Hawaii: Same-sex weddings, starting today, to enhance islands’ appeal
A wedding ceremony for less than $100? A beautiful setting -- Hawaii -- and some bargain prices may mean big business in the Aloha State, where same-sex marriages begin Monday.
“We anticipate a huge increase in spending in the state of Hawaii from the LGBT market,” Neal Miller of Atlanta’s Neal Miller Travel Co. told Travel Weekly. “We expect larger celebrations, larger groups of folks coming to Hawaii with couples choosing to bring their families along with them.”
Citing a paper from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization released in July, U.S. News on NBC News reported that same-sex marriage could add nearly $70 million a year to Hawaii’s economy. Tourism is the No. 2 industry in the state and suffered reverses in the 2008 economic downturn.
Kevin Rebello, an owner of Gay Hawaii Wedding, said his company had arranged five same-sex weddings for Monday.
“We are swamped,” he said. “We’re up to about 30 bookings since the bill was signed.”
Gay Hawaii Wedding, which has provided commitment ceremonies on secluded South Maui beaches since 1994, offers packages starting at $395. For $975, the services of an LGBT-friendly professional photographer are included.
“It can be a little intimidating…to be affectionate in front of a photographer,” he said.
Of course, getting to Hawaii and putting up family and friends in a hotel can be pricey, so an Oahu minister promises to ease the pocketbook pain by performing weddings for just $95.
The Rev. Toni Baran, who has blessed same-sex commitments for 20 years, already has several same-sex weddings booked.
“The phone calls and emails are just pouring in,” said the Unity Church pastor.
Baran’s bare-bones price covers only the wedding service and does not include the $65 fee for a marriage license.
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