NEW YORK The steadily increasing stream of states and countries legalizing gay marriage has dramatically changed the lives of LGBT people and their loved ones in recent years.
In honour of the growing number of places to celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender nuptials, online travel adviser Cheapflights (www.cheapflights.com) has come up with its top 10 list of gay wedding destinations. Reuters has not endorsed this list:
1. Washington, D.C. USA
Although gay marriage was only first legalized in D.C. on December 18, 2009, America's capital has long possessed a large LGBT population. As such, America's capital has no dearth of gay-friendly neighborhoods and hotels for your wedding festivities. Imagine a rooftop reception with panoramic views of the city - you and your beloved a part of the history of America beginning to make good on its promise of "equality and justice for all."
2. Montréal, Quebec, Canada
Since Paris has yet to legalize gay marriage, Montreal is the next best thing. With beautiful parks, fantastic cuisine, a raucous nightlife and an unrivaled atmosphere of convivialité, Montreal is a perfect place to say, "I do." In fact, it's so charming you might even want to stay on for your honeymoon. Plus, the city's close proximity to Mont Tremblant is an added bonus if you'd like to get away for skiing in the winter or exploring of the great outdoors in summer months.
3. Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage - on April 1, 2001. With a plethora of beautiful churches, five-star hotels, international cuisine and charming streets and canals - to say nothing of the museums, galleries and monuments - your guests will be eternally in the palm of your hands if you invite them to your big day in Amsterdam.
4. Madrid, Spain
Considering the country's strong ties to the Catholic Church, Spain's legalization of gay marriage in 2005 surprised many. Nonetheless, the lively whirlwind of Spanish culture, art and architecture sets an inimitable backdrop for the big day. From jaw-dropping cathedrals to top cuisine and drink to the sexy roll of the Spanish "r" in the streets, few other cities light up romance like Madrid.
5. Provincetown, Massachusetts, USA
Provincetown is the Fire Island of Massachusetts. With quaint bed and breakfasts dotting the coastal town's narrow lanes, fantastic restaurants and gay nightlife, "P-town" is a must-visit destination year-round. Add in gorgeous beaches and a vibe of utter acceptance, and Provincetown climbs the ranks among the best gay wedding destinations in the world.
6. Stockholm, Sweden
Sometimes referred to as the "Venice of the North" because of its location at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, Stockholm is renowned for its natural beauty and clean air. Waterways, parks and green spaces make up a large percentage of the city's space. It is also a highly sophisticated city with many classy restaurants, bars, shops and hotels. Though the winters are cold, the city's beauty is breathtaking - there's even an ice hotel if you really want to stay cool on your wedding day.
7. Buenos Aires, Argentina
Home of hip Latin beats and merrymaking, Buenos Aires is a bustling city that combines a modern skyline with the ornate architecture of the past. With a great deal of flair and style to be found on almost every corner, a culture that imbues even the mundane with great passion, and no shortage of great clubs and restaurants, your guests will not soon forget your "I do" in Buenos Aires.
8. New York City, New York, USA
"Finally!" many thought when the great state of New York legalized gay marriage in July 2011. What better destination can you imagine for getting married and celebrating afterward? Imagine being high atop the city that never sleeps in any number of marvelous hotels, toasting your husband or wife and family? And when it's time to boogie down and celebrate, you've got the entire Big Apple to roam about in. (And with the New York subway, guests needn't fret about driving and transportation after a few glasses of bubbly!)
9. Reykjavik, Iceland
Often referred to as the "nightlife capital of the north," Reykjavík is like nothing you've ever experienced. Aside from the exciting nightlife, Reykjavik has a well-cared-for outdoor environment, with many geothermal-heated outdoor pools, beautiful parks and green spaces. However, if it's an enchanted wedding you really crave (and as long as you and your guests are clad in parkas), it's Reykjavik's Northern Lights that will make your special day truly one of a kind.
10. Oslo, Norway
Like in other Nordic gay wedding destinations, in Oslo you are very close to nature. Hiking, skiing, boating and swimming are all within a stone's throw of the city. And within the city center, you have your pick of beautiful, modern hotels, sidewalk cafes and one-of-a-kind shops and restaurants. Even here, though, nature is all around with an abundance of trees, parks, fountains and green space. Search and compare cheap flights to Oslo.
(Editing by Paul Casciato)