Same-sex couples will be able to marry in New York beginning July 25, and local business owners are hailing the news as a crucial boon to the wedding industry.
New York last week became the sixth and largest state to allow same-sex marriage after the measure passed the Republican-led Senate by a narrow margin.
The wedding industry, from halls and caterers to photographers and florists, have struggled through the recession and an influx of same-sex weddings over the next few years could provide a remedy.
"In this economy, when weddings on the whole have been down, this could help us bring our numbers back to where they were before," said Rick Helman, a photographer based in New City who gets three-quarters of his business from weddings. "I was hoping for this; it's very exciting."
Helman has been particularly proactive; he said he's already posted advertisements on a number of wedding websites aimed at gay and lesbian couples.
One of the arguments advocates used to convince undecided lawmakers to vote in favor of gay marriage was that it would provide a jolt to the convalescent economy in the form of increased tax revenue, wedding license fees and, most importantly, tourism.
“First and foremost, marriage equality is a human rights issue, but furthermore it will bring much needed revenue into New York," said Sen. David Carlucci (D-Clarkstown).
Carlucci and his three colleagues in the Senate's Independent Democratic Conference recently issued a report estimating close to $400 million in revenue for the state over the next three years. The report also predicts about 66,000 gay and lesbian couples will wed in the state by 2014.
In Massachusetts, where courts imposed same-sex marriage in 2004, more than 6,000 couples wed in the first six months; since then, the state, which is only one-third the size of New York, has averaged about 1,000 same-sex weddings each year, according to advocacy group massequality.org.
"I think the entire wedding industry is bracing itself for this," said Irvington photographer Eve Prime.
Prime, who owns on Main Street, said she loves shooting weddings. "They're all challenging and exciting in different ways. The other day I was speaking to colleagues about how excited we were for the news last week. After waiting so long to be able to get married in New York, I'm this will generate a lot of great weddings."
Evan Liaskos, the general manager of the restaurant and ballroom in Cortlandt Manor, said he anticipates a significant short-term spike in business, but that it probably won't start until next spring.
"Gay or straight, people still need a few months to plan a wedding," he said.
Liaskos has already purchased a number of web domains, such as gaywestchesterwedding.com, where people will be redirected to Cortlandt Colonial's main website. He said he also plans on gearing a section of the site to same-sex couples "to let them know we're gay-friendly."
Despite the expectations, things have been surprisingly slow so far, said Andrew Richter, sales director at in Rye.
"When I heard the news and all the celebrating, I expected at least a few calls, but they haven't come yet," he said. "People have been calling, but they haven't said whether the wedding is for two gentlemen or a man and a woman."
A Putnam County bakery owner also said he's seen little uptick in demand so far, but chalked it up to the relatively conservative locale.
"We're in Putnam, it's different. Maybe in Westchester, there's more people, [they're] more unique," said Thierry Danvin, owner of in Southeast.
But if the demand is there, he added, he'd be happy to take the business.
"I've worked all over the world and I've learned that everybody is the same. If you take care of a good customer, they will come back."