The Gay Marriage Windfall: Same-Sex Couples to Pump $700 Million Into CA Wedding Industry

: Gay and lesbian couples are sure to be ecstatic on their wedding days, but the ones shedding the most tears of happiness may be California’s wedding and honeymoon vendors. Will a change in law mean a bull market for big fat gay weddings? The Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law thinks so. The think tank released a study June 9 showing California’s $6 billion-a-year wedding industry will get an infusion of $683 million over three years in direct spending by same-sex couples.

Based on numbers in Massachusetts , where it has been legal for resident gays and lesbians to marry since 2003, the Williams Institute estimates roughly half of California’s 102,000 domestic partners will get married, while another 68,000 couples from outside the state are expected to come and celebrate their nuptials. The Institute thinks same-sex marriage should generate 2,200 jobs in California, bring in $8 million in marriage-licence fees, and increase sales and occupancy tax revenues by $55 million. A 2005 study showed that if same-sex marriage was legalized nationally, the wedding industry could generate another $2 billion annually.

That’s peanuts for the overall industry, since 2.4 million straight couples get married each year and spend on average $20,000, racking up a total of $72 billion, according to bridal website But the potential for a deep-pocketed, underserved market coming online in an economy where more straight couples may be thinking of pulling back their spending is undoubtedly attractive to vendors.

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