As recognition of the LGBTQ community’s legal rights, such as marriage, spreads across the world, so does the desire from couples to opt for a destination wedding. At the beginning of 2020, 28 countries have embraced marriage equality, stretching out across the planet from Iceland to Tahiti. So, there are many different unusual and unforgettable LGBTQ-friendly wedding destinations to choose from. Here we have put together a list of our top romantic international wedding spots where you can tie the knot in incredible surroundings. Don’t forget to check the legalities and rules surrounding getting married in each of these countries as a foreigner, as they can vary greatly. But these are still all perfectly possible and remarkable wedding destinations!
Argentina became the first Latin American country to establish marriage equality in 2010. Since then, LGBTQ travellers have fallen for this friendly and welcoming country, especially its capital city. Buenos Aires is one of Latin America’s LGBTQ capitals which appeals for its beauty, history, cuisine and culture, ticking all the wedding destination boxes! Whether you are craving a steak washed down by Malbec, want to see an opera at the Teatro Colón or to explore the San Telmo street market, Buenos Aires has plenty of memorable experiences to offer. The city’s vibrant culture extends from central neighbourhoods like the colourful La Boca to the LGBTQ-friendly cafes and guesthouses found in San Telmo, Retiro, Barrio Norte and Palermo Viejo. For something extra special, why not time your wedding at the same time as the Queer Tango Festival, held in late November! Learn this sultry and romantic dance in its home city, perhaps in time for your first dance!
Australia legalised marriage equality in 2017, after a successful public referendum and majority parliament vote. With such a breathtakingly beautiful and diverse country, wedding destinations are plentiful! The metropolitan hubs of Sydney and Melbourne spring immediately to mind due to their vibrant LGBTQ communities and urban glamour. But these are in no way your only options. With the stunning rural areas, beautiful sweeping beaches, or charming towns such as Canberra (Australia's capital city FYI), a small but cosmopolitan city with a great food and art scene, Australia is an increasingly popular destination for weddings.
Brazil embraced marriage equality in 2013, developing a civil-union law from 2004. Electrifying cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo offer you incredible cultural experiences, such as vibrant music and dance, as well as beautiful beaches. If you are looking for something more intimate and peaceful, Trancoso and Estrela d’Agua are gorgeous beach towns which have absolutely breath-taking coastal views and reliable LGBTQ-friendly hotels.
Canada is known for its congenial culture and as the first country outside Europe to legalise marriage equality in 2005, it makes an excellent and poignant destination for your union. Toronto is home to some of the country’s best food, wine, and culture, creating a sophisticated and stylish wedding location, with venues that will make you feel like royalty for the day. Or, if you want your culture with a slice of adventure, why not try Vancouver on the other side of the country? This cosmopolitan city also features Davie Village, a thriving LGBTQ neighbourhood with trendy restaurants and bars against the breath-taking backdrop of the Canadian Rockies. These magnificent mountains situated right near the coastal city result in the best of both worlds! As well as hiking, thrill-seeking couples can add a trip to nearby Whistler for mountain biking or skiing.
France established marriage equality in 2013, so one of the most romantic countries in the world is open to exploration! From Bordeaux wine country to Nice or Cannes on the French Riviera, your venue could be a Renaissance châteaux, rolling vineyards or beautiful beaches depending on what you want from France’s stunning landscape. And, of course, there is cosmopolitan Paris. The City of Love is the ultimate romantic wedding destination, the epitome of culture. Its nickname, 'Gay Paree' recurs across the city’s art and culture and is thought to have originated in the late eighteen-hundreds as the government in term implemented some pretty hefty liberalisation. Liberalisation that still lives strong today, especially in the lively LGBTQ community in the Marais district.
Hawaii passed marriage equality into law in 2013, so you can be married in paradise! The popularity of this wedding destination is understandable, as the spectacular natural wonders make an unforgettable backdrop to your vows! Palm trees and blue seas, rainforests and waterfalls with secluded pools, Hawaii is the ultimate picturesque wedding destination. Even better, the honeymoon is just waiting for you! Hawaii’s aloha spirit coupled with generations of diverse populations living in sync result in a laid-back, peaceful vibe. O'ahu and Maui are LGBTQ hubs, with plenty of beaches, B&Bs and resorts catering to the gay community.
