Couples look forward to the big day at Gay Wedding Show

Chloe Hamilton joined the same-sex partners preparing for their right to  be married legally from 29 March

When a queue forms in the street in Camden, in north London, it’s usually to see the latest up-and-coming indie band. But on Sunday the line outside the Holiday Inn was for entry to 2014’s Gay Wedding Show – where, inside, photographers, caterers and party planners were readying themselves for an onslaught of newly engaged men and women eager to start planning their big day.

Love Hearts sweets and glasses of pink Lambrini were handed out to couples as they waited in the spring sunshine. The day held a special meaning for many as they will, for the first time, be able to marry legally in England and Wales on 29 March.

“All love is shared,” cried the gay rights campaigner and event founder, Gino Meriano, 50, as he doled out pink-themed goodies to the excited couples. “All love is appreciated.” According to him, the show, which celebrated its 10th birthday last year, is an opportunity for same-sex couples to “leave their sexuality at the door”.

“I set up the show 11 years ago after realising there wasn’t really anything out there for same-sex couples,” he said. “I came up with the idea of having an exhibition just for them, where they can leave their sexuality at the door, walk in and start planning their big day.”

Karl and Simon Bruno are doing just that. The pair, who have been civil partners for five years, are overwhelmed by the prospect of finally being able to marry. Their big day is in July 2016 and they have already ticked most items off their Beauty and the Beast-themed wedding list, proudly reeling off the name of the venue, theme, colour scheme and catering options.

“To get married means everything to us,” said Simon, 25. “It’s about having equal rights. We want to be treated just the same as everyone else and civil partnership doesn’t quite cut the mustard.”

Rhiannon Dollar, 27, who helps co-ordinate the show in Cardiff, Brighton and Manchester as well as London, says last year was a quiet year for the industry, as same-sex couples waited to find out whether they would be allowed to marry legally. “I think last year no one wanted to set a date until the law changed,” she said. “This year is much busier and everyone is really happy and excited. The atmosphere is fantastic.”

With drag queen and compère Fonda Cox belting out power ballads and encouraging couples to down shots of pink tequila, the atmosphere is certainly livelier than a traditional wedding fair, but in many ways the events are identical. Caterers hand out tasters, party planners discuss “pre-wedding parties” and photographers pounce on unsuspecting couples asking them whether they’ve set a date yet.

“I’ve been to a straight wedding fair before,” says 29-year-old Claudia Frei, who is marrying partner Anita Ferraro, 25, in May 2015. “It was all about beauty, teeth whitening and stuff like that. That’s not what weddings should be about. For me, it’s about being comfortable and happy on my wedding day, not looking like a beauty queen.” Claudia Frei, right, and Anita Ferraro, left Claudia Frei, right, and Anita Ferraro, left

On hand to make sure everyone is catered for are companies like The Butch Clothing Company, which creates bespoke suits for women who don’t want to wear a dress on their big day. “Clothing can be an issue for women,” says Mr Meriano. “We cover every base and make sure everyone is catered for.”

Many of the exhibitors also peddle their wares at traditional wedding fairs, and photographer Jacs Williams says she’s been surprised by the stigma still attached to same-sex marriage. “I was at one event where a woman saw we had photographs of a same-sex couple, closed the book and walked away in disgust,” she says. “I was stunned.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick