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North Fork Wedding Country Waits for Same-Sex Windfall

Though Bedell Cellars has a same-sex marriage booked already, others in the local wedding business say they are surprised that gay couples have not come calling.

Despite high hopes, North Fork wedding venues are still waiting for a business boon from gay couples since the state legalized same-sex marriage last week.

At least one winery on Long Island’s North Fork has a same-sex marriage ceremony booked: in Cutchogue, which has hosted several same-sex civil union ceremonies in years past. It will host a wedding for a Long Island lesbian couple in September.

“The great news for them is that they can now experience an official marriage,” said Amy Finno, senior vice president of marketing and communications at Bedell, adding that the vineyard has always vocally backed gay rights and is hosting a fundraiser for the GBLT Network this summer.

But Melissa Martin, director of marketing and sales at in Peconic, said that she hasn’t had any same-sex inquiries yet — probably because the winery is so booked up with weddings for the summer already, she said — but she does expect the calls to come in.

Barbara Hofer, special events coordinator at since 2002, also said no same-sex couples have inquired about wedding services.

“We did have a same-sex engagement party here a couple of years ago — two men from Massachusetts — and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We truly welcomed them to Long Island.”

The North Fork has always been a hotspot for weddings, especially at the wineries where couples opt for the romantic vineyard settings for their ceremonies. Meanwhile, supporters of the law have claimed same-sex marriages could add as much as $400 million to the state economy.

But the lack of inquiries has surprised Nancy Gilbert, owner of in Peconic who says she provides floral designs for at least two North Fork weddings a week during the summer.

“It might be because it’s too early. … I don’t think couples can apply for licenses until July,” she said. “But once it picks up, I am expecting [same-sex] requests. Whenever anyone gets married, they need flowers.”

The , which passed in the state Senate and was signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on June 24, actually takes effect July 25.

Southold-based freelance photographer Kate McDowell — a seasoned wedding photographer — said that she’s had a few same-sex couples mention getting married to her in passing, but nothing is set in stone yet.

“Since the law passed, I’ve had some pretty good friends say that they were actually thinking about tying the knot,” she said. “But it’s still early — I think everyone is still in shock.”

One gay couple celebrated the legalization with a stay at in Southold last Friday, according to owner Marilyn Anne Marks, adding that she plans to take out advertisements geared toward same-sex couples thinking of making it official.

“And they may very well come back to celebrate their wedding too,” Marks said. “I can’t have large wedding parties here, but the beach houses I manage can and I can accommodate small intimate affairs for my guests. I expect to have some interest soon."

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