Local businesses welcome same-sex marriages

Local businesses joined the Mayor at a media event highlighting an expansion of services at a reduced cost

Mayor Chris Coleman joined dozens of local businesses today at the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory’s Sunken Garden, one of Minnesota’s top destinations to hold a wedding, to welcome same-sex couples planning a wedding in Saint Paul. Across the region, businesses are gearing up for increased demand beginning in August, when the Freedom to Marry Bill takes effect.

“We are delighted to welcome all couples wishing to marry in our great city,” Mayor Chris Coleman said. “Saint Paul has always valued the beauty of our spaces, and that is why we are home to so many phenomenal places for a wedding. Saint Paul welcomes all families, and with the passing of the Freedom to Marry Bill, we are excited to host weddings for all Minnesotans.” With the historic nature of downtown Saint Paul and dozens of parks across the city, Saint Paul is home to some of the premiere wedding destinations in Minnesota. At the event, officials unveiled a variety of giveaways for couples wishing to marry on August 1, the first day the Freedom to Marry Bill goes into effect. The offers included expanded service hours and free permits for wedding ceremonies on August 1, 2013 at Como Park Zoo and Conservatory and Irvine Park (reservations must be made). A special designated area will be available at Rice Park and Mears Park for wedding photos as well, at no cost.

“A commitment to equality has always been one of Graves Hospitality’s core values. It is an honor to be part of Saint Paul’s community, and we are especially proud during this landmark time,” Benjamin Graves, President of Graves Hospitality, said. “Our company is working diligently to reshape our downtown Saint Paul properties - making them destination hotels for both neighbors and travelers. We welcome all couples who choose one of our hotels for their wedding and consider it a great privilege to share in one of the most special days of people's lives.” In the first three years of the Freedom to Marry Bill going into effect, the economic benefit in Minnesota is estimated at $45 million. That estimate does not calculate the impact of couples traveling from out of state to be married here. “Lancer Catering has always sought to nurture a culture of inclusivity and hospitality for all people,” said Glenn Baron, CEO of Lancer Hospitality. “We look forward to working with same-sex couples who are interested in planning and celebrating a wedding ceremony and reception.” “Paul and I could not be more thrilled,” said Reid Bordson of Bloomington, Minnesota. “Ten years ago, my partner Paul and I celebrated a commitment ceremony with our family and friends. Since then, so much good has happened to us, including the adoption of our beautiful daughter Anna. Now, we are thrilled to mark the decade by having our marriage legally recognized by the state on August 1 in this iconic wedding venue, surrounded by those who mean the most to us. It's everyone's dream to have a wedding in the perfect place, and now we'll have ours here in Saint Paul.”

Couples wishing to take advantage of the special offers must call to reserve a time and space. Reservations will be made on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, May 16. To reserve for Como Park, call 651-487-8250 or for Irvine Park, call 651-632-5111. For more information, visit www.stpaul.gov/weddings. To apply for a marriage license in Ramsey County, visit the Ramsey County Courthouse at 555 Cedar Street, Saint Paul MN 55101. More information can be found here: www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ph/vr/marriage_records.