West Hollywood aims to be gay-wedding hotspot

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA: The city of West Hollywood hopes a new PR campaign will catapult the roughly 37,000-person town into an international wedding destination for gay couples.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA: The city of West Hollywood hopes a new PR campaign will catapult the roughly 37,000-person town into an international wedding destination for gay couples.

Immediately after the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages last month, the Marketing and Visitors Bureau in West Hollywood reached out to local hotels and businesses, including florists and bakeries, and encouraged them to create packages and deals for couples coming to the city to get married, according to Amy Anderson, the director of communications for the bureau.

"As soon as we heard the ruling, we knew that it would be huge for us," she said. "Basically, the history of the city is based on the gay rights movement... We knew that people would be looking to West Hollywood coming in to get married."

The city has always positioned itself as a LGBT travel destination, but "has never been a typical destination for weddings and honeymoons," Anderson noted. "This has completely changed it."

After the promotions were set, the city sent press releases with the information to national LGBT, travel, and entertainment publications, and to local media in markets such as New York, Miami, Chicago, the UK, Canada, and Australia. The city's campaign is strictly PR and no advertising, Anderson said.

The city also reached out to blogs using Facebook and MySpace, and used its gay-friendly Web site, GoGayWestHollywood.com, to provide updates to both the media and visitors on city happenings specific to gay marriages.

West Hollywood welcomed reporters from the AP as well as The Wall Street Journal to town for its first same-sex weddings on June 17. Reporters also covered the 100 weddings performed in the city on June 21.

Anderson said the city doesn't have any plans to stop marketing West Hollywood as a gay-marriage friendly location, even as opposition takes an initiative to the ballot in November to amend the new law.

"We definitely hope to continue marketing this, just like we would hotels and other things in our city," Anderson said.

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