Love, romance, a scenic setting and close friends and family. That’s the usual formula for a wedding. Add in official recognition of the union, and you have the makings for a great gay wedding destination. As LGBT Pride Month kicks off in June, it’s a great time to look back at the marriage equality progress over the last 12 months. More than half a dozen countries across Europe, South America and the Caribbean as well as six US states have legalised same-sex marriage since last June. To celebrate this growing list of options for gay couples, the experts at Cheapflights.com, the online leader in finding and publishing travel deals, have compiled their Top 10 Up-and-Coming Gay Wedding Destinations. This list highlights some special spots where same sex marriage has recently been legalised and where couples can now celebrate their love and commitment with the backing of friends and family.
Below are five beachfront locales from our list of up-and-coming wedding destinations:
* Newport, R.I., United States - Rounding out the northeast corner of the United States, Rhode Island became the final New England state to legalise gay marriage with same-sex weddings expected to start in August. Situated along the state’s 400 miles of coastline about an hour south of Boston, Newport gives couples looking to book a summer wedding the chance to declare their love against a backdrop of spectacular beach scenery. With a lively downtown area, a stretch of famous mansions that once played summer hosts to wealthy families and three vineyards to visit, this resort town is an ideal warm-weather wedding destination.
* Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Gay marriage is only legal in some parts of Brazil, but the state of Rio de Janeiro officially invited gay and lesbian couples to walk down the aisle inside its borders this year. The people here know how to celebrate. Known for its colorful carnival festivities, mountainous scenery and famous landmarks like Ipanema Beach, Sugarloaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer statue (one of the New Seven Wonders of the World) atop Corcovado Mountain, Rio de Janeiro offers plenty of experiences for wedding guests. And you can be sure they’re prepared to host a wedding celebration; after all, the city is preparing to play host to athletes and spectators from around the world during the 2016 Olympic Games.
* Montevideo, Uruguay - Same-sex marriages are expected to start in July in Uruguay, 90 days after the law is promulgated. With a relaxed atmosphere and beloved beaches, this South American country offers plenty of sights and activities for wedding guests. Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, where celebrations broke out following the vote this spring and street parades are a regular occurrence, is a laid back port city featuring picturesque beaches, captivating colonial architecture and a lively nightlife scene—a perfect place for couples to relax and celebrate. The country is relatively small, making Montevideo an easy jumping-off point for day trips—a helpful feature for guests traveling from a distance and looking to explore. Trek to the southwestern area of the country to see Colonia del Sacramento’s historic district—a UNESCO World Heritage site.
* Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, United States - A long-time summer tourist hot spot and gay friendly beach town, Rohoboth Beach takes couples and wedding guests back in time. Complete with a boardwalk and an amusement park, this seaside locale gives the feeling of stepping into an old-fashioned summer vacation—an interesting juxtaposition to the state’s more progressive adoption of gay marriage. The first gay and lesbian couples will be allowed to marry in Delaware this summer and Rohoboth Beach is one of the state’s most popular summer vacation destinations. Located only a few hours away from major U.S. cities like Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia, Rehoboth Beach features plenty of restaurants, places to stay, golf courses and even tax-free shopping for those last-minute wedding necessities.
* Saba, Dutch Caribbean - The number of tourists flocking to this tiny island in the Dutch Caribbean has increased dramatically since gay marriage was legalised here last year. Though the Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalise gay marriage, officials gave the country’s islands some added time to integrate the law. But Saba has long been considered a gay friendly destination—an approach that paved the way for its newfound popularity as a hot spot for gay and lesbian weddings. Secluded and peaceful, the island is known for its scuba diving, hiking, nature experiences and friendly people. Even though Saba is surprisingly lacking in beaches, it offers plenty for adventurous couples and any pair that wants to exchange vows away from the hustle and bustle.