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My Big Gay Hollywood Wedding: How Industry Power Couples Take the Plunge

From "The Vow" director Michael Sucsy to talent agent Nikki Weiss-Goldstein, L.A.'s newly legal newlyweds are part of a wave of same-sex marriages expected to pour $500 million into California's wedding industry. Plus, THR's super-select "I do" resource guide.
“We want to have something festive but relatively small,” says Sucsy (left) of their wedding plans. Teases Sgourakis, “He says that now.”
Amanda Friedman

This story first appeared in the Aug. 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Wedding bells are ringing again for California's same-sex couples, who have been heading back to the altar since the U.S. Supreme Court voted June 26 to overturn the state's Proposition 8. An ecstatic Melissa Etheridge announced her engagement to TV writer-producer Linda Wallem (Nurse Jackie, That '70s Show) the day of the decision. Even straight couples got caught up in the excitement, including Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard, who previously had announced they'd hold off on getting married until their gay friends could. Tweeted Shepard that day: "Prop 8 is dead. Now let's bring my big, gay marriage to @IMKristenBell to Life!!!!" The weekend after the ruling, Los Angeles County received 606 online marriage applications overall, compared with 123 the previous weekend. 

PHOTOS:  My Big, Gay Hollywood Wedding (Finally!)

Estimates of the rainbow ripple effect are significant: 37,000 same-sex couples are expected to marry in California during the next three years, adding $500 million to the state's $7 billion-plus wedding industry. "I believe this is going to contribute to a boom in the wedding industry," says L.A. wedding planner Theresa Shlimanoff of Hustle & Bustle. Bakeries reported a run on wedding cakes right after the decision, a spike spurred by couples who had waited too long for the big day. But planners say business has evened out as others take the long view preparing for their nuptials, including securing a venue. "Girls love the beach; men love the poolside or rented houses with a garden," says the Rev. Lisa Phillian of L.A.'s Rainbow Weddings. There are adjustments too, from what to wear to approaching the altar. Planner Emma Summers of Bentley's Entertainments LA has seen that sometimes two grooms will walk down separate aisles and meet at the front.

For celebrity makeup artist Scott Barnes and his longtime partner, hairstylist Frank Galasso, the morning of June 26 was one they'll never forget as it also was Galasso's birthday. "I was in shock," recalls Barnes. "We were both looking at each other, and Frank said, 'We're going to do this right.' " The couple married a month later at the courthouse near LAX. Says Barnes, "The real party and ceremony is scheduled for September, and you better believe it will be done to the nines!"--SETH ABRAMOVITCH

PHOTOS: Gay Marriage, or Not, in Global Cinema

ENGAGED IN 2012, TOGETHER TWO YEARS

From left: Michael Sucsy and Demitri Sgourakis

Photographed by Amanda Friedman on July 31 at their house in West Hollywood

It was Valentine's Day last year when interior designer Demitri Sgourakis, 49, proposed to his fiance, filmmaker Michael Sucsy, 40. They were at Cecconi's, their favorite date spot, when Sgourakis popped the question with a family heirloom, a 1930s white-gold deco ring with a ruby setting. It also happened to be Sucsy's birthday and days after the release of his latest film, the Channing Tatum starrer The Vow.

"I needed a milestone," says Sgourakis, whose new line, Demitri Christian, launches in the fall. "It just seemed like it was all lined up. This was the time." Moments later, Sucsy, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning director of Grey Gardens, was in the restroom texting his mom the news -- much to Sgourakis' surprise when she called the newly engaged couple the next morning. "We're telling people already?!" asked Sgourakis. Retorted Sucsy playfully, "You can't take it back."

A year earlier, in 2011, the two had met in line outside a bar in Silver Lake. "I said, 'I think that tall guy is checking me out,' " recalls Sucsy. He was right. Two and a half years later, they sit in their high-rise West Hollywood apartment on the couch with their Vizsla dog, Teddy, discussing plans for their wedding, which ideally will happen in summer 2014 (Sucsy is busy prepping the dark teenage drama Dare Me for Fox 2000).

"To have been excluded for so long and finally be included means a lot," says Sucsy. The morning of June 26, the couple watched the news in bed as Proposition 8 was struck down, Sucsy tearing up with joy. "It was overwhelming," says Sgourakis. "Proposing was something personal. We had no idea at what point, or if, things would change."--BRANDON KIRBY

PHOTOS: Straight Actors in Gay Roles: From River Phoenix to Michael Douglas
 
MARRIED IN 2013, TOGETHER FIVE YEARS

From left: Jill Goldstein and Nikki Weiss-Goldstein
 
Photographed by Amanda Friedman on Aug. 1 outside the Beverly Hills Courthouse
 
"Holy shit!" exclaimed Jill Goldstein, 37, wiping a tear from her eye on Aug. 1 after her first kiss as a legally married couple with Nikki Weiss-Goldstein, 41. That summed up the elated mood of the couple who just moments before had received their marriage license and held a small ceremony on the front lawn of the Beverly Hills Courthouse with their rabbi and their 10-month-old son, Adler.

Weiss-Goldstein has her own talent firm, Nikki Weiss & Co., repping such directors as Paul Haggis and David O. Russell for commercial projects; Goldstein is a freelance writer. The West Hollywood residents, who were featured on Showtime's The Real L Word, met when they were just 8 and 12 years old at overnight camp. "I idolized her. She was my big sister as a kid," recalls Goldstein.

STORY: Supreme Court's Gay Marriage Decisions: Hollywood Reacts

In 2008, Goldstein, struck with memories of camp while on Facebook, reached out to Weiss by e-mail. They hit it off, and Goldstein, living in San Francisco at the time, came to L.A. for a first date: drinks at the Four Seasons. "We just checked into the hotel, and the rest is history," Weiss says, smiling, to Goldstein. In 2009 in Atlanta, Weiss proposed with a six-carat diamond ring -- but not before asking Jill's father for his daughter's hand. Reluctant at first, he became the couple's biggest cheerleader. They hosted a religious ceremony in Malibu a year later for family and friends. Getting their license marked the legal stamp on what they already considered three years of marriage. Says Goldstein, "I knew this day would come, that the world would catch up."--B.K.

RELATED STORIES:

THR's Super-Chic Wedding Resource Guide

Gay Wedding Style: What to Wear On The Big Day

Chelsea Lately Writer Bemoans Gay Wedding Gridlock (Guest Column)

11 Hollywood Weddings on the Way

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