London - Ireland recently broke records to be the first country to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote, and will offer same-sex weddings in the next few months.
The country has joined 18 international territories where gay marriage is legalised, as well as 37 US states.
There has never been a better time to tie the knot somewhere exotic, with ceremonies being offered everywhere from on pristine beaches to stylish yacht clubs.
When selecting a dream location there are some important things to bear in mind.
You have to choose a country where the marriage laws are recognised back in your home country, to ensure your marital status is legal on your return.
It also follows that your country’s law takes precedence over your destination’s.
Second, you have to select a country which legally allows same-sex marriage, and also pay attention to the residency requirements as these can vary.
Some countries require a medical and a certification of health before a licence is given, which is not specific to gay couples and is required of any couple looking to marry in that country.
l South Africa
On November 14, 2006, Parliament voted, 230 to 41, to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage.
It was the first nation in Africa to do so and we are growing in popularity due to our legal status.
When looking for a destination wedding why not consider the Garden Route. Its forest, beach and waterfall locations – all make breath-taking backdrops for tying the knot.
As soon as legislation has passed into law, from July, same-sex couples will be legally able to tie the knot surrounded by rolling Irish countryside, crumbling castles and magnificent country houses.
Many websites targeting the LGBT community have sprung up and hotels are working with couples who wish to get married, prior to the developments.
A popular wedding choice will be Lough Rynn Castle, which has twice been awarded Ireland’s Best Castle Venue.
Couples planning to elope should note that in Ireland both partners must spend at least 15 days in the country before getting a marriage licence, and must notify the local government of their intent to marry there several months in advance
Since same-sex marriage became legal in Portugal in 2010, it has become a popular choice for weddings, especially as Spain only allows weddings for residents.
Steph Bishop, co-founder of site, MarryAbroad recommended the Algarve. “This coast is a favourite location with plenty of hidden coves, quiet beaches and top resorts; as is the capital Lisbon with its hills and historic buildings; and the pretty coastal area nearby, Estoril is ideal if you’d like a private villa wedding with a great view of the ocean,” she said.
Technically same-sex weddings can’t be held in a church or chapel, but there are many beach locations which can be used for ceremonies, and you are almost always guaranteed sunshine.
For residents who wish to get married in Spain, Chic Ibiza Villas are also able to offer ceremonies in their luxurious venues.
In 2005, Canada became the fourth country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage with a law that covered all provinces, although legalities and ages can differ slightly in each.
Why not take advantage of incredible natural backdrops which will take your guests, breath away.
Popular wedding venues include Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, the top mountain resort of Whistler, the quaint town of Banff and the turquoise-blue, mountain-surrounded Lake Louise in Alberta.
This South American country is a popular choice for same-sex marriage as it was the first country in Latin America to legalise the institution.
“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.
Alternatively enjoy a lively and vibrant wedding in Buenos Aires, which has a whole host of gay-friendly hotels, bars and cafés, along with the plenty of opportunity for tango dancing.
l New York
The backdrop of New York’s city skyline is a breathtaking way to start a marriage, and even more so since New York legalised same-sex marriage in 2011.
A popular choice is in the famous Central Park, or on the Brooklyn Bridge, for the best city views.
MarryAbroad suggests for guests who want to try something a bit different, maybe even rent a yacht for cruising around Manhattan.
Each US state has been left to decide its own marriage laws and Massachusetts led the way to become the first state to provide the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in 2004.
Denmark may not be the first country that springs to mind for a wedding venue, but it was the first country in the world to legalise civil partnerships in 1989.
Legal same-sex marriages have been allowed in Denmark since 2012, and so it could a great option for a ceremony. Bishop said: “Denmark in summer is perfect for a wedding, whether you choose to marry on one of the many islands in the north, or have a chic city wedding in Copenhagen, this country does make getting married a breeze.”Daily Mail