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Whispering Pines feeling benefits of new law

May 8, 2013

The scenic beauty of URI's W. Alton Jones campus in West Greenwich will now be the location of some same-sex marriages. File Photo.

PROVIDENCE— Now that same-sex couples are allowed to marry in Rhode Island, venues that host wedding receptions may see an influx in revenue starting August 1 when the new law officially goes into effect.

According to a study released this month by the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, approximately 808 same-sex couples from Rhode Island would get married within the next three years.

The study stated that 3,000 same-sex couples were living in Rhode Island in 2010; using information from Massachusetts, which already allows same-sex marriage, the study was able to predict how many marriages will be held in the first three years.

It is predicted that 64 percent of the 808 couples would marry in the first year, 21 percent in the second year and the remaining percentage in the third year.

This boost in weddings would raise an estimated $7 million towards the state’s wedding and tourism businesses and approximately $530,000 in tax revenues.

According to The Wedding Report, people in Rhode Island in 2012 spent an average of $27,388 on weddings.

Because many weddings bring together friends and family, the state could see additional spending by out of state guests, which could mean a bump of approximately $1.3 million in tourism revenue.

Venues such as Whispering Pines Conference Center in West Greenwich began receiving phone calls inquiring about the venue’s availability for same-sex marriages last Friday, the day after the bill was signed into law by Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Erin Guerra, Special Event Coordinator, explained that Whispering Pines hosts approximately 50 weddings a year.

“But we are hoping to see an increase in bookings due to the passing of the same-sex marriage bill,” she said.

Guerra said the center has held events for same-sex couples in the past; catering to people who married out-of-state but wanted their reception in Rhode Island.

“We have always held all of our couples with the utmost respect and treat them all equally,” she added.

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