Going to the Chapel Abroad: Gay Marriage in Foreign Countries

We previously put out an article that focused on places in the U.S. where you could have the wedding of your dreams. Now we set our sights beyond the land of the brave. At this point there are 16 countries that recognize same sex marriages (and you may soon be able to add two more to that list, England and Wales), allowing you to choose from locales that run the gamut from the familiar to the exotic for your ceremony and, of course, the reception. What, you were going to travel half-way around the world and not have a party?


Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Iguazu Falls and Patagonia are popular locations, but check out Mendoza, Argentina’s wine region. The vineyards are a perfect environment to hold a ceremony and many of the wineries can accommodate a reception. For more information visit argentinawinetourism.com.


The Hotel Bloom in the Botanique district of Brussels, offers banquet facilities and can provide catering for your event. There are also a number of American hotels in Brussels, making planning your event from home much easier. For more information, go to visitbelgium.com/gay-travel.


While gay marriage is not legal in all of Brazil, the state of Rio De Janeiro has legalized same-sex marriage. Most of Rio’s landmarks and famous beaches are located in the South Zone, including a gay district known as the Bolsa (gay zone). The Copacabana Palace (copacabanapalace.com) is a gorgeous hotel overlooking the famous beach and has an event coordinator for your event.


Our neighbor to the north provides more options for wedding venues than you can imagine. Montreal has a European flair, Toronto can be sophisticated and chic or down home and comfy and Vancouver has beautiful beaches and lush, green landscapes. If you prefer a woodsy feel, you’ll love Banff, in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, for more information, go to banffgayweddings.com or travelgaycanada.com.


Paris, the most romantic city in the world, has to be near the top choice for a gay wedding, but you can also live out your Disney princess fantasy at one of the many chateaux that dot the French countryside. Lesser known, but just as wonderful, is Montpellier a beautiful wedding destination on the Mediterranean. Rachel Kaplan’s company, France Wedding Planner (franceweddingplanner.com) welcomes same sex couples.


If you’re looking for a wedding venue that will make jaws drop, get married at the IceChurch in the Icehotel, which can accommodate 35–45 people. If that’s too cold for you, a summer wedding in the land of midnight sun assures you that the sun will never set on your celebration. Contact icelandweddingplanner.com for assistance.


In Mexico, same sex marriage is legal Mexico City and the state of Quintana Roo (aka the Mayan Riviera.) Mexico City’s tourism office has a gay travel site (mexicocity.gob.mx/lgbt) that includes the U.S. based company Promesa, which offers gay wedding planning services in Mexico specifically for foreigners.

The Netherlands

Your guests can arrive by boat at The Dylan Amsterdam (dylanamsterdam.com), on a canal in the heart of the city. The contemporary hotel has three banquets rooms, a secluded garden and a Michelin starred restaurant. You can also take advantage of Netherlands’ same sex wedding laws on the island of Saba, a Dutch territory in the Caribbean (sabatourism.com). The island is laid back, so if you’re looking for wild nightlife this ain’t the place for you.

New Zealand

Can you imagine flying by helicopter to the top of a mountain or a glacier for a ceremony? Theweddingcompany.co.nz can take care of that for you. Or consider the luxurious Villa Toscana (villatoscana.co.nz), on the Coromandel Peninsula, where they’ll arrange everything for you.


In Spain it takes at least a month to complete marriage paperwork. So, for a foreigner it is probably not a good place to get married. If you’ve got the time though, Ibiza is muy gay. For help in planning your event, go to www.ibiza-spotlight.com.

South Africa

For your wedding in South Africa, check out Jembisa Safari Lodge (jembisa.com), with a chapel featuring a huge window with stunning views of the mountains.


In Stockholm, for a touch of old world elegance and a connection to celebrities, past and present, check out The Berns Hotel (berns.se), which can accommodate up to 1,200 guests in its largest dining room.


Montevideo has a lively nightlife scene and a growing gay community. The Esplendor Hotel (esplendormontevideo.com),located in the heart of the arts district?, has converted an old theater into an exclusive ballroom, perfect for a wedding party.

Requirements for a marriage license vary from country to country. Most will require you both to have your birth certificate and a copy of divorce papers if you were ever previously married. In many countries it is common to require all couples to get married at a government building (such as city hall), with private ceremonies conducted at a later date. A good place to check the requirements for same sex marriages in a foreign country is the web site for Immigration Equality, immigrationequality.org.