New York's Marriage Equality Act famously made marriage for same-sex couples legal here in the Empire State starting in 2011. But tying the knot can still be a complicated process, regardless of gender. The good news: New York State has more opportunities than ever to make it easy to say yes to your LGBT wedding - including LGBT-friendly wedding venues, planners, ceremony officiants, photographers and honeymoon destinations.
Beyond just thinking about the celebration, if you're looking to be a legally wed couple, you'll need to secure a New York marriage certificate. The NYS Department of Health is the agency responsible, and they have specific information on New York's Marriage Equality Act, and more general information on getting married in New York.
NYC's 14 Stories and Rainbow Bells in Niagara Falls are just two firms into same-sex wedding planning, but LGBT planners are popping up all across the state in towns big and small. From rings and registries to unique honeymoons, these experts can bring a real plus in planning your big day. Or, you can prepare an amazing DIY (do it yourself) wedding utilizing some terrific New York web resources. For more information, visit discoverlongisland.com.
Finding an officiant to conduct your ceremony who is as thrilled with your union as you are can make all the difference. Directories like Purple Unions, and other localized resources that can help you make the right choice.
If it's just got to be a traditional church wedding, you'll find plenty of open and affirming houses of worship that host marriages for same-sex couples. In Buffalo, for instance, towering First Presbyterian Church, magnificent St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral and striking Temple Beth Zion all open their doors to your special day.
Long Island's Historical Chapel, a charming 1852 historic structure ringed with stained glass, caps your vows with peals from its tower bell. Or you can take your ceremony ocean-side for a romantic beach wedding. Some venues will put you right on the water, like the Allegria Hotel in Long Beach.
For the more adventurous, does it get any more romantic than a ceremony against a majestic Adirondack Mountain backdrop aboard the Lake George Steamboat Company's Lac du Saint Sacrament? To keep the Adirondacks view but stay landlocked, there are amazing venues like the Georgian Lakeside Resort also in Lake George, the Mirror Lake Inn or High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid, the Garnet Hill Lodge in North River or the Copperfield Inn in North Creek.
Garden weddings don't get prettier than vows exchanged beneath a majestic 250-year-old chestnut tree surrounded by flower gardens. This Victorian fantasy at Dibbles Inn in Vernon is a top pick in New York's Central Region.
One of the top wedding institutions in Manhattan is Central Park's Loeb Boathouse. If it's photo ops you're after, the Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park offers striking views over New York Harbor, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Or get right on the water for a wedding aboard one of the vessels of World Yacht.
Urban views are not limited to New York City. In Albany, Taste has a high-rise penthouse with an outdoor terrace and indoor room with sweeping views of the Hudson River.
A winery makes for a scenic and festive wedding location, whether on Long Island or in the Hudson Valley or Finger Lakes regions, to name just a few locales. Atwater Estate Vineyards on the southeast side of Seneca Lake will host your wedding ceremony just steps from the tasting room, while over 200 surrounding Finger Lakes wineries provide more distractions.
A more casual outdoor wedding is available at Mountain Top Grove in Binghamton. Multiple local houses of worship can solemnize the union.
Intimate weddings are well suited for B+B's, like the rustic Chalet of Canandaigua.
Or maybe modest isn't your thing. How about getting married in a castle? You can take your storybook vows at Highlands Castle in Bolton Landing. Also, the luxurious and historic Belhurst in Geneva in the Finger Lakes was rated of the "Top 10 Romantic Inns and Resorts." Other luxurious Finger Lake settings can be found by visiting innsofaurora.com.
A lot goes into a wedding and it helps if everyone is on the same page. Jewelers, photographers, clothiers, and caterers who specialize in same-sex events can make everything go more smoothly. Purple Unions is another popular directory for every aspect of your wedding.
Most every corner of New York State has great LGBT honeymoon spots, but Purple Roofs has been finding and sharing the best of them since 1999. More than 4,800 gay-friendly B&Bs, hotels and vacation rentals are listed here, as well as travel agents and tour operators.
The honeymoon capital of the world, Niagara Falls is also one of the most LGBT-supportive areas in New York State. Same-sex couples will find an enthusiastic welcome here, a thriving cultural scene, vibrant nightlife, and romance to spare. In Buffalo, in fact, you'll find plenty of ideas for your ceremony or honeymoon, online and in town, including Gay Stay & Play packages.
The vineyards of our Finger Lakes region offer beauty, romance, and enough vintage tastings to warm up any honeymoon. LGBT-friendly Ithaca makes for a cozy honeymoon, with great nature, restaurants, and shopping to keep you amused but not so distracted as to keep you from each other.
The Catskills are a newer hot spot for romantic same-sex weekend trips, with several charming gay- and lesbian-owned bed and breakfast inns. A little further north, Saratoga Springs is a downtown jewel for strolls in Congress Park, quaint shops and a memorable stay at the Gideon Putnam Inn and its famous Roosevelt Spa with naturally evanescent waters, or perhaps the town's most famous mansion, the Batcheller Mansion Inn, a hand-tooled Victorian head turner.