On Monday June 16, at 5:01 p.m., same-sex couples looking to legalize their unions in California began officially tying the knot . Now, the opportunity for gay and lesbian couples to legally marry is no longer limited to Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Belgium, and the Netherlands. With an estimated 110,000 same-sex couples residing in the "Eureka!" State, The Wedding Report, a wedding industry research company, expects up to 35% of those couples will get married in the first year.
And while the California marriage license fee starts at $50 (and varies county by county), local wedding merchants are hoping couples will spend a bit more than that on their big day.The number crunchers suspect they will. According to The Wedding Report, $1 billion will be spent celebrating same-sex unions. (No wonder it looks like New York wants in on the action.)
The anticipated economic stimulation goes beyond the cost of two Vera Wang dresses or two tailored Gucci (PPR) suits. (While planning your big day is important, you should also learn how you can stay debt free after you say ‘I Do’. ) In anticipation of the upcoming gold rush, Visit California has a new Web site that highlights special deals for couples planning their wedding and honeymoon. Same-sex marriage and vacations are expected to generate more state and local tax revenues and support jobs for thousands of California, according to Susan Wilcox, vice president of communications and industry relations for the California Tourism Commission.
Whether you’re looking at San Francisco or Santa Monica, there are many deals out there. Here are a few MainStreet faves:
In West Hollywood, the Ramada Plaza Hotel and the Le Parc Suites Hotel are offering honeymoon packages for the couple looking for a romantic night in California. Not only are guestrooms upgraded to a suite, there is also complimentary bubbly for the occasion.
The Sycamore Mineral Springs resort, in San Luis Obispo, has wedding and reception packages starting at $2,500.
Over at Cake & Art in West Hollywood, inquiries for wedding cakes with same-sex themes has increased threefold, according to owner Tom Rosa. Since the 1970s the edible art business has made cakes for underground weddings or commitment ceremonies. Now the bakery will add more to its rich history by making the wedding cake of Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, the two were co-defendants in the court case challenging the state’s marital law.
And don’t forget the bubbly! Choosing the right champagne can make any celebration a success.
The House of Blues in West Hollywood is even offering a “Darma Wedding Package,” which includes everything from an Officiant to champagne and wedding cake for $799. Wedding ceremonies are held in the Parish Chapel and receptions in the Foundation Room. (Just because there's entertainment, doesn't mean you don't need a do not play list.)
Despite the fact that California now joins Massachusetts as the second state to accept gay wedding dollars, the "competition" seems content with sharing the wealth. In Provincetown, Mass., a popular beach resort that caters to the gay community, Kathleen Fitzgerald and spouse Alicia Mickenberg, who together own the local Fairbanks Inn, are celebrating California’s decision. Since MA legalized same-sex marriage in 2004, there has been a steady amount of couples visiting Provincetown, says Fitzgerald. The couple, who own Fairbanks Inn, are considering offering honeymoon packages for couples looking to travel to the area. "We had a couple from VA celebrating their honeymoon,” says Fitzgerald. “We can’t wait to see some of the folks [from California] coming here.”