As everyone knows, history was made in New York State when same-sex marriage became legal on July 24, 2011. What you might not know is that — unlike some other states — the Marriage Equality Act doesn’t have a residency restriction. This means that the Valley likely will be the prime destination for many commitment and wedding celebrations. And a number of Hudson Valley businesses are making it a point to advertise their services to gay couples, thereby helping to minimize those pre-wedding jitters.
Check out www.biggayhudsonvalley.com — the brainchild of married couple Stephen Hengst and Patrick Decker — which lists information on gay-friendly officiants, venues, jewelers, legal experts, party planners, and all things wonderful for a big (or small) same-sex union in the Valley. The site also played host to the first Hudson Valley Gay and Lesbian Wedding Showcase last September, which featured more than 40 vendors. In his experience, Hengst has found that Valley businesses are open to offering their services for same-sex weddings, but advises, “If you’re not sure, ask. People need to be comfortable with who they’re working with.” In terms of wedding gifts, Hengst says that some couples add their names to a registry; when he and Decker wed, some of their guests chose to make contributions to Marriage Equality New York (www.meny.us) or the Human Rights Campaign (www.hrc.org), which was “a nice gesture.”
Senator Steve Saland — whose support has been instrumental in passing New York’s Marriage Equality Act — speaks at the first Hudson Valley Gay and Lesbian Wedding Showcase
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Another resource, www.rainbowweddingnetwork.com, provides national and local LGBT-friendly wedding resources. Listings are categorized in a timeline fashion, beginning with “Prior to the Event” (engagement parties, consultants, wedding packages) through the ceremony (sites and officiants), the reception (bands, DJs, and caterers), and the honeymoon (travel services and vacations).
Also, Steven Petrow’s Complete Gay & Lesbian Manners (Workman Publishing, $17.95) includes a no-nonsense chapter on same-sex unions that gives advice on everything from who pays for the rings to what to wear at the ceremony. Petrow’s “straight talk” sidebars answer questions that friends and family might have on gay wedding etiquette.