The Empire State Building and its sweeping New York City views offered enviable backdrops to two couples who made history this Valentine's Day -- becoming the first same-sex couples to marry atop the landmark.
All weddings are special, of course, and a wedding on Valentine's Day is especially sweet. But only Stephanie Figarelle, 29, and Lela McArthur, 24, two personal trainers from Anchorage, Alaska, can say that they were the first-ever same-sex couple married at the Empire State Building.
They were followed by three other couples, including another same-sex couple, all of whom were winners of an online contest that played out on Facebook, with fans voting on planning details. Winners had their dream events designed by celebrity event planner Colin Cowie, who makes regular appearances on "The Today Show" and "The Ellen Degeneres Show."
The four couples received wedding rings from DeBeers, gowns from Kleinfeld, hair and makeup by Estee Lauder, a two-night stay at a posh Manhattan hotel, the services of a celebrity photographer and, as the commercials say, that's not all! Each couple has the chance to win $100,000 if they get the most Facebook votes following the nuptials, according to Huffington Post Weddings.
The ceremonies took place in an events area on the 61st floor, and were followed by a photo shoot on the observation deck that looks out on Manhattan's famed skyline from the 86th floor.
"I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life with you,” Figarelle said to her partner as they exchanged rings, reported the Associated Press. "I will always love you forever, with every beat of my heart," McArthur, who is taking her partner's name, was quoted as saying.
Figarelle, who wore a black tuxedo to McArthur's strapless white gown, wanted to travel to New York to get married in part because of all the goodies, but also because same-sex marriage became legal in the Empire State last year. The pair hope Alaska will one day follow suit.
Later, New Yorkers Phil Fung and Shawn Klein became the second same-sex couple to take the plunge. They wore matching suits and ties, according to the wire service. Two other couples also tied the knot in Valentine's Day ceremonies atop the landmark: Angela Vega and Lubin Masibay of San Francisco and Paula Cubero and Enrique Catter of Greenwich, Conn.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch
Photo: Lela McArthur, left, and Stephanie Figarelle, of Anchorage walk down the aisle after their Valentine's Day wedding ceremony at the Empire State Building. Credit: Richard Drew/Associated Press