With the Supreme Court's ruling, it's no longer gay marriage—just marriage. And that could come with bigger wedding bills for same-sex couples.
"Economically speaking, couples are excited about having the opportunity to marry," said M.V. Lee Badgett, a senior scholar at UCLA's Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy. Per the institute's research, about 150,000 same-sex couples live in the 13 states where gay marriage wasn't legal before Friday's ruling.
"Based on what we know about other states [where it was previously legalized], about half of those couples will get married in the next two to three years," she said.
The estimated short-term spending boost: $2.6 billion, including $500 million from residents of states with overturned bans. That's if those couples spend even a quarter of the average wedding budget, Badgett said. TheKnot.com put the typical wedding cost at $31,213 in 2014, an all-time high.
But data show LGBT couples are exceeding such spending projections, although there's some disagreement on just how much. Male couples spend an average $15,992, while female couples shell out $13,055, according to a new survey from TheKnot.com of 1,200 same-sex couples. A little more than a fifth of those couples reported spending more than $20,000, the site said. WeddingWire.com puts the typical spend even higher at $25,693, according to new data from a survey of 420 couples.
Preliminarily, same-sex couples are outspending straight couples this year when it comes to key categories such as photography, venue and attire, said Shane McMurray, founder of research firm The Wedding Report.
"They seem to be spending more in all of the categories," he said. If same-sex couples' wedding spending is on par with straight couples, the nationwide economic boost will be more like $2.5 billion annually over the long term, according to a 2014 NerdWallet.com study.
Part of the growth in spending comes from feeling more secure about support for marriage.
"When the first few states got marriage equality, there was always a little uncertainty, so people went out very quickly," Badgett said. Less time to plan often meant less expensive celebrations.