat. It is time to dream about your perfect day and then work to make this real for the most important day of your life.
The Boring Bits
- Research your destination. View the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s overseas travel advice for LGBT travellers to avoid running into any problems when you travel abroad.
- Remember that some countries and venues aren’t able to conduct legal ceremonies for UK residents. Ensure that you have organised the legal side of things. That may mean applying for the right documentation or having a low key, but official, ceremony in the UK first.
- Visas. You’ll need a visa for the US, so don’t leave it too late to apply. Probably a good idea to check that your guests are aware of this necessity.
- Travel insurance. You need to be covered for travel delays and be sure that you have the right level of insurance for any activities you might want to enjoy on your honeymoon.
- Passports. Check, well in advance, that your passports are not about to expire. Some countries require a minimum number of months left on your passport before the expiry date.