On July 24, same-sex couples for the first time. And this Friday evening, between 200 and 300 people are expected to attend the Hudson Valley's
first LGBT wedding expo at the Radisson Hotel in New Rochelle.
The event is organized by , a White Plains-based non-profit that provides services to LGBT residents of the Hudson Valley.
LOFT Executive Director David Juhren said the group quickly filled space for 40 vendor tables.
"I think it's because people in the wedding industry know there's a lot of money out there that the LGBT community has to spend now that marriages are legal in New York," he said.
"We'd prefer to see bridal expos all over the place recognize that there are same-sex couples, and for [mainstream] literature to show same-sex people celebrating their special day," Juhren said. "When that happens there won't be a need for a LGBT expo. We're aiming for integration and equality."
From wedding planners and florists to salons and catering companies, many business owners are seizing the opportunity to work with same-sex couples who are planning weddings.
A report issued by the state Senate's Independent Democratic Conference predicts that 66,000 LGBT couples will tie the knot over the next three years. The weddings, the report said, are expected to generate nearly by 2014.
, based in Larchmont, will have a table at the expo. Manager and Senior Travel Advisor Natalie Faggianelli said that the legalization of same-sex marriage has created new business opportunities in the travel industry.
"It's a different avenue for our business that we'd like to enhance," she explained. "We have two agents who specialize in this market. There are properties all over the world that are very open and welcoming to same-sex couples."
Faggianelli said that an increasing number of vacation properties—from Mexico and Costa Rica to South Africa and the South Pacific—are now catering to same-sex couples. Many resorts, she said, also offer weeks that are exclusive to same-sex couples and their families.
Roxanne Ferrance, who last year launched her Bronxville-based business Cake in a Cup NY, says she also expects an increase in business now that same-sex marriage is legal.
"I'm trying to get a little bit more exposure for weddings and same-sex weddings as well," she said. "There's a big market for it and I figured the expo would be a good place to start."
Sylvia De La Torre, a photographer and owner of Bella Photo, said she supports same-sex marriage and expects the LGBT wedding market to become competitive.
"To be on the ground level is such an opportunity. It's important to be a part of what's going to be a huge market," she said. "Aside from the business standpoint, I do support marriage equality. When it passed in New York, I thought it was exciting for people to have such a life-changing opportunity."
De La Torre has already photographed same-sex weddings in New York over the past month.
"I feel that same-sex couples are so happy on their wedding day. The cake could have melted into a million pieces and they'd still be happy."
The LGBT Wedding Expo will be held Friday, August 26 from 5 - 9 p.m. at the Raddison Hotel (1 Radisson Plaza, New Rochelle.) The event will include hourly giveaways and the first 300 attendees will receive a free wedding gift bag. The cost at the door is $10/LOFT members and $15/non-members.