01 November 2018
KEY WEST, FLORIDA KEYS – For LGBTQ couples seeking a destination wedding and honeymoon, the Florida Keys exude an exotic ambience as the ultimate romantic getaway -- offering relaxing islands, exquisite scenery, treasured history and easy accessibility for travel – no passport required.
“The destination provides an entertaining and secure option for both weddings and honeymoons,” said Guy Ross, LGBTQ sales manager for the Monroe County Tourist Development Council. “There are so many romantic, charming guests houses and resorts – both same-sex and all-welcome.”
Key West, leading the nation in the historical fight for same-sex legal rights, was Florida’s first city to recognize same-sex domestic partnerships and marriage equality. Monroe County was Florida’s first county to recognize those rights for the entire Florida Keys island chain.
History was made on Key West’s Monroe County Courthouse steps at 12:01 a.m. Jan. 6, 2015, when Florida’s first same-sex marriage united local gay activists Aaron Huntsman and William Lee Jones.
Less than six months later, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all states.
“We are definitely seeing more bookings of same-sex weddings, ranging typically from 60 to 150 guests,” said Liz Seligman, owner and event producer at Island Life Events Inc. in Islamorada.
“We did one wedding with drag queens out on the dance floor with the guests, sort of what you would see at a Latin wedding with ‘La Hora Loca,’ A huge success!” Seligman said.
(La Hora Loca, which in Spanish means ‘the crazy hour’, is known as a party within a party, used as a high-energy transition from the reception to a no-holds-barred party.)
Food trends include chef-attended stations, dinners served family-style and food trucks, Seligman said.
“We’re seeing more family members and more mainstream friends in gay and lesbian ceremonies,” Ross added.
The Key West City Commission passed resolutions supporting same-sex marriage and urging private companies to offer health benefits to employees’ same-sex partners back in March 2004. Key West’s official motto is One Human Family, adopted in 2000, promoting inherent unity and equality of all people.
At the nondenominational Metropolitan Community Church in Key West, pastors began performing commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples in 1984.
Other historic Key West churches with lovely traditional indoor settings include The Basilica of St. Mary Star of the Sea, Key West United Methodist Church, known as the “Old Stone Church,” built of native coral rock; and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Duval Street. St. Paul’s performs same-sex marriages.
Key West’s outdoor wedding settings, framed by ardent sunsets, include the half-mile-long Smathers Beach on the island’s southern side, in gardens at the former home of author Ernest Hemingway, the Audubon House or the Key West Garden Club at West Martello Tower; the White House Pier or the Key West Lighthouse & Keeper’s Quarters, as examples.
Couples have married on paddleboards and bicycles, and scuba aficionados have married underwater. At Fort Zachary State Park, couples can marry on the beach or at a Civil War–era fort and even plant commemorative underwater coral to celebrate their union.
Florida Keys honeymoons can be spent in a luxury oceanfront resort, an intimate island suite or a lovingly restored historic guest house. Romantic activities might include commandeering the wheel of a tall ship, chartering a sailboat or hiring a seaplane for a truly memorable day trip to the Dry Tortugas.
Throughout the Keys, a variety of experienced LGBTQ wedding specialists offer subtropical expertise in finding just the right attire, flowers, music, wedding rings, catering, cakes, photographers, videographers, decorators, transportation and officiants.
“Because Key West and the Florida Keys continues to be one of the top U.S. wedding destinations for mainstream couples, it’s no surprise that our destination is equally popular with gay and lesbian couples,” Ross said.
Key West Business Guild information: gaykeywestfl.com or call 800-535-7797
Florida Keys visitor information: fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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