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Don Lemon Marries Longtime Fiancé Tim Malone in Chic N.Y.C. Wedding Ceremony

Don Lemon is a married man.

via: People

The longtime CNN anchor, who now has his own streaming program, The Don Lemon Show, married his longtime partner Tim Malone, a real estate broker, on April 6 in New York City.

Speaking exclusively to PEOPLE a few days before the wedding, the grooms revealed they weren't stressed about the big day.

“I'm a last-minute person,” Lemon, 58, says, “and most things I just don't worry about.”

However, his wedding is proving to be an exception to the rule.

“But this one I'm secretly worried about, but I'm letting Tim take the reins because he's a good planner," he continued. "I'll be writing questions for like the U.N. ambassador and he'll be saying, ‘Oh, when are they going to put the buttons on our jackets?’ It's an important question, but I'm just like, 'Huh? What?’ So he has a million questions, but usually he gets it done without me even answering.”

The ceremony at Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in midtown Manhattan was officiated by the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield — in front of roughly 140 guests.

"She's a friend, and it means that much to us," Lemon says of having Thomas-Greenfield as their officiant.

For the service, the grooms — who wore custom suits by Suit Supply and exchanged rings designed by Mark Lash — incorporated marriage traditions inspired by each of their families into their unique ceremony.

“Tim is from a big Irish family, so we planned a big Irish blessing in there in his ceremony," Lemon says. He also notes the blessing was led by Malone’s two sisters.

Lemon adds that “at the end we jump over a broom.” This, Lemon and Malone say, pays respect to the once symbolic way for enslaved people in the American South to recognize their marriages, noting that today this tradition is a way to honor those who did it before them. 

The road to the altar has been a long one for Lemon and Malone, who have been engaged for five years, but it was important to the couple that they have a big, traditional wedding day.

“We wanted to make a public statement,” Malone says, “and we wanted to involve our loved ones. We obviously could have easily gone to city hall. We could have used Covid as a perfect excuse to do something really quiet. But I think this is also a message. For I don't know what percent of our guests, on both sides, but for a lot of them it's going to be their first gay wedding.”

Tradition was important to the grooms right from the start. Malone was raised in a Catholic family and Lemon’s family is Baptist, so the news anchor knew he "wanted to have a religious service.”

“I wanted to get married in the church. So Tim made that happen," Lemon says.

However, when it came time to prepare their vows, the couple opted for a mixture of traditional and new elements. 

“I have not been nervous about anything except writing the vows," Lemon reveals. "We are saying our own personal vows and then we're doing the traditional wedding ceremony vows.”

Music was also an important part of the ceremony. Lemon and Malone entered the church to the tune of "What a Wonderful World” and exited to "Signed, Sealed, Delivered." At the end of the ceremony, the grooms also lit a unity candle with their mothers.  

The happy event was watched by a star-studded guest list, which included legendary music executive and producer Clive Davis, Joy Behar, Sara Haines, Ana Navarro-Cárdenas and Sunny Hostin from The View. Additional guests included former Today show anchor Matt Lauer and girlfriend Shamin Abas, Real Housewives of New York City alum Luann de Lesseps, Sex and the City and Emily in Paris creator Darren Star, Tamron Hall and Alec and Hilaria Baldwin. CNN's Kate Bolduan, Erin Burnett and Dana Bash also attended.

After the ceremony, guests formed a New Orleans-style “second line” and marched from the church to Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar, behind the Gotham Kings band in honor of Lemon, who grew up in Baton Rouge. The location served a special menu — including chicken-under-a-brick and petit fours — and was decorated with photos taken throughout the couple’s time together, providing a full-circle moment for the newlyweds.

“We had our first date at the Polo Bar,” Malone says. “It was election night in 2016. We had gone to a viewing party downtown.”

“Isn’t that where you tipped a table over?” Lemon asks, to which Malone replies with a laugh, "Yes!"

“So, that night we went to this party at Cipriani,” Lemon continues, "and all these fancy people were there, stars, Martha Stewart. They put these plywood pieces on the table to make them bigger. And when Tim sat down, he hit the edge, and flipped the entire table. All the glassware, all the candles, everything went flying. And I was like, ‘Alright, well that’s our first date right there.' "

At that point in the evening, Malone and Lemon remember, it seemed clear Hillary Clinton was going to win. “I looked at my CNN email. I was like, ‘Let's get out of here. It's not going to be pretty,' " Lemon shares. "And so we went uptown to the Polo Bar.”

The restaurant is subterranean, "so we were sort of in a bunker,” Lemon says. He recalls being given the night off as his primetime slot had been taken over by election coverage.

“I was kind of glad because it would've been a surreal thing to watch [on camera]," he adds.

Throughout the meal, he and Malone got intermittent updates via spotty cell service and other diners. “Tim and I looked at each other and I said to him, ‘I don't want to be alone tonight.’ It was so weird. We went back to my apartment in Harlem and then he never left.”

Over the years, the two have become well-known Hamptons-summer entertainers (“We have an annual LGBTQ+ Pride party that Tim plans,” Lemon says) and dog dads to rescues Boomer, Barkley, and Gus, who were all three in attendance at the wedding. In lieu of gifts, the grooms asked that donations be made to Southhampton Animal Rescue, where they adopted their dogs.

At the reception, guests dined on the restaurant’s famous bone-in ribeye (which they ate on their first date), plus Dover sole, salmon and cauliflower steak. The grooms changed into “Nike Dunks” and celebrated, with music provided by DJ Tokyo Rose, also known as Erica Hamilton.

Up until their wedding day, the idea of marriage hit each of the grooms differently.

“I never thought that I would get married,” Lemon says. “I mean, maybe Tim's generation, he's 18 years younger than me. So for him maybe it was more of a possibility.”

He continues, “The legal part of it is a big deal because I didn't think it could happen. And for so many years of my growing up and hiding things, I never thought it could happen legally. But when you consider all the rights that people are trying to take away, I wanted to make sure that we get this done right.”

“We were pretty traditional over all,” Lemon says. “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…” Tim’s tuxedo is blue. Lemon's is green, both velvet and double-breasted. "I’ll have one something blue," Lemon jokes. "You just won’t be able to see it!”

For the couple, marriage means "a confirmation of our love and our commitment to each other," says Lemon, adding that "it's also about celebrating our relationship, and our relationship with the people who are most important to us in our lives."

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