July 1, 2015 at 6:07 pm EDT | by Joey DiGuglielmo and Mariah Cooper
13 destination weddings that will surprise your guests
destination wedding, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by Innovated Captures; courtesy Bigstock)

With last week’s Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex couples suddenly have a lot of new options for destination weddings.

Before June 26, there were 13 states that did not allow gays to wed. We looked at off-the-beaten-path venues in each of those states you might want to consider if you want to walk down the aisle in a memorable way.



destination wedding, gay news, Washington Blade

Old Mattress Factory Bar and Grill (Photo by Cyndi Murphy)

The Old Mattress Factory Bar & Grill — “The Matt” to locals — claims it’s North Downtown Omaha’s “best event bar” located in one of the area’s oldest historic buildings, an 1883 beautiful brick building that started as the Stabrie Grocery Store but later became the Central Mattress Company where, from 1945 into the 1990s, mattresses were built, sold and shipped.

“Matt” owners have taken pride in preserving its interiors and the site offers a newly renovated bar/restaurant within the original brick walls and architecture of the old Stabrie building. The unusually high ceilings and restored wood timbers and beams give the place an open and authentic atmosphere.

Although only about 15 weddings have been conducted there in Cyndi Murphy’s seven years there, it’s a popular spot for receptions.

“Oh, we do a ton,” Murphy says. “At least one reception a week.”

She says the Matt has already hosted several same-sex receptions and the staff would be delighted to do more.

“Absolutely,” she says. “We don’t discriminate against anybody. If you’re in love, have at it.”

Details at themattomaha.com.



destination weddings, gay news, Washington Blade

Lewis & Clark Riverboat (Photo by Jesse Knudson Photography)

Sail away to your new life together on the Lewis & Clark Riverboat, owned and operated by the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation. The riverboat is available May through September to enjoy the scenic Missouri River.

You and 100 guests can enjoy a ceremony held on the upper deck, wedding decor, a pre-event rehearsal, cash bar and staff. A variety of catering and reception options are available. Rates vary depending on day and length of event but start at $1,100.

Although they’ve had no same-sex weddings yet, Eryn Anderson, who works in the ticket office, says “of course” they’re open to that.

“We were just going to do a Pride event a couple weeks ago but it got cancelled because of weather,” she says. “But we have weddings here all the time and are definitely open to that.”

Details at lewisandclarkriverboat.com.




destination weddings, gay news, Washington Blade

Mount Rushmore (Photo by Mike Tigas; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Billed as the “first ever wedding under the faces of Mount Rushmore,” a group wedding this fall will be gay. On Sept. 6, a “National Marriage Celebration” is planned for LGBT couples and allies where couples can wed or rededicate their vows. Officiants will perform the ceremony and sign marriage certificates. “Come solemnize or rededicate your vows at the historic event at the Shrine of Democracy,” organizers say. “Dinner and reception will be held in Rapid City after the ceremony.”

The event is being organized by the Black Hills Center for Equality, a Rapid City, S.D.-based LGBT group. Details at bhcfe.org.




destination weddings, gay news, Washington Blade

Southfork (Photo courtesy Cherie Calloway Photography)

If you want a big Texas wedding Ewing style, Southfork Ranch is happy to welcome you. Get married in style at the site of such famous “Dallas” weddings as Mitch and Lucy, J.R. and Sue Ellen (twice) and even Miss Ellie and Clayton. Lucy’s wedding dress is displayed on site along with other props from the classic soap (1978-1991 and 2012-2014).

“Southfork Ranch LLC allows same-sex and opposite-sex marriages as well as all denominations and cultures to marry here,” says Janna Timm, regional director of sales and marketing for the ranch. Same-sex couples have already wed there. The busy site averages about 75 weddings a year.

The Southfork Ranch Conference & Event Center in Parker, Texas (20 miles north of downtown Dallas) has 10 different ballrooms to host events of all sizes. Two full-time event professionals are on hand to help you with all details. No prices listed. Details at southfork.com

In a Blade interview last year, actress Linda Gray (Sue Ellen) said she would love to see a gay Southfork wedding.

“Sure, why not?,” she said.




Several wedding packages are available at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, a 365-acre amusement park located on a Lake Erie peninsula in Sandusky, Ohio. Opened in 1870, it’s the second-oldest operating amusement park in the United States.

The most memorable would undoubtedly be the “Roller Coaster Wedding Package,” which can be yours for $4,500. Billed as “the ultimate way to tie the knot,” you can be joined in holy matrimony on the roller coaster platform of your choice for one hour before the park opens. Then take the plunge with private ride time for you and your guests.

