We analyse same-sex partnership and family formation in Europe. We explore how the frequency of same-sex marriage or registered partnership can be associated to macro and micro factors and how parenting appears as a key determinant at both levels. We use the LawsAndFamilies Database, which includes both data on legal developments in family laws and statistical data on the legal recognition of same-sex couples, marriage and registered partnership for a large set of countries. We also use the French census and the Spanish household survey for specific purposes. We first determine crude rates of legal recognition for gay, lesbian and different-sex couples for nine European countries in the period 1980–2017. We second consider macro factors by measuring the impact of legal consequences attached to couples’ recognition on the frequency of same-sex marriage or registered partnering. We expect that the opening of parenting to same-sex couples will affect lesbian more than gay couples and result in more positive trends in women’s nuptiality. We finally explore micro factors related to the family structure expecting that the presence of children will work as an incentive to marry.