Same-sex Marriage Ruling Brings More Wedding Business to Charlotte
Michelle Pavlakos has noticed a change in the customer traffic the past few weeks at Brownlee Jewelers.
It used to be that the highly rated jeweler would see one or two same-sex couples a month in its Park Road store, one of seven locations in Charlotte. But in October, federal judges struck down a same-sex marriage ban in North Carolina.
“We’ve seen more same-sex couples in a shorter period of time,” Pavlakos says. “In the last week or two, we’ve seen four or five couples.” Wedding vendors across Charlotte aren’t sure yet what impact the same-sex marriage rulings might have on their business, but a 2014 report by a think tank at the University of California says allowing same-sex weddings will be good for North Carolina’s bottom line. More than $64 million from ceremonies, sales taxes and tourism will be added to the state’s economy from the ban's being lifted, says the report from the Williams Institute.
Serving same-sex couples is not new to Brownlee Jewelers, Pavlakos says. While some vendors might be reluctant to market themselves to that demographic, Brownlee already had signaled to gays and lesbians that their business was welcome with a listing on the Gayborhood website and app.
Until now, that business was primarily customers getting married in other states and Washington, D.C. “I’ve had girlfriends that got married in California,” Pavlakos says. Now, they can get married in North Carolina, and they can keep all their wedding business here, too. Other venues and caterers also are reaching out to the gay and lesbian community.
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