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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 November 2005, 16:36 GMT
Gay couples at pink wedding show
Gino Mariano and Mike Ullett
Gino and Mike's ceremony will take place at the earliest possible point
A wedding show with a difference was staged in the splendour of Cardiff City Hall on Sunday.

As Christmas shoppers mingled with ice-skaters on the Winter Wonderland rink outside, gay couples were taking hints on getting hitched inside.

What is claimed to be the first official Gay Wedding Show Roadshow was offering ideas and advice.

Around 30,000 same sex 'marriages' are expected with the change in the UK law next month allowing civil partnerships.

Everybody knows we're a couple.. But we're not in the eyes of the law
Gino Meriano
Roadshow organiser Gino Meriano and his partner Mike Ullett plan to be among the first gay couples to take advantage of the law change.

They will tie the knot in Brighton at 0800 GMT on 21 December, the first day possible after giving the required notice.

Claire Wheatley and Claire Johnson
Claire and Claire are planning their 'wedding' next August

"Mike and I have been together for seven years and everybody knows we're a couple," said Mr Meriano. "But we're not in the eyes of the law.

"What everybody has been screaming for is the same rights as heterosexual couples so we don't have to worry about things like inheritance tax. And now we've got it."

The opportunity to have a "pink wedding" almost exactly the same as a conventional one was opening up a whole new business market, said Mr Meriano.

Alternative wedding lists

"We think about 30,000 couples will say yes in a civil ceremony in the first year, but the really interesting thing is that could be up to 425,000 couples in the next 10 years."

Among the exhibitors at the roadshow was a company marketing the popular chocolate fountain, centrepiece of so many wedding receptions.

Also there were firms offering alternative wedding lists through which guests can donate to charities rather than buying toasters, and hotels suggesting the ideal honeymoon venue.

Garry Mellon and Lincoln Hallsworth
Garry and Lincoln are considering a double-barrelled name

Ian Simpson from the Bishops Court Hotel in Torbay, Devon said :"We just feel that the gay community has not been catered for in the area.

"We have got the facilities and we're quite happy for them to come and join us."

There was also the chance to see a "mock" civil ceremony for themselves.

It's fantastic that we can have a civil ceremony... but it's a real shame that they have stopped short of giving it full status
Garry Mellon
One Barry couple, production technician Claire Wheatley, 25, and quality assurance officer Claire Johnson, 26, are planning their wedding at a country hotel next August.

They have been an item for five-and-a-half years and say they are just happy that they can declare their commitment to each other before family and friends.

"My sister is getting married and I don't see why our ceremony should be any different," said Ms Wheatley

"I wasn't bothered before but now it's legal I'm quite happy to go through a civil ceremony," said Ms Johnson.

"We're lucky because our families have been very supportive of us and it will be great for them to witness a proper wedding."

IT helpdesk worker Garry Mellon, 26, and his partner Lincoln Hallsworth, a 35-year-old pizza firm manager from Bolton, travelled to Cardiff after missing a roadshow in Manchester.

They have been together about eighteen months and are planning a traditional-style ceremony with a meal and evening reception next February.

Mr Mellon said: "It's very important. It's something we have been thinking about for a while. We've got a mortgage together and we want to make it legal".

"It's fantastic that we can have a civil ceremony and all that, but I think it's a real shame that they have stopped short of giving it full status.

"We still can't have a religious ceremony, can we?"




SEE ALSO:
Sir Elton plans 'private wedding'
24 Nov 05 |  Entertainment


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