The first same sex marriage ceremony in Brighton & Hove will take place just after midnight on Saturday 29 March, as soon as the law allows. The ceremony will mark a first in the city and is also set to be one of the first same sex marriages anywhere in the country.
Brighton & Hove City Council senior ceremonies registrar Trevor Love said: “This will be a momentous and historic day for the Registration Service in England and Wales, and for all of those couples making their marriage vows together. Brighton & Hove is a popular location for ceremonies and we have been busy keeping people up to date with the latest news about the introduction of same sex marriage. It is wonderful to see this law change being welcomed so enthusiastically in the city.”
Last December, when the Home Office announced the law would come into effect in March 2014, Brighton & Hove City Council was able to finalise plans to commemorate the date.
The Register Office, in partnership with the Royal Pavilion, invited same sex couples to apply to be the first to be married in the city. Couples were asked to explain why the Royal Pavilion is special for them and what it would mean to be married there in the city’s first same sex wedding ceremony. The chosen couple will not only become the first same sex couple to marry in they city, they will also be the first late night ceremony in Brighton & Hove as well the first wedding in the Music Room at the Royal Pavilion.
The applications were considered by a panel including representatives from the Register Office, the Royal Pavilion and Councillor Leo Littman. All names and ages of the couples applying were removed before their comments were shared with the panel.
The chosen couple is Andrew Wale and Neil Allard. The pair will be married in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion at one minute passed midnight on Saturday 29 March 2014.
Cllr Littman said: “People have been campaigning for years for equal marriage rights for same sex couples, and the legislation to allow it is most welcome. To see how much this change means, you’d only have to read the stories which couples have sent us. They touched our hearts, and it has been an honour to be involved in helping choose which couple will be the first to be married in our city. The panel’s decision was unanimous. We all felt this particular couple had shown a real fondness for the city and the Pavilion, and an excitement about the law-change; not just for themselves, but on behalf of the community. I’d like to congratulate Andrew and Neil and wish them a long and happy married life together.”
After hearing the news, Andrew said: "I feel so lucky to live in a country where human rights and equality are moving in the right direction, and in a city with such an impressive history of tolerance and inclusion. To be the first same-sex couple to have the opportunity to be married here is a great privilege. We are very excited to be a small part of this huge step forward."
Neil added: “As well as being the most iconic building in Sussex, the Royal Pavilion has become part of our personal iconography. This city will always be a special place for us because it's where we met and fell in love and the Pavilion is the heart of the city.”
The Grand, Brighton have offered one of their luxury sea view rooms for the couple on their wedding night. Andrew Mosley, General Manager at the Grand, Brighton said: “We are absolutely delighted to be part of this momentous occasion in LGBT history, we have always been big supporters of the community and hope that our iconic, licensed wedding venue will be the choice for many newlyweds in the future. We also wish Andrew and Neil a very happy life together as a married couple”
• Senior ceremonies registrar Trevor Love will conduct Andrew and Neil’s ceremony. Trevor also conducted the city’s first Civil Partnership in December 2005
• Please note, guests will arrive from late on Friday 28 March and the ceremony will take place at 00.01am on Saturday 29 March
• Brighton & Hove is the second most popular location in the UK for Civil Partnerships. The most recent figures (2012) for CP formations in England and Wales issued by ONS are Westminster 224 (Female 53 Male 171) and Brighton & Hove 220 (Female 119 Male 101)
• The registration services and the hire of the Music Room for the ceremony on 29 March will be provided free of charge. All other costs are being met by the couple
• The Register Office received ten applications from couples wanting to be married at the city’s first same sex wedding
• To find out about booking a ceremony in Brighton & Hove visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/registeroffice
• To find out more about the Grand, Brighton, visit www.devere-hotels.co.uk/the-grand
Biography for Andrew Wade and Neil Allard:
Andrew, 49 and Neil, 48 have been together for seven years and live in Brighton & Hove. Andrew is a freelance writer, actor and theatre director. Neil owns a local guesthouse. The Royal Pavilion was the backdrop to their first meeting. Both say they are looking forward to their wedding day at the former royal palace when their lifelong commitment to each other will be recognised by law.
The application submitted by Andrew and Neil:
“I am writing to apply for my partner and I to be the first same-sex couple to be married in Brighton, at The Royal Pavilion Music Room, on 29th. March 2014.
On March 3rd, we will have been together for 7 years, and we can't think of any better way to celebrate than to publicly proclaim our love, and to make our commitment to one another legally binding, in one of the most beautiful and iconic settings in our home city. The Royal Pavilion provided the backdrop to our early dates - visits to the theatre, picnics in the gardens and strolls around the Pavilion itself - it continues to feature in our daily lives together.
The Royal Pavilion is such a special place to us and is representative of so much of why we love Brighton and Hove - it's such a unique building, the design of which expresses a love of colour, contrast and individual taste.
The building, and its creator, gave the city its reputation for free thinking and a shameless appreciation of pleasure which have fed the imaginations of its community and those of countless numbers of visitors over the decades.
In previous years we had been planning to have a civil partnership, but decided to hold on when it became clear that the day might come when law changed to allow us to have a ceremony which brought us true equality.
We are so happy, for ourselves and for the thousands of other committed same-sex couples that that day is nearly here. To be the first same-sex couple to marry in Brighton would be an honour and a thrilling privilege.
Although we would dearly love to have our ceremony in the Royal Pavilion, the fact that we are now allowed to marry at all is enough to counteract any disappointment we might feel if we are not chosen, and we would wish the lucky couple the most wonderful of weddings.”