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GayWeddings.com, WeddingWire cheer gay marriage rulings

Wednesday - 6/26/2013, 3:02pm  ET

Wed-tech, like ed-tech, is one of the region's strong suits. And Wednesday's Supreme Court ruling is very likely good news for that sector.

WeddingWire Inc., a popular one-stop-shop online matrimonial resource, sits in Chevy Chase. GayWeddings.com, which has a long-standing partnership with WeddingWire, is just across the Potomac in Arlington. Add to them some tech startups operating in the space, like District-based Social Tables, and it becomes clear that D.C. is turning into the IT department of the Wedding-Industrial Complex.

After the Supreme Court invalidated a major part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and tossed out an appeal by supporters of California's Prop 8, WeddingWire, in a statement, cheered the decisions.

But no one is quite as emphatic in their support of the rulings as Kathryn Hamm, president of GayWeddings.com, whose marriage in 1999 provided the impetus for the company.

"The number of same-sex couples that are getting married, legally or otherwise, has continued to rise through the years. That train has left the station," she said. "This is going to continue to be an expanding market because there is a whole new subset of the population that is able to marry."

Exactly what the decisions mean for Hamm's company, the number of new same-sex ceremonies and the entire wed-tech industry is still an open question.

Many states retain prohibitions on gay marriage. Virginia, for example, went as far as enshrining the ban in its constitution. GayWeddings.com — which maintains a directory of more than 52,000 vendors friendly to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples, among other features — is likely to see a major pickup in activity in some states, and less in others. Predicted Hamm: "You'll see a lot happen in California," already one of the company's top markets.

Another practical question surrounds any potential surge in knot-tying as a result of Wednesday's Supreme Court decisions: "My partner and I, for example, have already had a big, huge wedding with all the trimmings — does that mean we have another big wedding with all the trimmings when we can get legally married?" Hamm said. Or, do they opt for a lower-key reception?

The size and scope of those types of second ceremonies will matter to vendors, including sites like WeddingWire and GayWeddings.com

© 2013 American City Business Journals, Inc.