How the business of same-sex weddings may change

Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice outside the Supreme Court after the court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the U.S.
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Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice outside the Supreme Court after the court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the U.S.

Thanks to Friday's Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, the wedding industry may be poised to get even larger.

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A new survey of more than 1,200 LGBT American couples and singles by wedding website The Knot—which is owned by XO Group—found that their weddings tend to be intimate celebrations, with 90 percent involving less than 150 guests.

The study, which will appear in its third annual The Knot LGBT digital magazine Friday, also found the celebrations tend to be cheaper than the $31,213 price tag of the average U.S. wedding. Male survey responders spent an average of $15,992 on their weddings, while women forked over $13,055. just little over one-fifth of the LGBT couples spent upward of $20,000 on their big day.

The reason for the price difference may be due to the age of the couples. The survey showed LGBT men and women were about 41 and 39 on their big day, respectively, while the average age of marriage overall in the U.S. is 31 for men and 29 for women.

Dhanusha Sivajee, executive vice president of marketing for The Knot, said the delay isn't a commitment issue. Most LGBT couples live together for seven to nine years before tying the knot.

"When you think of same sex couples, 96 percent live together before marriage," Dhanusha Sivajee, executive vice president of marketing for The Knot, said. "I think they've been waiting for something like today, this historical moment."

Bob Witeck, president of Witeck Communications, believes because many couples have been in established relationships for quite some time, they may not have the disposable income to spend on a lavish wedding.

"I'm not in the market to have that kind of wedding that people have when they're younger," he said from his own personal experience. "I'm saving for my retirement, and in doing so, my marriage is not going to have the same approach or the same investment."

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However, now that gay marriage is legal, Witeck thinks many more couples will consider getting married at an earlier age. With Witeck Communications estimating that the LGBT group had a purchasing power of $884 billion in 2014, there's potential for the wedding industry to grow.

"What's going to change is the average age of couples getting married is going to trend downward," he said. "We have a pent up demand of people who have been denied it for many years. Many of those are looking to legitimize and legalize their relationship so that they can be very confident that they can have legal custody of their children."

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Even before Friday's decision, brands have increasingly been marketing specifically to same-sex couples looking to get hitched. In 2012, Target featured a same-sex couple in a wedding registry ad, complete with the slogan "Be Yourself, Together." The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority ran a full-page ad in USA Today in October to encourage couples to come to Sin City to tie the knot.

Just this week, Esurance released the #EqualDreams commercial, which narrated the wishes of children that everyone could get married someday regardless of their sexual identity. Tiffany and Co. featured a real gay couple in one of its "Will You?" ads last year.

"For more than 177 years, Tiffany & Co. has been the jeweler people turn to when they look for ways to celebrate the special moments in their lives," a representative for the company said in a statement. "We are honored to play a role in those celebrations, and we want everyone who shops with us to feel welcome and appreciated. In addition to beautiful designs and superior craftsmanship, excellent customer service is what all our customers expect from us."

The Knot is also projecting the industry will grow.

"People are going to celebrate their love and celebrate that legally," Sivajee said. "A lot of people have been waiting for this decision."