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Expo aims at gay couples

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Copyright © 2014 Albuquerque Journal

Don’t assume that a man who is about to marry another man will wear a tuxedo to the wedding; he might prefer a slinky, strapless white wedding gown.

Don’t show gay couples a brochure for a honeymoon package if the cover photo is of a man and a woman.

And one other thing: “Don’t ask, ‘Who is the bride and who is the groom?’ We don’t really look at ourselves that way. Maybe we’re grooms, maybe we’re both brides. Our recommendation is (to ask), ‘How would you like me to refer to you?’ ”

Mauro Montoya and Andy Walden will get married this summer in front of 150-200 guests, some of them traveling from the Seattle area. Montoya saw a need for a same-sex wedding expo in Albuquerque and created one that will be held next weekend. (Courtesy of Max Woltman)

Mauro Montoya and Andy Walden will get married this summer in front of 150-200 guests, some of them traveling from the Seattle area. Montoya saw a need for a same-sex wedding expo in Albuquerque and created one that will be held next weekend. (Courtesy of Max Woltman)

That’s advice Mauro Montoya is giving vendors who’ll take part in a wedding expo targeted to gay couples, to be held next weekend at the Hotel Albuquerque in Old Town.

It is the second such expo in New Mexico – there was a smaller one in Santa Fe – and the first one being held in Albuquerque.

Montoya, 55, who is marrying his long-term partner, Andy Walden, 33, on July 5, decided to create the expo, which he expects 400 to 600 people and more than 60 vendors to attend, so that same-sex couples can see ring options, cake choices, vacation packages and catering ideas that are targeted to and inclusive of them.

He said that since the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages last December, demand for same-sex wedding goods and services necessitates not only the expo, but also a pre-expo workshop he offered to 30 vendors in March.

The topic: do’s and don’ts of marketing to same-sex soon-to-wed couples without saying something off-putting. One tip was not to assume gay men will both want wedding bands, when one might prefer a multi-carat diamond dazzler.

“It really kind of throws people who aren’t used to dealing with our community, so they were happy to get this information,” Montoya said. “Sometimes it doesn’t occur to them, but if they really want this business, they are going to have to rethink their way of marketing stuff.”

El Monte Sagrado Living Resort and Spa in Taos is one venue that is marketing to the same-sex betrothed. Representatives from the resort will show up at the expo bearing wedding fliers that depict two well-dressed men kissing. “Every couple has a vision for their dream wedding,” the flier says. “Let us make it happen for you.” General manager Tina Harlow, who has a 300-guest same-sex wedding coming up, also offers an intimate package for $1,700 that includes room, meal, flowers, witnesses and an officiant – often a ceremony for just the couple, she said.

Cake Fetish, a custom bakery specializing in cupcakes and cakes, will give out cupcake samples and display cakes at the event.

“We’re excited to branch out to a new target market,” said owner Kendall Harris.

She said that “Pink Champagne,” a strawberry and champagne infused cake, and “Pucker Up,” a lemon and raspberry cupcake, are among the most in-demand confections requested for wedding celebrations, and that same-sex couples are no different from opposite-sex couples in terms of special requests. “We can offer whatever they want to do,” she said. “We are completely custom.”

Same-sex couples are looking to buy wedding rings in increasing numbers, according to Cyndi Hall, office manager of Diva Diamonds & Jewels in Santa Fe. She will bring about 1,000 different ring settings to the expo.

“Since gay marriage became legal in New Mexico, there’s been a definite increase in demand,” she said. “There’s not one set standard for how they exchange rings, but the overwhelming voice is that they want pieces of quality … adding that personal touch to what makes it uniquely theirs.”

She’s noticed that same-sex couples sometimes want local turquoise and Native American inlay designs, “but they always include diamonds,” she said.

Other vendors set to attend the expo include a mobile photo booth, a few spas, several bridal dress shops and at least half a dozen hotels.

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