With Referendum 74's approval, King County is gearing up for "an onslaught" of same-sex couples applying for a marriage license. Meanwhile, those in the wedding industry say they haven't yet seen a surge in business.
Joshua Cooper and Benjamin Jury began planning their commitment ceremony in January, shortly after returning from Thailand, where Cooper had proposed in the plaza of an ancient temple.
After Washington state’s historic vote legalizing same-sex marriage, the couple are now planning a wedding.
“We’re excited,” Cooper said of the nuptials planned for next July in a mansion in Walla Walla.
The couple, who own the West Seattle catering company Duos, also hope they’ll be doing a brisk wedding business as other same-sex couples take the leap. But, so far, the phone’s been quiet.
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“I’m not sure if it’s too soon, or if they don’t know where to start,” said Cooper, 34, who’s teaming up with other businesses to create a one-stop shop for same-sex wedding planning.
A manager at Borracchini’s Bakery, an Italian bakery on Rainier Avenue South that has been baking wedding cakes since 1922, said the bakery hasn’t yet seen an influx of business from same-sex couples.
“We’ve been doing cakes for commitment ceremonies for years,” manager Traci LeCount said. “We’re not anticipating a big surge, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if people did call us. We’re happy to make a beautiful wedding cake for anyone who wants one.”
The phone was similarly quiet at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill, which has been performing same-sex partnership blessings for more than a decade.
“We haven’t gotten any requests yet,” said Becky Morrill, the liturgist who schedules weddings at the cathedral. “It will be interesting to see what happens.”
Still, as opponents of the same-sex marriage Referendum 74 conceded defeat on Thursday, the King County Recorders office said it’s gearing up for a rush of same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses — so many, in fact, that it’s planning extended hours.
The recorder’s office, which issues the licenses, has already spoken with officials in Iowa and Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal.
“They told us to prepare for an onslaught,” said county spokesman Cameron Satterfield. “They said they were inundated the first week. The most licenses we’ve ever issued in a single day is about 200, and we’re expecting to at least double that.”
The recorder’s office has already changed its online marriage-license application, removing references to “bride” and “groom,” and replacing them with “applicant.”
King County will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday, Dec. 6. Couples who obtain a wedding license must wait at least three days to marry, so the first same-sex weddings could occur Dec. 9.
The office is planning extended hours Dec. 6-8 to accommodate those who want to marry sooner rather than later.
A spokeswoman for the Snohomish County Auditor’s recording division was surprised to hear that King County was expecting as many as 400 applications a day when the law goes into effect. But she said the office was given a heads-up to expect that some people might head north to avoid long lines in King County.
Susan Kelleher: 206-464-2508 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @susankelleher.