Same-Sex Marriage and the Wedding Industry

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By Christine W. Meyer

On June 26, 2015 the United States Supreme Court, in a landmark decision, proclaimed that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the Constitution.

The decision requires all states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and legalized same-sex marriage throughout the U.S., its possessions, and territories.

On July 9, 2015, Governor Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands signed an executive order that requires the government to comply with the ruling by extending marriage rights to same-sex couples throughout the territory. The statutes of the Virgin Island specifically defined marriage as between a man and a woman, but there has been movements in the past couple years to change the wording to between two persons.

The ruling can’t help but have an effect on the marriage industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. is over $30,000, but same-sex couples tend to spend a great deal less, about $20,000. Most industry experts believe that’s because same-sex couples tend to be older, with less disposable income, and live together for up to ten years before they marry.

Now that same-sex marriage is the law of the land, experts believe that same-sex couples will marry sooner and choose to spend more money on lavish weddings.

The US LGBT community has a combined purchasing power estimated to $884 billion (according to analysis by Witeck Communications), so the wedding industry, especially in the US Virgin Islands, which is a mecca for destination weddings, should be poised to take advantage of the increase in same-sex weddings in the next several years.

Artwork courtesy of Naia Jozame.

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