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22/01/2015

Pasco’s Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony won’t be canceled after all

Both gay and straight couples will be able to tie the knot this year during Pasco County’s traditional Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony at the Historic Courthouse in Dade City.

Clerk Paula O’Neil had initially planned to cancel the ceremony in light of her decision last year to stop offering wedding services, in part because of the court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. But Circuit Judge Linda Babb offered to serve as the Valentine’s Day officiate.

“I volunteered,” Babb said. “I knew she had been doing it in the past. I had sort of wondered if she was going to do it this year.”

The group wedding at the Historic Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City is a Valentine’s Day tradition.
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Last year O’Neil married 19 couples on the grounds of the courthouse in what has become a Dade City tradition. Even though she isn’t officiating this year, O’Neil said her staff would continue to facilitate and staff the ceremony, which falls this year on a Saturday.

“We’ll do the same things we’ve done in the past,” she said. “We’ll preregister all the couples, and we’ll be talking to businesses to see if we can get someone to donate a cake.”

Pasco County issued marriage licenses to 38 same-sex couples in the first week that gays could legally marry in Florida. O’Neil arranged to have notaries public on standby at both government centers that week to marry couples who were granted a waiver from the state mandated three-day waiting period. Several couples showed up with their own officiates.

Babb said she hasn’t performed a gay wedding since it was legalized in Florida on Jan. 6. “I did do one in (Washington D.C.) last year on Labor Day,” she said. “They were dear friends of mine — they’re like brothers.”

She hasn’t decided whether to perform a mass ceremony, like O’Neil did in the past, or to marry each couple individually. “I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “It should be fun.”

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07:32 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

20/01/2015

South Florida tourism promoters courting same-sex wedding business

Tourism boosters around Florida are hearing wedding bells - and seeing dollar signs - now that same-sex marriage is legal in the state.

Already major players in the competitive destination wedding industry, some of state's top tourist draws are promoting their beaches and grand hotels as the perfect spots for gay and lesbian couples to wed.

While tourism bureaus have long courted LGBT visitors, who tend to be affluent and well-traveled, officials say the legalization of weddings will give them new avenues.

For the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, that means the annual wedding-focused "Miami Romance Month" in February will include promotions for same-sex weddings; in Broward, a mass beach wedding in February for straight and gay couples is in the works. And the promotional arm of the Florida Keys was to start running banner ads on hundreds of websites that reach LGBT audiences.

Rolando Aedo, chief marketing officer for Miami-Dade's CVB, said the bureau has already been promoting the Miami area as a destination for commitment ceremonies between same-sex couples as well as a perfect spot for honeymoons.

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"But of course with this, we have a tremendous opportunity to elevate that part of the discussion - and the timing is perfect," he said.

The Miami-Dade bureau planned to start running a social media promotion this month asking gay and lesbian couples for their love stories; the winners will get a weekend stay in Miami Beach.

While a spokeswoman for Visit Florida said the state's official tourism marketing corporation is not planning any immediate marketing or ad blitzes related to LGBT weddings, South Florida tourism offices were rushing to reiterate their history of support for same-sex travelers and their excitement about the court rulings legalizing gay marriage.

"One of the things we really wanted to do is let our friends in the LGBT community around the country know that we have finally gotten the opportunity we have been working for and fighting for, which is to have them legally married in one of their favorite places to vacation," said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The tourism office recently announced a "Love is Love" initiative that will launch with the mass sunrise beach wedding in Fort Lauderdale.

Grossman said the bureau's wedding point person - called an "Ambassador of Bliss" - will be available to help additional couples plan their events across Broward County. Grossman said she expects to see as many as 100 same-sex weddings a month over the next year.

A report from the Williams Institute, a national think tank at the UCLA School of Law, estimates that 24,248 same-sex couples will marry in Florida during the first three years it is legal. Those weddings, according to the report, would generate $182.2 million to the state and local economy and create between 875 and 2,626 jobs in the tourism and recreation sector.

In Broward, 1.3 million LGBT travelers visited the county in 2013, according to the tourism bureau. Richard Gray, the CVB's managing director for the LGBT market, said he expects the legalization of weddings to drive that figure up even more.

