Business community comes out for marriage
by Angela Thomas
May 29, 2014 | 591 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With marriage equality now in the Keystone State, activists and advocates aren’t the only ones joining in on the celebration.

The wedding industry jumped to action shortly after last week’s ruling, with photographers, DJs, churches, officiants and local restaurants among those marking Pennsylvania’s victory, many offering their services free or discounted to attract LGBT clients.

LGBT tourism is expected to see a jump, said Bruce Yelk, director of public relations for Visit Philadelphia.

“I think without a doubt it will bring more tourism to Philadelphia,” he said. “It is proven that every other state that has marriage equality has seen an increase in weddings.”

According to a study out this month from the Williams Institute, marriage equality in Pennsylvania could generate more than $92 million in revenue for the state in the next three years, with almost $60 million of that coming in the first year of the new law.

The organization estimated that between 7,490-11,168 same-sex couples would marry in Pennsylvania in the next three years.

The state requires a 6.34 percent general sales or use tax on consumers. With the average amount couples spend on weddings, the Williams Institute estimated between $4.2-$5.8 million in sales tax revenue in the first three years.

Marriage equality would also boost job growth, with an estimated 812-1,142 full- and part-time jobs created.

Yelk said his organization is compiling a list of local hotels that are offering marriage packages to put on its website to help couples looking to visit the area.

Kimpton’s Hotel Palomar and Hotel Monaco are offering Gaycation packages, equipped with a $5 donation to the Trevor Project, VIP hook-up at local LGBT nightlife clubs, the hotel’s guide to the Gayborhood and complimentary champagne.

General Manager James Adamson said the Gaycation packages overlapped with the ruling on Tuesday.

“As a company, Kimpton became the first national hotel sponsor of the Trevor Project and with that release and through that partnership, we decided to put together our Philly Gaycation for our two hotels to celebrate the vibrant LGBT scene,” he said. “It coincided with the announcement and exciting news on Tuesday.”

A wealth of wedding vendors have begun offering discounted or free services to same-sex couples in Pennsylvania.

Main Line Unitarian Church hosted free wedding services last weekend for same-sex couples who had received licenses, complete with cake, flowers and a photographer, and will also offer weddings from 4-7 p.m. May 31.

“I know I speak for everyone at Main Line Unitarian Church when I say how thrilled we are as a congregation that Pennsylvania can now legally recognize what we’ve all known for a long time, that love is love,” said the Rev. Morgan McLean.

Couples interested can reserve a time slot by calling 610-688-8332.

On Monday, couples were married in free ceremonies at William Way LGBT Community Center, offered by Journeys of the Heart’s Bob Pileggi, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, Equality Pennsylvania and the center.

The Rev. JoAnne M. Hanson of Fishtown is offering officiate services and said the first three same-sex couples to sign up will receive the service for free. For more information or to register, visit

The Dave Magrogan Group also jumped on board with a contest in which same-sex couples can win a wedding at Stella Rossa or Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar.

“I have a lot of LGBT employees, customers and friends that are so thrilled that this ban was lifted that I felt that I had to do something to commemorate this historic occasion,” Magrogan said.

To enter, couples must explain in up to 50 words why they should win the wedding on either restaurant’s Facebook pages. The couple with the most “likes” by June 30 will win the wedding. For more information, visit www.

M Restaurant, 231 S. Eighth St., is hosting a marriage-equality celebration starting from 5-10 p.m. June 20.

The restaurant will offer half-off all its house-infused cocktails, as well as $5 wine and $3 beer all night, as well as its famous three-appetizer dish for $15. The outdoor garden will be open rain or shine, and there will be live jazz.

For more information, call 215-625-6666

or visit

Another local restaurant celebrated marriage equality by providing food at the Register of Wills office, which has been processing marriage-license applications.

Capital Grille sales manager Amanda Giddings said Register of Wills Ronald Donatucci has been a longtime customer of the establishment, at 13th and Chestnut streets. She said the restaurant wanted to thank Donatucci for keeping his office open late last week to accept applications from same-sex couples, and for paying the application fee for the first license issued.

“My thought was that this is so awesome and that city workers are so proud of this city,” she said. “We wanted to participate, so my chef and I went to the office with dessert platters for everyone who works there.”

Giddings said the restaurant wants to keep up the momentum, so every couple who comes in with a marriage license will be given a complimentary champagne toast. She said the offer has no expiration date.

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