Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Great Gay Wedding Rush; London Eye and HMS Belfast among Venues as Hundreds Register for New Civil Ceremony

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Great Gay Wedding Rush; London Eye and HMS Belfast among Venues as Hundreds Register for New Civil Ceremony

Article excerpt

Byline: OLIVER FINEGOLD

HUNDREDS of gay couples in London and the South-East are to take part in wedding ceremonies under laws that come into force this month.

Register offices, hotels and venues such as the London Eye have been inundated with enquiries from same-sex partners who can enter into legally recognised relationships for the first time in England and Wales.

A survey by the Evening Standard found hundreds of couples will officially register for the civil partnership ceremonies.

The first couples to plan their registrations will be announced on Monday in official notices similar to banns posted for weddings. Many register offices have taken pre-registrations to deal with the demand.

We found that Brighton & Hove - Britain's unofficial gay capital - is, by far, the most popular place for the ceremonies, with at least 400 couples planning to tie the knot there. Three couples in the city are due to celebrate their new legal status with unofficial ceremonies starting in the first seconds of the morning of 21 December. The first official wedding, however, will not take place until 8am that day.

In London, Westminster is set to host 125 same-sex partnership ceremonies and Kensington & Chelsea at least 100. Both councils are fully booked for the first day.

Islington, which has London's largest number of gay couples who live together, will perform 80 ceremonies at its town hall.

The London Eye is a favourite venue for gay couples to have their weddings, with five bookings for the next few weeks and more expected.

Couples who make their vows on the Eye board a private capsule, decorated with flowers, with their guests.

The civil ceremony is then conducted by the Lambeth registrar. When the capsule reaches the top the couple are pronounced life partners.

During the descent, they are served chilled Laurent-Perrier champagne. …

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