Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd Marry in 2011
Niagara Falls, NY - The July 23rd, 2011 wedding of Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd marked a watershed of weddings in that proverbial Honeymoon Capital and Niagara Falls has basked in the glow of same sex marriage ever since.
Michelle Blackley of Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation says "During the past two years we've seen an increase in marriages up to about 35 percent. And we receive calls at the visitor center specifically from same sex couples who maybe can't get married in their state. They wanna come up here to Niagara Falls., still the Honeymoon Capital of the world."
The numbers from the Niagara Falls City Clerk's office do bear it out with a marked increase in marriage licenses. There were 741 in 2010...then a jump to 952 in 2011 when same sex marriage was legalized in the Empire State...then 937 in 2012. Niagara Toursim estimates about 300 of those in 2012, about a third, were same sex marriages.
It has been a bountiful bouquet for businesses. Niagara USA, the local business chamber, has helped to promote that through its website with a specific section for Rainbow Weddings. It lists suggestions and merchants who specialize in making arrangements for the happy couples. Blackley says "They are wedding planners. They work with our local bed and breakfasts, our local hotels, our local restaurants, local dress shops, florists, you name it. Everything that goes into a wedding are part of the same sex weddings as well."
And in that category you will find the Rainbow House. It is a lovingly restored home which is a bed and breakfast complete with a wedding chapel. Owner Laura Lee Morgan says many same sex couples feel comfortable in its cozy, intimate setting.
Morgan says "I do very small weddings. Do about 15 - maybe 20..but most are under 7 or 8 people."
Then again there's that enduring lure of the falls for an enduring relationship. As Morgan says "I had a couple from New Mexico that had been together 25 years that came here. And that's what was surprising to me. Most of the couples had been together numerous years."