TOP FIVE COUNTRIES FOR SAME-SEX WEDDINGS FROM MARRYABROAD.CO.UK
This month marks a first for the UK's gay and lesbian communities, as Manchester's Cross Street Unitarian Chapel has become the first religious premises in England and Wales to offer civil partnerships. Same-sex couples are now able to hold religious wedding ceremonies, with a legal civil partnership ceremony taking place afterwards.
"We are delighted that changes in legislation passed in December 2011, now allow UK places of worship to apply for civil partnership licenses. We predict that many more UK chapels will soon offer this service," says Steph Bishop, Joint-Founder of MarryAbroad.co.uk.
"However, ten other countries actually offer same-sex marriage ceremonies - rather than civil partnerships - Portugal, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden and Argentina, as well as six U.S. states and one U.S. district. Within these destinations, same-sex couples can find fantastic wedding venues, and specialist same-sex planners," says Bishop.
MarryAbroad.co.uk presents its Top Five overseas destinations, offering same-sex marriage:
Portugal offers an array of romantic venues that offer same-sex marriages, with symbolic blessings. Although technically in Portugal same-sex weddings can't take place in a church or chapel, couples can choose from a number of outdoor and beach locations, which make most of the country's guaranteed sunshine.
Noelia Jacinto, from Portuguese wedding planning company Sonho a dois says, "It is easy to organise a same-sex marriage ceremony in Portugal. Our suggestion for a venue with a great view is the Lady of the Rock, in Senhora Da Rocha - a beautiful mountainous jetty, overlooking the sea. We use the end of this cliff-top venue for ceremonies, and the panoramic sea view is stunning."
"Same-sex marriage in Canada is extremely straightforward, and many planners will help offer a symbolic ceremony. We have seen a steady rise in interest from our site users in Canada for same-sex weddings. Banff Gay Weddings - a specialist planning company that organises same-sex weddings in the Canadian Rockies, is a popular choice for couples," says Bishop.
Although couples first need to deal with a few residency requirements, same-sex marriage is legal in Spain and has been since 2005.
Wedding planner Carme Displąs from I Do 4 Love has arranged many same-sex weddings in the past few years. "A wedding is such a joyful occasion and for same-sex couples, being able to get married in Spain is a dream they never thought would come true. We have such a great selection of venues available and it's always a pleasure to see couples looking so happy on their wedding day."
4. SOUTH AFRICA
"South Africa's is becoming more and more popular for same-sex weddings, due to its legal status. The well-known Garden Route boasts forest, beach and waterfall locations - all breath-taking backdrops for getting married abroad," says Bishop.
"Argentina also offers a liberal view to same-sex marriages. We recommend choosing The Grapevine Argentina - a Wedding Planning Service located in the Mendoza Wine Country, who can arrange the most fabulous weddings in a New World Winery that sits in the shadow of the Andes Mountains," says Bishop.
For same-sex wedding planners and venues around the world, please visit:
For more information on practicalities and legalities on getting married in any of the above countries, please visit www.marryabroad.co.uk.
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MarryAbroad.co.uk is a free information portal for couples, providing marriage legalities, information and advice on marrying around the world. The site, which launched in January 2006, also promotes destination wedding professionals to the UK wedding market by driving visitors to site partners, to increase their visibility in the global wedding market. MarryAbroad.co.uk saw 145% increase in site visitors 2011, with an annual 420,000 unique visitors to the site in 2011.