On January 6, 2015, same-sex marriage became legal in Florida. Since that day, thousands of gay couples -- old and young, male and female -- have exchanged rings, said I do, and tied the knot.
But none of them did it quite like this.
At 7 a.m. on February 5, a usually serene Fort Lauderdale Beach was alive. Dozens of gay couples spilled onto the street outside the W Hotel, most dressed in adorable matching outfits.
The event was hosted by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and claimed to have a guest list of 100 LGBT and heterosexual couples. While there was no official count at the wedding, there were no empty seats in the room. Poor weather forced the ceremony -- which was originally to be held across A1A on the beach -- indoors, to the fourth floor of the W Hotel.
Couples filed up the stairs and across a white carpet, where they took a seat in front of an altar, which -- considering the last-minute change in location -- looked very clean and professional. Friends, family, and media filled the room, squeezing wherever they could to get a view.
As the couples shuffled to their seats, they were greeted with cheers and congratulations. "Twenty-four years we've been waiting for this," one couple said as they walked by the crowd. "Thirty-four years," another lesbian couple behind them yelled, to which one supporter in the crowd replied, "About time!"
William Gill and Naseer Muhammud were one of the couples married that day. They have been together since November 2013 and traveled to Florida from London, where they live, just for this wedding. Both of them couldn't have been happier with the morning's events. "It's hard to explain. It's been such a rush for us," Gill said.
Despite the slow-moving crawl that is American marriage equality, Gill and Muhammud weren't too surprised that this day had come. "Once the ball started rolling, you couldn't stop it. It's common sense," Gill said. "When you use 'love is love' as an argument, you can't not win."
The ceremony was led by the Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins, senior minister of Fort Lauderdale's Sunshine Cathedral. Though the morning's main attraction was former 'NSync heartthrob Lance Bass.
Bass was one of the last ones to speak at the ceremony.
"Never before has a new day dawned in Fort Lauderdale on such a momentous occasion," Bass said at the start of his speech. "And when tomorrow comes, there will be 100 more couples in this world that can share in the joy, love, and sanctity of marriage."
He went on to discuss what marriage has meant to him and his partner, Michael Turchin. You can watch their wedding when Lance Loves Michael: The Lance Bass Wedding airs tonight on E! (Bass didn't forget to fit in a quick plug during his speech.)
But Bass had nothing but kind words for Fort Lauderdale and its citizens.
"I can see why this city is home to the highest concentration of same-sex couples in the country," Bass said toward the end of his speech. "It has been the work of hundreds of people over dozens of years to get to this point. So enjoy today. Enjoy your wedding night, and enjoy your honeymoons."
The ceremony ended with champagne, beach balls, and hugs. The couples exchanged rings and then fought through the crowd to find their friends and families.
Outside, it was raining. But inside the W Hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach -- nearly one month after the first Florida same-sex couples made history by legally marrying their partners -- it could not have been brighter.
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