The Supreme Court today ruled 5-4 today in favor of legalizing gay marriage throughout the United States. And while that ruling will benefit a number of businesses, there’s one women-dominated field that will clearly get a massive boost from SCOTUS’s historic decision: the wedding industry.
Women make up at least 90% of wedding planners, says David Wood, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants. What’s more, many other wedding industry niches are also dominated by women, including gown designers and retailers, wedding invitation makers, cake designers, florists and make-up artists.
Estimates for the size of the U.S. wedding business run from $51 billion to $80 billion. As the number of gay marriages grows, so will that already massive dollar figure. The Washington Post recently reported that the legalization of same-sex marriage could boost state economies by $2.6 billion over three years. A good portion of that will likely end up in the pockets of wedding-related businesses run by women.
According to a recent survey from wedding website TheKnot.com, same-sex couples spend less on average ($15,849) on their weddings than straight couples ($29,858 ). However, they spend almost as much on a per-guest basis: $205 per head (vs. $220 per head for straight couples).
Some wedding industry pros expect that spending gap to narrow as same-sex marriage becomes more common. Bernadette Smith is the founder of 14 Stories, a company that plans gay weddings. She says that in the 11 years she’s been in business, the average age of her clientele has fallen, while their budgets have increased. Smith is also the founder of the Gay Wedding Institute, which trains wedding professionals to serve the same-sex market. About two-thirds of those she’s certified are women, she says.
With the purchasing power of the LGBT community estimated at about $884 billion, today’s ruling unlocks major business potential for women who’ve built their businesses around providing couples with their perfect day. Says Smith: “I think it’s going to be a big game changer for everyone in the industry.”