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San Francisco brings to mind different things to different people. The Knot cites San Francisco as one of the top contenders on its "Most Romantic U.S. Cities" list. Forbes.com gave San Francisco first place honors on its "Best Cities For Singles" list for 2007. But one thing the city has historically been known for is a vibrant and supportive community for gays and lesbians. The City can lay claim to 37 years of celebrating lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders in an annual parade. The 37th Annual LGBT Pride Parade that took place during June 2007 drew hundreds of thousands of spectators ' the attendees ranged from politicians like Mayor Gavin Newsom to big-name corporate sponsors like Google and Kaiser Permanente. It's only fitting, then, that San Francisco made its mark as the city on the forefront of legalizing same-sex marriages in California.
San Francisco resident Stuart Gaffney should know what it's like to get married in the midst of such a politically charged time. On February 12, 2004, Stuart and his partner of 17 years, John Lewis, were among the first ten couples to marry when Mayor Newsom made it possible for same-sex couples to do so. Stuart recalls the electricity of that day. "When I heard the news, I knew it was historic," he said. John was already at City Hall when the news allowing the marriages broke. He was there for the annual "Freedom to Marry Rally," which occurs every February. When John learned that there was no need to rally, but that nuptials were possible instead, he immediately called Stuart on the phone with a proposal to marriage. "It was very loving because we both felt completely committed to our relationship," recalls Stuart.
Stuart rushed to City Hall to meet John. In one spontaneous instance ' a moment the two hadn't considered a possibility ' they heard the words, "By the authority vested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you spouses for life." Though they didn't expect it, the event was truly transformative for Stuart and John. "It was private. It was romantic," said Stuart. But the marriage was more than a blissful point in their relationship. "It was also the first time our government was treating us equally," said Stuart.
After many long years of hard work, the dream of marriage equality has finally become a reality for the couple. Stuart and John see their work with Marriage Equality USA as a testament to their commitment to their own vows to each other. Marriage Equality USA supports the end of discrimination against same-sex couples' right to legally marry.
Bella Pictures wants to commemorate this special day for the LGBT community in California. Our professional wedding photography team will be at San Francisco City Hall on Tuesday, June 17, taking pictures of everyone getting married for free! Visit Bella Pictures Gay Weddings to get more details about the day, and to see our beautiful same-sex wedding portfolio. Visions of Venues
For gay and lesbian couples, getting married in the City and beyond means picking a venue that suits your personal style at a place that embraces same-sex marriages. Here are our three top picks for gay weddings.
Venue: Mountain Terrace at WoodsideWhere: 17285 Skyline Blvd. Woodside, CA 94062Contact: (650) 851-1606 What's cool about it: The Mountain Terrace at Woodside has a stunning meadow surrounded by oak and redwood trees. Indoors, you can hold your reception at the lofty wood lodge or just outside the building on the patio.
Venue: The Fairmont San FranciscoWhere: 950 Mason St. San Francisco, CA 94108Contact: (415) 772-5000 What's cool about it:Opulent architecture, stately, luxurious rooms, a rooftop garden, and a panoramic view of the city skyline and bay should be enough to make your visions of a grand wedding a reality. Plus, 55,000 square feet of meeting space should be enough to select an appropriate site for your event.
Venue: The Hotel WhitcombWhere: 1231 Market St. San Francisco, CA 94103Contact: (415) 626-8000 What's cool about it: This elegant historic boutique hotel is centrally located and nearby the Castro District, Yerba Buena Gardens, and Union Square. Choose from the Austrian crystal chandeliers of the Whitcomb Ballroom or the more intimate, but equally beautiful, Ghirardelli Room.
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