LGBT travel 2012: Gay marriage becomes legal in Cancun, Mexico

LGBT travelers can add Cancun, Mexico, to their must-visit destination list, as the city has recently legalized gay marriage. In fact, the first same-sex marriages will be taking place this month in the resort area.

While same-sex marriage has been legal in Mexico City since 2009, a recently discovered gap in the Civil Code, which only talks about “people interested in getting married” without specifying gender, has helped to legalize gay marriage in the Quintana Roo area for 2012.

The Mexican Caribbean is already a popular travel destination for the LGBT community, with numerous gay-friendly and focused bars and clubs, hotels, tours and beaches, and the desire for gay weddings in the area has been high. With this new development, the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association is teaming up with Colectivo Diversidad, Gay Tours Mexico, and Fusion G to work out deals with hotels and airlines so that gay marriage ceremonies can take place all over the region.

From the looks of things, Quintana Roo will be seeing a surge in LGBT tourism and destination weddings in the new year.

Galley Gossip: 5 tips for traveling with a wedding dress

From the moment my husband got down on one knee and proposed in the sand at sundown, I knew I wanted a destination wedding. When it came time to choose a wedding dress, I only considered styles that were sleek and simple. Basically I had to find something I could pack inside a suitcase since we had booked tickets on a regional carrier. Most of these airlines do not have closets or decent overhead bin space. So I knew beforehand that I’d have to gate-check a bag at the airport. It was a risk I chose to take. Thankfully my dress arrived safe and sound. I picked it up on the tarmac in Monterey.

Not all brides are quite so lucky.

“Can I hang this inside the closet?” asked a passenger on my flight from New York to Miami last week. She held a long, white garment bag with the words David’s Bridal written in gold across the zippered front.

Normally flight attendants are more than happy to accommodate a wedding dress, but sometimes it’s just not possible. This was one of those times.

“Congratulations!” I said to the blushing bride in an attempt to soften the blow. She smiled. Oh how I dreaded delivering the bad news. How could I tell her there were no closets and that first class coats had been hung on a hook between the bulkhead wall and the last row of first class seats? No way would her big puffy dress fit in such a confined space. And if miracle upon miracle it did fit, it would get crushed.

Tips for traveling with a wedding dress:

1. Ship it: FedEx / UPS / DHL and avoid airline hassles altogether! Most wedding dress places have shipping boxes and many will ship (domestically) for free. Too much can happen in transit. Do you really need the added stress?

2. Skip the poofy dress: Cinderella dresses belong in fairytales, not on airplanes. Sure it looks beautiful on you, but it’s not going to look so great after you pick it up at baggage claim because you were forced to check it when it didn’t fit on the airplane. Doesn’t matter that you’re getting married, if it doesn’t fit it doesn’t fit case closed! Be smart and travel light.

. Check aircraft equipment: Most wide-body equipment (an aircraft with two aisles used mainly on long haul routes) have closets on board for passengers to use. They’re usually located in first class. Not all narrow-body equipment (single aisle aircraft) have closets since so many of them have been reconfigured to make more room for passenger seats.

4. Board first: Just because there’s a closet on the airplane doesn’t mean there’s going to be space available for your dress. Closets are small and quickly fill up with large bulky items such as wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, paintings, strollers, musical instruments and garment bags. Your only option may be to place the dress inside an overhead bin. If you’re in coach, choose a seat near the rear of the aircraft since most major carriers board from back to front first. This will ensure you find a place for your dress since bins tend to fill up quickly now that passengers bring everything on board to avoid checked luggage fees. If you’re traveling on an airline like Southwest that uses a first come-first serve boarding system, get to the airport extra early so you’re one of the first passengers in line.

5. Buy the dress a seat: The only surefire way you won’t have to check the dress is to buy a seat for it. I’m not kidding. Passengers traveling with musical instruments do it all the time. There’s nothing more important than the dress, am I wrong? The dress to a bride is a lot like a child to a parent in that you’ll do anything to protect it from being harmed. Just make sure to book it a window seat and don’t forget to buckle it in.

Get a free wedding in St. Maarten

Hosting a destination wedding is a great way to cut down on the expenses involved in getting married. Fewer guests equal less money spent on food, drinks and invitations, and fewer tables to seat those guests means your costs for flowers and rentals like linens and chairs will also be lower. Two Sonesta resorts in St. MaartenSonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino and the Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino – are now making the idea of a destination wedding even more appealing. . .and affordable.

Guests who book a seven night stay for themselves and 20 guests (10 rooms with double occupancy) will receive a free wedding package. And we’re not talking a single bottle of champagne and a sheet cake. No, this package includes the reception dinner and open bar. With my friends and family, that savings alone would be significant.

The package also includes the services of a wedding coordinator, marriage licensing services, wedding cake, corsage and boutonniere for the bride and groom, room upgrade, and 10% off of spa services.

[via HotelChatter]

Complimentary destination wedding – it’s not a trick

The Ritz-Carlton has an amazing destination wedding offer for the rest of this year. And yes, the dreamy location above (San Juan, Puerto Rico) is included in the offer!

Here’s how it works. You call up the Ritz-Carlton and say “Hey. I’m thinking about a destination wedding,” and mention the Reconnect package, which starts at $269 (Jamaica).

Then, they hook you up with a $100 daily resort credit for spa treatments and/or recreation activities, a daily romantic breakfast for two, and a free ceremony including:

  • Ceremony Location (such as the above)
  • Wedding Specialist
  • Wedding Concierge
  • Minister
  • Signature Bouquet
  • Signature Boutonniere
  • Signature Location Décor

And the icing on the cake? They’ll give you a three night stay for your first anniversary at any of the following five locations: The Ritz-Carlton Cancun, The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, The Ritz-Carlton Golf & Spa Resort Rose Hall, Jamaica, The Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, and The Ritz-Carlton San Juan Hotel, Spa & Casino (the same locations where you can get married with this package).

Like it? Sound too good to be true? Well, you do have to get your friends and family in on it. The offer is for couples whose party will occupy (and pay for) 25 rooms for three nights. But you can totally swing that, right?

The complimentary wedding ceremony is applicable to wedding events booked between April 1 – June 30 and held between May 1 and December 20, 2009. Click here for more information!