Wendy and Dianne’s wedding was unconventional in more ways than one.
“We had a pig roast on the Friday night and our family brought everything
else like salads, home-made pies, followed by music, dancing and a bonfire,”
they told me. “Saturday morning, we had a golf tournament, got married in
the afternoon on the beach, had our wedding dinner with more music, dancing
and another bonfire.”
It was a fun-filled wedding and one of the things that made it memorable was
the location — a gay-owned resort called Waterview On The Bay in
Wiarton, Ontario, two hours north of the couple’s Brampton home.
Same-sex and trans couples may feel the allure of a romantic location far
from our everyday lives, but we usually need to have the legal ceremony in
Canada because most of the countries that allow same-sex marriage only
perform it for residents.
If you’re willing to do a two-stage process, there’s a world of
queer-friendly places that will help you organize a commitment ceremony.
Purple Unions (purpleunions.com) is a global listing of queer-friendly
wedding planners, venues, officiants and caterers. Purple Dragon
(purpledrag.com/thailand/cwedding.htm) offers a traditional Lanna blessing
ceremony in Chiang Mai, Thailand. In a teakwood porch, the couple lights
candles and receives handmade garlands from local elders. Attendees tie
sacred strings around your wrists and offer their good wishes.
For something a little more secular, many Las Vegas chapels now perform
commitment ceremonies for anyone. The gay-owned Viva Las Vegas Wedding
Chapel (vivalasvegasweddings.com) does theme weddings where you can be
“married” by Elvis, Austin Powers or King Tut.
South Africa is one country that recognizes same-sex marriages and will
perform weddings for non-residents that should be valid in Canada. Gay Unity
Abroad (gayunityabroad.com) arranges weddings for visitors at locations like
Cape Town’s Table Mountain or at the Kwandwe Game Reserve.
Our own Rocky Mountains are the backdrop for Banff Gay Weddings
(banffgayweddings.com). There are very few wedding websites that integrate
queer and other couples and this company, like many, has a separate site for
straight weddings with no easy links between the two.
Few venues outside major cities have experience hosting weddings for couples
in which one or both identify as transsexual or transgender. However, there
are wedding venues that have hosted transfolk as overnight guests, like
Mexico’s Casa Sirena Hotel (sirena.com.mx) and Ontario’s Woodhaven Country
Chair of the Egale Trans Issues Committee Mickey Wilson says there are no
legal barriers across Canada regarding whom you marry on the basis of gender
identity, but there are potential barriers regarding document requirements,
which vary by province.
In Newfoundland, Manitoba, Alberta and BC you might be able to present ID
documents that do not state gender. “If your ID isn’t in your gender of
choice yet, and provincial requirements differ with regard to getting ID in
that gender, then [there] may indeed be barriers to getting your marriage
license and marriage certificate in your lived gender,” Wilson notes.
Equal access to marriage is all about choice. There are still many places
where queer couples cannot marry, but we have more choices than we used to.