California Gears Up for Gay Wedding Boom

Even the Macy's department store chain is trying to get in on the action. Last week, they ran a full-page ad in both the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle for its wedding and gift registry, captioned: "First comes love. Then comes marriage. And now it's a milestone every couple in California can celebrate."

"Gay Elopement Package"

Gay-geared travel offers are nothing new for California or even high-profile nationwide resorts, for that matter. The W hotel chain has offered its "Pride 365" package for years, which includes gay-friendly extras, such as a one-year GLAAD membership and one-year subscription to OUT and OUT Traveler.

Now, California accommodations such as The Hope-Merrill House in Sonoma County have their sights set on the wedding and honeymoon business of gay couples. They currently offer a two-night "Gay Honeymoon" ("continue the love story, as you celebrate your long-awaited marriage," the Web site says) and will shortly offer a "Gay Elopement" package, a slight variation on their current "Elopement" offer that includes a non-denominational minister for a gay wedding ceremony, a gay wedding cake, couples aromatherapy, and much more.

Joie de Vivre, a hotel group with properties across the country, is currently orienting many of its California lodgings to provide services for gay nuptials.

Starting on June 16, four of their hotels will offer the "Summer of Love" package. Ten percent of the revenue from those bookings will be donated to the Human Rights Campaign fund "to help finance their efforts to defeat the November initiative," which is widely expected to be on the California ballot to outlaw same-sex marriage, said Joie de Vivre spokesperson Dawn Shalhoup.

"The bottom line is that they are putting the packages together to help people who want to get married here," said Shalhoup.

In San Francisco, gay couples are invited to "celebrate your love and freedom this summer at the Hotel Carlton." Newlyweds who stay there will receive a copy of "Gay by the Bay," a book chronicling the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history of the San Francisco Bay area.

Hotels and wedding vendors are showing so much interest that the Rainbow Wedding Network currently has three gay and lesbian wedding expos planned for California in July alone. (The company has held only 19 expos in total since 2003).

Click here for a guide to same-sex weddings in California from Out and About newspaper.

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