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Same-sex marriage and the wedding industry

July 10, 2015

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The wedding industry is huge. It generates $51 billion across the country and employs more than 800,000 people.

Now, it’s getting even bigger.

After last month’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing for same-sex marriage across the country, the industry stands to gain more than $2 billion annually as more couples wed. More money will also make its way to state and local governments.

Businesses such as hotels and event centers won’t just see a financial impact, however. Serving same-sex couples and their families during a wedding means making changes that the industry might not have imagined a decade ago.

That was the case at the trendy Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, Ariz., one of the country’s best-known destinations for same-sex weddings.

It started making accommodations for same-sex weddings as far back as 2007, according to Jesse Thompson, the hotel’s director of Sales and Marketing. Same-sex marriage became legal in Arizona in October 2014.

The hotel is prepared for an influx of more same-sex weddings because it has two credentials recognized by the LGBT community: TAG Approved status and its participation in the Preferred Pride Collection with the Preferred Hotel Group.

TAG Approved properties, which are designated by by Community Marketing, Inc., support the LGBT community through their nondiscriminatory employment policies and services. Preferred Pride offers diversity training to help hotels and resorts better serve the LGBT community.

“[Preferred Pride] comes with a whole plethora of training for our staff to make sure we have Mr. and Mr. and Mrs. and Mrs. in our property management system, that our front desk understands so there is no bias,” Thompson said. “There’s a lot of little things that go into it because we don’t want someone to have a wedding here and feel discriminated against in any way.”

The hotel hosts an average of 35 weddings a year and has hosted six same-sex weddings in the last nine months. Moving forward, Thompson said he expects same-sex weddings to make up 20 to 25 percent of the weddings the property hosts.

With the average wedding bringing in between $15,000 and $20,000, there’s a lot of money involved for the hotel.

Thompson said that he’s sure others in the wedding business, from caterers to travel agents, will see an increase in business as well. One of the biggest benefactors, Thompson believes, will be LGBT friendly trade shows.

“We’re attending more LGBT friendly trade shows, which we didn’t do as much in the past,” he said. “Now that it’s legal everywhere, I’m sure those trade shows are going to expand dramatically.”

For story ideas, look into what hotels and resorts in your area are doing to accommodate same-sex weddings after the Supreme Courts ruling last month. Find out if they’re TAG Approved or received Preferred Pride training and what that entailed.


TAG Approved

Preferred Pride


  • Rian Bosse

    Rian Bosse is a PhD student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. He earned his undergraduate degree in English from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2012 and worked for a small daily newspaper, the Daily Journal, in his hometown o...

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