Wedding industry prepares for economic boost from same-sex marriages

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Just one day after getting their marriage licenses, same-sex couples are in full wedding planning mode, and all those weddings could mean millions of dollars for our state.

Couples have already started interviewing wedding planners, an exciting time for them and for the wedding industry as it will likely give a big economic boost to Arizona.

“It will be one of the best days of your life," Cicely Rocha-Miller of Life Design told Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey.

So far for the couple, Friday's milestone marks the best day of their lives. They walked out of the county clerk's office with a marriage license in hand after a federal court ruled Arizona's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

"I always had the fear that if something happened to me, Nelda had no rights,” said Bailey after getting her marriage license. 

They've been together for 57 years and now they're interviewing people to plan their wedding.

"This is very historical," Rocha-Miller said. "You'll be among the first to have it be ... recognized by the state in terms of the entire planning process."

According to a study from the University of California, Los Angeles, this historical court ruling is about to bring in millions of dollars to Arizona's economy.

"Economically, it just makes sense," Rocha-Miller said. "It's good for business for this to happen."

That study shows total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by resident same-sex couples and their guests could add more than $39 million in the first year alone.

"Bands are going to pull in an extra million dollars, cake pastry chefs are going to pull in another $650,000, caterers are going to pull in almost $10 million extra in revenue which is huge,” Rocha-Miller said.

And the calls are already coming in.

"Now, we're getting inundated with vendors that are trying to be a part of the directory and want to connect with us now because it is legal," Rocha-Miller said.

She hopes the wedding industry is ready and has documents changed to gender-neutral form.