RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
With white-sand beaches, pampering resorts, and perfect sunny weather, coastal Mexico has long seduced couples to get hitched in a dream-wedding destination. Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta are perennial favorites for same-sex couples, but Riviera Maya has been wooing the LGBT traveler with a slate of LGBT wedding packages. The region has also become more attractive to the gay community thanks to a number of new, hip hotel openings like Thompson Playa Del Carmen, a 92-room boutique in the center of town, offering 27 separate beach suites to boot. The hotel’s rooftop infinity pool has commanding views of the sea, the perfect backdrop for wedding photos. Rosewood Mayakoba is the crème de la crème of luxury resorts thanks to massive, over-water villas and a jungle spa that features some of the region’s most tantalizing, Mayanimmersive treatments. Like many luxury resorts, Viceroy Riviera Maya offers a traditional Mayan ceremony for their weddings, but within an intimate environment. It is the preferred hideaway for discerning travelers thanks to jungle and beach villas, a fantastic restaurant by Jorge Ildefonso, and convenient beachfront location. In Cancún, ME Cancún, the former home to Real World Cancún, is one of the gay-friendliest resorts in the Hotel Zone with chill vibes during the day and a party atmosphere at night. It’s also all-inclusive with six restaurants and lounges from which to choose. For complete privacy, Nizuc Resort, a former play- ground for Mexican presidents, sprawls on 29 privately owned acres with 274 upscale suites and villas (half of which are equipped with their own plunge pools), a 30,000-square-foot spa, and a separate adult section with a two-tiered pool tucked away within lush mangroves. Your wedding party won’t have to leave for anything: there are nine restaurants and lounges and a private beach in rare seclusion. Get hitched at El Pueblito in Mayakoba. This stunning new contemporary outdoor plaza (a spin on the traditional Mexican plaza) is incredibly romantic with gurgling fountains and a gorgeous, modern chapel with sparkly chandeliers. Two boutique shops feature an excellent curated collection of high-end items (from handmade soaps to accessories) and Fairmont, Rosewood, and Banyan Tree respectively manage three food outlets.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil may have brought Savannah, Georgia national fame, but the Southern city has become more famous for its dynamic creative arts scene, which has been pivotal for the local LGBT community to flourish. Now, the formerly swampy and sleepy destination is chockfull of progressive restaurants, boutique hotels, and art galleries, lending to its modern transformation while still staying true to its roots and ambience. Spanish moss-covered trees line cobblestone streets, historic carriages whisk away love-struck couples, and the city’s famous Southern cuisine woos gourmands and foodies alike. Savannah is downright romantic and picturesque, which is why it’s a magnet for couples tying the knot. A familiar face with the locals, openly gay Wedding Officiant Reverend Steve Schulte has performed several same-sex marriages and is highly regarded in the community. Getting married in one of the historic squares isn’t unusual, and entire weddings book out Kimpton’s The Brice, a charming boutique hotel with cozy rooms and an intimate, central courtyard for memorable receptions. Wedding guests are in for a treat with the slew of contemporary restaurant openings like James Beard–winner Hugh Acheson’s The Florence (serving elevated, innovative pizzas and pastas) and Mashama Bailey’s The Grey, a lively dining spot in a former Grey- hound station. Just across the river, 20 minutes into South Carolina, The Inn at Palmetto Bluff, a Montage Resort, offers the ultimate grounds for big wedding parties. Hosting a wedding virtually every week of the year, the resort features a new chapel, museum, vacation rentals, and well appointed cottages in addition to 150 newly opened guest rooms.
The small country of Uruguay is a surprisingly underrated gem that doesn’t get the well-deserved attention as its neighbors, but therein lies its beauty. Uruguay is not overrun with tourists and still feels genuinely exotic. In addition to Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is the only other country in South America that allows same-sex marriage, which reflects the country’s welcoming attitude toward the LGBT community. While it’s not huge, Uruguay packs a lot of punch. The wine country here is one of the most tantalizing on the continent, where many vineyards practice sustainable agriculture and green farming. The new Bodega Garzon is the first winery in the world seeking LEED certification for the entire facility and produces fantastic wines (from Pinot Noirs to Sauvignon Blancs) as well as delicious olive oils. Naturally, a trip to Uruguay isn’t complete without visiting the chic beach towns of Punte Del Este and Jose Ignacio. The jet set-approved, unspoiled beach get- aways are home to art galleries, museums, excellent restaurants and a bona fide, South American beach vibe. Playa Vik, considered the most luxurious hotel in the country, is a design-driven remote hideaway right on a deserted beach that’s perfect for private weddings. The views of the sea (from the villas and infinity pool) are unrivaled. Couples are quick to book rehearsal dinners (and social nights out) at La Huella, an institution in José Ignacio known for its sea bass and octopus as well as its prime people watching. Just a short distance from José Ignacio, La Caracola is a dinner club where up to 30 guests take a boat across a lagoon to a private beach for a daytime picnic. The sheer beauty of the day trip, and the pure authentic nature of this gay-friendly wedding destination, makes for an unforgettable experience.