August 1, 2011 / 2:50 PM / 6 years ago

New York wedding planners brace for same-sex boom

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - New York City’s event planners are gearing up for a surge in business after the Empire State embraced same-sex marriage and hundreds of couples rush to tie the knot.

In New York City alone, 800 couples were married within hours after New York became the sixth state to make same-sex unions legal on July 24.

“We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls,” said Harriette Rose Katz, a New York City events planner. “I think we’re going to get more and more and more out of this. I honestly think it will be a big surge for our business.”

Among the New York same-sex wedding events that Katz is planning for the marriage of Bill White, the former president of the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York, and commercial insurance broker Bryan Eure, on September 25 with a roster of high-profile guests including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barbara Walters, George W. Bush and General David Petraeus.

In another sign of changing times, Katz is also planning the first bar mitzvah of the child of same-sex parents.

Bentley Meeker, a lighting specialist who most recently did the wedding event of New York City mayoral aides John Feinblatt and Jonathan Mintz, which was presided over by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also said he expects a swell in his business.

“It’s too early to quantify ... but I think we’re going to see a hump, where a lot of people are going to get handled quickly,” he said. “Then it will settle into normalcy, and will become a complete part of the fabric of the wedding industry.”

But in the meantime, he expects increased demand for his services.

“We may need more staff, more freelance staff, to buy more equipment,” he said. “I think it’s great for our business, and great for New York. If you are in one of the 44 states that don’t allow same-sex marriage, now you have a destination.”

Both Katz and Meeker said that in terms of planning the actual nuptials, same-sex events are very much like any other wedding, with a few minor twists.

“In every single wedding, it doesn’t matter who, you plan for each one separately,” Katz said. “Everyone has their own needs and desires.”

Meeker doesn’t see anything different in terms of logistics.

“They (clients) want it how they want it. Execution has to be flawless. These are difficult events to execute and people have an exacting level of taste,” he said.

But Katz noted that the role of the parents in a same-sex wedding ceremony is often different than heterosexual weddings.

“When a young man and a young woman get married, it’s more about the parents giving the bride away,” she said. “In the people we have interviewed with so far, in same-sex marriages it’s more a union of two people and less about the family.”

He added that same-sex couples want their parents involved, but they don’t want them walking down the aisle.

“For example, first one man’s parents will go down, then the others’, and then the two people who get married walk down.”

Despite the boost to business, Meeker described the law as “an extraordinary piece of legislation and it’s a great thing.”

Katz agreed.

“I think it’s wonderful for our city and for humanity,” she said. “Bravo to New York”

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