"We can grow the market even more now in my opinion," he said.

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables will reintroduce a campaign it ran in 2013 during the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival featuring photos of three couples - straight, gay and lesbian - getting married on its lavish grounds.

"There's no doubt that this was going to happen, regardless of when it was going to happen," said Natalia Plasencia, the hotel's director of catering. "So I wanted to make sure that our position was clear and not that it was something we were jumping on the bandwagon after the fact."

Plasencia said the hotel has hosted small, intimate commitment ceremonies in the past for same-sex couples, but she expects more locals to plan huge blowout events now.

In the Florida Keys, where cities from Key Largo to Key West already do a booming destination wedding business, promoters will fold same-sex weddings into marketing campaigns. In addition to digital ads that were to start running this month, the Monroe County Tourist Development Council will run print ads in upcoming months.

"The whole destination wedding is a lot of money, not only from all the guests that come down from everywhere and stay in our lodgings and accommodations, but also all the facets around weddings," said Harold Wheeler, director of the council. "That just puts a lot of money within the community."

Bobby Kyser, whose Wilton Manors event planning company Panache Style is responsible for decor at next month's giant beach wedding in Broward, has been anticipating this moment since last year.

In August, he organized a Gay Nuptials expo for same-sex couples preparing to get married. At that point, he said, many were flying to New York to legally exchange vows and then returning home to South Florida for celebrations.

"That's what they did before," Kyser said. "But now it's all going to happen here."

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06:52 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

17/01/2015

Wedding show is a one-stop nuptials shop

For soon-to-be brides and grooms, nothing beats the convenience offered by the twice-annual Oregon Wedding Showcase in Eugene — where they can see, touch, hear, smell and taste the different ingredients they will sprinkle into the unique recipe for their most special day.

Timed perfectly for couples planning weddings for spring, summer or even further into the year ahead, the winter show will happen this Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17-18, at Lane Events Center in Eugene. A lineup of 80 exhibitors — including 25 participating in the event for the first time — will include florists, photographers, bridal shops, caterers, wedding planners, disc jockeys, event destinations, bridal gift registries, entertainers and more.

Show organizer Judy Van Valkenberg says the event provides a window into current wedding trends and, just as importantly, puts couples in touch with the experts who can turn their wedding-day dreams into reality.

“Our bridal show is set up so you can meet many wedding professionals and compare products, services and prices all in one weekend in one place,” she says.

“Weddings are becoming more and more individualized and unique to the couple’s likes, tastes and lifestyle,” she adds. “Oregon Wedding Showcase wants to help you plan your day your way. We have wedding professionals to fit every different style and budget.”

Just a sampling of the things to look for at the show:

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Photo booths: These are “the hot thing” at receptions now, Van Valkenberg says. “We have quite a few companies who do photo booths,” including some that offer just that and others that provide photo booths in addition to wedding photography and other services.

Disc jockeys: They don’t just play music anymore. “They often now are the master of ceremonies and in charge of helping plan and coordinate the whole reception,” Van Valkenberg says. “Many times they also do lighting, photo booths or other things, too.”

Wedding cakes/desserts: In addition to the standard offerings, Van Valkenberg says bakers at the show also offer gluten-free sweets, and specialty cupcakes, cheesecakes, chocolates and French macarons (with many available to sample at booths).

Live music: Performers participating in the show and ready to sign on for wedding-day gigs include Dover String Quartet, Code Red (a rock-country band) and D ’n’ A (a traditional Celtic duo).

Real-deal dresses: Local bridal shops offer extensive selections of gowns, fitting expertise, alteration services and more — plus peace of mind. Van Valkenberg says knock-off wedding dresses sold online have become a “huge problem.” Dresses and other wedding party fashions will be on display in two daily fashion shows at noon and 3 p.m.

Handouts and prizes: Couples who register for the show will receive a free subscription to Brides magazine; a $200 gift card for a customized commemorative gift product; and opportunities to win one of five Las Vegas getaways.

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07:12 Publié dans wedding | Tags : wedding | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)