A Philadelphia advertising executive was turned away when planning a same-sex wedding at a Cancun resort whose parent company is regularly featured on “The Ellen Show.”
Giulia Umile and her fiancée, Jess, got engaged earlier this fall. Umile was a previous customer at the La Blanc Spa Resort, an oceanfront property owned by Palace Resorts. She planned to bring 30 guests there, staying in rooms starting at around $800 a night.
But when Umile filled out a form requesting a sunset wedding ceremony on the beach for Nov. 9, she scratched out “groom” and wrote in “bride.”
The resort’s sales coordinator for weddings, Laura Jimenez, responded the same day Umile contacted Le Blanc, on Dec. 5, indicating she had received the request “and will be more than glad to help you.” What followed in the email exchange, a copy of which was published by the Philadelphia Gay News, was a list of options for wedding packages.
Umile responded: “We are very excited. I do have a question — what if we have over 30 guests? Can that be accommodated at Le Blanc? Also please note there is no groom — two brides!”
Two and a half hours later, Jimenez replied: “I would like to let you know that as we still do not have our same-sex wedding program available we are not performing same sex wedding [sic] at the moment,” adding, “I will however keep your information on our file and if I receive any update I’ll keep you posted.”
The Le Blanc is regularly featured in celebrity magazines because of the famous people who vacation there. Stays at Palace properties have been prizes given out by openly gay talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.
A twist of the knife came the next day, when DeGeneres teamed up with Jennifer Anniston to give away all-expenses-paid trips to Beach Palace, also owned by Palace Resorts.
The rejection shook the would-be bride.
“I’m not an emotional person, but I started to cry. People noticed and came over to ask and I slipped them my phone. I took a screen shot and sent it to the group text I have with all these guys [her staff] and was like, ‘You have to help me – I don’t even know what to do with this,’ ” she told the newspaper.
“It was so disappointing — you’re riding such a high of excitement when you get engaged and share the news with people and it was such a difficult pill to swallow. No one wants to start their wedding planning off on that note.”
PGN noted that the Le Blanc has otherwise diverse wedding ceremonies: Mayan, Catholic and even Bollywood-style, with a ceremonial horse, henna tattoos and fireworks. Just not something that can accommodate two grooms or two brides.
Jimenez told PGN she was “instructed not to comment on this,” and referred the newspaper to the Palace Resorts public-relations department. Officials there have not responded to the reporter.
In the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, same-sex marriage was legalized in May 2017. But the law doesn’t address denying service to gay customers.
Umile and her fiancée moved their ceremony to another resort, Unico, where “paperwork had same-sex language on it,” she said.
Sources: Philadelphia Gay News, Billy Penn