Iceland legalised marriage equality in 2010, followed swiftly by the country’s Prime Minister Jóhanna Siguroardóttir – the world’s first openly lesbian head of state – marriage to her partner! So Iceland has become a popular LGBTQ wedding destination as a response to the country’s legacy of acceptance and equality. As a bonus, the scenery is absolutely awe-inspiring! You can choose from a range of breath-taking backdrops for the ceremony such as beside a spectacular waterfall, in a rustic church or surrounded by magnificent glaciers.
In 2015, Ireland became the first nation to legalise marriage equality by popular vote, a reflection on the country’s welcoming spirit. Dublin is a perfect city for an LGBTQ-friendly ceremony, with venues for a range of budgets. Or if you want to experience the magical romance of rural Ireland, you could create a romantic Ireland itinerary featuring romantic lodges and boutique hotels in Killarney and Dublin, and visits to fabled sites including Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry, Torc Waterfall and the Cliffs of Moher.
While the Caribbean as a whole has been slow to support marriage equality, Martinique is a French territory under French law, making it an idyllic, tropical LGBTQ wedding destination. The island is in the southern Caribbean Sea, offering lush forests, sandy beaches, and incredible Creole cuisine and culture.
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise marriage equality in 2001. Where better to celebrate your wedding than in this progressive country’s capital city, Amsterdam. This historic location is incredibly romantic, with cultural hotspots, candlelit cafes and iconic Dutch architecture. It is also perfect for couples who love to party, as Amsterdam is famous for its vibrant nightlife so you can celebrate your wedding by partying all night long!
New York City
New York, New York! One of the world’s most iconic cities, NYC is a hugely popular wedding destination. Everything you’d expect from a metropolitan city: museums, theatres and great food! With so many incredible locations to tie the knot, from the Top of the Rock, Lincoln Centre or Central Park Zoo, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Take your wedding reception to the vibrant LGBTQ neighbourhoods of Chelsea, Greenwich Village and Hell's Kitchen for an unforgettable post-wedding celebration!
Since marriage equality was legalised in 2013, New Zealand has been a picturesque wedding destination. With wineries and guest houses, the beaches of Waiheke Island or the stunning lake-mountains combination of Queenstown, there are options for every couple! Queenstown is especially perfect for adventurous couples as it is home to extreme sports like jet boating, white-water rafting, skydiving and bungee jumping!
San Francisco has a long history of LGBTQ activism, with the Castro District being an epicentre for LGBTQ culture in the USA for more than 50 years. This dazzling city is filled with iconic landmarks and architecture, with a huge number of incredible bars, shops, eateries and hotels catering to the crowd. San Francisco’s vibrant atmosphere, breath-taking (literally) hills and famous fog create a memorable wedding destination.
The 5th country to legalise marriage equality in 2005, South Africa’s stunning landscapes and gorgeous weather make an enticing wedding destination! Cape Town is Africa’s most LGBTQ-friendly city and it certainly makes a romantic setting. With a backdrop of magnificent flat-topped mountains and golden beaches, this city is filled with artistic parks and bohemian neighbourhoods, with idyllic vineyards surrounding it. South Africa also offers some of the most diverse activities, from wine tasting to penguin-spotting tours, safaris to shark-cage diving!
In 2005, Spain was the 3rd country to embrace marriage equality and is one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world. Many of its big cities host LGBTQ film festivals and music festivals with WorldPride solidifying Madrid’s place as a European queer capital. Many couples choose this gorgeous country for their wedding destination due to its world-class architecture and gorgeous food. Barcelona is a stunning location, famous for its open-minded attitude, flamenco (the dance of love and passion) and Gaixample, a region of the city full of LGBTQ friendly shops, bars, and restaurants. For a less urban feel, the beach town of Sitges, just south of Barcelona, is an enchanting spot thanks to its prime coastal location and its reputation as Spain’s most LGBTQ-friendly town.
Perfect for a wedding and honeymoon destination, Tahiti is part of French Polynesia so has accepted marriage equality since 2013 under French law. With plenty of palm trees, crystal clear lagoons and white sandy beaches, Tahiti is an island paradise! Most of the stunning hotels and resorts can legally offer same-sex weddings, with an incredibly welcoming atmosphere. Tahiti’s rae-rae – cross-dressing and transgendered people – are a highly respected and integral part of the restaurant and hotel industries in Tahitian culture. Have an idyllic and romantic time in your own thatched-roof overwater bungalow with a glass floor to watch colourful tropical fish swimming below.