Gay marriages

30 August 2005
Gay marriages

A change in the law in December allowing gay people to marry provides a great opportunity to boost your income. There is likely to be a rush over the traditionally quiet winter months and, next year, there are estimates that 10,000 couples will tie the knot.

With the average wedding costing £17,000, this provides an exciting new market to tap.

Sir Elton John has already announced his plans to marry his partner David Furnish when the new civil partnership act comes into force on December 21. This high profile wedding will prompt other gay couples to realise the benefits of the new law.

Civil partnerships allow gays to have similar rights to married couples. They will be recognised as next of kin in hospitals, be exempt from inheritance tax and benefit from each other's pension.

If you have a civil wedding licence for your venue, this can be used to host civil partnership ceremonies at no extra cost. The law does not allow for any religious celebration, so all ceremonies will have to be held in a registry office or a licensed wedding venue.

In order to attract gay custom you may want to promote yourself as gay friendly.
Research has shown that gay men and lesbians make a positive point of buying from a company that promotes itself as gay friendly.

Many feel that mainstream companies ignore the gay market, always showing straight couples in advertising and promotion.

Look at your promotional literature and website to see if you can add a section for civil partnership ceremonies, preferably with images of gay couples. There are photographers who can supply images from photo shoots.

Certainly check the wording of the literature you send out to gay couples and take out references to bride and groom. Also make sure your staff are briefed not to assume potential clients are straight when they ring for a brochure or appointment.

You may also want to advertise on gay websites or in the pink press to promote your wedding venue or services.

It is certainly worth making the effort to break into this niche market. Many gay men and lesbians fall into the category of double income, no kids, so-called "Dinkies", meaning they have more disposable income than many straight couples.

Fifty seven per cent of Pink Paper readers earn more than £30,000 a year and 46% of Gay Times readers earn above the average income, which is around £20,000.

Among the predominantly female readership of Diva magazine, 64% have a full time job and 60% take a holiday abroad each year.

Gay Times readers certainly have money to splash about, 42% visit the theatre, opera or go to a concert every month, 63% take more than one holiday a year and 59% own a car.

The magazine says its readers are "inclined to spend disposable income on leisure activities, travel and home entertainment".

Once you have attracted this clientele, make sure they have a great time and recommend you to their friends. To ensure a superb day, make sure none of your staff or suppliers show any homophobia or awkwardness. For example, you don't want a toastmaster stumbling over introductions or waitresses giggling if they see two men kissing.

You could make more money by offering a wedding planning service or package for the day, including suppliers such as photographers and florists who have pledged to be gay friendly.

Another way of making extra income would be by providing gay related favours and decorations for cakes. Rainbows and pink triangles are often used as gay symbols, so you could incorporate these into your table decorations.

This is a great opportunity for gay couples to finally have some legal rights, so many will want to celebrate in a lavish style. Make sure you are ready for this new business opportunity.

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