With passage of same-sex marriage, hope for more local wedding business
It didn't take long after Maine voters approved same-sex marriage Nov. 6 for the economic effect to be felt in the Bethel area.
"I am already working with a couple of guys that have been partners for 40 years and are planning a wedding next summer at their camp on the lake in Waterford," said Steve Etheridge, owner of Rooster's Roadhouse in Bethel.
"They are looking for locations for a small wedding reception, and have asked Rooster's to put a proposal together for them. There is no question in my mind that this opens an entirely new market for the restaurant and hospitality-related businesses, and we welcome the opportunities."
With Maine one of less than a dozen states with laws allowing same-sex marriage, other area businesses that provide wedding-related services are also hopeful for a boost.
Wedding officiant Ellie Andrews is putting out her message: "I'm sending letters to area town clerks that I am excited about doing same-sex weddings," she said. "Once some couples get married, I think others will realize it's OK and we are here to support them."
The Bethel Inn and Sunday River Ski Resort, which both host weddings and receptions, also plan a push.
"We're definitely anticipating more inquiries and weddings,” said Brad Jerome of the Bethel Inn. The inn and the Bethel area has grown into a premier wedding destination, offering a variety of unique ceremony and reception locations. We’ll be looking to attract couples through regional advertising and events, while providing personalized service and wedding packages not easily found at other resorts.”
At Sunday River, “We absolutely look forward to attracting more business, both destination and wedding-related, as a result of the same-sex marriage law passing,” said Spokesman Darcy Morse. “We currently host an annual GLTBQ-friendly weekend in February (White Out Weekend) and know that the potential to grow this market is there.”
Wedding photographer Carol Savage of Greenwood also hopes to benefit.
“I’m looking forward and hoping it will generate more weddings,” she said. “I just had a gay wedding a couple of weeks ago in New Hampshire.”
From photgrapher Andree Kehn: “I am thrilled to be able to appeal to an entire new target market. gay and lesbian couples will bring a boost to local economies, especially destination locations, like Bethel.”
A couple’s perspective
The Citizen was contacted through e-mail last week by Jesse Keith of Marshwood, Mass. He offered the following perspective on wedding resources in the Bethel area:
My husband Peter and I were recently married on Oct. 6 in a legal ceremony just after midnight in Boston, and then we drove to Maine for a formal ceremony with our friends and family on the Artists Covered Bridge.
When planning our wedding, we knew from the start that we wanted to have our wedding in Maine with a reception at my in-laws vacation home in Bethel.
In our planning process we had some ups and downs finding the right vendors for our wedding when vendors learned we were a gay couple, but in the end we assembled a group of the most supportive, hard working and gay marriage-friendly vendors to execute the details of our wedding perfectly.”
Keith said they utilized services from four local businesses, including Kehn and florist Pooh Corner Farm.
He concluded, “I was so pleased to see Maine pass gay marriage for all the couples in Maine that are looking to marry, and for any out of state gay couples like us to be able to have the freedom to choose to marry in a beautiful state that supports our rights.”