Many Mexican cities and resorts support same-sex marriage. // © 2014 Thinkstock; ShutterStock
1) Verify current laws regarding same-sex marriage in the state and city where the couple lives, as well as the destination where they would like to have a wedding ceremony.
2) Work with someone who knows the market. Make sure that the planners, hotels and venues are well versed with same-sex weddings, and know how to make clients feel welcome.
3) Make it special. Like any wedding or honeymoon, this will likely be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
As same-sex marriage becomes legal in more destinations around the world, it’s no surprise that the potential for selling destination weddings and honeymoons for the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) market continues to grow. And Mexico is no exception when it comes to destinations that offer more options than ever, with a number of hotels, wedding planners and tourism offices providing help with this growing segment.
The Cancun Convention & Visitors Bureau, which recently joined the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), is among the organizations that have ramped up their focus on the LGBT market, with weddings and honeymoons among the offerings.
“It’s an important segment for us,” said Enrique Tiscar, director of the Oasis Sens, an adults-only, all-inclusive Cancun resort. “It’s more than just the economic factor. We want to participate in the couple’s happiness in one of the most important moments in their lives together. We are seeing that LGBT weddings, as well as honeymoons, are growing, and our hotel is prepared to give the best service and attention to the community, thanks to the training that we’ve received through our chain, Oasis Hotels & Resorts.”
Tiscar feels his destination is particularly well positioned to draw this market.
“It’s worth mentioning that Cancun is a destination that’s reported a noteworthy growth in the arrivals of this market segment,” he said. “It’s considered the fourth most popular destination in Latin America and third in Mexico for LGBT tourism.”
The Oasis Sens resort is among the businesses in Mexico that recently became certified by the Gay Wedding Institute, a program operated by 14 Stories, a U.S.-based same-sex wedding planning company that has a Mexico City office to oversee training throughout Latin America.
Mexico City is, in fact, a logical hub for the same-sex wedding and honeymoon industry for the region, since it was the first large city in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010. In April, a new site called Matrimonios LGBT launched, which includes information in English and Spanish for foreigners looking to tie the knot in North America’s largest metropolis. When it comes to the fastest-growing segments within the same-sex wedding market, bi-national couples are a group that’s growing daily, especially U.S. citizens with Mexicans and Colombians, according to Francisco Robledo, LGBT marriage manager for the site. He added that the average age of U.S. travelers getting married is 45.
Robledo explained that in many cases, bi-national couples may include a U.S. citizen marrying a Mexican citizen who hasn’t been able to obtain a U.S. visa for travel.
“The growth potential for this type of couple is great, since as long as there is no immigration reform in the U.S., many bi-national couples need this type of service,” he said.
Another new resource for same-sex destination weddings and honeymoons is GayDestinationWeddings.com, a site launched by Destination Weddings Travel Group last year, which features a section about LGBT-friendly Mexico destinations. Destinations range from popular coastal hot spots, such as Los Cabos and Cancun, to smaller cities like San Miguel de Allende. A site called PurpleUnions.com also features listings of local planners, event venues, hotels and photography services in several destinations throughout Mexico.
Puerto Vallarta, which actively promotes itself as a gay-friendly destination, is another natural choice for same-sex weddings and honeymoons. In Puerto Vallarta — which has long been the highest-profile Mexican destination with LGBT travelers from the U.S. — couples will find a wide variety of LGBT-owned hotels, as well as large gay-friendly properties such as CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa. In June, that resort will host LGBT Confex, an international business expo. In addition, Marriott International has a dedicated same-sex wedding and honeymoon section on its site.
The allure of the LGBT wedding and honeymoon market — and the overall LGBT travel market — is clear, noted Tiscar.
“Cancun hopes to increase, even double, the arrivals in this market segment, through promotion strategies, training of personnel and the creation of more products to make this an even friendlier destination for these travelers,” he said. “From the U.S. alone, this group generates more than $66 billion in travel every year.”