Wedding planners aren't optimistic about the same-sex marriage postal survey

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With the same-sex marriage postal survey well under way in Australia, and the first turnout estimates proving a strong result, we thought we’d check in with businesses in the wedding industry to see whether they have experienced an increase in enquiries or bookings for same-sex marriages since the postal vote was announced.

We anticipated that an increase in enquiries would gauge whether the gay and lesbian community thought the vote would be successful. As it turns out, the result was less than encouraging.

Matt Butterworth, CEO of Easy Weddings, a wedding planning directory, polled his suppliers on the issue and found that the majority of them haven’t seen an uplift in bookings by same-sex couples since the survey was announced.

“We don’t think that this is because people doubt that marriage equality will be legislated, but rather because of the nature of the debate,” said Butterworth.

“There’s been a lot of negative sentiment around this issue at the moment. I can only imagine how that would feel for a same-sex couple trying to plan a wedding at the same time as having their basic rights questioned.

“I wouldn’t want to be trying to plan what is meant to be the happiest day of your life in this sort of environment either.”

Amy Parfett, co-founder of Wedshed, a directory of wedding venues and locations, agreed.

“We haven’t noticed an increase in same-sex wedding enquiries coming through to our partnered wedding venues and vendors,” Parfett told Business Insider.

“We’ve always noticed the occasional enquiry come through to our venues regarding commitment ceremonies, however there’s been no jump in the frequency of these since the postal vote hit the agenda.

“Our feeling is that Australia has had a few ‘boy who cried wolf’ moments like this when marriage equality is debated, yet the community is still cautious about getting too excited for fear that nothing will result from it – or that the change we’re all hoping for is still a fair way off.”

Meanwhile, organisers at The Boathouse Group, a Sydney-based restaurant, cafe and events company, say while they have seen a steady rise in the number of enquiries for same-sex marriages over the past 12 months, there’s been no noticeable increase on that since the postal vote was announced.

This week the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed that more than nine million survey forms in the postal survey have already been returned. That’s 57.5% of survey forms.

The result buoyed the Yes campaign, and rightfully so.

Voting slips began to be sent out on September 12. If your ballot paper still hasn’t turned up, or you’ve moved house, and didn’t update the address on the electoral roll, or have a damaged or spoiled form, you can call 1800 572 113 or do it online at www.marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au.

Requests for new survey materials close on October 20 — in two weeks time.

While the survey closes on November 7, the ABS is recommending people send it back by October 27 to be safe.

A result on the vote will declared on the ABS website on November 15.

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