Ten beautiful brides in white satin, rhinestones and pearls took the arms of their grooms and walked down the aisle Saturday night as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington held a wedding ceremony in which 10 couples were married at once.
Hundreds of people attended the wedding, conducted almost entirely in Spanish at St. Paul Catholic Church downtown.
The group ceremony was thought to be the first of its kind for the Lexington diocese.
"It was an incredible moment in time for our local church," said the Rev. Carlos Martinez, who leads St. Paul's Hispanic ministry and helped organize the wedding.
He said many of the couples had come to the United States from Mexico and because of that had never had a big church wedding with friends and relatives to join in the celebration.
He said seven of the couples already had been married in civil services — some as long as 20 years ago. Three were being married for the first time.
Bishop John Stowe, who presided over the ceremony, explained that marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic church, and in order to participate in other sacraments, such as communion, couples must have their marriages blessed by the church.
After saying their vows Saturday night, a joyful celebration of Communion followed for the couples and others in attendance. It was the first time some of the couples had been able to partake of Communion in many years.
"The whole thing was very emotional," Stowe said. "There's a joy, and when they came to the altar (to receive Communion) it was very emotional again."
In other places where he has worked, Stowe said he has officiated at similar services in which up to 25 couples were married at once, and he said he hopes to hold other group marriages here.
"It's just good to see the joy that they have," he said. "It's nice to do it as a community."
Musicians from three parishes performed music for the ceremony, and a mariachi band serenaded the couples and their families as they paraded outside the church afterward.
Fernando Velázquez and Victoria Díaz said they have been legally married for 20 years, but this was their first church wedding.
The couple was on their way to celebrate at a group reception afterward at the church, and they planned to host their entire family for a party at their home on Sunday.
When asked why they chose to participate in the group wedding, Velázquez said simply, "It was time to get married."
María del Rosario Velasco and her new husband, Miguel Ángel de la Rosa, had been dating just six months.
Del Rosario said she was enjoying "every single moment" of the night.
While "all the emphasis is on the bride" in a traditional marriage ceremony with just one couple, she said being one of 10 brides was even better.
"I feel like a star," she said. "This was very romantic."