"Marriage equality is celebration enough. But watching so many couples of all loves walk down the aisle to the beach will be the proverbial icing on the wedding cake"
The results are in and lucky LGBT and straight couples representing 18 U.S. states, London, Italy, and South America will get to show the world on February 5th, that "Love is Love," when they marry in a festive and historic group sunrise beach wedding in Greater Fort Lauderdale, the "Gay Capital of Florida."
Hosted by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), the "Love is Love" destination wedding on Thursday, February 5th, commemorates the landmark announcement for same-sex marriage equality in Florida, the Bureau's commitment to the LGBT community, and Broward County's Centennial.
The many couples who registered to participate in this historic event, including participants from New York, Ohio, New Mexico, Texas, Boston, San Francisco, North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Pittsburgh, Georgia, Oklahoma, Indiana, California, Tennessee, Missouri and Florida, reflect the universal love and acceptance that the "Love is Love" wedding represents. Of the participants that have confirmed, 30% will be renewing their vows.
"The stories of the couples who registered for the wedding celebration touched our hearts and make this event so personal and special," said Nicki E. Grossman, president and CEO, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. "Marriage equality is celebration enough. But watching so many couples of all loves walk down the aisle to the beach will be the proverbial icing on the wedding cake."
Some of the lucky couples who will participate in the Love is Love Wedding include:
Second Chance at Love: Canton, OH
When Jerry lost his partner, Steve, his world was over. Certainly, he thought, he would never get another chance at love. But it was the moving obituary Jerry wrote for Steve that lead to the greatest love of his life - Jeff. By chance, Jeff had read the obituary and knew he would be with the "survivor" in that story one day. That one day came when Jerry took a chance to respond to a "personal" advertisement from Jeff, and the two met in real life more than 14 years ago. "I will always believe that Steve arranged this because there has never been a more perfect love than Jeff and I," Jerry said.
Snowbirds Flying in From Italy, via Momperone 3, Santa Mana di Galena, ITALY
Philip and his partner have been together for 18.5 years, but never married in their current residence in the United Kingdom, and are prohibited from doing so in their home, Italy. After beginning to "winter" in Greater Fort Lauderdale, Philip chose to marry in a destination that "represents and resolves issues we have with not being able to marry in Italy."
Deja Vu: Fort Lauderdale, FL
More than 25 years ago, Stephen Kuttner saw a photo in a magazine of the man he wanted to "have in my life one day." After an accidental introduction in 2003, Stephen Kuttner met, fell in love with, and proposed to that very same man. Stephen and his husband, Sandy Allen, became domestic partners in Florida in 2009, and later flew to New York to tie the knot in 2011. Decades later, the couple is looking forward to renewing their vows on the same beaches where their paths first crossed so many years ago.
"Home to the highest concentration of same-sex couple households in the country, and as one of the top LGBT vacation destinations in the world, Greater Fort Lauderdale is one of the most diverse gay capitals and continues to be a destination of choice for LGBT travelers with hundreds of gay-owned and operated businesses," said Richard Gray, managing director, LGBT, Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. "It fills my heart as we embark on this initiative to provide couples from all walks of the life the chance to marry, en masse and in sunny romance, for all the world to see."
About the Wedding
The wedding will take place on Fort Lauderdale beach beginning at 7:00am. The Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, W Fort Lauderdale, Jet Blue, Cruise Planners, an American Express Travel Representative, and other area partners have joined together to make it a celebration to remember, including a post-ceremony champagne toast and reception, where one couple will win a seven-day Celebrity Cruise.
Reverend Dr. Durrell Watkins, senior minister, of the Sunshine Cathedral, will preside over the event, with a post-ceremony champagne toast and reception held at the W Fort Lauderdale to commemorate the momentous occasion.
The W Fort Lauderdale Hotel is also offering a package deal for couples who may be planning a wedding/honeymoon in Fort Lauderdale. The chic beachfront resort's new "Equally in Love" package celebrates marriage equality includes town car airport transfers, "Something Blue" welcome cocktail, ocean-view accommodations, private balcony dinner at sunset, relaxing "blissage 49" massage for two, pampering mani/pedi for two at bliss Spa, hair trim or blowout at Ted Gibson Salon, and in-room wedding amenity starting from $650/night for a minimum of three nights.
In addition, a lucky couple will receive an ultimate cruise getaway to begin their new life together. Provided by Cruise Planners and Celebrity Cruises, the week-long Caribbean honeymoon for two in a "verandah stateroom" will include all meals, entertainment, a state-of-the-art fitness center, and multiple destinations.
In a ruling handed down in December, the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta turned down a request by Florida's secretaries of health and management services and the clerk of the court in the Panhandle's Washington County to extend a stay in the state's gay-marriage ban case. A federal judge based in Tallahassee had ruled in August that the state's gay-marriage ban is unconstitutional, but stayed his decision until Jan. 5 to give the state time to appeal.
For more information on the "Love is Love" wedding celebration, visit www.sunny.org/loveislove
The original rainbow flag, called the Freedom Flag, was devised by Gilbert Baker in 1978. The design has undergone several revisions since its debut with 8 colored stripes, and today the most common variant consists of 6 stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet.
Picture of Gilbert Baker's original Freedom Flag showing the meaning of the 8 colors.