Choose a Destination
For couples who dream of saying “I do” with the sand under their feet, the United States has many worthy locales: no flight to the Caribbean required. These destinations offer breezy coastal vistas, lovely waterfront venues and ample activities to keep guests entertained all weekend long. In addition to being wedding hot spots, these five destinations are home to thriving LGBT communities. With many gay-operated hotels and businesses, same-sex couples and their guests are sure to feel welcome on the big day. Read on for a dose of beachy inspiration.
Located 80 miles west of Portland, Seaside is known for its dramatic coastline of volcanic cliffs and emerald mountains. The center of the LGBT community is in Cannon Beach, a few miles south of Seaside. Cannon Beach boasts the most beautiful shoreline in the region, marked by the iconic Haystack Rock. Aside from its natural splendor, Cannon Beach is a sophisticated community filled with LGBT-run cafes, restaurants and galleries.
Couples hosting an intimate wedding might love the castle-like feel of the Arch Cape Inn & Retreat, set on a secluded 2.5-mile beach. Medium-sized groups can opt for the cozy and elegant Stephanie Inn along the beach. Large celebrations can take over Surfsand Resort, with its upscale but family-friendly feel and stunning views of Haystack Rock.
While in town, wedding guests can go hiking in the scenic Ecola State Park, taste local beers at the Cannon Beach breweries or go gallery hopping on Hemlock Street. For a taste of nostalgia, take a ride to Seaside to order an ice cream cone and stroll along the 1920s-era boardwalk.
Monterey County is home to some of Northern California’s most inspiring scenery. Think rolling vineyards, rocky coastline, wild waves and soaring redwood trees. While the waters are chilly, you’ll see surfers braving the waves and beach bonfires at sunset. With its close proximity to San Francisco—just three hours to the south by car—Monterey is relaxed and LGBT-welcoming.
For intimate weddings, couples can hold the ceremony on the beach at Carmel-by-the-Sea. Then, head inland to the magical La Playa Carmel mansion for a romantic reception. Medium-sized weddings are well-served at the elegant Sanctuary Beach Resort, with its beautiful stretch of beach and lovely guest cottages. For epic celebrations, beachfront Monterey Beach House can accommodate hundreds of your closest friends.
While in Monterey, guests can spend their days hiking in Point Lobos State Park, wine tasting in the Carmel Valley, or exploring the shops, galleries and cafes in the storybook-charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Those traveling with kids can’t miss the famous Monterey Aquarium and a walk along the water to spot seals.
For epic celebrations, beachfront properties can accommodate hundreds of your closest friends.
Miami Beach, Florida
Miami has long been called the “Gay Riviera.” Couples looking to turn their wedding into a real party can bring their vision to life in this fun-loving town. With countless LGBT-friendly restaurants, beach bars and nightclubs, weddings can easily turn into all-night dance parties in Miami.
Of course, Miami Beach isn’t just a club kid. The city is home to a thriving art scene, gorgeous Art Deco architecture and globally inspired restaurants. Culture-hounds can taste Cuban cuisine in Little Havana or dive into the cutting-edge galleries in the Wynwood Art District.
Miami Beach offers wedding venues to suit all sorts. Intimate ceremonies can be arranged directly on the sand. Then, head inland for a romantic reception at the whimsical Curtis Mansion, a historic landmark. For something unique, small- to medium-sized celebrations can be held on one of Miami’s mega-yachts as it sails along the coast. Back on dry land, the iconic 1930s-era Palms Hotel hosts beachfront weddings that don’t skimp on glamour.
Hamptons, New York
Few destinations scream seaside Americana louder than the Hamptons. With its chic-meets-rustic atmosphere, windswept beaches and LGBT-friendly attitude, the Hamptons has all the trappings of an idyllic wedding locale. The Hamptons is comprised of a string of villages and hamlets on Long Island, each with a unique vibe. The LGBT community was traditionally centered around East Hampton. Nowadays the Hamptons is filled with gay-operated shops, cafes and more.
For an intimate beach wedding, have the ceremony on the beach and the reception in a rented beach house. With the wedding party staying in the house, the whole weekend can feel like a retreat. Larger celebrations can be held at Trumpets at the Gate, a romantic and classic venue that welcomes LGBT couples. Weddings of more than 200 guests can go all out at the iconic Montauk Yacht Club, with many venues to suit parties of all sizes.
While the wedding guests aren’t busy dancing and toasting, there is so much to see and do in the Hamptons. Aside from enjoying the beautiful beaches (Main Beach in East Hampton is particularly lovely), guests can go wine tasting at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard, catch theater productions, ogle art at the Pollock-Krasner House and Studio or try surfing in Ditch Plains.
There’s no denying the wow-factor of a beach wedding in Maui. The second largest island in Hawaii, Maui is home to awe-inspiring scenery, stunning sunsets and powdery white sand beaches. Maui is also particularly welcoming to LGBT couples, with several companies specializing in planning same-sex beach weddings.
Couples looking for a small, romantic church ceremony will be endlessly charmed by the Palapala Ho’omau Church. The small wooden church is set in a dreamy tropical garden with ocean views. For a ceremony on the sand, head to the spectacular and secluded Poolenalena Beach. For an epic wedding of 100 guests or more, splurge on a celebration at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea.
Wedding guests traveling to Maui can easily make the most of their time on the island. Active types can head to Haleakala National Park to hike on a dormant volcano or hit the beaches for surfing, snorkeling and parasailing. Maui is also one of the world’s premier whale watching destinations. Animal lovers can set out on a cruise to spot the sea creatures at play.