A New York Romance
Horse-drawn carriage rides through Central Park. A long, lingering meal in an exquisite eatery. A star-studded show on the Great White Way. New York has long been one of the most romantic cities on earth. But with the July 2011 passage of New York State's Marriage Equality Act, it's also become one of the most popular places in the U.S. for gays to get hitched.
In the first year after the law's passage the city hosted 7,184 weddings, according to the Pew Research Center. That's about a tenth of the total number of gay weddings since 2004, according to Pew estimates from last June.
Bernadette Coveney Smith, founder of the trailblazing gay wedding planning service 14 Stories, isn't surprised by the numbers.
"New York City is a good site for gay weddings," Smith observes, "because before it was even legal here it was the number one gay tourism destination in the U.S. And that's because New York's perceived as so gay-friendly, and it's so much fun. That's why people come here... they know there's not going to be any issues and there's just so much to do."
And so many places to do it. Throughout the Big Apple, hotels are welcoming with open arms gay couples anxious to enter into wedded bliss. Here are EDGE's picks for the best romantic spots for nuptials, a reception or honeymoon getaway:
A member of the LGBT-friendly Kimpton hotel brand, the plush, contemporary Eventi began offering its gay wedding "Now You Can Say I Do!" package not long after opening in 2012. It includes complimentary indoor or outdoor ceremony space, a video or photo montage shown on a 30 x 16.5 foot L.E.D. screen, and two free nights at any Kimpton property.
Located in the great gay neighborhood of Chelsea, Eventi boasts the Veranda, an outdoor space ideal for weddings with breathtaking views of the Empire State Building.
Prices begin at $235 per guest.
Since it’s opening in 1930, The Carlyle has hosted nuptials infused with old-world luxury in spaces ranging from lavish suites with views of Central Park to the legendary Carlyle Restaurant. According to Catering Manager Jodi Lynn, "The Carlyle makes a wonderful wedding venue because it really feels like a second home to our guests. They love the intimacy and warmth of the staff...our suites feel like you are in a home rather than a hotel room and our staff is here to take care of every need."
Prices begin at $250 per guest.
With two swanky, ultra-hip Manhattan locations - the Gansevoort Meatpacking NYC, and the Gansevoort Park Avenue NYC - couples can plan their perfect wedding downtown or up. Both hotels now feature the "Mr. + Mr. G" or "Mrs. + Mrs. G" wedding package. It includes a one-night stay; two couples one-hour Fusion Massage at Exhale Spa; taxi to city hall; champagne upon arrival; custom cake; rose petals; and suit press or dress steaming.
Prices begin at $642.
Located in Hell’s Kitchen, New York’s hottest new LGBT neighborhood, this sleek and sexy hotel has hosted gay weddings since they were legalized in New York State. Among the most memorable was the wedding officiated by Fran Drescher, actress and Universal Life Church Monastery-ordained minister.
"As part of the launch for the second season of her sitcom ’Happily Divorced’," recalls Tonya Sanchez, director of catering & events, "she wanted to honor the newly passed marriage equality legislation by officiating a same-sex wedding. We hosted it in our nightclub, XL, and Drescher was so inspired by the event she agreed to marry the owners of the nightclub, too!"
A wedding at XL averages $20,000; other ceremonies average around $200 per guest.
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park
With a location just minutes away from the courthouse, this five-star waterfront luxury hotel began fielding inquiries from same-sex couples about wedding facilities almost immediately after the Marriage Equality Act passed.
A number of wedding packages and services are available, as are venues ranging from grand ballrooms to the intimate Premiere Liberty View Suite. Ideal for small ceremonies, the suite serves up an unparalleled vista: Lady Liberty in all her fabled glory.
Prices begin at an average of $265 per guest.