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Originally published Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 7:01 PM

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Same-sex marriages give boost to Washington hotels, tourism industry

Marrying — and spending — in Washington, thanks to marriage-equality law.

Special to The Seattle Times

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Washington’s hospitality industry is gearing up for more same-sex weddings and receptions, of both in- and out-of-state couples.

After a flurry of marriages in early December (immediately after the voter-approved same-sex marriage law went into effect in Washington), many same-sex couples are planning their nuptials for later this year.

Wedding-venue inquiries and bookings in the Seattle area are on the upswing — and one think tank has estimated that same-sex marriages of state residents alone could bring $39 million in spending in Washington in the first year.

A number of hotels are offering special packages and weddings. Among them:

•Seattle’s Alexis Hotel “Suite On You” package, valid through March 31, provides a night in a suite and bottle of Champagne for $174. Same-sex newlywed couples need to use the booking code ‘R74’ and show a wedding license at check-in.

•Seattle’s waterfront Edgewater Hotel offers a “Plunge with Pride” package with a choice of hotel venues for the wedding ceremony, a professional photography package, and overnight accommodations for the wedded couple, a “Mr. & Mr.” or “Mrs. & Mrs.” throw and bottle of Champagne.

•Kirkland’s Heathman Hotel is offering a “Right to Unite” weekend package through June 30 with a 15 percent discount on a one-night stay (20 percent for two nights), that includes a bottle of sparkling wine and a rose-petal strewn bed.

Marrying and spending

All the festivities can add up for the local hospitality industry.

A report, the “Economic Impact of Extending Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Washington State,” by the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA’s School of Law, estimates that resident same-sex couples will spend $39 million on weddings in the first year alone.

And, notes the report, couples from out of state would generate even more spending on weddings as well as tourism-related goods and services.

Jenny Harding, Seattle wedding coordinator and owner of New Chapter Weddings, said she quickly booked same-sex weddings in Washington for out-of-state couples after the law passed.

The couples, she said, are from Oregon, California, South Carolina and Vermont. All are planning destination weddings in Seattle, thanks to the new law, she said.

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