Niagara Falls, A Kiss and a Vow

Same Sex Couples say “I Do”

History was made in New York State as you most likely heard if you have followed National News. Same sex couples are able to say “I Do” and can legally make their unions official under NYS law today. Niagara Falls planned a large group wedding to be held at Niagara Falls State Park today.

The media arrived in full force to cover the event.

On July 25, 2011, history was made in Niagara Falls under cloudy skies. An early morning thunderstorm did not dampen the enthusiasm, and cleared as the wedding ceremony was about to take to place.

Despite the weather, many smiling couples joined in matrimony, 48 couples in all during the 30 minute ceremony, (this number has been reported by the TV stations as between 45 and 48, none of the three stations agreed or reported the same number).

The ceremony was made possible by the Marriage Equity Bill by New York lawmakers which was passed less than a month ago. It was supported by the Governor, Andrew Cuomo.

The Officiates and Organizers

New York is the largest state to recognize same-sex marriage, and it is a pivotal moment in New York. The state joined Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, and Washington, D.C., to legalize gay marriage, making it state number six.

History was actually made the night before as a local couple, brides Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd, said, ” I do” one second after midnight with Niagara Falls as a lighted backdrop.

Niagara Falls Mayor

It was officiated by the Mayor of Niagara Falls, seen above today. It may have been the first same-sex wedding to be officiated in the state since it was scheduled at the very moment that marriage was deemed legal to occur. The two grandmothers were quite happy to make their long-standing union legal.

Many of the couples today wore matching attire and many were dressed to the hilt. All were smiling and happy whether they came to support or were those getting hitched.

The couple above was already married in Vermont and came to Niagara Falls to marry again.

Today’s ceremony occurred at the Bridal Veil Falls to the music of Ray Charles singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” No, Ray was not in attendance.

The Vows

Here are some images of the happy couples saying their vows and exchanging rings.

The Rings

The Promise

The Kiss

Joy and Happiness

Volunteers formed the ‘Circle of Love’ to encircle the couples to both show support and to keep protestors back.

The Circle of Love

There was a small protest voicing opposition of same-sex marriages, but they really did not disrupt the event. Many police and park rangers were there to keep things orderly and the protestors, seen below, were very gentlemanly in their opposition.

The Protestors

The couples proceeded to an area designated to sign the marriage certificate.

The area to sign the Marriage Certificates

A reception was held immediately following the ceremony. It seemed to welcome everyone as I walked through the area snapping photos. Many sweet treats were made available by a local bakery, but I left before the cake was cut. In fact, I am not sure if they actually cut the cake, since it was already displayed as cut pieces.

The Cut Cake

No this is not a post on blooms and flowers, but it really is something that does not happen everyday.

The table arrangements provided by a local florist.

I ran into many neighbors and friends that came to watch the ceremony. Since I visit the Falls so often, I thought this might be a different look at Niagara Falls.  I hope my reporting does the event justice.

And one final image… The Irony. See the cute Flower Girl? She is followed by the happy couple out of camera range.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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27 Responses to Niagara Falls, A Kiss and a Vow

  1. It seems like it was a love-filled day! It must have been such a joy to be around all that love and joy and celebration. Congratulations to all the couples!

  2. Mary Ellen Olka says:

    It was a very memorable day!!!! Glad we bumped into you at the ceremony-enjoyed your blog very much!!!!!

  3. One says:

    Some of the scenes are very touching. I wonder if those protesters felt touched too at least to some degree. The Irony?

    • I am not sure if the group of women and children were Amish or Mennonite, but these groups epitomize religion, family and a group segregated and different than the general populous. That is what I meant about irony. It was an unlikely crossing of cultural paths I guess.

  4. You wrote a beautiful post about a very special day for many people. Love the photos.

    • I had talked to many couples while I was there and they expressed genuine and deep felt joy to take on the responsibility of marriage, but remarked how they have been like ‘old married couples’ for over twenty years. This amazed me to be together for that long with no legal ties. It really says something about their love and commitment.

  5. andrea says:

    The looks of same sex there and here seem to vary. In lesbian couples here the ‘man’ really dress and look as a man, but there these couples both wore dresses and both with manicured nails. Being mainly a Christian country, we might not have that law in maybe more decades to come. But even illegally, some couples still find ways to be doing the rites of marriage without the sanction of law but a self serving ‘church’.

    • There are couples here that seem to have the opposite sex look as a couple. It is a choice they make in their relationships. The protestors were a Christian group, so the world over, religion plays a part.

  6. Donna says:

    I thought of you when I saw the news. I was happy to be a NYS citizen when this law was passed. What a great event your city put on…wow…I love it!!

  7. linniew says:

    I enjoyed the post so much Donna, I thank you for it!
    Wonderful photos of this turning point for equality in New York.

    • I took so many really nice photos of many of the couples, I wish I could have showed them all. Also of the crowds, but you see one crowd, you have seen them all. There already is legal opposition brewing, but I think if they force a vote, it will still be law because it seems many more New Yorkers would vote yes, than would vote no. Just a hunch on my part.

  8. tina says:

    Congrats to all the newly married couples!

    • It is funny, but there were so many couples in attendance for support, it was hard to tell which ones were marrying unless you outright asked. So I was not congratulating them until after the ceremony when I knew which ones where married.

  9. Kevin says:

    Hi, and thank you for this wonderful post. I was not in Niagra Falls that day, because my partner and I of 23 years traveled to Connecticult a year and half ago to exchange vows and make it legal. I am thrilled that NYS has joined the effort. Six down, 44 more to go.

    • 23 years! You are well past statistics of any marriage, what an accomplishment. There was a couple from Connecticut yesterday. I do not know if they married, but they traveled pretty far to come. It was a very nice ceremony, you should come for the next one. I doubt there would be so many freebies, but you can’t beat a wedding with Niagara Falls as your backdrop.

  10. b-a-g says:

    Donna – Thanks for reporting. I haven’t watched the news today so I read it first here.

    • It was national news Monday morning, so I doubt it will be a hot press story much after. But all you have to do is Google Niagara Falls + group weddings and you should get many links.

  11. Hurrah for all the couples! I’m glad the protesters were polite about it. One step towards a world were Mennonites and gay couples can live equally freely as neighbours. I just hope there aren’t too many steps backwards between now and then…

  12. AngryRedhead says:

    Happy people make me happy. :3

  13. Hooray for love!! A lesbian friend of mine and her partner were able to adopt a baby this spring and it would be wonderful if they could marry. I’m so glad you posted this! All these happy faces are as beautiful as any garden.

  14. Stacy says:

    It’s wonderful to see so much joy all in one place. Your opening photo starts the whole post off perfectly!

  15. What a gloriously positive celebration. I hope it is something I live to see become so commonplace – same sex marriages, not mass marriages – that it ceases to be newsworthy. Love is so precious it deserves to be celebrated and supported in whatever form it comes.

  16. Les says:

    What a great opportunity for a photographer and blogger such as yourself to witness. I know this upsets so many people, but they should tend to their own lives and remember that it’s a great big beautiful world and there is room enough at the table for everyone.

    • Thanks Les for your thoughtful comment. I did wonder how the post would be taken. It is so new for our area and to be on the forefront for our state was something for this city. Niagara Falls is steeped with religion and blue collar norms that I was most surprised that many people were in support of the event.

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