Local wedding vendors weigh-in on marriage equality

Savannah Vasquez
April and Maria Lopez from Oklahoma City, Ok., during their beach wedding ceremony with Barefoot Weddings.

New wedding bells have already started ringing in Destin, as Florida was added as the 36th state to legalize same-gender marriage on Jan. 6. Although Okaloosa County courthouses will no longer be offering civil ceremonies, local wedding vendors say the new law does not necessarily mean an influx in couples.

“We’ve actually been doing commitment ceremonies for couples for 16 years, even before gay and lesbian marriages were legalized in Florida,” said Maggie Halsey of Barefoot Weddings. She added that since the law passed she has set up a small chapel in Fort Walton Beach for local couples, but as for beach and destination weddings it’s just business as usual.

“We’ve had a few inquiries, but it hasn’t been like our phones are blowing up off the hook,” she said.

David Stowe of Crystal Beach Weddings said that he believes its to early to tell whether 2015 will yield more Florida weddings, but for his company same-gender weddings will be a new aspect.

“We haven’t done any just because we haven’t really gotten any requests,” he said. “We as a company plan to abide by the laws of the state of Florida but it’s just unchartered territory for us so we’ll just see what happens.”

Stowe said that since the law was recently passed, he foresees next year might be busier due to the wedding dates already scheduled in 2015.

“We have gotten a few inquires since the laws have passed but we were already booked,” he said. “I think we will see more couples next year, considering more dates are open for 2016.”

Patti Terjak of Surfside Brides said that when it comes to weddings, she believes everyone has the right to marry the one that they love regardless of what others believe.

“In my opinion it’s about love,” she said. “I believe if two people can find love in this crazy, hectic world that we live in today, than they deserve it; they deserve to be together.” 

Terjak said that when she first began working in the wedding industry some people would turn their noses up to interracial marriages, and she believes businesses that will not perform same-gender weddings are in the same way discriminating.

 “Personally I’m not surprised that Florida finally passed the law,” said Terjak. “I don’t think it will be long before it’s everywhere. We are definitely going to be open to doing same-gender weddings and are proud to support marriage equality.”