Recent UK figures have revealed that civil partnership formations have declined by 85% since 2013. This correlated with the introduction of same-sex marriages in March 2014. In the first month of legalization in the UK, 1,049 same-sex couples wed. Here, we’re taking a look at the rise of same-sex marriages and how this has affected the jewellery industry.
Legalization of same-sex marriages
Once same-sex marriage became legal in July 2013, the first gay marriage took place in March 2014. From this point, 15,098 couples legally married under the new legislation up to 30th June 2015 — 55% of these were between women and 45% between men. In the first month alone of legalization, 1,409 same-sex couples celebrated their love for each other with a wedding.
In all states of America, same-sex marriage is also legal now too. Researchers have already seen the effect of this — it was found that couples spend more on their weddings than they would on a civil partnership. Men were found to spend $15,580 more on average and women $9,116. Many wedding retailers are accommodating to the rise in same-sex marriages as well by offering bespoke supplies such as his and his (and hers and hers) wedding toppers and signage. It is estimated that the same-sex wedding industry is worth $51 billion (£38.8 billion).
There are some European countries who have lagged behind when it comes to legalizing the ceremonies. The first gay wedding in Germany for example was very recently — in October 2017. Among other countries, Northern Ireland, Australia and Italy still haven’t legalised same-sex marriage.
Switching up the traditions
It’s worth remembering that traditional marriage conventions have been around for centuries! The man asks for approval from the woman’s parents, he purchases a diamond engagement ring and proposes. At the wedding, the male has his groomsmen and women have their bridesmaids.
In one study, it was revealed that that 81% of gay men didn’t participate in the engagement ring buying. Instead, they purchased substitute gifts, such as expensive watches, and then purchased rings for the wedding ceremony. Same-sex couples also have a different pre-wedding celebration instead of a stag and hen party. Research showed that gay couples also chose to enjoy a couple’s getaway or a group vacation with all of their friends.
When it comes to their wedding day, gay couples have mixed sex bridesmaids and groomsmen too. During the ceremony, the traditional vows cannot be written as they specify becoming ‘husband and wife’. Instead, the partners often write their own personal vows and the registrar marry the couple with the phrase ‘partners for life’.
Of course, some traditions are still followed by most couples. For example, more than half of all women surveyed said that they did not see each other on the morning of their ceremony — keeping the surprise for seeing each other at the altar.
What about when it comes to walking down the aisle? Some couples reported that they walked down together and others said that they got a parent to walk with them.
The changing of the jewellery industry
As same-sex marriages become more popular, the jewellery industry must accommodate for these customers. One thing that was picked up by research was that many gay couples chose to do their shopping online, as they found shopping in store for rings to be an awkward encounter. However, many businesses have embraced the changes by presenting gay couples in their advertising campaigns and welcoming couples to their store. It does seem that most same-sex couples wait to buy a ring for the wedding day rather than spending money on engagement rings though (66% of females and 19% of males purchased engagement rings).
What about the wedding ring? Some jewelers offer metal that has multi-colored features to it — representative of the flag that the LGBTQ community associate themselves with. One jeweler reported that often same-sex couples don’t request matching jewellery but instead want rings that have matching components, such as the same colored metal or a similar stone.
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