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Same-Sex Marriage Is Likely Boon For St. Louis Wedding Industry

Kurt Nordstrom via Flickr

It’s hardly June, but wedding vendors in Missouri are hearing from lots of couples.

Last week both a circuit court judge in St. Louis and federal judge in Kansas City found Missouri’s ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional. As a result the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and Jackson County began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Pat Rutherford-Pettine, owner of the The Sugaree Baking Co., said she’s done wedding cakes and pies for civil unions for many years. She’s baking her first official wedding cake for a same sex couple in Missouri this week.

"On Thursday I’m doing a very small cake for a very good friend of mine who’s been with his partner for 15 years," she said. "He was the first person to call me since this passed."

The Sugaree is one of many inclusive wedding vendors listed on the Show Me Marriage web site. Show Me Marriage is a grass roots organization that has campaigned to change the law in Missouri.

In addition to the possible benefit to individual vendors, both St. Louis and Kansas City could see a boost in tourism as same-sex couples travel to the region to obtain marriage licenses, said PROMO executive director A.J. Bockelman.

"Currently in St. Louis, Kansas City and St. Louis County there’s no residency requirement, so anyone within the state could travel there, obtain the license and then they have up to 30 days to have their wedding solemnized," Bockelman said.

He pointed to a study by the Williams Institute released last month that estimates more than 5,000 same-sex couples are likely to get married in Missouri within the next three years.

The same study estimated a $27 million boost in wedding spending if same-sex marriage is legalized in Missouri, with an additional $8 million from out-of-state guests.

Follow Maria on Twitter: @radioaltman

Maria is the newscast, business and education editor for St. Louis Public Radio.