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New York City Anticipates Gay Wedding Boom
Same-sex marriage is coming to New York on July 24, and New York City is gearing up to be the premier gay marriage destination.
Still, no one really knows what the economic impact of same-sex marriage in New York will be. One report by the Independent Democratic Conference of the New York State Senate estimates about 66,000 gay couples will marry in the next three years, bringing in $391 million in revenue.
In about two weeks NYC and Company, the city's tourism and marketing organization, will roll out the "NYC I Do" campaign. They say same-sex weddings will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the city's $31 billion tourism industry.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the biggest booster.
"Why New York? Why now? Because we have always led the charge for freedom and we have always led by example," Bloomberg says.
But not all gay couples will marry immediately. Many weddings are planned a year in advance.
Manhattan-based emporium Kleinfeld Bridal serves 15,000 brides a year. Appointments are made four weeks in advance, and no one asks about sexual preference.
Jeannette Kruszka, head of marketing and public relations for Kleinfeld, says the brides that call because of the new law probably won't have an appointment for another month.
Kleinfeld has had special consultants for same-sex couples, but that doesn't mean gays have always felt comfortable. Ronnie Rothstein is co-owner of the company along with his wife, Mara Urshel. They both believe that gays that were reluctant to shop with so many heterosexual brides will feel more comfortable doing so now.
"This is exciting, our business has always been good in that community, and this will make it better," Rothstein says.
Associated Cut Flowers has been in New York City's flower district for 53 years. Salesman Nicholas Cassandra is upbeat.
"More parties, more wedding planning, more flowers, it's just going to bring in more business," he says.
But since most of the flowers are bought by event planners, it's hard to gauge the impact of same-sex weddings.
Tom Simmonds and James Bernacki are event planners at Tom James Flowers and Events. They got married in Connecticut. Bernacki says people are still stunned that the law changed, but gay couples want recognition.
"They want their day. They want this dream for themselves," he says.
Bernacki says gay weddings will push the envelope: be sharper, edgier, very sophisticated. But that might be a stereotype, says Millie Martini Bratten, editor in chief of Brides Magazine.
"How it changes the look and the feel, that is all to be determined, but I would think, not that much," Bratten says.
The practical aspects of planning a wedding are the same, she says. What do we feed them? Do we have music? What will the invitations look like? And how will a magazine most think of as traditional mesh with this new reality?
Bratten says the average reader of Brides is 27 years old.
"They are watching Glee," she says, "and embracing all the different characters throughout popular culture; they are not separate from what's going on in the world."