Share this article

print logo

$100,000 wedding underscores economic impact of gay marriage

For two decades, Jimmy- lee Taglis, of Buffalo, designed gowns and tuxedos for other people’s weddings.

But he never dared dream about having a wedding of his own.

“There was always a tear in my eye because I always thought, ‘This is never going to be me in Buffalo, N.Y.,’ ” Taglis said.

But all that changed in 2011, when New York State passed the Marriage Equality Act and made it legal for him to marry Ashley Steinfeld, his boyfriend of 13½ years.

The couple will tie the knot Sunday during a lavish three-day celebration costing more than $100,000.

In black tie and glamorous gowns, 300 guests will enter Hotel @ the Lafayette on a 50-foot red carpet. They will be treated to hors d’oeuvres, filet mignon, sea bass and sushi.

They will be entertained by six celebrity impersonators brought in from New York City and Toronto, a full-service DJ and an 11-piece band with three female vocalists.

Three expert photographers and three professional videographers will capture it all.

“This will probably be the only gay wedding a lot of people in our families will ever see,” Steinfeld said. “We want to show them that it can be beautiful and really nicely done and that it’s no different from any other wedding.”

That’s why they paid $15 apiece for impeccable, metallic wedding invitations – about 10 times the average price – and splurged on a decadent Muscoreil’s wedding cake topped with two grooms.

The couple has booked every ballroom in Hotel @ the Lafayette, plus all 57 of its hotel rooms and another 40 rooms at the Hyatt Regency Buffalo downtown.

Limousines will shuttle family and friends throughout the city. The Atrium Bar at the Hyatt Regency will host a rehearsal dinner for 80 people the night before. The following day, Butterwood Desserts will feed brunch to 150 out-of-town guests traveling from as far as China.

The glamorous fete is one of the biggest clients Williamsville’s Silk Gardens florist has ever handled.

“From a business standpoint, it couldn’t be better,” owner Jerry Bonvissuto said. “Who wouldn’t want more business?”

Opening marriage up to gay couples has not only brought increased business for some companies in the wedding industry, but also has the potential to increase the amount spent per wedding.

Gay men have the highest discretionary spending per capita, and the household income of gay male couples is 12 percent higher than that of heterosexual couples, according to research from Experian Marketing Services, a consumer research firm.

Taglis is the owner of TT-New York, a popular gown retailer with four locations in Western New York and Rochester, and Steinfeld is a successful coffee franchisee in Toronto.

When gay marriage was legalized, Taglis said, a woman in Starbucks overheard him saying he thought it would be a good thing. The woman turned around and said, “How could it possibly be a good thing in any way?”

Taglis, a Republican who shies away from making his opinions public, answered as a businessman instead of as a gay man.

“This is going to bring a lot of money into New York State,” he said.

He pointed out that many couples traveled to Canada to marry since gay marriage was legalized there in 2005, taking business over the border that could have gone to vendors here.

“Now,” he said, “all that money can stay here and help our economy.”