More than 500 couples got mock-married at Lincoln Center’s ‘Celebrate Love’ event

The symbolic — and not legally binding — ceremony was hosted by “Orange is the New Black” actress Lea DeLaria on July 10 in New York City.

“During so much upheaval, we really wanted to offer a summer season rooted in what New York City needs now. The (Re)Wedding was a centerpiece of our Summer for the City season, creating a space for couples to recommit their love to one another,” said Shanta Thake, Chief Artistic Officer at Lincoln Center, in a statement emailed to CNN.

“Together we moved through an incredible outdoor multicultural ceremony that celebrated the richness of many traditions with amazing musical performances, and ending with a ribbon-tying unity ritual — from grandparents renewing vows with their grandchildren present to couples who were only recently married but not able to celebrate and be in community, until now.”

For Clarisa Alayeto and her partner, the event provided a unique opportunity to get married among hundreds of other couples.

Alayeto and her wife, Mariely Del Zelle, who both work in the education sector, got engaged during the New York City Marathon in November 2019.

But just a few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic began. “We waited and waited,” she told CNN. When Del Zelle heard about the Re(Wedding) event, they saw it as the “perfect opportunity” and applied for a license to get married at city hall before attending the Lincoln Center ceremony.

“It was really nice because you felt like you were having the ceremony in community,” said Alayeto. “But you also felt as though the ceremony was just you and your partner. That’s how we felt.”

Alayeto described the event as “diverse and accepting and inclusive,” remarking on the diverse selection of faith leaders who presided over the ceremony.

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“It felt as though we had a NYC wedding and didn’t have to pay for anything, which was pretty amazing,” said Alayeto.

Linette Palladino, a stand-up comedian and major in the US Army, also saw the ceremony as a reflection of the diversity of New York City.

“It definitely was a good representation of New York,” Palladino told CNN. “I loved the diversity. It was really sweet.”

Palladino and her husband, David C. Lee, were married on New Year’s Eve of 2021. So they used the “Re(Wedding)” ceremony as an opportunity to renew their vows and include their daughter, 4-year-old Mary.

“We especially loved when they had the ribbon spanning across the aisle, you felt really interconnected with the people around you,” she said. Attendees could partake in henna tattoos, ice cream, and formal photos throughout the evening, she added. And the ceremony was followed by performances from the Bollywood Biggish Band and DJ Belinda Becker underneath a 10-foot disco ball.

“I hope they do it every couple of years,” said Palladino. “It was such a unique experience.”

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