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08/01/2015

Wedding planners see plusses in same-sex marriage

Several local companies associated with the booming beach wedding industry have shown their support for Florida becoming the 36th state in the nation to legalize same sex marriages.

While many local beach wedding vendors have been performing commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples for years, several expressed excitement about being able to finally offer true wedding ceremonies.

“I have long since been an advocate of marriage equality and I’m just happy to see it’s happening as fast as it’s happening,” said Grove Fisher, who owns Fisher’s Flowers with her husband Adam.

Maggie Halsey’s Barefoot Weddings has also performed commitment ceremonies since she opened 16 years ago.

Gay marriage
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“I think more and more people are more open minded,” Halsey said. “Just about everybody has somebody in their family who is gay or have friends.

As the largest accommodation provider in Northwest Florida, ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals hosts a lot of weddings throughout the year. Company spokesperson Martin Owen said ResortQuest is looking forward to hosting same sex marriages.

“Naturally, we are all inclusive and we don’t discriminate against anybody,” Owen said. “We just like everybody having weddings on the beach.”

Fisher said her feelings about marriage equality were very personal but intersect her professional life.

“I think it opens the doors to a whole bunch more opportunity as far as growing here,” Fisher said of the wedding industry.

The industry could also see a bump with the clerks of court in Okaloosa, Walton, and Santa Rosa counties getting out of the wedding business.

“It infuriates me,” Fisher said. “It’s so backwards and so wrong that I can’t even stand it.”

For her part, Halsey has been renovating the chapel at 11 Eglin Parkway SE in Fort Walton Beach to offer ceremonies at her office. She hopes to have her chapel ready for ceremonies by Friday.

“I was surprised (the clerks stopped performing wedding ceremonies),” Halsey said. “I wasn’t expecting it. That’s why I’m scrambling now to get the chapel together.”

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