Celebrity chef toasts couples at ‘101 Gay Weddings’ event

Celebrity chef Art Smith toasted about 40 couples who came to exchange or renew vows at the InterContinental Hotel in Buckhead on Sunday, two days after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states.

“It’s been a long road,” said Smith, whose restaurant empire includes Southern Art, the restaurant in the InterContinental lobby. Sunday’s event was the third “101 Gay Weddings” event Smith has hosted, and planning took a few months. He could never have known the event would take place two days after the historic ruling.

“God shined his light on us,” Smith said.

Retired MLB player Billy Bean, one of the first pro baseball players to come out publicly, served as officiant.

“Let’s not forget the historic nature of this day,” he said.

The event included a nondenominational prayer offered by author and spiritual teacher David Ault and comments from Georgia Equality executive director Jeff Graham.

"Welcome to your wedding day," said Graham, who read from Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion legalizing gay marriage throughout the United States: "They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law and the Constitution grants them that right."

Guitarist Reed Waddle sang "Time After Time" before rings, vows and kisses were exchanged. A joyous party with music and refreshments followed the ceremony.

Crystal Jackson and Ashley Roland were first in line as the couples processed out into the InterContinental courtyard. Jessica Smith and Cait Howerton plan to marry sometime in the future but attended Sunday's "101 Gay Weddings" event to show support and celebrate. Mark Erickson and Michael Musso plan to marry this fall in New Orleans but wanted to attend Sunday's ceremony to show support.

“We’re celebrating commitment,” Musso said.

Kia and Kenzie McCall-Barnes were married in Washington, D.C., a year ago and renewed their vows on Sunday. "We had to elope when we had our first wedding," since gay marriage was not legal in Georgia at that time, Kia McCall-Barnes said. "We just wanted to be able to share this moment with so many other couples who have fought for this."