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Same-sex nups could bring big changes to NYC's landscape

Designer bridal gowns and dresses are up to

Designer bridal gowns and dresses are up to 70 percent off on July 15, at 110 W. 20th St. in Manhattan. Photo Credit: RJ Mickelson /amNY

The start of gay marriages on Sunday will ring in big changes across a range of industries in New York. We take a look at how same-sex nuptials will leave many feeling happily ever after.

Tourism

The city's tourism promotion arm, NYC & Company, expects gay marriage to be a windfall, and is preparing a campaign called NYC I Do "to promote the attractiveness of the five boroughs as the gay weddings destination," said the agency's CEO, George Fertitta.

Though the campaign's details are still being sorted out, Fertitta said he expects it to bring "hundreds of millions of dollars" to the city's tourism industry, in addition to new jobs.

Matrimonial/Family law

Gay marriage is opening the floodgates for new legal issues to be addressed in court, including child custody, alimony, division of assets and various benefits. The state bar association is even adding a committee to prepare the state's family law lawyers for these issues.

"There's gonna be a whole rash of new issues and litigation," said Alton Abramowitz, national first vice president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

He added that in a few years divorce lawyers will likely see a major boost in business, and that prenuptial agreements will increase because many gay and lesbian couples have spent years building up wealth in their own names.

Wedding planning

The city's wedding and party-planning industries are anticipating an entirely new client base and one that traditionally spends a little more on such events.

"It's a great boost for the wedding industry," said Maya Kalman, CEO of event-planning company Swank Productions. She expects as much as a 15 percent bump in business.

She added that event planners will be challenged to "get away from the stereotypes" of wedding and event planning, because what works for straight couples won't necessarily work for gay and lesbian couples.

Mara Urshel, co-owner of seminal wedding shop Kleinfeld Bridal, said the excitement surrounding same-sex marriages could spill over to heterosexual couples and possibly change parts of what many see as the classic image of a wedding.

"It's really an evolution of the business," she said. "I think there's going to be some very personalized, unique innovations in ceremonies that may influence hetero couples as well, and could even end up modifying what we view as traditional," she said.

A boost to city life

Though the city has a long and well-earned reputation as gay-friendly, legalizing gay marriage could turn it into the premiere place for gay and lesbian couples to live, drawing in new talent to industries and driving substantial economic growth.

"It can only be a plus for New York," said Jonathan Bowles, executive director of the Center for an Urban Future. "So much in economic development these days revolves around talent, and this is just one more thing that's going to attract the best and brightest."

He added that the bill's passage could, in turn, encourage other groups of people who have felt discriminated against in other places, further changing the make-up of the city's culture.

Same-sex marriage could also be a boon for the city's economy: according to the most recent data from the city comptroller's office, it could bring some $210 million to the Big Apple economy in the first three years.

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