Destination Weddings

by Joel Martens
Sunday May 13, 2012

June is here soon, a traditional month for marriage, which makes me think about all things white (do not say a word, people with glass houses and all that). Yes, yes, I know, why would we want to follow any traditional idioms from our straight counterparts, you say? Ultimately for me, it's because spring is about rebirth/renewal and I love the time of year when florals are freshest and travel is often easiest. Finally, I just wanted to-I am now channeling my inner bridezilla- so deal or it won't be just a bouquet I'll throw!

At any rate, the idea of marriage was not even in the realm of possibilities not so long ago. Thankfully we now have options, real options both spiritually and legally-with many more to come soon. So I began to wonder about the reality of it and where we can go to do the actual deed. Who is the most welcoming around the world? Where are the most romantic of destinations?


Spain has allowed gay marriage since 2005. As with a traditional union, one of the same-sex
partners must be a Spanish resident, having been legally in Spain for at least two years and registered with the municipality. A civil marriage in Spain allows homosexual couples the same legal, adoption and inheritance rights as heterosexual couples. Perfect, now you just have to fall in love with a Spaniard-I am so working on that. I have studied Gaudi ad nauseum and am a total architecture buff, so this is the place for me. His otherworldly, unfinished cathedral La Sagrada Familia is captivating beyond words and the city is steeped with many other architectural jewels, art and history. No better place could be found than the delightful Barcelona for your wedding, although a close second might be the beaches at Sitges. For help planning yours check out:

A Place to stay in Barcelona:

Well I guess it had to happen... it was inevitable, the first gay hotel "chain." They have three locations and Barcelona happens to be one of them. This Catalonia gem is centrally located in a restored 16th century building with 66 individually designed rooms, a restaurant, business center, a roof terrace, a gym, pool and Jacuzzi-pretty much everything you need!

Check them out at:
Hotel Axel Barcelona
Calle Aribau, 33, 08011 Barcelona, EspaƱa
Tel: +34 93 266 0562

Cape Town<

Africa is about life in extremes. The vastness of the country is remarkable and its beauty unparalleled. There are dense tropical forests teeming with diversity, its famed rivers such as the beautiful Congo and the mysterious Nile, the great plateaus (the largest of these level areas being the Great Karoo), the height extremes between the 19,340 foot summit of mighty Kilimanjaro and the vast deserts of the Kalahari and Sahara (the latter being largest in the world), it is a place of mystery and romance-just ask Baroness Von Blixen. The country's stance on marriage is also extreme, same-sex marriage is legal in South Africa (since 2006) and the constitution safeguards LGBT rights there. In places like southern Nigeria though, homosexuality is illegal and carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison. Sharia penal code (Islamic religious law), enacted in 12 states in northern Nigeria, subjects homosexuals to penalties as harsh as execution by stoning-so it is a place to be avoided. Stick to Cape Town in South Africa which has become one of the world's most popular gay destinations with many supportive and wonderful options for your nuptials. Check out

A Place to stay in Cape Town:

The intimate Mannabay Boutique Hotel is in the center of Cape Town and offers seven uniquely designed suites for the ultimate in luxury. Intimate and private, with well-appointed common rooms and sophisticated extras that will make you never want to leave. Included in your stay are full breakfasts, daily high tea and a complimentary airport transfer.

Mannabay Bay Boutique Hotel
1 Denholm Road (Cnr Denholm and Yeoville)
Oranjezicht, 8001
Cape Town, South Africa
Telephone: + 27 21 461 1094
Fax: + 27 21 461 8915


Canada was the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage on July 20, 2005 nationwide, with Ontario leading the way in 2003. The lifestyle in this delightful city is low-key and relaxed and the city is known for its artistic, sophisticated feel. This part of the world is laid back in a different way than we are here in SoCal because they have an appreciation for all things finer in their surroundings since they spend a lot more time inside. World-class museums, music and theatre with an art school that is amazing, all help produce a well-rounded environment that is never dull. A thriving gay community provides plenty of support for your wedding and it's much easier there than most places. Couples from all over the world flock to this Canadian paradise because there are no citizenship or residency requirements when applying for a marriage license, making it uber-easy to walk
down that isle. For help planning your wedding go to:

A Place to stay in Toronto:

Chic and sophisticated, this contemporary haven is located in downtown Toronto with floor to ceiling windows offering fantastic city views from each room. The amenities include an intimate wine bar and lounge called Eight, with well-known fine wines, rare varietals and exotic "cult" favorites, fantastic market-fresh food simply prepared, meant to be shared with your lover-or should I say spouse? Check them out at:

Cosmopolitan Hotel
8 Colborne Street
Toronto, ON M5E 1E1

Buenos Aires

South America has come a long way baby, yet there are still places that don't show the kind of support that we would like to see. Most states have LGBT protections, the one notable exception is Guyana, where male-tomale sexual activity is still illegal and carries a heavy penalty-life imprisonment. Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay have constitutional bans on gay marriage, so let's avoid them as well. Argentina is the first (and only) South American country to legalize gay marriage so far (in 2010 to be exact) an Buenos Aries is the ultimate destination for same-sex nuptials, with many hotels and resorts offering great packages for your ceremony/honeymoon. This sophisticated, cosmopolitan city is rich in architecture, language, and culture-a thriving, bohemian metropolis in need of some tender loving care, but none-the-less a stunning jewel. Need Help? Check out:

A Place to stay in Buenos Aries:

Not to be redundant, but I am sending you back to the Hotel Axel again. The boutique hotel is located in the San Telmo barrio, known for it's rich bohemian sophistication. Modern and clean with out being impersonal, this hotel has it all. Whether dining, or lounging, relaxing or partying you will be happy you stayed. They have spa treatments; tango lessons and their "Axel in Love" specials are worth the research. Check it out at:

Axel Hotel Buenos Aires
Venezuela 649
C1095AAM Buenos Aires
Telephone (+54) 11 4136 93 93
Fax (+54) 11 4136 93 94

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