Around 16% of all weddings are destination weddings, but some recent destination nuptials held special significance for those participating.
Venezuelan couples were among more than 60 same-sex couples from the region who gathered in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan on Aug. 16 for a mass wedding ceremony — almost exactly a month after same-sex unions began in the U.S. territory.
Other non-resident participants included couples from the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
A June U.S. Supreme Court ruling recognizing same-sex marriage as a constitutional right paved the way for the legalization of same-sex marriages in Puerto Rico, and the island’s Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla signed an executive order bringing the territory into compliance soon after. The first same-sex weddings took place July 17.
In the past month, the governor has also signed two landmark orders protecting transgender and transsexual individuals, drawing praise from the LGBT community and ire from social conservatives.
Ada Conde, an organizer of the August ceremony and an attorney who had previously filed a lawsuit to have her same-sex marriage recognized in Puerto Rico, told the Associated Press that the group wedding was a “celebration of the triumph of love.”
Gay rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano, carrying a rainbow-colored umbrella, addressed the crowd from Old San Juan’s promenade, calling the wedding “a historic moment for our community.”
Of course, those who had traveled from other countries for the ceremony will likely receive little recognition of their marriage status in their home countries.
Homosexuality itself has been legal in Venezuela since 1997. It was not explicitly condemned prior to that, but an act focused on “vagrants and thugs” could have been used to indirectly target those in the LGBT community.
But Venezuela’s government does not officially recognize same-sex unions.
According to Pew Research Center data from 2013, the Venezuelan public is divided on whether or not society should accept homosexuality, with 42% saying no outright and a slim majority —51% — saying yes.