Rings, flowers, musicians, dresses—opening up weddings to a new segment of spenders could mean big bucks for the Hoosier economy. The UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, which studies sexual-orientation and gender-identity law and public policy, released a report in March 2014 estimating that in the first three years of legalized same-sex marriage, the ensuing weddings could mean almost $40 million in economic activity for Indiana—with more than half of that coming in the first year alone. To calculate the Indiana numbers, the think tank looked to other states that already allow the unions, like Massachusetts, and factored in sources such as the 2010 Census and state per diem and wedding-expenditure data.
So when can Indiana expect the boost? Maybe not so quickly. “We likely won’t see the economic impact until next year,” says Megan Robertson, a political organizer formerly involved with Freedom Indiana, the group that first formed to fight the state’s proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have recognized only those marriages between one man and one woman. “A lot of couples got married at courthouses and are planning formal celebrations now—but those plans take time. And some may decide not to spend the money since they are already officially married. The folks getting engaged from here on out are where we will see the most clear benefit to the local economy.” Here are a few samples of businesses already sending out their thank-you cards.