An online directory features businesses targeting Minnesota’s newest wedding market.
It’s no secret that weddings are a bonanza for photographers, florists, jewelers, stylists and limo drivers.
Now vendors are hastening to cash in on same-sex marriage, legal as of two weeks ago in Minnesota.
Project 515, a gay rights advocacy group, has started an online directory of businesses that want to get their names in front of gay couples. By Wednesday the site had 314 entries.
“We knew the demand was there, but when we hit that 300 benchmark last week, we knew we had really hit on something,” said Eric Jensen, a spokesman for the group.
Of Minnesota’s 10,207 same-sex couples, about half will be married in the first three years, according to the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA’s law school focused on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues. About 3,100 of those marriages are likely to occur in the first 12 months, causing roughly a 10 percent increase in marriages statewide.
The think tank predicts that people will spend about $42 million on same-sex weddings in Minnesota over the next three years.
Six businesses a day
Project 515’s wedding vendor website was launched the last weekend of June, and now adds about a six new businesses daily.
“I didn’t do it to drum up more business,” said Eric Sandstrom, owner of Floral Logic, a design studio in Minneapolis. “But I do want people to know that they can be comfortable here.”
Sandstrom and his partner plan to marry Nov. 1. Arranging bouquets, nosegays and corsages for same-sex couples is something he’s “totally gung-ho for,” he said.
Average cost of a U.S. wedding is $28,427, according to a 2012 survey by TheKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com. Same-sex couples are likely to spend slightly more on their weddings, according to the survey.
The website from Project 515 lists same-sex-friendly vendors offering everything from catering to wedding planning to dance lessons and wedding officiation.
Sarah Swager, owner of Sarah Elizabeth Artistry, said she has been participating in GLBT wedding fairs and hopes to do many same-sex weddings. She offers photography, makeup and hair services under the tagline “Feel Famous. Be Legendary. Radiate Presence.”
“I think it’s a huge benefit to Minnesota,” she said. “I had the pleasure of doing a same-sex wedding just last weekend, and I think it’s incredible.”
The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a same-sex couple in Oregon who tried to buy a cake for their wedding in January have filed a discrimination complaint against a bakery that turned them down on religious grounds.
Sandstrom, the floral designer, said there are probably people in the wedding business in Minnesota who would also turn down same-sex customers.
“That’s just not a way to run a business,” Sandstrom said. “Ultimately, I want my business to be associated with positive things.”