When a pair of gay grooms wanted to book their wedding at a major chain hotel in the middle of a famously gay-friendly city, they had no reason to expect that would be a problem.
That’s what made it so surprising to them when they were denied.
Josh Rimer, a popular Vancouver vlogger and TV host who also happens to be Mr. Gay Canada 2019, posted a video earlier this month in which he shared the story of the difficulties he encountered when he and his husband-to-be, Heath, tried to arrange their dream wedding at the Sheraton Buganvilias Resort & Convention Center in Puerto Vallarta. After an initial process in which it was difficult to get a response from the hotel, Rimer – who is an LGBTQ activist – finally thought he would be able to set up the event, but when he mentioned there would be an extra boutonniere required because there were two grooms, things got even worse.
As Rimer shared with Vancouver’s CityNews, a staffer at the Sheraton hotel sent them an email that reads:
“I am infinitely grateful that you have thought of Sheraton for your big day, however, our hotel and our staff is not specialized to carry out an equal wedding and we would not like to take your wedding as a trial and error, and our service could be poor compared to what characterized Sheraton, because we know and we are aware that is your special day for you and your fiance, and do not want that by our non-specialed service some conflict can be generated on your big day, my apologies.”
Understandably frustrated, the travel vlogger decided to vent about it to his YouTube followers (“I don’t know if she thinks we’re going to show up in speedos with go-go dancers and we expect the officiant to be wearing leather chaps, this is just a normal wedding. It just happens to be with two guys.”). That’s when things took another unexpected turn – this time for the better.
A couple of days after Rimer posted his video, Hilton Puerto Vallarta tagged him on Instagram with an offer:
“Hi @JoshRimer, we’re looking for you! We’ve heard you want to get married at Puerto Vallarta and we want to offer you the #HiltonExperience! We want to celebrate with you this special day, so we’ll gladly host your wedding ceremony and feast for FREE for you and your 45 guests at Hilton Puerto Vallarta!”
Then, things took an even brighter turn when VACAYA, a shipping line specializing in LGBTQ cruises, offered to provide them with free honeymoon cruise as well.
“We’re thrilled to join Hilton Puerto Vallarta in celebrating the love between Josh and Heath because we believe that together we can shine a brighter light on the work we still have left to do to reach equality,” the cruise line wrote on Facebook.
Needless to say, Josh and Heath were thrilled to accept the offers. Rimer told CityNews that the experience was “very frustrating,” but he thinks the incident was “just a case, probably, of somebody not knowing what it’s like to have gay clientele, for some reason,” and that the service at the Buganvilia would probably be improved with “some training in this area.”
Despite the drama he says, “We’re still in love, despite the whole ups-and-down process, so, yeah, we’re just excited for the big day.”
As for the original would-be venue, Jeff Flaherty, a spokesman from Sheraton’s parent company, Marriott International, parent company of Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, said they reached out to Rimer directly to express “our sincerest apologies for his experience,” according to NY Daily News.
“We are troubled and greatly concerned about the experience reported by Mr. Rimer. Marriott has long been committed to providing an environment where all are welcome including our LGBTQ guests and their loved ones,” Flaherty said. “In addition, we are looking further into the matter to better understand what happened and do what we can to prevent hurtful experiences like this from happening again.”
He added, “Marriott has long been committed to providing an environment where all are welcome including our LGBTQ guests and their loved ones.”
You can watch Josh’s original video below.