They say that rain on your wedding day means good luck.
If that’s so, the 100 couples exchanging vows and rings in a joyful mass wedding ceremony, dubbed “Love is Love,” should enjoy decades of wedded bliss. The event took place at sunrise on Feb. 5 and was hosted by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Torrential rain and high winds forced the ceremony off of the beach and into the welcoming and well-prepared W Hotel, a co-sponsor of the event. The wedding featured 100 LGBT and straight couples from 18 states, Europe and South America. Even though they chose a wide variety of original outfits, they all had in common the special radiance and dazzling smiles seen only on the faces of couples about to marry.
There were cheers and tears as an interdenominational group of local clergy pronounced the couples married. Reverend Dr. Durrell Watkins, senior minister of the Sunshine Cathedral, presided over the ceremony. At the final blessing, the newlyweds tossed beach balls overhead and the staff of the W rushed forward with champagne.
The ceremony was meant to celebrate the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in Florida.
In a show of welcome by the local business community, an array of gifts and specials was offered to the newlyweds. Jetblue had a table of gift-wrapped discounts for the couples.
“We’re the ‘something blue’,” a representative explained, referring to the traditional requirement that a bride should always carry “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.”
The wedding cakes and cupcakes were provided by Cooper City based Elite Cake Creations. The treats were both “something new” and delectable, demonstrating that while elsewhere in the U.S. some bakeries refuse to serve LGBT couples seeking wedding cake, here in South Florida, there are bakeries who will gladly help LGBT couples eat cake.
Pop singer and former 'N Sync member Lance Bass spoke to the assembly as the official “Love is Love” ambassador. With him was his husband Michael Turchin. Their December 2014 wedding was televised later in the day on an E! special “Lance Loves Michael: The Lance Bass Wedding.” They became the first gay couple to wed on reality TV.
Bass said that the couple is seeking a second home in Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale’s popular gay city councilman for the beach, Dean Trantalis, was introduced as “single.” In his welcoming words, he joked that he was indeed hoping to “pick up a stray” at the event.
Bam Rung of Thailand and Donald Zeger of Fort Lauderdale, wearing brilliant scarlet shirts with fiery rose boutonnières, said they met on a Carnival Cruise (their employer) nine and a half years ago. They have an immigration interview scheduled and they are delighted that marriage equality will allow Bam Rung to establish legal residence in the U.S. with his husband.
They got married in New York City on Sept. 19, 2014 never dreaming that marriage equality would come to Florida in the near future. They were one of the several married couples renewing their vows at the celebration.
Wearing intricate ecru lace over black, Dawn and Nikkie Maddox from Denver, North Carolina, were among the more recent pairs, having been together for four years. Many of the couples had been together for decades.
Though the successful event was boisterous, crowded and swarmed with paparazzi and bright TV lights, when the newlyweds turned to face each other for the exchange of vows and rings, their brimming eyes disclosed that they had stepped out of the public moment and into that private place that lovers share.
The efforts of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau made that moment possible and allowed the business community of South Florida to support it.