Wedding specialists: Not much added same-sex business - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Wedding specialists: Not much added same-sex business

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 DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- It's been just more than six months since Iowa lifted its ban on same-sex marriage. With a new set of clientele, many wedding specialists anticipated an influx in business, but many in the wedding industry haven't seen the payoff they'd expected.

At the annual "A Bridal Affaire" wedding show in Dubuque, this year was the first that a wedding could legally have two brides or two grooms.

"We've seen an increase in ladies looking for bridal jewelry. Ladies looking for wedding bands," Mike Doland, owner of Doland Jewelers, said. Doland says the increase has been slight, but he wasn't anticipating a huge increase in sales from the law change.

Most vendors have done business with one or two same-sex couples, and some are actively working to get more.

"Since the ruling in Iowa, we've been really excited about breaking into that market. We have three couples right now in Dubuque that we're working with for next year weddings," Randy Carter of Bella-Carta Design said.

Bella-Carta is even working at finding ways to uniquely attract a previously untapped market.

"Invites that through design, through elements of design, sort of suggest visually that there's two men getting married or two women," Carter said.

Despite the new legality of same-sex marriage, most vendors say any increase has been slight.

"With same-sex marriages, there are some resorts now that cater to same-sex couples. In the Caribbean, Mexico, even some in the United States. On a local level, we haven't had a large response regarding that though," Angie Harter of Travel Headquarters said.

"We just recently did a nice lesbian couple's [wedding]. It was actually one of the most heartfelt weddings we've done, so it was really, really nice to be a part of it," Freddie Simshauser of Bluenote Photography said. "That was the first one, and we expected a little bit more inquiry than we actually got."

One tuxedo shop used to see female same-sex couples, but same-sex clients have actually decreased.

"Since the ban was lifted, we have not booked any. Prior to that, we had a few walking in the doors, every couple months or so," Nicolette Heer of Gordon's Toggery said.

So though wedding laws have changed, most businesses say clients really haven't changed much.

Since the ruling in April, some businesses are working together to cross-promote wedding services to same-sex couples. Several Internet sites have popped up, like "Iowa's Gay Wedding Planner" which targets out-of-state couples looking to marry in Iowa. Also, in Des Moines this June was the first annual Gay Wedding Expo.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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