Pierre Hotel food and beverage director Jeffrey Mihalakis, 34, proposed to his longtime boyfriend — Carl Lukach, 33, a director at Credit Suisse — with an extravagantly choreographed flash mob in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park. That theatrical proposal could have been a hard act to follow but the couple went even bigger for their wedding, taking a year and a half to plan a 4-day wedding spectacular in the Caribbean utopia of Anguilla.
Jeff and Carl’s nuptials turned out to be spectacular for another reason: they were told theirs would be the first public gay wedding ever held on the island. A couple of venues they contacted winced at the news it would be two boys at the altar, so Carl and Jeff settled on the gay-friendly Viceroy Anguilla Hotel, Meads Bay. The wedding became an emotional experience for all involved. “The hotel’s catering director told us, with tears in her eyes, how much our wedding did for Anguilla,” Jeff remembers. “The locals have seen that a same-sex wedding can be large and public, traditional and cool.”
Jeff and Carl on their big day in Anguilla (Photo: Jonathan Steinitz)
For their wedding, Brooklyn couple Danielle Rapin and Dyana Winkler, cofounders of the organic dog food site Barklyn Organics, chose Dyana’s childhood home, Kauai. Dyana left the Hawaiian island when she was 18 as she had struggled growing up gay in a small town. For her, going “home” to marry Danielle was a final step in her coming-out journey.
For the venue, the couple chose a botanical garden outside of Kilauea town, on the North Shore of Kauai. “The owners were beyond welcoming,” Dyana says. “They squealed with excitement that we were the first gay couple ever to get married on their property.”
Dyana and Danielle were swept off their feet at their Hawaiian wedding (Photo: Michelle Rundbaken)
Gay weddings are experiencing a never-before-seen popularity. But in many parts of the world, they’re still taboo. Dyana says planning a same-sex wedding can be intimidating. “You never know what to expect when you contact a vendor,” Dyana says. Still, she advises: “Give people the opportunity to accept you for who you are.” Jeff agrees. “Take risks on how people will react to a same-sex wedding,” he says. “We were pleasantly surprised.”
Here are our five top picks around the world for same-sex services.
1.) Viceroy Anguilla Hotel
Anguilla is a British territory a little bit east of Puerto Rico. Their flag has jumping dolphins on it; what’s gayer than jumping dolphins?
Where to stay: Viceroy Anguilla Hotel, Meads Bay — Super gay-friendly, backed up with impeccable service and stylish accommodations.
The pool at the Viceroy Anguilla Hotel (Photo: Viceroy Anguilla Hotel)
What to do: Snorkeling, tennis, long walks on the beach, swimming with dolphins, and rum for days. The Viceroy’s spa is amazing; if you get a massage, ask for “Wayne.”
When to get hitched: Rainy season in the Caribbean is May-December so you might want to avoid those months.
Is gay marriage legal here? Not yet. But you can do the City Hall thing in the U.S. in a state where it IS legal, and then have a fabulous ceremony here.
2.) Kauai, Hawaii
Waterfalls and volcanoes and horseback riding and dramatic coastlines and lavender fields and gorgeous surf instructors and… need we say more?
Where to stay: Do it like Dani and Dyana and rent one of Kauai’s charming Airbnb listings to keep it intimate but homey.
What to do: Check out the Na Pali Coast and the Waimea Canyon — known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
The Na Pali Coast (Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr)
When to get hitched: November to March is the rainy season here. But with the rains come glorious rainbows — what better way to usher in a same sex marriage?
Is gay marriage legal here? Yes! Same-sex marriage became legal in the state of Hawaii in 2013.
3.) Montreal, Quebec
Montreal is a romantic, elegant city in one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage.
Where to stay: The Victorian Pierre du Calvet, in the heart of Montreal, is dramatically, intimately furnished and a skip and a jump from all the nightlife.
What to do: Eat some poutine, drink some vin blanc, enjoy Vieux-Montreal, the city’s cultural hub rich with street markets, performers and cafes.
Make sure to try the poutine (Photo: Melanie Lukesh/Flickr)
Is gay marriage legal here? Yep. In 2005, Canada became the third country in the world, and the first outside of Europe, to allow same-sex couples to marry.
4.) Provincetown, Massachusetts
Ah, P-town… Gorgeous beaches, cozy New England guesthouses, and whale watching tours are highlights of this gay and lesbian vacation hotspot.
As far as wedding venues go, few towns are as gay-friendly as “P-town” (Photo: Ted Eytan/Flickr)
Where to stay: The Harbor Hotel is a solid place for a wedding reception, with flexible space and warm, friendly staff.
What to do: Cape Cod is steeped in history and culture, and its 560 miles of beaches are stunning. So include an oceanfront clambake or sunset cruise with cocktails on your wedding itinerary.
When to get hitched: There are few things better than long New England summer nights.
Is gay marriage legal here? Yes! Massachusetts is kind of like Jerusalem for same-sex unions, being the first state in America to legalize.
5.) Queenstown, New Zealand
Expensive destination weddings are a genius way to cut some deadwood out of your wedding guest list. And depending on where you live, there are few destinations farther than New Zealand. It was the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to legalize gay marriage. AND the name: Queenstown. The wedding toast jokes write themselves.
Where to stay: Blanket Bay is a lakeside lodge with amazing proximity to heli-skiing, kayaking, fly-fishing, horse-riding trails, and vineyards.
Blanket Bay is 45 minutes from Queenstown on the beautiful Lake Wakatipu (Photo: Blanket Bay)
What to do: You’ve seen “The Hobbit,” right? So you know the sweeping countryside you’ll be treated to. Add on a trip to the Maori mud baths.
When to go: It’s a pretty charming place year-round, but remember with Southern Hemisphere their winter is our summer
Is gay marriage legal here? Yes! The Kiwis became the 13th country to introduce marriage equality in spring of 2013