Same-sex marriage in Virginia means big business

MCLEAN, Va. (WUSA9) -- The weddings that took place in Virginia Monday mark the beginning of not just a major social change, but also an untapped business potential - a new market for the wedding industry.

"We've always had same-sex couples out there looking for services. But the acknowledgement, the energy and the excitement in the marketplace is undeniable," said Kathryn Hamm, who wrote a book about gay weddings called The New Art of Capturing Love. She also runs the website gayweddings.com.

The business was started by her straight mom who had trouble finding services for her daughter's same sex wedding several years ago. Hamm and her wife live in Virginia; they married in D.C., but she is excited about planning real weddings in her home state.

"The fact that we're heading toward these celebrations in, predictably 30 states, plus the District of Columbia, very soon, is a thrill," said Hamm.

A study by Williams Institute estimates the economic boost of extending marriage to same-sex couples in Virginia will reach $60,195,104 over the next three years. The study uses Census Bureau data and applies Virginia's numbers to economic markers in Massachusetts after it made same-sex marriage legal in 2004.

Same-sex couples marry in Va. Monday: http://on.wusa9.com/1yHqgmy

The study finds that half of Virginia's 14,000 same-sex couples, "approximately 5,487-7,122 would chose to marry in three years following an opening of marriage."

Chip Frederick, owner of McLean's Flowers and Plants, said its good business news for florists.

"I think that there's the strong possibility that there could be more customers. I mean it does give you a whole other base," said Frederick.

Grace Abi-Najm Shea of Lebanese Taverna at Tysons Galleria is also optimistic about the new change.

"We've been doing same-sex weddings since about 2002. They were always commitment ceremonies, it was never a wedding. Now, its actually going to be a wedding. And with that comes baby showers and bridal showers, many celebrations," said Abi Hajm Shea.

According to the website costofwedding.com, Most couples in this area spend between $10,000 and $20,000 on a weddings… but some couples blow that out of the park…making the average wedding cost near $40,000 dollars. The most expensive purchases are the rings.

That study also found the economic boost from same-sex marriages will add about 500 jobs to the state, and about 3 million in tax dollars to state and local coffers.


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