Love, happiness, and pride made these scenes from gay and lesbian celebrations we have featured over the years unforgettable. Here, some of our favorite emotional moments shared between bride and bride and groom and groom.
"We don't take the privilege of getting married lightly," said a groom of how special his wedding day felt. "And we were so moved and humbled by the love and support of the family and friends who were able to come and celebrate with us—and those that couldn't attend, but had us in their thoughts that day."
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These brides were planning a commitment ceremony to celebrate their six years together when, as fate would have it, the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Knowing how quickly that decision could be overturned, they wed quietly at City Hall and then began arranging a larger party. "Ritual and formality are important to us," said a bride. A year later, in a ceremony rich with symbolism, they repeated their vows in front of family and friends.
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One afternoon in August 2013, these grooms arrived at the Los Angeles County clerk's office to get their marriage license. "We didn't do a romantic proposal or anything. We'd been together almost 10 years, living a 'married' life, and after Proposition 8 was overturned, it was a no-brainer." Following an hour-long wait, the pair got to the window, and the clerk asked for their actual wedding date. "We didn't know the license was only valid for 90 days!" recalls one of the grooms. "We got out our phones right there at the counter and looked at the calendar."
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During their wedding ceremony, these grooms exchanged personalized vows and their friend read from the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision "Goodridge v. the Department of Public Health" in which the country made its first decision to entitle same-sex couples to marriage.
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An Important First
These brides' wedding weekend celebrated their love through relaxed elegance, incredible food, and fun, and culminated that Monday back in their hometown with a legal ceremony (the first same-sex marriage performed in their township courthouse) sealing the deal.
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All in the Family
"The most beautiful part was that our kids were there with us on the day we became a legal family," said one of the brides of her favorite memory of her wedding. Here, their sons are seen at the celebration hanging out by a vintage Airstream, which was filled with snacks and games for the kids—and just the kids, as the sign denoted.
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These grooms escorted each other down the aisle. "When I walked down to the beach, I was blown away with how beautiful everything had been arranged," said one of the grooms. "It was exactly how we wanted it to be."
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Hand in Hand
Instead of carrying bouquets, these brides wore wristlets of dyed orchids as they walked down the aisle holding one another's hands.
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The First Dance
These newlyweds took to the dance floor to a version of "Same Love" by Macklemore and Mary Lambert that was recorded by a high school friend.
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The brides' friend and her fiancé made a fun sign for this happy couple at their nuptials in Palm Springs.
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A Special Song
At this wedding ceremony, nine of one of the groom's former students (he was a choir director for 10 years) sang "Rainbow Connection," a song with special meaning for the other groom and his mother.
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On Their Feet
"My absolute favorite part of the wedding was when the choir sang 'Like a Prayer,'" said one of the grooms. "It began with all of the guests seated, watching the singers in their robes line up. But by the time we recessed, the entire room was dancing and singing at the top of their lungs."
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After making things official at a legal ceremony in Massachusetts, these grooms reaffirmed their vows in front of 70 of their closest friends and family at the home of one of the groom's aunt, Martha Stewart. Late in the day, with the party in full swing, the couple sneaked away to the horse pasture for a few private photographs. "We had a great view of the reception, so we just stood there and watched for a while," said one of the grooms. "Everyone was having so much fun, and it looked so romantic. It was everything we could have hoped for."
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The grooms' friend and favorite DJ, Chuck McTague, drew the duo to the dance floor with Barbra Streisand's "Here's to Life" for their first dance as newlyweds. One groom inscribed the other's ring with the song's lyrics: "To life, to love, to you."
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A Dream Come True
David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" played as this couple danced together for the first time as newlyweds. Then everyone joined in. "People who never dance, danced at our wedding," one of the brides recalled. "I feel like that sort of says it all."
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These grooms revealed a fun—and meaningful—surprise when they cut the cake: The all-white vanilla buttercream exterior gave way to rainbow stripes, for a nod to gay pride.
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Grooms Getting Ready
"We did everything together, including getting ready," said Chase (right). "We knew we'd miss out on the moment of tying each other's ties if we didn't." In fact, the couple was so in sync that they each found the same dream wedding venue while browsing Pinterest seperately.
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After saying "I do" at the ceremony, these grooms took some time alone to let the moment sink in. "We left, just us two together, and sat on the balcony with a tray of snacks that the wedding planner had arranged for us. It was a great moment just for ourselves," said one of the grooms.
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These grooms gathered in front of their venue's fireplace with their parents for a pre-ceremony portrait. Before the ceremony, the pair's families met to sign the marriage license. They also participated in a blessing read by the grooms' dads. "It was such a lovely, centering thing to have happen," said one of the grooms.
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A Moment of Pride
"I looked at my dad and he looked so happy and proud," says Christopher of the moment he and his groom walked up the aisle as newlyweds. "I thought, 'How amazing that we live in an era where I could get married to Stephen and he would not only happily accept it, but give his blessing and be there to walk me down the aisle?'"
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Written in the Stars
The brides entered the ceremony on the arms of their fathers, with Ania entering first and Anna following a few seconds after. "When I saw her walking down the aisle, it was a really emotional moment," Ania recalls. "I felt like our love for each other had brought us there."
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Love Is Love
As these brides recessed, they shared a look and a giggle as newly minted wives. "We looked back on the ceremony site and saw all of our guests still clapping, hollering, and cheering," Michelle said. "It was a wonderful feeling of love from our friends and family and accomplishment that we had actually pulled this thing off!"
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On the morning of their big day, this lucky couple traversed Tuscany in an old Fiat, taking an array of pre-wedding photos before heading off to a quaint lunch pre-ceremony.
"We felt like models on a photo shoot—it was so much fun!" said one of the grooms.
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A Shared Spark
These grooms planned for a special surprise on the night of their Maine wedding.
After being instructed by the band to convene on the reception venue lawn, guests were met with a beautiful fireworks display over the Atlantic ocean. "We wanted to end the wedding with something our guests would never forget," shared one of the grooms, and it is now a memory everyone in attendance can cherish.
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No Place Like Home
On an "absolutely amazing October day," this event planner and former restaurant manager pair hosted a reception supper on their 27-acre property, inviting guests to walk through their bountiful farm and visit their charming home.
"The best thing was that we were able to entertain our friends and family but kept the celebration intimate enough to really visit with each guest," said one of the newlyweds.