Community Connections Asheville
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Dramatic view of Asheville and mountains by Ken Lane
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Same - Sex Marriage in Asheville
the how to's and things to know
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The Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the land which means no longer do gays and lesbians have to travel to another state for a legal ceremony. 
 So, the question is why pick a small mountain city located at the tip of North Carolina?

Asheville and the surrounding area has always been a destination for visiting, relocating and getting married. There is something magical about this little city sitting on a plateau surrounded by the Blue Ridge, Great Smoky and Appalachian mountain ranges. Combine all this with a very diverse population, a welcoming attitude, the repeal of North Carolina’s same-sex marriage ban and now the law of the land and the culminating result is the perfect destination for a gay and lesbian wedding.
Destination Asheville, North Carolina 
for Same-Sex Weddings

The Welcoming City

"We invite you to celebrate
 our diversity, openness
 and welcoming atmosphere"
Mayor Ester E. Manheimer
by CL Rogers
 The final day before the NC ban’s repeal, Asheville’s mayor and city council voted to allow a two story rainbow flag flown over the City Hall as a “support of the community’s gays and lesbians.” This act, according to Mayor Manheimer, was “…about equality.” The next day, the ban was repealed and North Carolina joined the ranks of legal same-sex marriage states.  

One of the biggest area supporters and vocal proponent for marriage equality was Buncombe County Register of Deeds, Drew Reisinger. "My staff and I welcome this opportunity to serve those who have waited their lifetimes for this recognition of their constitutional rights," Reisinger said.

Gays and lesbians both local and from neighboring states streamed into Asheville after the repeal. The amount of marriage licenses issued for that month in 2014 doubled over the same period in 2013, for straight only. As of mid-April, 2015, over 600 same-sex marriage licenses had been issued. Many of these were same-day weddings in which they picked up their license and got married and returned to their neighboring state the same day. With the legalization of same-sex marriages for all states, the daily numbers of same day marriages is down; however, the slack has been taken up by those choosing a destination wedding along with a planned visit. 
Asheville demonstrated its pro attitude for gay and lesbian marriage
Courthouse picture by Max Cooper 
What makes Asheville the perfect same-sex wedding destination?
Frommer’s named Asheville a “must-see destination” and the Advocate called Asheville, “the gayest little city in America.”  

Mayor Manheimer summed it up in a recent LGBTQ welcome letter, “We invite you to celebrate our diversity, openness, and welcoming atmosphere. There is no need for a physical display of rainbow flags everywhere because you will find LGBTQ "Welcoming” businesses and services throughout Asheville. 

A flourishing large LGBTQ community, one of the top per capita in the US, contributes to the vibrancy of the city. CNN added the annual Pride celebration Blue Ridge Pride, held the first Saturday in October, to their “top 10 Gay Pride events to visit in the world.” Community resources and events can be found on a unique website, www.gayashevillenc.com which posts everything from organizational meetings and special events to articles and resources for the community and those seeking to visit the area. Two special pages for same-sex weddings and marriages were added as a guide to help and inform couple inquiries.  
Picture Perfect Venues and Welcoming Businesses 
So many venues that were once only used by straight couples are now reaching out to the gay community for inclusion with sensitivity towards same-sex wedding needs. They include dream like venues with mountain vistas, fields with mountain back drops and lush garden settings surrounded by native plants, just a few of the outside locations. Then there are resort terraces with mountain views or hotels with picture windows creating a living frame of surrounding peaks or the many turn of the century Bed & Breakfasts that are perfectly suited for smaller weddings.   The options are unlimited with so many choices all in one area dictated only by budget.

That same welcoming attitude extends into the hospitality sector. Many hotel managers and staff after learning of a same-sex couple’s arrival to get married, were upgraded or had special amenities complemented. When it became difficult to find a small wedding cake, upon being told the cake was for a same-sex couple, the bakery manager personally decorated a mini cake for them. 

  Everywhere you turn, as soon as you mention a same-sex wedding, smiles and genuine interest erupt from those in hearing distance. Many couples getting married at semi-private venues, upon the ceremony closing, have heard applause and cheers of “congratulations” from passersby. 
Drew Reisinger greeting applicants
 Citizen Times Staff Photo
Blanket Ceremony
 photo by Kathryn Cafaro Miller
As couples keep arriving in Asheville to get married, the consistent statement, from those interviewed, has been “we never felt so welcome” and “everyone is so friendly and excited about our (gay or lesbian) marriage.”
The biggest compliment extends to the Buncombe County Register’s office. The genuine caring and friendliness from the staff has resonated with every couple interviewed. Many remarked that when Mr. Reisinger overheard a same-sex couple applying for the license, he personally came out and both welcomed and congratulated them, “on behalf of the city of Asheville.”

 Officiants specializing in same-sex unions both religious and civil can be found on the wedding page, including one officiant who is offering a Two-Spirit Native American blanket ceremony. This inclusive attitude has also affected straight couples. Recent requests began coming in from out of state straight couples wanting to get married by gay officiants in Asheville. They are part of a growing number whom all gave similar statements to this one from a recent married couple: 

 “We are so supportive of our gay and lesbian friends
 and felt we wanted to be married in a place 
that was reflective of that same attitude
 and Asheville is just that Welcoming place.” 

Beautiful surroundings, welcoming businesses and a vibrant LGBTQ community with support from the city all make Asheville, North Carolina a list topper as a destination for same-sex weddings. 

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