The first gay marriage for the Horsham district took place last weekend following the Act for same-sex couples coming into power earlier this year.
What started out as a romantic proposal on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has led happy couple, David Leigh and Rob Harris, to tie the knot at South Lodge Hotel on Saturday May 31 with friends and family present.
David said: “We consider ourselves very fortunate that we’re able to say we are married, and to refer to each other as husband.
“We appreciate that people often think these things are just names, and don’t understand why they matter - but to us, and I would think most gay people, they really do matter – it’s a simple question of being treated the same as everyone else.”
David Leigh, 37, works in IT for a high street bank and Rob Harris, 39, is a science teacher in Woking, Surrey - the couple decided to have the ceremony in Horsham after spending many ‘happy days’ there.
“When South Lodge came up during our search as a potential wedding venue, we made an appointment,” said David.
“We’d heard lots of good things about the hotel from Horsham locals, and knew we loved the area.”
As the proposal took place in 2012, the same-sex marriage bill would not be passed for another two years, so David and Rob were planning a civil partnership until they heard the good news recently.
“We were both surprised and pleased to discover that same-sex marriages were to be available from March 29, and that all we needed to do was give notice for a marriage instead,” he said.
“It was too late to issue new invitations by the time we knew for certain that we would be having a marriage.”
On the day, the couple were surrounded by loved ones who had travelled from across the globe to see the event, some of whom were still expecting a civil partnership.
“We are lucky to be surrounded by families and friends who have always been very supportive of us, and our plans for getting married have been no exception.
“We feel honoured that so many of them are making the effort to join us for the day, even from as far afield as New York and Texas.”
Together for more than six years, the newlyweds had met each other through mutual friends in Brighton.
Their intention to propose had been discussed on so many occasions that when it came to the big moment in San Francisco, David thought his partner was joking.
“We had already been talking about his possible proposal for over a year, but because we wanted a good ‘proposal story’ he’d never found the right time.
“In the end he had been talking about it for so long that when he eventually did it – I thought he was winding me up, told him to ‘stop being silly’ and walked away. It was only when he caught up with me and tried again that I realised he was serious,” he said.
The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 was fully in force by March 13 2014 and the first gay marriage in the UK took place in Brighton at midnight on March 29.
This amends the Marriage Act 1949 to update the list of marriages which can be solemnised - religious organisations can choose to ‘opt in’.
The Act also enables civil partners to convert their partnership into a marriage.
For more pictures visit www.wscountytimes.co.uk