Same-sex wedding boom in Tahoe? | SierraSun.com

Same-sex wedding boom in Tahoe?

Jenny Goldsmith
Sierra Sun
Sierra Sun Photo Illustration/AP Photo/Eric RisberSharon Papo, left, and Amber Weiss, right, were married in San Francisco, Tuesday, but Tahoe tourism and lodging officials hope that same-sex couples will make Lake Tahoe the backdrop for upcoming nuptials.
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The California Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex couples to tie the knot in California has Tahoe Basin tourist and wedding industry officials eyeing a potential economic windfall.

“People at the state level are anticipating a huge boom in the wedding business based on this new law,” said Steve Teshara, executive director of the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. “Maybe local people in the industry haven’t seen it yet, but we anticipate we should get our fair share of the demand.”

As long as voters don’t re-institute the ban on same-sex marriage come November, gay and lesbian couples are projected to spend $684 million on cakes, flowers, rings, hotels and other wedding-related services over the next three years, according to a study by the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.

“Since North Lake Tahoe is a premier wedding location, folks in our community in that business should see an increase,” Teshara said.

With 10 same-sex couples already securing a marriage license in Nevada County on Tuesday, local wedding industry professionals are gearing up for an influx of business.

“I definitely think this will be a boost for Tahoe’s wedding industry,” said Kathy Giebel, wedding coordinator for the North Tahoe Conference Center in Kings Beach. “We have not had our first call yet, but I imagine in the near future we will.”

“We would love to get a piece of the pie,” Giebel added.

Squaw Valley’s PlumpJack Inn hosted a same-sex wedding ceremony several years ago, and sales director Rob McCormick said they welcome gay and lesbian nuptials “with open arms.”

PlumpJack Inn is no stranger to the issues of same-sex couples. San Francisco’s mayor ” Gavin Newsom ” holds a large stake in PlumpJack ventures and gained national attention when he spearheaded political support for same-sex marriage licenses and gay rights.

The potential boost to the North Tahoe tourism and wedding industries could help revive a market that has been hit hard by skyrocketing fuel costs, home foreclosures and soaring airfares.

“Things have been slowing down in the Tahoe wedding industry over the last two years,” said Alice Ross, a North Lake Tahoe wedding minister who agreed to officiate same-sex marriages in Nevada County. “The wedding industry is not what it used to be and I imagine this would help.”

Although only one same-sex marriage is scheduled to take place in the North Tahoe region this summer, Teshara said business should pick up soon.

“Given the potential uncertainty on how long this law may be in place, people are apt to do something sooner rather than later,” Teshara said.