One day, and hopefully soon, we won’t be using terms like “same-sex” and “same-gender” when describing weddings. They’ll just be weddings. But these distinctions are important now as we fight for equality in a world where the majority of the LGBT community does not have the right to marry the person they love. When this equality exists, then a wedding will simply be a wedding. What a day that will be!
As I have written before, we’re all more alike than different, so some of what I’m offering is relevant to anyone planning a destination wedding. Let’s explore the real life experience of Damian and David Calmett, who married on Valentine’s Day 2014 on Catalina Island, 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, California.
“We choose Catalina because with our busy L.A. schedules. It was close but felt like being in a completely different area,” explained Damian. “The accommodations were great and the people were fabulous in the way they treated us as newlyweds. It was so much more than anyone could ask for.”
David and Damian had a low-cost, affordable, safe, easy-to-get-to experience in a very gay-friendly part of the world. Kudos to the happy couple. When I walk down that aisle (which may actually end up being a beach, and of course, I need to meet Mr. Right first!), there are some things I will want to know. Is the destination truly LGBT-friendly? Can I legally marry there? Is it affordable for me and my guests? Am I choosing the right time of the year to go there? And so on.
Truth be told, I live in Palm Springs, California—one of the most picturesque, LGBT-friendly cities on the planet, so I may not choose to travel for my wedding, but I have a feeling I need to travel to find my future husband! At any rate, here’s some important advice to follow when planning your destination wedding:
Finding a truly gay-friendly wedding destination
For LonelyPlanet.com, Karla Zimmerman wrote an interesting story entitled “Top 10 Gay Wedding Destinations.” While she is very informative and I agree with some of the destinations she’s chosen, keep in mind that headlines proclaiming the “Top 10” of anything are more about marketing than actual substance, and her article doesn’t really get into depth about how life is for members and allies of the LGBT community in these destinations.
Karla’s choices as of February, 2014, in order, are Hawaii; San Francisco, California; Buenos Ares, Argentina; Cape Town, South Africa; Tahiti; Queenstown, New Zealand; New York City; Iceland; Vancouver, BC, Canada; and Boston, Massachusetts. (Palm Springs, Calfornia, would make it into an authentic “Top 10” list).
So, when I look at this list, I ask myself, are these gay-friendly destinations? The only one I personally had no knowledge of is Tahiti, so I looked further, and found that Tahiti Tourism has an official LGBT-focused website complete with an overview and FAQs. The FAQ section, however, isn’t formatted into questions and answers. I did learn that Tahiti is a very gay-friendly place, but wasn’t easy for me to ascertain whether or not same-sex marriages are legal in Tahiti.
Over on GayDestinationWeddings.com however, I learned “As a French overseas territory, same-sex marriage became legal in Tahiti in May 2013. For US and Canadian couples to marry in French Polynesia, a marriage application must be completed, copies of passports, birth certificates and single-status forms are required, as well as divorce and death decrees if applicable.”
Another great gay wedding resource is OutTraveler.com where I simply searched the keyword “wedding” and found a plethora of information including a recent story headlined, “Elvis Chapel Among Several in Vegas That Refuse to Perform Gay Weddings.” So, while the wedding capital of the world now offers legally-recognized same-sex weddings (as of October 9, 2014), all is not well on the Western Front.
I want to celebrate my marriage (When it happens!) with my friends and family, so whether it be the ceremony itself or a pre- or post-nuptials party, it will take place close to home. One scenario is to get married at your city or county courthouse (if it’s legal), have a local party for your friends and family, and slip off to your favorite exotic destination for your honeymoon.
LGBT folks have been traveling to destinations that legally celebrate their unions since legal recognition began. The current reality is that in the United States, for example, many couples have to travel to states where same-sex marriage is legal, and are still fighting for recognition of those marriages back home.
Let’s face it. The world is a work in progress, and some places are much further ahead than others. For example, you won’t be going to Moscow for your same-sex wedding, nor to the UAE. And let’s not forget, in some countries people are being executed for simply being perceived to be LGBT (whether they are or not), and we should all be more concerned about their right to live at this point, let alone the freedom to marry.
LGBT wedding rings
Wherever you decide to go to wed your LGBT partner, one thing that will stay with you once the celebrations are done is your wedding ring. Why settle for just any old boring wedding band when you can have something fabulous that shows your pride? Equalli creates beautiful handcrafted LGBT wedding rings made with rainbow sapphires arranged as a pride flag. The Equalli brand was born out of a desire to better serve the LGBT community.
Ultimately you want to look back on your wedding, however simple or extravagant, with cherished thoughts like these:
“Catalina Island has no gay bars,” as Damian explained, “but I will tell you that we walked everywhere holding hands with no problems. We also had people who wanted to take pictures with us.”
And all the people had tears in their eyes.