| Follow Us:


Event Planners Market to Same-Sex Couples

David Egan, owner of Chase Court
David Egan, owner of Chase Court - Steve Ruark
Stacy Link has been imagining her dream wedding for more than 10 years.

But it was only after Nov. 6, when Maryland voters approved same-sex marriage, that she could commit to the venue, the food, linens and other details on the ceremony for 100 guests.

She estimates that she and her fiancée Dana Alonzi, both occupational therapists, will spend as much as $18,000 to tie the knot.

“I’m learning just how expensive a wedding is,” Link says.

Maryland, Maine and Washington became the first states to approve gay marriage at the ballot this election season, after a contentious debate that had everyone from Baltimore Ravens players to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Brad Pitt weighing in. Caterers, wedding venues and party planners are celebrating the decision and taking the message that they are gay friendly to the web, social media and through word of mouth. Money spent on same-sex weddings could boost Maryland's economy by as much as $90 million. Tourism promoters in Baltimore hope the city will become a destination for engaged same-sex couples in neighboring states. 

Marketers are quick to point out that they aren't just interested in making a quick cash grab as much as showing thier support for the gay community. Still, some point out that businesses will need to tweak their brochures to highlight same-sex couples and marketing copy to include gay couples.  

"As time goes on I think businesses will become more savvy in the way they advertise to same-sex couples that they are willing to serve them," Link says. 

But she says her own decision to hold the ceremony at Baldwin’s Station & Pub in Sykesville comes from having known owner Stewart Dearie for years.

Dearie, for his part, says he believes that word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool for his Carroll County restaurant.

“If people feel like it’s their second home, they’re more apt to tell their friends.”

Still, others say it’s important to let gay couples know that you want their business and the best way to do that is online. 

David Egan, owner of Mount Vernon wedding venue Chase Court, has had a dedicated page on his website for gay and lesbian couples since 2004. But last Wednesday, he changed the site to read "same-sex weddings" rather than "commitment ceremonies." He's also featuring same-sex weddings on Chase Court's Facebook and Pinterest pages. 

“It lets people know that you are welcoming and affirming,” says Egan, who has performed 20 commitment ceremonies for gay couples since 2004, holding between one and four every year.

But he expects to do four times as many now that gay marriage is legal. And some business will hopefully come from couples in nearby states seeking a cheaper alternative to D.C., where same-sex marriage is also legal.

“I just had my first call from half of a same-sex couple, who said that they have been waiting for the law to pass,” Egan Tweeted the day after voters said "yes" to Question 6.

“Vendors and caterers who are in the wedding industry have been waiting for this,” Egan says. “We’re so excited, personally and professionally.”

Online research has been useful for Kenney Kaminski, who is planning a September 2013 wedding to Kip Bisignano in the  American Visionary Art Museum's sculpture barn. The museum sent the Locust Point resident a list of wedding vendors, which he cross-checked with Gayweddings.com and PurpleUnions.com to see which ones are gay friendly.

That was how he wound up choosing Pasadena's Event Dynamics to handle the lighting and Timonium’s Chef’s Expressions Inc. for the catering. Kaminski notes that some event planners' marketing materials have yet to include same-sex couples and inclusive language.

Just as some businesses let it be known that they care about the environment, ones that support same-sex marriage to do the same, some event planners say. 

Partyspace Baltimore, a website that lists wedding vendors, has designed a rainbow logo that that businesses can use next to their listing to show that they welcome same-sex couples, says Julie Brown-Edwards, marketing director for the Baltimore region.

So far, she says she has heard from nearly two dozen wedding venues and party planners and expects that about two-thirds of the businesses on the site will have the logo up by the end of the month.

Soon after same-sex marriage passed, Baltimore event planner Heidi Klotzman wrote “I want to plan all these gay weddings" on her Facebook page. Friends  — including videographers to makeup artists — quickly joined her in her excitement by responding to her post.

Klotzman, CEO of HeidnSeek Entertainment LLC, says she would love to reach out to all of her friends to create a list of resources for same-sex engaged couples. “It would be cool to have a [web] page ready of vendors who are gay friendly,” Klotzman says.

Signup for Email Alerts
Share this page
Signup for Email Alerts