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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

Travel is naturally romantic, but there’s nothing like the ringing of wedding bells to amplify the amorous vibes. A destination wedding is an invitation to build exuberant memories for the happy couple, and to share travel joys with family and friends. Already hitched? These days, sequel weddings and anniversary receptions can be just as fun, and less pressure to have a perfect day.

RELATED: Beyond these top spots, check out more LGBTQIA-welcoming properties on Orbitz and others fabulous ways to Travel with Pride!

For LGBTQIA couples, however, there’s an added wrinkle since marriage equality exists in only 29 countries (for now). The option of a symbolic ceremony is fine for some, but finding a gay-friendly locale assures that the community and staff will be more supportive for maxing out nuptial bliss. Here are some of the happiest, most scenic destinations for same-sex couples to say “I do” in unforgettable settings.

New Orleans

Spicy is just the beginning in the Big Easy. New Orleans flavor inspires visitors with a certain sense of freewheeling joy—perfect for celebrations big or small. The city is a legendary capital of music, art, food, cocktails, and an all-welcoming spirit that always leads with love, so LGBTQIA ceremonies will be as joyous as they should be.

Recommended hotels: For couples crushing on rich French Quarter atmosphere, larger, central hotels like the Royal Sonesta with its beautiful courtyard or Hotel Monteleone, known for its charming carousel bar, have various halls, including rooftop party spaces. Longtime LGBTQIA-proud Kimpton Hotels is an IGLTA partner, a solid choice for its Hotel Fontenot, serving a sophisticated style downtown, just outside the Quarter.

Costa Rica

Though 2020 was a tough year, in Costa Rica, LGBTQIA couples found a reason to celebrate when the nation became the first Central-American country to legalize same-sex marriages. The milestone was music to the ears of couples seeking a prime tropical-wedding destination. With gorgeous beaches and verdant rainforests, choices abound for making matrimonial memories. Among the ocean-side favorites are Samara or Quepos for low-key nuptials, and Tamarindo and Papaguayo for upscale all-inclusives (some are adults-only).

Recommended hotel: In the Alajuela province, Origins Lodge is a luxury mountainside resort offering indulgent wedding packages. Oversized suites have terraces with heated outdoor tubs and views for days, plus ceremonies and honeymoon plans can include group activities, spa treatments, and gourmet gastronomy.

Las Vegas

Feeling sparkly? Let the Vegas lights seduce you into a gleaming wedding on the Strip, in the LGBTQIA nabe nicknamed the Fruit Loop, or downtown on retro-fab Fremont Street where you can say “I do” at the vintage-chic Neon Museum. Dazzling is the best word for America’s flashy come-as-you-are capital, where you can swap vows at chapels around town—or just head to gay-owned Gay Chapel of Las Vegas to run with traditional or outlandish themes (think Elvis, Liberace, disco, intergalactic, and more).

Recommended hotels: The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is among the Strip’s most chic resorts, and offers up a wedding suite overlooking the Bellagio Fountains. IGLTA global partners Marriott International and Hilton operate several properties in Las Vegas, too, including the Hilton Curio Collection’s Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, newly opened in March 2021, and a big supporter of the LGBTQIA community.

Catskill Mountains, New York

A few hours north from Manhattan, couples will find enchantment in the Catskill Mountains. It’s a lovely drive through the Hudson River Valley, with rolling hills that build up to peaks and sweeping vistas. New York was among the first U.S. states to usher in marriage equality before it became legal nationwide, and its upstate resorts are still proud to welcome LGBTQIA couples keen to celebrate in natural splendor.

Recommended hotel: West of Woodstock in Mt. Tremper is the Emerson Resort & Spa, where couples can gather in the Great Room for 50-guest ceremonies overlooking Esopus Creek. The resort offers salon services, access to hiking trails, and a budget-friendly “Elopement Package” with all the essentials for a seamless small-scale celebration.

Riviera Maya, Mexico

Mexico City introduced marriage equality back in 2009, kicking off a streak of state legalizations across the country. Others followed including hot resort destinations like the Yucatan’s state of Quintana Roo, where the Riviera Maya beckons LGBTQIA couples to celebrate their unions under palm trees, gazing across the Gulf waves.

Recommended hotel: Between Cancun and Playa del Carmen, the private Mayakoba enclave is home to four luxury beachfront resorts, each with guest rooms and suites at different price points. For the best splurge, head to the adults-only side of Rosewood Mayakoba, where you can wed at one of the resort’s landscaped poolsides, in the chef’s private garden, or on the white-sand beach.

Tagged: Cancun, Caribbean, Las Vegas, LGBTQIA, Mexico, New Orleans, New York, Puerto Rico

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Kelsy Chauvin

Kelsy Chauvin

Kelsy Chauvin is a travel writer specializing in LGBTQIA interests, as well as gastronomy, culture, cannabis, and more. Her work has been featured in an array of publications including Fodor’s Travel, Afar, Condé Nast Traveler, Lonely Planet, EDGE Media Network, and Passport. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter: @kelsycc.
Kelsy Chauvin

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