Ladies First

Real Wedding: Steph & Lela

How far would you go to marry the love of your life? For Stephanie Figarelle and Lela McArthur, the answer was simple: 4,136 miles from their home in Anchorage, Alaska to the 61st floor of the Empire State Building in New York City.

As the very first same-sex couple to ever marry in one of the world’s most famous skyscrapers, it was well worth the trip.

Stephanie and Lela’s journey began in August 2010 when they met at the University of Alaska. Their chemistry was instant: within a month they were inseparable. Over time, they knew that if they wanted to go the distance and make their union legal when Alaska doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages, they had to travel somewhere like New York where they could.

That’s when they entered the Wings of Love Contest—and were selected as one of four winners to marry on February 14, 2012.  “Lela is my source of inspiration,” explains Stephanie. “We felt it was great timing to enter the contest and to marry so far from home.”

Colin Cowie planned a “Winter Wonderland” morning event for the couple’s first trip to New York City. An outdoorsy décor of winter white was familiar to the couple who became engaged on Alaska’s historic Coastal Trail. It thoughtfully embraced the classic white wedding color palette while infusing it with sleek, elegant and modern touches.

By adding a twist to the expected, Stephanie, Lela and their guests experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event. From the projected images of falling snowflakes cast onto their motion-sensitive aisle runner to the silvery branches of Blossom by Toord Boontjie for Swarovski Crystal Balance that framed the site where Stephanie and Lela exchanged their vows, this was no ordinary affair.

At 8 a.m. on Valentine’s Day, Stephanie, in a custom-made tuxedo suit from Kleinfeld Men, and Lela in a Kleinfeld exclusive Alita Graham gown, became the first gay couple to marry at the ultimate symbol of New York, the Empire State Building.

“Love will never lead you astray,” said officiant Celia Milton, who had the guests join in the nuptials with a “ring-warming” ceremony. Each audience member had a moment to hold the rings and cast a blessing onto them before Stephanie and Lela exchanged their vows.

The romantic white décor continued on at the reception, a luxe breakfast that included heart-shaped Belgian waffles and Eggs Panisse by Mary Giuliani and Dom Perignon Champagne. Guests were seated at one long table that was decked out in luxe silvery organza linens, a mirrored runner that stretched from end to end, centerpieces of mirrored vases filled with white garden roses and green spider mums, metallic tree branches adorned with white orchids and scattered Swarovski Elements.

As they dined, two classical guitarists from Troy Curtis, Inc. strummed. After the repast, guests were treated to a breathtaking Cake Opera Co. wedding cake that featured a hand-painted birch forest image on the outside and vanilla cake with layers of vanilla and mocha buttercream inside. Stephanie and Lela, now Mrs. and Mrs. Figarelle, had travelled a long way indeed to get to this joyous day.

--Erinn Bucklan

Vendor List

Planning and Production: Colin Cowie

Photographer: Christian Oth Studio

Venue: The Empire State Building

Officiant: Celia Milton

Flowers: Grymes Cannon Designs

Lighting: Levy Lighting

Catering: Mary Giuliani Catering

Cake: Cake Opera Co.

Paper goods: RedBliss Invitation Design

Décor accents: Swarovski

Ceremony entertainment: Troy Curtis, Inc.

Wedding Bands: De Beers

Bride's attire: Kleinfeld

Makeup: Estée Lauder


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