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Love sets sail with Visit Seattle's vow-renewal cruise

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Visit Seattle
Visit Seattle

All aboard! Visit Seattle is getting ready to celebrate the 12th anniversary of marriage equality and kick off Seattle's 50th Pride season with a romantic Queer cruise across the Puget Sound. On May 30, the Love For All Boat will set sail for a night to remember. Complete with local fine dining and wine, a secret goody bag for every guest, a celebrity appearance by Seattle's iconic BenDeLaCreme, who will MC the festivities, and a special vow-renewal ceremony, this is an experience couples won't want to miss.

Michael Woody, chief communications officer for Visit Seattle, is one of the leading organizers. "In Seattle, we celebrate the authenticity and the diversity of who we are as a community," he said, "and this is another way that we can celebrate that and show that Seattle is such a welcoming place in so many ways."

The cruise is also part of Visit Seattle's initiative to help promote tourism to Seattle. For years, the city attracted LGBTQ+ visitors and residents with inclusive events, businesses, and legislation. In 2014, before nationwide marriage equality, Visit Seattle hosted a special event called "Marry Me in Seattle," in which four lucky couples from around the country traveled to Washington for a legal ceremony. One of those four couples will return to renew their vows on the Love For All Boat.

To Woody, welcoming this couple back to Seattle is just as exciting as seeing BenDeLaCreme. "I'll tell you about a couple that we're going to call celebrities, because they were one of our first Marry Me in Seattle couples... ten years ago," he said," and they are coming back to do their vow renewal."

Another exciting celebrity participant in the event is Justice Mary Yu, the first person to officiate a same-sex wedding in Washington state. "I mean, you could not have a better name to be someone who performs weddings," Woody said. "We're very excited because she has made this a special thing. She's not only the first one but has done many [since]. She was part of our 'Marry Me' program ten years ago, so it's special to have [her] with us for this event aboard the ship."

The event's emphasis is on celebrating a renewal of love. "We're encouraging people who... want to renew their vows [to participate]," Woody said. "Vow renewals are a special time. It gives us a special opportunity to look back on that event, whatever it looked like for us — it could have been at a justice of the peace, it could have been in a traditional ceremony... — and think about the commitment you made to each other at the beginning of that journey... This is a great [chance] to do that in a special setting."

A vow renewal can be especially meaningful for Queer couples if their original vows were in a rushed courtroom, included a deadname, or happened pre-transition.

Woody is also looking forward to participating, as he will be one of the couples renewing their vows. "I think for both my husband and me, it's just that opportunity to revisit the special moment," Woody said. "You kind of forget the words you shared at that time, and to have a moment to renew those and say, 'Hey, I told you this a couple of years ago, and I mean it even more today, so let's celebrate that.' For us, it's [a chance] to take a moment to recognize that love and celebrate it with a bunch of other people who are in the same spot."

The event has attracted couples from across the country, including Texas, Illinois, and California, but the Love For All Boat is not just for out-of-towners. "Of course, we also encourage [those wanting a] staycation," Woody said.

Whether married for decades or only a year, interested participants can purchase tickets online at Visit Seattle's website (https://visitseattle.org/loveforallboat), or buy a package at one of the 12 participating downtown hotels (https://visitseattle.org/loveforallboat/#lfab_hotels), including the Pan Pacific, the Edgewater, the State Hotel, and the Inn at the Market. Each ticket is good for one couple. "We encourage people to stay at the hotels, even if they live here. It gives you a chance to have that moment last a little longer," Woody said.