What Deals Await Same-Sex California Couples Set To Wed?


California wedding planners take note, you are on target for a very busy fall wedding season. Ellen DeGeneres may be calling for your services, or maybe Star Trek's George Takei, among others.

That is because the union's most populous state's Supreme Court struck down a law banning same-sex marriage on May 15. The ruling, which may go into effect as soon as June 16, would make California the second state, after Massachusetts, to legalize same-sex marriage. But don't start picking your dress yet, Ellen.

Following the ruling, an opposition group began collecting signatures in an attempt to postpone the Supreme Court’s decision until after the November elections. They are hoping to have voters determine if there should be a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Over the next 30 days, the ruling can be challenged. "It’s probably going to go to the November ballot, if people vote to overturn the ruling," says Michael Eisenberg, a CPA/PFS at Eisenberg Financial Advisors, who works with numerous same-sex couples.

The uncertainty did little to mask the joy some same-sex couples expressed when the ruling was announced. For example, talk show host DeGeneres tearfully announced in front of her live studio audience that she would wed girlfriend Portia di Rossi. (And despite joking about registering at Crate & Barrel, the comedienne says she does not want gifts.) Days later, Takei, best known for playing Mr. Sulu on Star Trek, joined Ellen and declared that he plans to marry his long-time partner, too. Of course, affordability plays a huge role in weddings. "We are in a recession, and not all gays and lesbians are living the fabulous life," says Jasmyne Cannick, a blogger and social commentator. Rising gas prices and the current economic situation are a just a few things betrothed couples may take into consideration when planning a wedding, says Cannick.

So what deals await those wanting to tie the knot?

The lesbian entertainment company Olivia, which has also been seen on The L Word, (CBS) will offer marriage services and packages for a trip leaving San Diego in October. "We have always had a large number of couples travel with us –with the Supreme Court ruling we will extend our honeymoon premium add-ons to our trips," says Lisa Henderson, general manager for Olivia. Meanwhile, the Ramada Plaza West Hollywood (WYN) has just created a Honeymoon Special package, which includes a two night stay for same-sex (or heterosexual) newly weds that includes complimentary champagne, among other amenities.

Other wedding vendors are waiting until a final ruling is issued, although wedding planners are being booked. I think a friend that was "planning for a ceremony is considering changing to a full blown ceremony," says Matt Hunter, Director of Catering at Hotel Zoso, a gay-friendly destination in Palm Springs, that has previously hosted civil ceremonies.

"Regardless of your personal politics, money is money," says Jasmyne Cannick. With the start of Pride season on May 17, there may be "a lot of marketing towards gay and lesbian consumers" in upcoming weeks in gay and lesbians magazines." Stay tuned for more deals.


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