Wedding Bells and Cash Registers Ring in Wake of Same-Sex Marriage Vote
By Meredith Hoffman
CHELSEA — With popular "Mister and Mister" marriage cards flying off of his shelves, Chelsea gift and jewelry store owner Jay Gurewitsch stood behind the counter of his shop and prepared his Monday order.
"Get me rings — fast!" said Gurewitsch, anticipating a rush of clients to his shop Arcadia at 228 Eighth Ave. "Business people have been screaming for gay marriage for years —[this bill's passage] is a winning situation for everyone."
Gurewitsch has been selling wedding rings to gay and straight customers in Chelsea for 11 years, but said he decided to hold his store's first jewelry sale in four years in honor of the vote.
"It's a way of celebrating instantly," said Gurewitsch, who proposed to his partner back in October.
Across Manhattan, business owners are hailing Friday's passage of the Marriage Equality Act, which legalizes gay marriage in New York State. The bill, which will go into effect July 24, is already inspiring new marriage proposals and provoking excitement over increased business.
City and state officials predict thousands of people will flock to the city for "marriage tourism," and estimate the state could see $400 million in revenue over the next three years from weddings, sales-tax and license fees.
To celebrate the new law, a group of New Yorkers is already planning a big pop-up chapel on July 30 at Central Park's Bethesda Fountain, complete with photographer, officiant and cupcakes.
Marc Matthias, owner of City Cakes bakery nearby at 251 West 18th St., said he's already getting requests for wedding cakes from gay couples.
"I delivered a three-tiered cake Saturday to a customer for his 60th birthday and he and his partner ran out saying 'We can't wait to order our wedding cake from you guys!'" he said. "It's pretty strong what's happening."
Marcinho Savant, executive planner for the wedding planning company savvyplanners.com, said he's already received 127 email inquiries since the bill's passage Friday. He announced Tuesday that in light of the increase in interest, he planned to open a new New York City office this week, on Lexington Avenue in Midtown.
Savvyplanners.com, the first national LGBT-specific wedding planning company, has been organizing same-sex civil ceremonies since 2004.
Savant said that even before the marriage equality bill's passage, clients have had same-sex wedding ceremonies in New York, although they don't count as legal marriages.
After their symbolic ceremony in New York, a couple would either go to another state to obtain the legal marriage certificate or enter into a civil union in New York.
"Couples want to marry in New York — it's their home," Savant said.
Alex Bertrand had already decided that NYC was the only place to get married, even before the state decided to make his union legal.
"To go anywhere else [to marry] wouldn't speak to who we are as people," said Bertrand, 33, who has been planning his upcoming wedding with Jeremy Price, 35, for the past year.
"We didn't care — we were going to get married in the city and then go make it legal in Canada," said Bertrand, whose wedding date is set for July 16 at the all-inclusive Middle Collegiate Church, on Second Avenue and Seventh Street in the East Village.
He now plans to have an additional small legal ceremony in New York at the end of July, after the bill goes into effect.
Bertrand admitted that local businesses have been confused at his same-sex wedding plans.
"When I've talked to the DJ, the limo, the caterer, everyone has been thrown off and asked, 'What's the bride's name?' A lot of the time they think 'Alex' is a girl," said Bertrand.
Bertrand's florist, Lynn Jawitz, called the legislation's passage a "wonderful shock."
"We'll see an increase of business after a few months' digesting period," said Jawitz, owner of Florisan florist on Lexington Avenue. A gay marriage advocate, Jawitz has already provided flowers for a number of same-sex ceremonies.
"We're just going to keep doing what we did before —making weddings beautiful — even when they were called 'committment ceremonies,'" she said.