By Jill Colvin
MEATPACKING DISTRICT -- Get ready for the most-anticipated wedding of the year.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and her long-time partner, lawyer Kim Catullo are set to walk down the aisle Saturday evening in the highest-profile union since same-sex marriage became legal in New York State last year.
Guests are set to begin arriving shortly before 5:30 p.m. for a ceremony and reception inside the Highline Stages, a rugged, industrial event space with exposed brick walls, a garage-style door and polished concrete and cobblestone flooring, which has played host to numerous high-profile fundraisers and Fashion Week events.
On Saturday, it will welcome a who's-who of New York politics, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, who are among the nearly 300 guests who will join the couple's close-knit families to watch them wed.
In the days leading up to the event, Quinn was bubbling with excitement -- but also more than slightly petrified.
"I'm nervous that I'm going to trip on my heels! I'm nervous that the vows are going to stink. I'm nervous that they'll make the dress too tight and I'm not going to be able to sit down or dance! I'm nervous that we're going to have seated somebody next to somebody who I didn't know hated each other, there's going to be a big drama!" she said, giddy and racing through her words earlier this week.
Quinn said she and Catullo, who have been partners for more than a decade, will spend time together Saturday as they get their hair and makeup done, but will part before they get dressed to keep their outfits a surprise to each other until the ceremony.
Quinn said she went to three different stores, trying on dress after dress, before finding 'the one.'
"They say when you try on the right dress you know it right away and that was absolutely the case," she said.
Quinn said the pair will both wear something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.
Instead of a traditional veil, Quinn will be wearing two "very pretty" antique, enamel brooches, shaped like pansies with diamonds in the middle that had been her mother's, and were set by a woman on East 20th Street onto hair combs that she'll be using to secure her hair half-up.
"It'll be nice to have her pins there with us," she said of her mother, who passed away when she was a teen.
Nonetheless, Quinn said she was "extremely nervous" about the affair, which she has been planning for months between meetings, press conferences and bargaining sessions.
"It's funny, the people who are doing the flowers and stuff said, 'So you'll just go upstairs, you'll put your dress on, and then you'll come in and see it for the first time,'" Quinn said, feigning disbelief.
"I said, 'You've never really worked with me before! There's no room in my life I have ever walked into having left all the details to somebody else. So if you think on this day I'm not going to be here in the middle of the afternoon with a clipboard, you're out of your mind, people!"
But despite the stress, Quinn said she's been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she's received from friends and strangers.
"It is the nicest thing," she said. "I mean, we've gotten calls and letters and e-mails from people that we don't know at all."
"I feel very touched by how many people have gone out of their way to send us warm wishes and nice hugs," she said.
Queens City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, a long-tine friend of the couple, who will be at the wedding, and who is openly gay, said the wedding has significance for the whole community.
"Anytime a friend is getting married and able to celebrate their love and their commitment, that's an incredibly happy day, and I know that Kim and Chris have waited a long time for this moment to arrive," he said, describing the couple as deeply attuned to one another's needs.
"I think that they're very much in love and I think that there's a great care and also great understanding of the very unique job that speaker Quinn has," he said.
Van Bramer, who is planning to marry his own long-time partner in July, also said he expects to choke up when the couple says "I do."
"It's just so special that we all get to do this now," he said. "It's a moment that many of us never thought we would witness in our lifetimes."
Quinn, who had long vowed not to marry until it was legal in the state, was overwhelmed with emotion last summer when the news that the measure had passed the State Senate broke just as she was holding a press conference announcing a budget deal.
"I really can't really describe what this feels like, but it is one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life," Quinn said at the time, choking back tears.
"That's a moment that I thought would never come," she said. "It's an amazing day."
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