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Council Speaker Christine Quinn Weds Longtime Love in NYC-Themed Wedding

By Jill Colvin | May 19, 2012 8:22pm | Updated on May 19, 2012 10:51pm
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her long-time partner, Kim Catullo, exchanged vows on Sat., May 19, 2012.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her long-time partner, Kim Catullo, exchanged vows on Sat., May 19, 2012.
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William Alatriste

MEATPACKING DISTRICT — City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her longtime partner, lawyer Kim Catullo, exchanged vows Saturday night in the highest-profile union since same-sex marriage became legal in New York.

Quinn, radiant in a sleeveless, cream Carolina Herrera grown with a sparkling waist, was walked down the aisle by her father, Lawrence, as Beyonce's "Ave Maria" played. Catullo, Quinn's bride, wore a cream-colored silk suit by designed Ralph Lauren, and was walked down the aisle by her father, Anthony, to Bruce Springsteen's "If I Should Fall Behind."

Friends and family described the long-awaited event, which comes just days after the President came out in support of gay marriage, as a deeply personal, moving ceremony that left many of the 275 guests in tears.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her wife, Kim Catullo, embrace their fathers, who walked them down the aisle.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her wife, Kim Catullo, embrace their fathers, who walked them down the aisle.
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William Alatriste

"It was beautiful. It was magical. It was just a loving ceremony and all the family celebrating together," said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, one of the many elected officials on a guest list that read like a who's-who of local politics.

"They both looked just in heavenly bliss. They were so happy," she said.

Guests including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Charlie Rangel, and numerous other city and state officials, began arriving shortly before 5:30 p.m. for the New York-themed celebration inside the Highline Stages in West Chelsea, just steps from the elevated park, which Quinn has long championed.

The rugged, industrial event space with exposed brick walls and polished concrete floors was transformed with candles and local wildflowers for the "Spring in New York" theme, inspired by the High Line, with many of the flowers actually grown in the park itself.

Tables were named after favorite city neighborhoods, and images of iconic city locations, including Washington Square Park and the Empire State Building, adorned the walls.

As they arrived, guests were serenaded by an Irish vocal trio, and then headed upstairs for the candle-lit ceremony, officiated by former state Judge Judith Kay, who once wrote a powerful dissent championing same-sex couples' right to marry.

"The vows that they said to each other were deep and profound and very loving," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, who was also in attendance. When Judge Kay got to the part where she referred to the powers vested in her by the State of New York, she said the crowd erupted into loud applause.

"It was extremely moving and historical," Maloney said.

In addition to a video produced by the couple telling their story of meeting more than a decade ago on a blind date, shortly after 9/11, the ceremony included a performance by Tony award-winner Audra McDonald, who sang an adaptation of the George Gershwin song, "He Loves and She Loves," from the musical Funny Face.

"There really wasn't a dry eye in the house," said Kim's nephew, Jeff Catullo, 44, moments after the couple had exchanged platinum wedding and eternity bands and said "I do" at 7:02 p.m.

"It was amazing. It was a long time coming, and Chris and Kim were gorgeous," added Christine Catullo, Jeff's wife, whose children, Jordan, 6, and Jase, 4, served as a junior bridesmaid and ring bearer.

After the ceremony, guests moved downstairs for a reception under a canopy of cherry blossoms, where they danced up a storm to Sinatra's "New York, New York" and other city-themed anthems, band members said.

For dinner, they munched on spring vegetable appetizers and plates of seafood heaped with oysters and clams, then enjoyed a choice of herb roasted chicken, grilled swordfish or skirt steak — all locally-sourced, from city and state growers, aides said.

But the biggest treat was dessert, which came courtesy of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, which was backed straight into the reception room from the street through a garage-style door for a sweet surprise.

"It's pretty dramatic to bring in a food truck all of a sudden!" said Big Gay co-owner Douglas Quint, who whipped up several specialties, including mocha milkshakes and the Bea Arthur — vanilla ice cream topped with drizzled Dulce con leche and crushed vanilla wafer cookies — for the occasion.

The truck was later repositioned outside of the building so Quint could turn on his engine without risking suffocating guests, who lined up in droves for a taste.

The couple also cut a five-tiered chocolate chip cake with chocolate custard layers and white chocolate buttercream icing made by Catullo's college roommate, Lisa Porado, who runs the Chocolate Carousel Bakery in New Jersey.

Guests who stayed late, including Schumer, described a rocking party, with Quinn and Catullo cutting up the dance floor to the music of reception band To The Max.

"It was just fabulous. There was such a good feeling. And it was just a special experience. I think everyone in the room would feel that," said Schumer, who said fellow guests were "movin' and groovin'" when he left.

As party favors, guests were given mini black-and-white cookies, wrapped inside "I ♥ NY" mugs, to continue the city theme.

In addition to a personal celebration for Quinn and Catullo, many in attendance said the night also held significance for other same-sex couples across the state, two weeks after President Barack Obama declared publicly for the first time that he supports gay marriage.

"It's part of this historic moment in history that we're all celebrating right now," said Sen. Gillibrand, who described Quinn and Catullo as "incredibly loving and very sweet."

"They are so in love. And their families are each other’s families,” added State Sen. Tom Duane, a close friend of Quinn's and her former boss, who is currently planning his own same-sex wedding.

Quinn, who had vowed not to marry until it was legal in the state, was overwhelmed with emotion last summer when the news that the measure had passed the State Senate broke, just as she was holding a press conference announcing a budget deal.

"I really can't really describe what this feels like, but it is one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life," Quinn said at the time, choking back tears.

"That's a moment that I thought would never come," she said. "It's an amazing day."