Now, finally, you may kiss the bride

A couple abstain from smooching until they hit the altar.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

Published December 1, 2008 10:25PM (EST)

Within the purity movement, definitions of abstinence are like virginity rings: Everyone has their very own. Some purity pledges engage in everything, and I mean everything, short of vaginal intercourse. Others limit themselves to fully clothed smooch fests. Then there are those, like Claudaniel Fabien, 30, and Melody LaLuzen, 28, of Chicago, who abstained from kissing until they hit the altar.

On Saturday, the two abstinence educators practiced what they teach: They married, and then kissed each other for the very first time. The delayed consummation -- not to mention commencement -- came after a yearlong chaperoned courtship: "They made sure they were never alone with each other in a house," reports the Chicago Tribune. "When they watched movies on the couch, they snuggled sitting straight up, never lying down." (Take note, kiddies: Stay vertical, stay virginal.) What's more, the pair met in 2006, but had to delay dating until a year later, when LaLuzen ended her vow to abstain from  romance of any sort for seven years.

"It really tested us and encouraged us to grow closer in our hearts and our minds, just expressing things verbally," Fabien said. LaLuzen said it was "magical" when they finally rounded first base, with all of their family and friends watching. (The magic was preceded by Fabien theatrically spraying breath freshener in his mouth.) "When you value a kiss, it becomes something of worth," she said.

Luckily, there are many ways to value a kiss, as well as all manner of canoodling, and they don't all involve abstaining until marriage -- but, you know, to each his or her own. I just wonder if kissing represents the purity movement's next target -- and, if so, will abstinence thongs be replaced by "true love waits" braces and retainers?

Tracy Clark-Flory

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