Evolving gay marriage laws make same-sex weddings a promising market

While the total number of Americans getting married each year continues to decline, same-sex weddings are on the rise. In 2009 there were 2 million marriages in the USA, the lowest rate since 1968. In 2008 there were 18,000 same-sex weddings in California alone during the months preceding Proposition 8. Currently same-sex couples can get a marriage license under liberalized marriage laws in Canada, Mexico, and several European countries. Same-sex weddings are also legal in Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia, and same-sex weddings performed out-of-state are recognized by New York, Rhode Island, and Maine. Courts continue to overturn state laws banning gay marriage, Americans under 30 overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage, and 68 percent of all Americans now acknowledge same-sex couples with children as families. Same-sex marriage represents a promising wedding market, one characterized by pent-up demand, above-average spending capacity, and plenty of room for experimentation. Wedding planners and vendors who are prepared to serve same-sex marriage clients are already ahead of the curve. But same-sex weddings present serious challenges, not only for couples navigating patchwork adoption and marriage laws, but also for wedding planners who make the commitment to understand these challenges and counsel their clients on family and marriage law, the process of applying for a marriage license, and how to verify gay-friendly venues and vendors.

The Gay Marriage and Green Wedding Movements Have Qualities in Common

Like green-wedding clients, same-sex marriage couples vary widely in age, style, and budget. But the two groups have qualities in common. Like eco-conscious go-green couples, same-sex marriage partners are connected with their cause, committed to educating others, and careful to choose people, places, and products they trust before they spend their money. Conscientious go-green couples interview vendors to weed out 'greenwashers,' merchants who advertise green practices in their business but don't follow them in their behavior. Same-sex couples also want to know more before they buy, but are less likely to ask lifestyle questions. They typically rely instead on anecdotal evidence, the experience of friends, and their personal instincts about who's gay, who's gay-friendly, and who isn't. Many have the economic advantage of fewer children and extra income, and most like to spend where they feel truly welcome. While wedding planners must truly go green in their behavior to win over green-wedding clients, openness is often more important than orientation when a wedding planner is courting same-sex marriage prospects.

Course Video Tutorial: 'Two Gay Experts Teach Gay Marriage and Same-Sex Weddings' (35:05)

Cheryl Dumesnil is an award-winning Bay Area author, teacher, and poet. She counsels gay partners, officiates at same-sex weddings, and interviewed newly married couples for her book, 'Hitched! Wedding Stories from San Francisco City Hall,' with an introduction by Rosie O'Donnell. The Rev. Allen Newman, PhD, is a New York-based economist and priest who has studied same-sex marriage doctrines, practices, and politics throughout the world. Cheryl, a gay spouse and mother, and Allen, an openly gay minister, were married to their same-sex partners in 2008. In this course video tutorial, Cheryl and Allen provide Members with details on structuring and planning same-sex weddings, counseling same-sex marriage clients, verifying gay-friendly vendors and venues, and understanding the uneasy evolution of doctrines, practices, and attitudes related to gay marriage within religious faiths and denominations.

Cheryl Dumesnil and the Rev. Allen Newman, PhD, Gay Marriage Experts

Learn 12 essential elements of planning same-sex weddings:

  • The history of civil unions and same-sex marriage
  • Countries and states where one or both are legal
  • Religious denominations that perform gay marriage ceremonies
  • Where to turn to get married when your faith community is hostile
  • Questions the wedding officiant or wedding planner should ask every couple
  • How to handle uncertainty, ambivalence, and hesitation in family and friends
  • How to change minds and hearts by crafting an inclusive same-sex marriage ceremony
  • Wedding vow texts that speak from the heart and connect with the community
  • How to incorporate spiritual and religious elements within a secular celebration
  • How to plan for children, illness, and death in a same-sex pre-nuptial document
  • How to pre-screen wedding vendors and venues for same-sex marriage clients
  • Suggested readings for wedding planners who are open to same-sex wedding business

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