When Jeremy Lawson found out Nov. 5 that lawmakers voted to legalize gay marriage in Illinois, he was ecstatic.
Yes, Lawson is gay and has been in a nine year relationship with his partner, Jarrod Gaither, but there’s more to why the historic decision means so much.
To Lawson, an Evanston based photographer who specializes in weddings, gay marriage may mean more business.
“This is going to bring a lot of gay weddings in the near future because people have been waiting for this, and it’s a big deal to them,” said Lawson, the nine-year owner of Jeremy Lawson Photography. “Since Tuesday, people I know in the wedding industry have already been contacted about space rentals.”
Lawson isn’t the only vendor who thinks the new law will increase wedding business.
“I have historically sold and made wedding bands and engagement rings for gay couples,” said Gayle Inbinder, a 35-year veteran in the jewelry business and the owner of Wilmette Jewelers. “This is a new business opportunity in that the legalization of gay marriage will cause more couples to formalize their relationship through a ceremony, and that will mean buying rings.”
“To me this means more opportunity,” said Debbie Tucker, an event planner and the owner of her Northbrook-based company, Eventure. “People getting married typically want to celebrate with friends and family in a big way, and that usually means a party. It’s no different than a heterosexual couple, it’s just more people wanting to celebrate a joyous occasion.”
Dr. Stephen Burnett is a professor of management and strategy at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, who said he believes legalizing gay marriage will have a positive impact on revenues in the wedding industry.
“The financial crises and the recession has had an impact on discretionary spending,” said Burnett, who has taught at Northwestern for more than three decades. “Weddings are definitely considered discretionary spending, and so we’ve seen that industry in the doldrums, but suddenly, having a lot more weddings is going to impact that.”
Burnett also said the industry might see an emergence of new competitors who are specifically targeting same sex ceremonies.
“I don’t specialize in gay weddings, but I’ve done many of them,” said Lawson, who explained that he shot a gay wedding last September and a lesbian wedding last month.
When asked if he saw a difference in the mood of a gay wedding versus the wedding of a heterosexual couple, Lawson said that even though both occasions are celebratory and happy, he does detect a slight difference.
“A lot of gay couples who get married have been together for so long, and have waited to have a ceremony,” he said. “So when they finally go ahead and do it, it’s very relaxed.”
Lawson also said now that gay marriage is legal, he believes couples will tie the knot after being together for a shorter amount of time.
And when it comes to his own situation, Lawson said he and his partner will most likely have a ceremony soon.
“It’s something we are looking forward to,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter if our customers are two men or a man and a woman,” said Inbinder. “We’re in the business of celebrating anyone’s love and commitment.”