It was a night of happiness and love as Warwick Representative Frank Ferri married his life partner Tony Caparco in their home state last Thursday, Aug. 1, the day the marriage equality bill went into effect in Rhode Island.
“It feels surreal,” said Ferri, who is also the owner of Johnston’s Town Hall Lanes, as he stood surrounded by over 320 family members, friends and colleagues for the ceremony at Harbor Lights Marina and Country Club on Warwick Neck.
The ceremony, which was themed to the classic song “At Last,” served as a celebration of their marriage being finally recognized in Rhode Island. The couple was already married in Canada in 2006.
Caparco explained that the couple always figured they would get married the weekend after the act went into effect, but when they learned Aug. 1, 2013, the 32nd anniversary of their first date, would be the first day they could legally wed in their state, it just made sense.
“It was coincidental. We had to get married on August 1,” said Caparco. They feared because of the Thursday date, their friends and family would not be able to make it. But that was not the case.
“They all turned out anyways,” said Caparco with a smile.
The evening kicked off with a cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres as guests poured in for the 7 p.m. ceremony. The guest list read like a who’s who in Rhode Island government as General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Roberts, Representative Teresa Tanzi, Warwick Representative Joe Shekarchi, Warwick City Council members Steven Colantuono and Tom Chandronet and more filled the ballroom.
The wedding party also included some prominent figures, including Governor Lincoln Chafee, Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, Representative Art Handy and former Senator Rhoda Perry.
“How often do you have the governor, the mayor, a senator and a representative in the same wedding party?” said Avedisian with a laugh, adding he was happy to be part of such a special day.
Ferri and Caparco also featured a number of marriage advocates in their party, including close friends Jenn Steinfeld and Lauren Nocera, Ray Sullivan and Reverend Gene Dyszlewski, among others.
Sullivan, campaign director of Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, was happy to attend his first same-sex wedding after fighting such a long battle for marriage equality.
“It’s exciting also because Frank Ferri, the reason he ran for General Assembly was to see this happen one day. He put his money where his mouth is,” said Sullivan. “We are so happy for them and excited to be a part of this.”
Another government official in attendance was Speaker of the House Gordon Fox, who served as ceremony officiant. Fox said he had married four couples before Ferri and Caparco, however this was the first time he had married a same-sex couple.
“This made me more nervous,” commented the speaker, who guided the ceremony with the perfect combination of humor and respect for the couple.
After the party and the couple walked down the aisle to rousing applause and cheers, Fox calmed the crowd and simply asked Ferri and Caparco if they were ready.
“We’ve been ready for 32 years,” said Caparco with a laugh.
“It’s a wonderful day,” said Fox during the ceremony. “But on this day, this is also a celebration of justice and equality.”
The ceremony followed as a normal wedding ceremony, complete with the opportunity for a guest to object to the union. Caparco and Ferri eyed their guests jokingly during the moment as Fox commented that if they hadn’t spoken up in 32 years, now probably wasn’t the best time.
The only noticeable differences to the ceremony to accommodate two grooms was the change of “lawfully wedded wife/husband” to “lawfully wedded spouse” and the couple was pronounced “lawfully wedded life partners” instead of husband and wife at the ceremony’s conclusion.
Following the ceremony, members of the wedding party delivered toasts and blessings, followed by Ferri and Caparco cutting into their cake, which was a replica of the State House, complete with a rainbow ribbon around the dome and two Independent Man cake toppers.
“We have waited so long for this. I can’t believe it actually happened in my lifetime,” said Caparco, who seemed beyond words as he addressed the media present for the ceremony.
“I’m standing here saying, ‘I can’t believe it’s happening,’” said Ferri.
Fox commented that Ferri and Caparco were conscious to invite people who played a part in making marriage equality in Rhode Island possible.
“This is a fantastic time to be in office. Very rarely do you get to do something so momentous,” said Fox. “People, when they band together, can make things happen.”
Of course, after the ceremony was over, the attention turned to Fox, his longtime partner Marcus La Fond and what’s next.
“What’s next for Gordon Fox? Well, at some point Gordon Fox is going to get married,” he said when questioned about future plans.
La Fond said the couple celebrates their anniversary on Nov. 12 and they don’t want to change that date. So it will happen at some point, on Nov. 12 in Rhode Island.
But the evening was about Ferri, Caparco and their journey together. A number of guests shared the same sentiments of love and best wishes for the happy couple.
“It’s long overdue,” said City Council President Donna Travis. “I only wish the best for Anthony and Frank.” She added that having the opportunity to celebrate this moment with a ceremony in front of their family and friends had to be the “icing on the cake” of this journey.
Ten-year-old Samantha Durand had an entirely different reason to be excited about the evening. She was able to watch her godparents tie the knot. The young girl, who served as one of the two flower girls in the ceremony, said she was “really excited” about the evening’s main event but was also nervous to walk down the aisle. Durand added that not only was this the first wedding she would be a part of, but this was the first wedding she had been to at all.
Warwick Representative Joseph McNamara took the time to not only wish happiness for his friends, but all families in the state who can now celebrate.
“It was a historic moment and I’m just thrilled for Frank and Tony, our dear friends,” said McNamara. He also added some thoughts for children living with same-sex parents. “This gives them the same equal protection as other families. That is the benefit I see.”
In his toast, Representative Handy shared his thoughts of the happy couple.
“They’re an ideal couple. They show me what a marriage should be, what a relationship should be, what a partnership should be,” said Handy.
During his interview with the media, Caparco was asked if he had anything to say to those who still oppose same-sex marriage.
“I think they are on the wrong side of history,” said the happy groom of those in government that oppose marriage equality.
When asked about members of the public that oppose same-sex marriage, Caparco said, “They are entitled to their religious beliefs.”
Caparco was also more than happy to show off his plain, titanium wedding band, saying he doesn’t do “bling.”
“Frank’s has diamonds,” he added with a laugh.
Caparco says he and Ferri have been a solid couple for 32 years and they hope to be together for another 32 and beyond. “It’s been a long road,” he added. “Finally, in Rhode Island, our union is recognized.”