The package includes one hour of private time on the ride, photos for 12 guests, a 90-minute escorted photo session in the park and park admission for 12 guests.

Details at cedarpoint.com.




destination weddings, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo courtesy Racheal Melodie’s Photography)

Want to give your wedding a macabre twist? Look no further than the Death Yard Haunted Attraction in Nashville, which lets you get married in a haunted house with all the ghosts, ghouls, goblins and more.

“Dark Weddings” offer a “languished, Victorian-style parlor” and courtyard for your ceremony that can be held inside or out. Several packages are available. “The Tell-Tale Heart” is a 30-minute event for the couple and officiant only (no guests) that runs $400 (Mondays-Thursdays) or $475 on weekends.

“A Nightmare Come True” is one hour and allows for the couple and six guests and is $850 (weekdays) or $995 (weekends). Other packages vary and include “Till Death Do Us Part” (two hours), “The Midnight Hour Ceremony” (two-and-a-half hours) or “Piece by Piece,” which can be as long as you want.

“Our venue is open to every marriage,” said Ana Miller, Death Yard Haunted Attraction events coordinator. “We believe that everyone deserves love. Love always wins.”

Details at darkweddings.com.




destination weddings, gay news, Washington Blade

MovieLounge (Photo courtesy MovieLounge)

Cinema buff couples rejoice! MovieLounge (7601 Rogers Ave., Fort Smith, Ark.) is a mixture of traditional wedding hall and movie theater. The venue, owned by Dwight Curry (who’s gay), includes a main dining room, two cinemas and a ballroom space. Couples can even screen movies or photo galleries for their receptions if they choose.

MovieLounge has been serving the gay community in their wedding needs since its opening. “We had one phone call from a couple who had booked a commitment ceremony at another venue in town,” Curry says. “The owner found out it was a gay couple and told them they wouldn’t do it. They called us last minute and we were like absolutely. I’m really proud to be doing that kind of thing for Fort Smith.”

For more details, visit movieloungefsm.com.




Tybee Wedding Chapel (1114 US-80, Tybee Island, Ga.) on Tybee Island is a tropical getaway wedding for those that want to stay stateside. Tybee Wedding Chapel accommodates different types of wedding ceremonies and receptions including taking private elopements with only one day’s notice.

The ceremony, reception, cocktail hour or after party can all be handled in the same space. For more information, visit tybeeweddingchapel.com.




Churchill Downs (700 Central Ave., Louisville, Ky.) is an interesting reception location for after the vows have been exchanged.

Churchill Downs, site of the annual Kentucky Derby, has a variety of rooms to rent that vary by number of people that need to be accommodated and by views. The Stakes Room has a view of the entire track while the Triple Crown Room holds views of the downtown skyline.

For more details, visit churchilldowns.com.




House of Blues New Orleans (225 Decatur St., New Orleans, La.) is an offbeat venue for a music-loving couple. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, there is both an outdoor and indoor space available to host a reception.

Renting options range from booking the restaurant for a sit down lunch to booking the entire music hall to watch your favorite local band, DJ or even headlining artist give a special performance for the memorable day.

For more details, visit houseofblues.com/neworleans.




destination weddings, gay news, Washington Blade

The Gothic Room (Photo courtesy Dossin Great Lakes Museum)

The Dossin Great Lakes Museum, part of the Detroit Historical Society, (100 The Strand, Detroit, Mich.) is the ideal venue for a maritime-themed wedding ceremony. The museum boasts scenic views of the Detroit River and Canada inside the Gothic Room, which seats 40.

Couples can rent out single rooms from the Gothic Room to DeRoy Hall, which seats 120 people. They can also rent the entire museum for their special day. For more information, visit detroithistorical.org/dossin-great-lakes-museum.




Mississippi Agricultural Museum (1150 Lakeland Dr., Jackson, Miss.) gives a wedding a historical small town feel for an intimate wedding gathering.

The Museum Church, a small historic church that seats 100, is where the wedding ceremony takes place, followed by a reception at the Masonic Lodge. The couple and their guests can walk through “Small Town” on their way to the chapel as well as shop at the General Store.

Details at mdac.ms.gov.




Getting married in a barn has never been so glamorous. Give your wedding plenty of Southern charm by getting married at Dodson Orchards (Madison 9563 Fredericktown, Mo.).

Take all of the typical wedding factors and enjoy them inside Dodson Orchards’ rustic barn. There are even hayrides available for the couple and their guests to have a true country wedding experience.

For details, visit dodsonorchards.com.

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