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Same-sex weddings and honeymoons boon to travel industry
TRAVEL Special to the online edition of Windy City Times by Jeff Guaracino
2013-10-08

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With 13 states in the United States ( as well as the District of Columbia ) now with legalized same-sex marriage, there are more and more choices for same-sex couples to choose for destination weddings and honeymoons. In the first year since same-sex weddings became legal in New York, NYC & Co found that more than 8,100 same-sex licenses were issued in the city alone.

The travel industry loves same-sex weddings. We are a new group of potential customers. We tend to book our ceremonies very quickly and we opt-out of the standard cookie cutter ceremony. Just read the Sunday New York Times Wedding announcements, the LGBT community is anything but typical.

With so many options to celebrate our love, it pays to be a smart and well-researched groom or bride. Here are just a few of your choices to mark the most important decision of your life ( that is, after you come out! ).

The Four Seasons Baltimore has officially launched its same-sex wedding program with a reception for wedding photography by David Hartcorn, wedding design by Drew Vanlandingham and fashion design by Rose DiFerdinando. Check out www.fourseasons.com/baltimore. The Four Seasons Boston also offers a same-sex wedding service but Baltimore really "'commits" to the market and probably at a much better value.

A Caribbean cruise, called the "Sea of Love," cruise departed Miami next week and featured what may have been the first mass same-sex commitment ceremony in the cruise industry. Sailing from Miami, the Sea of Love was on the brand-new Norwegian Getaway and stopped in Nassau and St. Maarten, with the commitment ceremony being held Oct. 1 in St. Thomas. Visit www.cruiseplanners.com .

Vieques Island is located just eight miles off the coast of Puerto Rico. It is a remote island that is still on the "undiscovered lists." Wedding planner Bernadette Coveney Smith is the founder of 14 Stories and is a nationally renowned expert on wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples. W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island joined 14 Stories to offer the 14 Stories Wedding Day. W Retreat & Spa Vieques Island's 14 Stories Wedding Day experience starts at $12,500 ( reasonable compared to opposite-sex destination marriages? ) While the website could use more gay-friendly messaging and images, 14 Stories will be an asset. Visit www.wvieques.com/viequesweddings.

CuraÞao's is among the very few authentic gay-friendly islands in the Caribbean. There are many LGBT-welcoming hotels ideal for honeymooning couples celebrating in CuraÞao. Many properties are also offering special upgrades for newlyweds, including a complimentary upgrade ( subject to availability ) and a bottle of sparkling wine at the Renaissance CuraÞao Resort. I have never visited this island but a good resource is www.gaycuracao.com .

For the ultimate destination wedding with the easiest planning tool, visit www.gogayhawaii.com . Immediately, you will find a destination and partners—like the Sheraton Hotels—who want to make it easy for you to plan your dream same-sex ceremony in Hawaii. Maybe we should do reverse gentrification? Turn the ultimate destination for the Heterosexual community into the ultimate LGBT wedding and honeymoon destination?

Gifts

We all have been to an opposite-sex wedding and we are told where the couple was registered. My question for the Windy City Times readers is this: How wrong would it be for same-sex couples to register at PayPal?

Jeff Guaracino is the author of Gay and Lesbian Tourism: The Essential Guide for Marketing.


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