New York City Anticipates Gay-Wedding Boom Some estimate that same-sex weddings will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the city's $31 billion tourism industry.
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New York City Anticipates Gay-Wedding Boom

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New York City Anticipates Gay-Wedding Boom

New York City Anticipates Gay-Wedding Boom

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Michele Norris.

Same-sex marriage is coming to New York on July 24th, and New York City is gearing up to become the premier gay marriage destination. In a moment, we'll take a look at the numbers - how many gays and lesbians tend to marry when it becomes legal.

But first, NPR's Margot Adler visited with some very eager bridal shops and florists.

MARGOT ADLER: No one knows the economic impact of same-sex marriage in New York. One report, by the Independent Democratic Conference of the New York State Senate, estimates about 66,000 gay couples will marry in the next three years.

New York City and Company is the city's tourism and marketing organization. In about two weeks, it will roll out the NYC I Do campaign. They say same-sex weddings will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the already $31 billion tourism industry.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the biggest booster. Why New York? Why now?

Mayor MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (New York City, New York): Because we have always led the charge for freedom, and we have always led by example.

ADLER: But not all gays will marry immediately. Many weddings are planned a year in advance. Walk into Kleinfelds, a huge bridal emporium: 17 fitting rooms serving 15,000 brides a year. Appointments are made four weeks in advance, and no one asks sexual preference.

Jeannette Kruszka is head of marketing and public relations.

Ms. JEANNETTE KRUSZKA (Marketing and Public Relations, Kleinfelds): The brides that would have called because of the law probably won't have an appointment for another month or so.

ADLER: And since you typically order a dress nine months to a year before the wedding, the clientele I see are women in traditional relationships, looking for that perfect white dress.

Kleinfelds has served gays for years. They even have special consultants for same-sex couples. But that doesn't mean gays have always felt comfortable.

Mr. RONNIE ROTHSTEIN (Co-Owner, Kleinfelds): I think those that were a little reluctant to coming into an environment with so many heterosexual brides will feel more comfortable coming into the environment now.

ADLER: Ronnie Rothstein is co-owner of Kleinfelds along with his wife, Mara Urshel. The new law does something else, he says.

Mr. ROTHSTEIN: It legitimizes something that should have been done long ago. This is exciting. Our business has always been good in that community, and I think this will make it better.

Ms. REBECCA SHEPHERD: Astrontia, veronica, delphinium...

ADLER: Rebecca Shepherd(ph) is buying flowers for a wedding at Associated Cut flowers, a shop in the flower district that's been here for 53 years. Salesman Nicholas Cassandra is upbeat.

Mr. NICHOLAS CASSANDRA: More parties, more wedding planning, more flowers. So we love it here. It's just going to bring in more business.

ADLER: But since most of the flowers are bought by event planners, it's hard to gauge the impact of same-sex weddings. Tom Simmonds and James Bernacki are event planners at Tom James Flowers and Events. They got married in Connecticut.

Bernacki says people are still stunned that the law changed. But a lot of gay couples want recognition.

Mr. JAMES BERNACKI (Event Planner): They want their day. They want this dream for themselves.

ADLER: And he thinks gay weddings will push the envelope.

Mr. BERNACKI: Sharper, edgier, very sophisticated.

ADLER: But that might be a stereotype, says Millie Martini Bratten, the editor-in-chief of Brides magazine. Bratten says marriage celebrations occur 46,000 times a weekend. There'll just be more people.

Ms. MILLIE MARTINI BRATTEN (Editor-in-Chief, Brides): How it changes the look or the feel or whatever, that's all to be determined. But I would guess, not that much.

ADLER: The practical aspects are the same. What do we feed them? Do we have music? What will the invitations look like? And how will a magazine most think of as traditional, mesh with this new reality? Bratten says the average reader of Brides is 27.

ADLER: They're watching "Glee" and embracing all the different characters throughout popular culture; "Modern Family." They're not separate from what's going on in the world.

ADLER: So we don't know some things yet about same-sex marriage in New York. But probably, it will be more like a tide than a tsunami.

Margot Adler, NPR News, New York.

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