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Bridal Extravaganza happily adjusts to a same-sex marriage world

Love is love, and business is business.

RedEquality

Vendors in the industry, from florists to caterers, are seeing a bumper crop of same-sex Texas weddings.

“I think there’s going to be some pent-up demand, and that’s exciting,” said Laurette Veres, Bridal Extravaganza producer.

In Texas, same-sex weddings could generate at least $182 million in total spending in the first three years, according to projections by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy.

“That could be a lot of business,” said Carol Wyatt, who plans to marry her partner of two years, Sallie Woodell, on Aug.  2. The weekend bridal show really came too late for Wyatt and Woodell – they’ve been planning their Aspen, Colo., wedding since December – but they see a lot of other weddings in the works. “With almost every couple we know,” Wyatt said, “they’re either getting married or have gotten married in another state” and want to renew their vows closer to home.

Some of the show’s vendors made special efforts to welcome same-sex couples. Dream Bouquet Floral and Event Decor displayed a bouquet of roses with rainbow-hued petals. Who Made the Cake!, a Houston cake design studio, brought in a multi-tiered cake called “Love Around the World” that featured same-sex couples traveling together – two men riding a gondola, two women in a hot air balloon.

“We’ve always done cakes for LGBT marriages, so this is nothing new for us,” said the cake shop’s owner, Nadine Moon. “My view has always been love is love, and you deserve a great cake to celebrate, I don’t care who you are.”

The show’s name isn’t going to change, Veres said, because it’s been known (and trademarked) as the Bridal Extravaganza for three decades. But organizers are tweaking other details to make the show more inclusive to same-sex couples. Instead of signing up as bride and groom, couples now register as “Partner 1” and “Partner 2.” And for years, Veres said, engaged attendees have been given stickers that identify them to vendors as a “Bride to Be.” “We’ll use up the ‘Bride to Be’ stickers, but we won’t reprint those,” she said. The new stickers simply say “Engaged.”

[…]

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, who will marry in November after 18 years together, came to the show on Saturday. The two live in Plano and already have booked and ordered most of the things they want for their North Texas wedding, but they wanted to see what else they might find.

“Everyone was very accepting when they learned we were a same-sex couple,” Phariss said. “We had no issues at all.” But then, he said, that’s been typical of their experience since he and Holmes started planning their wedding in March. “Everyone we’ve called, we’ve told them that we’re a same-sex couple and asked if that would be an issue,” he said. “Everyone has said it’s not, and, in fact, said they were sorry we had to ask.”

Wyatt, who’s marrying next month, has heard talk that a same-sex wedding expo might be in the works in Houston, something made by and for the gay community. But she prefers the idea of same-sex couples “mixing and mingling in the broader wedding market,” as they did at this weekend’s show.

“Any time we can present ourselves as ‘We’re just normal; we’re happy to be getting married just like you are,’ it removes stigma from us,” she said.

God bless the Supreme Court and capitalism, eh? You’d think that if someone told Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick that a $60 million a year business was coming to Texas, they’d shout about it – and claim credit for it – everywhere they could. I guess Texas isn’t open for business for everyone. Still, it’s always good to be reminded who the mainstream is, and who the mainstream isn’t. They may raise a big fuss and may never quite go away, but they’re a shrinking and increasingly irrelevant minority.

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