Same-sex marriage a business boon for wedding planners

Carey Myslewski, left, and Katy Yan walk out of City Hall a married couple Saturday in San Francisco.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

For Rosemead-based wedding planner Lisa Phillian, the phone calls started just after 7 a.m. Wednesday.

Wasting no time, gay couples across the Southland and from states as far as Oklahoma called her business, Rainbow Weddings, which specializes in same-sex ceremonies.

Most were planning weddings for sometime in July, when the end on the ban of same-sex marriages in California was expected to take effect.


PHOTOS: Same-sex couples marry in Southern California

But late Friday, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals cleared the path for same-sex marriage licenses to be issued immediately.

Phillian, who is also a notary authorized to issue marriage licenses, became a resource for several couples who couldn’t make it to Los Angele County’s Norwalk office before it closed Friday. She officiated three ceremonies that evening.

“There wasn’t even time to go to the chapel,” she says with a laugh. She performed the weddings in her living room.

Fresh out of blank licenses Monday morning, Phillian headed to the county clerk’s office at 6:30 a.m. to stock up and discovered there was already a long line of couples, some wearing wedding dresses and suits. She ended up officiating 20 more ceremonies.

“It’s exhilarating,” said Phillian, who has spent years helping advocate for same-sex marriage. The added business is a perk, too, she says, and she’s already lining up much more business beyond the spur-of-the-moment nuptials that have occurred since Friday.


“People are feeling much more comfortable now,” since both Supreme Court decisions were issued last week and after a separate legal challenge over the weekend was denied, Phillian said.

Couples are allowing themselves more time and more planning, requesting details such as scenic venues or incorporating long-held family traditions. “They’re ready, and they’re going to have the wedding of their dreams.”

The company’s Palm Springs office, in particular, has been deluged with calls from older, more established locals who are finally ready to plan their big day together, says Phillian.

Terilyn Howell, 53, has experienced a similar surge in business. Her two-person company, An All Inclusive Event, received 17 calls from hopeful couples Saturday alone.

Those wanting to get wed right away have expressed concern about marrying before some other legal challenge could be brought to stop the unions. That has meant a lot of calls and coordinating last-minute venues and catering.

“It’s a little less sleep, but it’s worth it,” Howell said.

She’s booked weddings for this week and as far in advance as next year and has had to call in reinforcements to help handle the volume. But it wasn’t until Monday that she realized she’s going to be a lot busier soon, planning one wedding in particular: her own.


She and her partner of 15 years will marry next summer. Their binder full of plans for their own ceremony -- compiled years ago and shelved while they waited for same-sex marriage to become legal -- still holds ideas for place settings and wedding-dress looks.

“It finally sunk in and I thought, ‘Wow, this is really going to happen for us this time,’ ” she said. “I’m stoked.”


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