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Wedding expo is Indiana's first for same-sex couples

But in the wake of the recent fight over the "religious freedom" law in Indiana, they feel they need to make a statement.

"I'm like an activist, but I don't wear the mask and T-shirt," Hasty said. "I want to patronize a business that supports things I care about."

Two wedding expos headed to the Indianapolis area will give couples like Hasty and Vallero a quick and simple way to make sure every dollar they spend goes to businesses that support their right to marry.

The Grand Marriage Equality Wedding Event — Indiana's first same-sex wedding expo — will be held Sunday at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino in Shelbyville.

The Indiana LGBT Wedding Expo will be held next month in Downtown Indianapolis.

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Picture: cheap formal dresses

The expos come on the heels of a recent fight over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but organizers say planning was in the works long before RFRA became a national gay-rights issue.

A wave of same-sex Hoosier couples are planning to hold big ceremonies now that gay marriage is legal, said Don Burrus, Indy Rainbow Chamber's board chairman.

The wedding industry, he said, is starting to take notice.

"The community wants to work with people who are welcoming and accepting," Burrus said. "It's a very special time when you are planning a wedding. No one wants to be told by a vendor that they won't serve you."

Burrus' organization started organizing Sunday's expo after receiving dozens of inquiries from same-sex couples planning big ceremonies.

More than 30 businesses, including caterers, photographers and hair stylists, will be at Sunday's expo, Burrus said. There is no admission fee.

Kim Hightower, owner of Kim's Kakery, Bakery and Cafe, said she is eager to take part in the history-making event.

"We're not here to judge," Hightower said. "You're free to love who you want, and we're here to celebrate that with you."

No one knows how many same-sex Hoosiers are looking to tie the knot — the state is not tracking the number of marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage has been allowed continuously in Indiana since October when theU.S. Supreme Court left intact a federal court decision that legalized such marriages here.

Same-sex marriage was legal in Indiana for three days in June after that court decision. During that time, the Marion County clerk's office issued more than 550 marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Organizers of the expo say the market for same-sex weddings is bound to get bigger.

The Indiana LGBT Wedding Expo will grab another slice of this new niche in the wedding business.

Leslie Swathwood of Circle City Expos, which also puts on the Indianapolis Bride Expo, expects about 45 vendors at Regions Tower in Downtown Indianapolis.

"When same-sex couples are looking to hire professionals, they essentially have to come out to the professionals," Swathwood said. "When a same-sex couple comes to this expo, they don't have to have that conversation."

Hasty and Vallero, plaintiffs in the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit that made same-sex marriage legal in Indiana, were officially married in June, but they plan to spend about $40,000 on their wedding in September.

"My husband and I can't throw a traditional wedding," Hasty said. "This allows us to meet some vendors who think outside the box as to how to throw a successful wedding celebration."

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