Even without the staring contest, this wedding ceremony would have been special. For starters, there were multiple happy couples. One bride wore fuchsia stockings. Another was in a leopard-print dress short enough to show her garter, with a cascade of red feathers in place of a veil. Her groom looked like the Mad Hatter. And a woman ruffled and beaded to the hilt in a classic white gown was renewing her vows to a man in jean shorts and a Tommy Bahama shirt accessorized with a bottle of Dos Equis.
They were gathered at the Cosmopolitan’s Pop-Up Chapel for a group “(faux) wedding” they won through a social-media contest. While the ceremony wouldn’t be legal, it included Cupcakery sweets, Nicolas Feuillatte Champagne and an audience of tourists rubbing up against the Strip-side windows. One grand-prize couple also got a free room at Cosmo for a (faux) honeymoon. It was Melanio Flaviano and his partner of 25 years, Brian Finn. One in a white jacket, the other in black, they held hands—and their beloved dog Apricot—as the minister waxed about walking lockstep down the sidewalk of life and being the mac to each other’s cheese. Finn smiled like he was the luckiest man in the world.
Vows completed, the couple stood side by side as they have for a quarter-century, embracing and accepting congratulations on the pretend marriage, the bittersweet almost. Apricot wagged his tail, seeing only that his masters were where they belonged—together.