New York City Now Looks to Cash in on Gay Weddings

The "NYC I do" campaign hopes to bring in millions of dollars in revenue for the city

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Michael Bloomberg seems to have a business plan for everything. As same-sex marriage legislation moved forward at a glacial speed in its final week of debate, it seems the New York City mayor figured out a way the new law could boost city revenues. With a new tourism campaign called "NYC I Do," Bloomberg hopes to make New York the premier destination for same-sex marriages. The law's wording allows couples from outside the New York to wed in the state, and the city's tourism board is looking to cash in. Just minutes after the bill's passage, the official city guide,, posted instructions--flanked by hotel reservation widgets, interactive maps and links to gay-friendly events and destinations--for how to get married in New York.

The city clearly thought ahead with this one. Kimberly Spell, spokeswoman for the city's marketing office, told Bloomberg News that the "NYC I do" campaign “will create millions of dollars in additional economic impact to the city’s $31 billion tourism industry.” Although same-sex couples can't marry until July 24, when the requisite 30-day waiting period for the bill to go into effect expires, the city is already offering five hotel packages (sponsored by American Express) and a slideshow of a dozen different venue options. The blog posts on NYC's official guide brag about the "recently revamped Manhattan Marriage Bureau" and reminds nuptial-seekers that "lovebirds flock here to share in the experience of falling in love with the City itself."

Every dollar spent on a same-sex marriage in New York City is one lost by California, where Proposition 8 has landed that state's marriage laws in court limbo. The New York Times describes the victory for gay rights in New York as "bitterswee"t for advocates in San Francisco. "The irony is that we moved out away from New England to come to liberal California. And now it’s New England that’s leading the way,” Dennis Carignan told the paper while marching with his husband in San Francisco's pride parade on Sunday. The New York newspaper description of the festivities, punctuated by mention of "at least one reveler wearing a 'NY Loves Me' T-shirt" sounds like Bloomberg's tourism initiative is advertising itself.

The Manhattan Marriage Bureau is already adding staff to prepare for the first day for gay marriages. You can buy everything you need there and they accept multiple forms of payment:

A City Store on the premises offers couples all they’ll need for the big event, from fresh bouquets and costume wedding bands to disposable digital cameras, hairspray and tissues. Brides can glam up in a large dressing room, which is equipped with soft lighting, a vanity and full-length mirrors. Two pastel-hued chapel rooms host the intimate marriage ceremonies, complete with design flourishes like paintings from the Brooklyn Museum, couches for guests and a sound system that lets couples set their vows to tunes from their iPods. Afterward, newlyweds can pose for a classic New York photo op in front of a majestic backdrop of City Hall.

In addition, obtaining a marriage license or domestic partnership has become easier, allowing intendeds to savor the special moment sans stress. Consolidated lines and self-serve computer kiosks speed up the process, while a comfortable seating area with video screens providing wait times make the experience an enjoyable one. Eager spouses-to-be can also now pay by credit card, and non-English speakers need not fret--the new service windows are equipped with a telephone translator for service in 170 languages. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.