My Supremely Subjective Top Picks For Destination Wedding
Once newly engaged couples have run through my checklist of questions to help guide the honeymoon or destination wedding planning, they invariably throw up their hands and shout at me, “Alright, but you’re the expert. Where would YOU go?”
That question has been coming up a lot lately since I inadvertently announced my own (re)engagement on my ABCityblog.com. While my partner whom I call Chef (his job) and I popped the question to each other over eight years ago, I insisted on waiting to get married until I could do it in a location that granted me important rights, like immigration status. Wouldn’t you know that Mexico City — my partner’s hometown — legalized gay marriage that conveyed citizenship? Really? Before the United States?
So here I am planning my own gay destination wedding and possible honeymoon.
Here then, in no particular order, are my picks for destinations that I have visited have come to love, and are on my consideration list — either for the engaging culture, impeccable hotels, or fantastic food.
Over the next several months, I’ll be drilling down into each spot — re-visiting a few — and providing you with specific suggestions for your own getaway. In addition, I’ll be providing tips on planning a taste-y destination wedding.
While these locales may not be everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps the list will spark a few taste-y ideas. I’d love to hear if your favorite has been left off my list.
1/ Holland + Scandanavia. How can you not love a country whose ad campaign is “Everyone’s Gay In Amsterdam?” The charming canals, gorgeous architecture and teeming gay and lesbian nightlife make this a perennial popular European destination. Recently it’s become a center of organic food with farm-to-table restaurants sprouting up all over. Besides, the tulip makes a perfect wedding bouquet in a country that is pro-gay marriage. Other countries in the Scandanavian region are worth a look for their cutting edge approach to design and gay-marriage — Sweden was, after all, one of the first countries to legalize same sex weddings.
2/ Provincetown. Time again, I am completely charmed by this oasis at Land’s End. The mix of restaurants, shops, and gay and straight tourists make this a little bit of summertime heaven. Grab a bike and plan your beachside nuptials in this idyllic getaway.
3/ Australia + New Zealand. It’s a long way Down Under, and totally worth it. Sydney’s beaches. Melbourne’s food. South Australia’s wines. And I’m just getting started. All that plus the friendliest folks on the planet. I wear my love for Australia on my sleeve — literally. The famed Opera House is tattoed on my arm. Not that New Zealand should play second fiddle to is brasher cousin. The wines in New Zealand are some of my favorite—and the scenery breathtaking. Plus it’s got all kinds of adventure sports—it’s the country that invented bungee jumping after all. The gayest flight I’ve ever been on was Air New Zealand’s “Pink Flight” to Sydney’s Mardi Gras with world famous drag queens as flight attendants!
4/ Washington DC. If you’re even mildly interested in making a political statement or a history nut like me, then our nation’s capital is the spot for you. To me, DC is having a renaissance of activity with gentrifying neighborhoods, standout new restaurants, and fantastic hotels like one of the 5 uber-gay friendly Kimpton Hotels in the area. Invite your local Congressman to your ceremony and make a real statement.
5/ Southeast Asia. You get a lot of bang for your buck in Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, and Viet Nam. While gay marriage isn’t legal, many of the countries court gay visitors with open arms. There are terrific gay owned and operated tour operators like Purple Dragon that help plan gay-friendly honeymoons and getaways.
6/ Canada. I’ll admit it — I’m a late convert to the land of maple leaves where gay marriage is legal. But I changed my tune after a few trips to Montreal — great cuisine and hopping nightlife make it Paris without the jet lag. But the rest of the country is worth a trip as well. Cosmopolitan Toronto and Vancouver may be a continent apart, but they share a teeming immigrant community that make them fascinating destinations.
7/ Argentina. The first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage has so much going for it: the culture and food of Buenos Aires; the wine country of Mendoza; the adventures of Patagonia. Besides, what’s sexier than the land of tango?
8/ British Virgin Islands. While the Caribbean isn’t generally known as a super-gay friendly destination, there are hideaways worth a peek. My recent visit to Rosewood Little Dix Bay on Virgin Gorda convinced me gay and lesbian couples shouldn’t overlook this gem with white sand beaches on a half moon bay. The ‘60s architecture is mod enough to make the characters of Mad Men feel at home.
9/ Hawaii. The spectacularly wonderful year-round weather make this an easy choice for many couples—despite the fact that the state voted down gay marriage. Spend some time matching your personality to the various islands — Maui is a great “starter” island, while Kauai is perfect for adventurers.
10/ South Africa. Until I was lucky enough to go on safari, I never understood why it was considered a “sexy” vacation. But there’s something about all those wild animals and wilderness that gets you amped up. Pair it with some time in Cape Town and put this pro gay-marriage destination on your list.
11/ Spain. This gay-marriage destination seems to be on the cutting-edge of everything — architecture, food, and fun. Barcelona is my pick for a stylish city just a train ride away from gay beach getaway Sitges. Oh, but I’ve left out Valencia, Bilbao…much more later on one of my favorite countries.
12/ Mexico. I’m still amazed that Mexico City legalized gay marriage before the United States. Since that’s my partner’s hometown, looks like we’ll be tying the knot in that sprawling metropolis. Consider uber gay Puerto Vallarta or the rebounding chic Acapulco for a classic beach holiday.
Okay, so other pro-gay marriage US destinations aren’t on my list: Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire and Vermont. That’s because I haven’t traveled there frequently enough to make specific recommendations in upcoming columns. So if you’re planning one there, invite me! If you have a business there that I should know about, write me! After all, I’m always up for a little more taste-y travel.
Jon Paul Buchmeyer is the author of the award-winning humorous memoir Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life and writes frequently for Condé Nast Traveler and Bon Appétit magazines. In addition, he is the author of his own popular blogs: ABCityblog.com and Poptimistic.com.