Civil unions boost wedding businesses

September 19, 2011

Since the law went into effect June 1, nearly 1,500 civil union licenses have been issued in Cook County alone.

Jackie Paulus and Shanae Diewold got engaged a few weeks ago when Paulus popped the question with a custom-designed ring from Steve Quick Jeweler.

"She whips out the ring and of course my reaction, 'oh my god oh my god yes,' " Diewold said. "She said I haven't asked you anything yet. And I said, 'oh right.' "

They are moving forward planning a wedding.

Steve Quick and his wife Melissa have supported the LGBT community through their jewelry business prior to the civil union law.

But since the law went into effect they are seeing even more same sex couples looking for rings.

"There's definitely been an uptick in business," Steve Quick said. "Quite a few engagement rings we've done, quite a few custom design pieces with diamonds for couples. But yes we've definitely seen a difference and its very exciting."

On June 2, state and city officials celebrated the first civil unions in Millennium Park.

Among the first couples to be formally joined was Ted Grady and Ross Slotten.

"I think the couples see other couple being engaged and announcing that and seeing the reaction from their friends and family and its very affirming," Grady said.

Grady, who also co-owns a catering business, said since civil unions were recognized in Illinois said he has hired more staff as his wedding business has doubled.

And of the heels of a recession the timing couldn't be better.

"We had the best summer and fall we've had in four years," Grady said "It's been very, very busy we're grateful."

Erin Emerick sought a gay friendly business to buy an engagement ring for Melika Ramos. They are planning their wedding and want to make sure to work with open minded business owners.

"We're a different kind of customers but not so different," Emerik said. " It's the same kind of thing we're looking for . We're looking for some traditional stuff."

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