Recently picked by The Out Traveler as America’s #1 gay-owned spa, Mendocino’s Stevenswood Spa Resort hopes to make history when it hosts dozens of couples – both gay and straight – in a special wedding ceremony on Oct. 29.
 
In the wake of California’s landmark same-sex marriage ruling, the gay owned and operated resort and spa is inviting long-time guests and new customers alike to celebrate the right of all Americans to marry the one they love by participating in the group nuptials. More than two dozen couples are already on board for the event, which will be set against the towering redwoods & California’s northern coast.
 
One couple will also be randomly chosen by the resort to receive a complimentary wedding package, including airfare, two nights in the resort’s luxury Grand Ocean Suite and free participation in the group ceremony.
 
“We’re proud that California has taken the lead in declaring marriage to be a truly universal bond,” said Stevenswood co-owner Michael Webster, who acquired the resort with his life and business partner, Seth Kelman, in 2004. “As a gay couple running one of the state’s most spectacular wedding destinations, we wanted to show what equality looks like in the real world – and what better image than straight, gay, and lesbian couples taking their vows and honoring their special bonds together.”
 
To celebrate what many are calling California’s “second summer of love,” Stevenswood is also offering special summer-long rates on its full-service wedding package, starting at $10,000 for up to 50 guests. The package includes a wedding planner, a wedding rehearsal, a professional DJ, a traditional buffet and wedding cake, a free champagne toast, and more.
 
Webster noted that California’s marriage law is expected to be a windfall for the state’s economy, according to a study by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) released last week.  The study found that California’s tourism sector can expect over $683.6 million in direct spending over the next three years, now that California has become the only U.S. state to grant marriage licenses to gays and lesbians from other parts of the country.
 
Since taking over Stevenswood, Webster and Kelman have transformed the rustic redwoods retreat into a world-class resort, complete with luxury suites and an award-winning restaurant that was named Mendocino County’s most romantic by the Zagat Survey. The resort’s five-star Indigo Eco|Spa, featuring organic, local, and natural botanicals-based treatments, and its Pacific Detox, using redwood and eucalyptus extracts, have earned the facility Top Ten World Spa status by the independent ranking organization Spa Tracker.

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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