NEW YORK (AP) – Two women who met as college students in Alaska and two men who met at a nightclub in Manhattan became the first same-sex couples Tuesday to be married at the Empire State Building.
“I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you,” Stephanie Figarelle told Lela McArthur as they exchanged rings in a ceremony at the iconic skyscraper.
“I will always love you forever, with every beat of my heart,” said McArthur, who is taking her partner’s name.
Figarelle and McArthur were among four couples who won an online contest for a Valentine’s Day wedding at the Empire State Building designed by event planner Colin Cowie.
After the ceremonies in a 61st-floor area that is rented out for parties, the couples posed for photos on the 86th-floor observation deck.
Figarelle, 29, and McArthur, 24, met in an anatomy class at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Celia Milton, the interfaith minister who married them, said that Figarelle invited McArthur out to see a drag show and McArthur thought she meant a drag race.
“Needless to say she was quite surprised,” Milton said.
The two work as personal trainers in Anchorage and are finishing their degrees.
Figarelle was married in a black tuxedo while McArthur wore a strapless white gown with a train.
Figarelle said she hopes the couple’s home state of Alaska will legalize same-sex marriage, which became legal in New York last year.
“Equality’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “Love is a beautiful thing. We don’t have enough of it in this world.”
New Yorkers Phil Fung and Shawn Klein walked up the aisle to the strains of the Michael Bolton song “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.” The men wore matching brown suits and checkered ties.
They met 18 years ago at the Roxy, a popular nightclub that has since closed.
“You can find true love on the dance floor. It can happen,” said Klein, 51, who works in procurement at New York Presbyterian Hospital while Fung, 49, works in the technology department of a financial firm.
The decor for the women’s nuptials was “winter wonderland,” said Cowie, the host of a wedding planning show on Lifetime TV. The flowers were white, and crystals dripped from a white tree.
The men were married under a jungle-inspired arbor draped with banana leaves and tangerine-colored flowers.
The other two couples were heterosexual: Angela Vega and Lubin Masibay of San Francisco and Paula Cubero and Enrique Catter of Greenwich, Conn.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)