Thursday, January 04, 2007

Opportunity Knocks

by DIONNE WALKER, The Associated Press

RICHMOND, Va. -- He's no celebrity, but when Phillip McKee III tied the knot in September, he did it with all the pomp and circumstance of an A-lister: Custom-designed gold rings, a $2,000 kilt and a caviar-and-crepe reception at a posh hotel.

McKee, 34, sank some $60,000 into his Scottish-themed nuptials, worth it he says for the chance to stand before a minister and be pronounced husband - and husband. [...]

[C]ouples are uniting in weddings both miniature and massive, fueling a growing industry peddling everything from pink triangle invitations to same-sex cake toppers.

Vendors say attention to the marriage issue has encouraged more gay couples to recognize their relationships, though in most states, the ceremonies are purely sentimental. [...]

Unlike the multibillion dollar traditional wedding industry, experts say the gay wedding business is harder to track. [...]

In 2005, gays spent $7.2 million with vendors found at the Rainbow Wedding Network Web site, according to data collected by the site, which publishes a national magazine and hosts wedding expos. That's up from $2.1 million in 2002, according to Cindy Sproul, who co-owns the North Carolina firm.

Marriage-minded gays and lesbians are purchasing basics like flowers and limousines. But vendors say couples also are spending on items with a same-sex twist: rainbow bejeweled rings, double-bride thank you cards and ''His and His'' towel sets.

''We almost completely parallel what heterosexual couples are doing,'' Sproul said. ''The only difference is there may be two grooms, or two brides.''

Sproul estimated gay couples spend about $20,000 on ceremonies in states offering some form of recognition, like Massachusetts and Vermont. But couples elsewhere also are investing: Sproul said couples average $15,000 on ceremonies in states that have banned gay marriage such as Georgia. [...]

Sharmayne Wesler, a planner with New York's annual GLBT Expo, credited the hubbub and well-publicized gay weddings like that of lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge in 2003, with encouraging gays to formalize their relationships.

''They too want to be traditional,'' said Wesler, whose RDP Group has 70 wedding-specific vendors at its expo. ''The trend ... is toward really large weddings, none of these simple affairs.

''They want to go to a ceremony with all the bells and whistles.''

McKee and Woods invited 200 guests to their black-tie ceremony, followed by a cocktail hour and reception at the Ritz-Carlton, in Tysons Corner, Va.

Groomsmen received engraved pocket watches; a bagpiper, pianist and DJ serenaded guests, who dined on caviar and lobster. [...] The ceremony cost half their annual income. [Emph. add.]

In Virginia, the men were no more legally bound after the lavish wedding than before. Still, they considered it a good investment...

A new market, with people willing to spend HALF of their annual income on a feel-good event...
What's not to like ?


Blogger Hey Skipper said...

though in most states, the ceremonies are purely sentimental.

A sentimental marriage ceremony? What will those gays think of next?

January 04, 2007 12:58 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

They're destroying civilisation and everything we hold dear. Soon they'll be conducting the ceremonies in rainbow-coloured baseball caps.

Worn sideways.

January 04, 2007 1:12 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I was curious about the $2,000 kilt. What's it made of, chinchillas?

January 04, 2007 7:03 PM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

You can sneer all you want, Brit, but I want to be there the day this all shows up on your home turf.

January 05, 2007 5:53 AM  
Blogger Brit said...


Who or what the hell was that?

January 05, 2007 6:19 AM  
Blogger Peter Burnet said...

It was a link I got from somewhere in the blogosphere months ago. The site has a lot of strange and funky video clips, some very funny, but it also has all kinds of stuff you wouldn't want the missus catching you watching, so behave yourself.

January 05, 2007 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The uncontrolled spending reminds me of the late 80s and early 90s. At that point, gay men pretty much all assumed that they were going to die young and without issue. They spent like it was going out of style, because they had no reason to save. At some point, life insurance companies began to let gay men collect on their life insurance policies, at a discount, just because they were diagnosed with AIDS.

When the anti-viral cocktails came along, some gay men found themselves in bad financial shape because they had been aiming on spending their last dollar right before they died, and then they didn't die.

January 07, 2007 9:22 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Ha. Well, that's the problem that retired people face, too - how much to spend, how much longer should one assume that one will be alive and able to enjoy spending ?

My answer is spend it now, at the minimum level necessary to ensure enjoyment, and trust that something will come up, but that's not for everyone. The most important thing about that strategy is that ya gotta be prepared to live in your car if things don't work out - which I am. Livin' rough never bothered me none.

January 07, 2007 6:43 PM  

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