Love transcends boundaries: it’s something that connects all of us across the world, and something every individual deserves to have and celebrate. We believe it’s essential that every couple, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, feels supported and embraced in the choice of their wedding location. We’re here to shine a light on LGBTQ+ friendly locations for couples in the community, but also for anyone has queer wedding guests attending, or for everyone who shares these values and beliefs.
Although we hope that someday we’ll be able to say that queer couples can feel safe and celebrated everywhere, there’s a huge demand for LGBTQ+ friendly destinations that support equality and acceptance. Planning an elopement or destination wedding should be a joyful and stress-free experience, and selecting a location that values and supports diversity helps make that possible.
Below are our favorite LGBTQ+ inclusive destinations around the globe with scenic backdrops that also foster inclusive, safe, and respectful spaces and honor love of all kinds with open arms.
Why Have an Inclusive Wedding, Even if You Aren’t Queer
As the LGBTQ+ community continues to be under threat in the US and abroad, it’s more important than ever before to express your support for those most impacted. Even if you identify as a heterosexual / cisgender couple, choosing to have an inclusive wedding is a great opportunity to contribute to a more loving and diverse society.
By planning a wedding with the queer community in mind, you’re showing a commitment to equality and intentional care to create a space where all of your guests and vendors feel welcomed and celebrated.
Best Destinations for LGBTQ+ Elopements in the US
By looking at sources like the LGBT Equality Index and the Equality Map from the Movement Advancement Project, these are the states and territories within the US with the highest scores for supporting LGBTQ legal rights/protections, same-sex marriage, and freedoms, as well as general public attitudes toward people of the queer community:
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
- New York
- New Mexico
Others, like Illinois, Virginia, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands tend to fall in the mid-range on the list. If you want to know the places with the worst protections and/or the greatest attacks on LGBTQ rights and freedoms, these might be ones to avoid for your elopement or destination wedding: Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
In a recent study that considered over a dozen criteria including the LGBTQ+ population, gay bars and Pride events, state and local laws, curricular standards, equality scores from the Human Rights Campaign and the Municipality Advancement Project, LGBTQ-affirming healthcare providers, and even the percentage of residents opposing marriage equality and non-discrimination laws, these locations were listed as the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities in the US:
- Seattle, WA
- Baltimore, MD
- San Jose, CA
- Chicago, IL
- Sacramento, CA
- San Diego, CA
- Denver, CO
- Portland, OR
- Las Vegas, NV
- San Francisco, CA
Best Destinations for LGBTQ+ Elopements in the World
The World Equality Index lists these countries as some of the most LGBT-friendly locations across the globe, making them potentially the most inclusive places for elopements and destination weddings:
- New Zealand
- United States
- United Kingdom
Unsafe Elopement Locations for the Queer Community
While some of these locations below are popular for destination weddings, we’d generally recommend avoiding them as these would be considered “unsafe” for most queer individuals (places that either outlaw homosexuality, don’t have legal protections for LGBTQ individuals, and/or generally considered unsafe):
- Many African countries, such as Nigeria, Tanzania, Morocco, and Egypt
- Middle-Eastern countries, such as Qatar
Ways to Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride on Your Elopement Day
While this isn’t a complete list (don’t be afraid to get creative!), we love some of these more popular ideas to show your pride at your destination wedding or elopement:
- Colorful flower bouquets, boutonnieres, and/or centerpieces
- Rainbow accessories, such as jewelry, cufflinks, ties, pocket squares, socks, shoes
- Colorful smoke bombs (where safe and legal — especially not on sensitive public lands)
- Pride-focused invitations and other stationery
- Rainbow party favors or handheld pride flags
- Rainbow cake, desserts, or cake topper
- Go to a local LGBTQ+ bar
- Hire drag performers or an LGBTQ+ officiant
Non-Traditional Ideas for an LGBTQ+ Elopement or Wedding
One of our favorite parts about destination weddings and elopements is that you can keep the traditions you want, and do away with the rest. This means that you can absolutely get ready together, have a non-traditional first look before the ceremony, walk down the aisle together, or do some fun, unique or non-traditional ceremony readings.
You can even opt for non-traditional attire, like a pantsuit instead of a dress, colorful options instead of traditional white/ivory, or plan an entire outfit change partway through your wedding day!
How to Find LGBTQ+ Friendly Elopement Vendors
Some of the best ways to find wedding or elopement vendors that value and prioritize inclusivity and diversity are to utilize online directories, search through hashtags and keywords on social media, read online reviews from other LGBTQ+ couples, or hire a wedding planner who specializes in LGBTQ+ weddings. It’s especially evident if you’re looking through websites that already feature LGBTQ+ couples on their portfolio, and use gender-neutral language on contact forms.
LGBTQ+ Elopement Photographers + Videographers
Our team at Skyewater Photo + Film is absolutely honored and thrilled to document inclusive wedding and elopement celebrations! In fact, we are a queer-owned company, are one of the vendors listed on LGBTQ I Do, and have been featured in the past on Equally Wed.
We’d be so excited for a chance to chat with you about your destination wedding or elopement plans to see if we’re the right fit to create photos and/or videos that you’ll cherish for years to come!