Saturday's 101 Gay Weddings, a satellite South Beach Wine & Food Festival event held at the James Royal Palm Hotel, was the most unique, heartfelt, and vibrant party this past weekend.
Hosted by Art Smith, a celebrity chef and founder of the nonprofit charity Common Threads, the event didn't attract the 101 couples it had hoped for, but for the dozens of couples who did tie the knot, the afternoon was filled with love, tears, and more than a little laughter.
The mass ceremony was officiated by none other than Guy Fieri, who left his trademark bowling shirt at home in favor of a tailored suit and electric purple shirt.
At the following reception, champagne flowed in white goblets, and guests were gifted with personally engraved Moscow mule cups and treated to bags of sweets from Dylan's Candy Bar.
Entertainment was provided by drag diva Chi Chi LaRue, who spun Abba's "I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do." Surprise guests, two Chippendales dancers, shook their stuff to (what else?) "It's Raining Men."
Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman created a striking multitiered wedding cake, with so many layers of flavor, the chef didn't recall all of them, saying, "I'd have to get my sheet out to tell you what every layer is." Goldman said the inspiration for the design came from classic New York art deco architecture. "I knew the cake had to be art deco, but I didn't want it to get lost in all this Miami art deco design, so I chose to use the black, white, and gold of New York art deco."
Local chefs put out quite the spread, with Richard Hales (Black Brick), Dena Marino (MC Kitchen), Jamie DeRosa (Tongue & Cheek), Paula DaSilva (3030 Ocean), Cesar Zapata (the Federal), and Todd Erickson (Haven) cooking for the happy couples.
Art Smith looked very much the proud papa, making sure people were fed and everyone was happy at the joyful event.
Sugar Yummy Mama's Giselle Pinto created special bride and groom cake pops, dressed in tuxedos and wedding gowns, for the occasion.
R House's Rocco Carulli and Owen Bale, who married in New York in 2013, said the afternoon was also a celebration of gay marriage being legal in Florida.
Carulli said that even though he and his husband were married in New York and the marriage was recognized federally, Florida law didn't recognize the union until recently. "Owen is from England, and he couldn't even get a driver's license because our marriage wasn't legal in Florida.
"Little things like that, that you take for granted every day, were closed off to us. This opened up a whole new world that we didn't have access to before. It's an amazing thing."
Bale said he and Carulli are now planning their own celebration. "We want to have a Florida wedding and invite all our friends." Asked why they didn't marry at Art Smith's affair, Carulli simply replied, "We're catering this one."
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