The British Wedding Invasion
We all want to be queen for a day, and now that same-sex marriage has become legal, and sanctioned by her majesty (and Madge, no doubt), this is the perfect time for a UK wedding, honeymoon, or both. The new marriage laws go into affect March 29 and EDGE offers up a few ideas to start your new life together with enough class to earn you a guest spot on "Downton Abbey."
First off, know that same-sex couples cannot marry in an English church, so nix the house of worship search. Also, do your research ahead of time so there are no legal surprises. The site www.gov.uk is a good place to start.
On a side note, Manchester, just a two-hour train ride from London, is home to the Unitarian Church, a longtime supporter of same-sex marriage around the world, and home to the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel. The chapel, which is not affiliated with the Church of England, performs same-sex weddings. Click here for more information.
When searching for gay friendly spots anywhere in the world, the IGLTA (International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association) is an excellent place to start. All approved members meet a high standard of gay tolerance and acceptance, and can give you pointers on places to go and where you’ll feel the most comfortable.
When booking any destination for your nuptial trip, make sure the resort knows that you are a gay couple planning a wedding. If there is anything less than an enthusiastic "congratulations," take your dollars elsewhere. Honeymooners often receive free upgrades and other perks, another reason to let everyone know about your blessed event.
A Royal Affair
As for wedding destinations, London has palaces galore, and if it’s your dream, and you have a dream budget, you can have a true fairy tale wedding. Next door to Buckingham Palace is the Goring, and it’s as close to a royal affair as your wedding can get. They are gay friendly, so if you want to splurge, this is the place to do it. And you might want to save some cake for the queen -- you never know when she might get an urge to snack.
There’s also Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, and Kew Palace to name a few other amazingly historic wedding spots. Go here for more information. And no fear, lads; you can still hit a pub afterward:
A great site to check out for your affair is Further Afield, which lists a multitude of gay-owned or gay-friendly hotels, large and boutique size, B&Bs, and other properties in England and around Europe. Further Afield gives you tips for all sorts of budgets and wedding package plans, so don’t stress out if you’re not made of money.
To make your own Brighton Beach memoirs, or just memories, head to this very gay-friendly destination for a couple of days, or for your entire trip. It’s about 30 minutes from London by train, and has long been a favorite destination for gay couples. There are majestic hotels, great restaurants, nightlife, bars, the prerequisite Pride Festival, and even culture -- you gotta bring back some souvenirs for your new home. For more information, visit Gay Brighton.
The Sweet Taste of Love
As for good eats, it’s your celebration day, so splurge a bit. One must is Balans on 60 Old Compton Street. Balans is in the heart of Soho and the "official" gay London restaurant. Don’t believe me? It’s the street Kylie walked down in her "Timebomb" video. The portions are as large as your love, and the restaurant is open all day and night, 365 days a year. They also have a smaller, intimate Balans Café right down the road.
Also check out Sketch at 9 Conduit Street. This restaurant once housed Christian Dior’s showroom, and is now a contemporary, edgy hotspot with French/European food. The set menu is terrific (there’s a weekend midnight feast as well), and, here’s a plus: Champagne is included. Toast away!
Even if you can’t quite afford to buy the "cottage," Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, has opened up its doors for all its fanatic fans. There are tons of tours available, including many day-trips from London, so visit Downton Abbey Package Tours to find one that suits you like an English Tea.