LGBTQ couples who can’t legally marry in their own countries have been flown to Amsterdam by Dutch department store, HEMA, for a group same-sex wedding.

To celebrate its local Gay Pride Week, Dutch retail chain HEMA invited three couples from different European countries to Holland and threw them a lavish wedding ceremony. 

The store took care of every detail from the rings and the wedding outfits to the wedding bouquet and the wedding cake.

Credit: HEMA

The ceremony, was completed by marriage officiant Ina Poppen, who has been closely involved with same-sex marriages in The Netherlands since the beginning in 2000.

She said: “I fully support HEMA’s message that love is for everyone and that everybody – regardless of gender, sexual orientation or origin – should be able to celebrate and confirm their love for each other. I am very happy and honoured that the store asked me to lead such a special ceremony.”

Credit: HEMA

In a statement, CEO of HEMA, Tjeerd Jegen added: “Something that has been possible for eighteen years in our country, is still not a reality in many European countries.

“Same-sex couples are still not able to get married and we would like to give attention to this during this year’s Pride in Amsterdam, by organising these special weddings. Because we believe that love is for everyone.”

When was same-sex marriage legalised in the UK? 

Despite the United Kingdom finally joining the marriage equality club in 2014 by making same-sex marriage and civil partnerships legal, many European countries have still not yet followed suit, with some even still considering it a crime.

George from Romania, who married his partner at the store – also called George, commented: “We had no hope that this would ever be possible, even as a symbolic act. Getting married today is a fulfilment of our commitment to each other”.

Also married at the ceremony was couple Dimitar and Simeon, from Bulgaria, and Andrea, and Maria from Poland.

Credit: HEMA

Which countries have legalised same-sex marriage? 

Here are all the countries that have legalised same-sex marriage, so far…

2000: Netherlands

2003: Belgium

2005: Canada, Spain

2006: South Africa

2008: Norway

2009: Mexico, Sweden

2010: Iceland, Portugal, Argentina,

2011: Denmark

2013: Uruguay, New Zealand, France, Brazil

2014: United Kingdom, Luxembourg

2015: Finland, Ireland, United States

2016: Colombia, Germany, Malta, Australia

2017: Austria, Finland, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Bermuda, Guernsey, Taiwan,Faroe Islands, Malta, Germany, Australia, Austria, Falkland Islands

According to an annual report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) in 2017, same-sex relationships are still criminalised in 72 countries. However, there are varying degrees of what is and isn’t accepted in these 72 countries.

Want more wedding information and inspiration? Just hit ‘Like’ on our Wedding Ideas Facebook page, and ‘Follow’ on our @wimagazine Twitter account to join in the conversation.