13:19 | 18th April 2019


Tue 9 Feb, 2010
By Darren Waite

You can do it whilst sky-diving, swimming with sharks or dressed as the Cheeky Girls, but there must not be a dog collar in sight.

Civil partnerships - For better and for worse.

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We campaigned and we got them but of course with diverse sexuality comes diverse tastes, from the surprisingly understated Elton and David nuptials to the Ellen and Portia fairytale. We have a look at the ins and outs of a civil partnership celebration and how to make it one to remember for all the right reasons.
Ellen and Portia had a ceremony with just close family and friends but that did not mean that it wasn’t in true LA style the definition of opulence. The lesbian royalty pushed the boat out with a completely vegan banquet, the cherry on the cake?

Well, actually, the wedding cake. A velvet vegan triumph by bakery to the stars Sweet Lady Jane. Portia and Ellen’s wedding outfits were designed by Zac Posen who has now been propelled to the forefront of celebrity wedding couture. Portia was angelic in a layered pastel pink gown whilst Ellen stuck to her trademark trouser suit dismissing the notion on daytime American TV that she would wear a dress.

Elton and David may have heeded the advice that money truly doesn’t by taste; instead of finding Elton flouncing out of the back of a transit van with a wig and period threads he turned up looking, well, not like he was going to a panto but his nuptials in a demure navy blue suit.
Elton and David still added pizzazz to the event by being the first celebrity couple to take advantage of the civil partnership laws and getting hitched on the first day that they came into effect, 21st December 2005. The after party was rumoured to be attended by over 700 celebrities after the rather unexpected sedate and sober exchanging of vows at the Guildhall in Windsor.

Now I know many LGBTs out there who supported the inclusion of civil partnerships into our constitution who behind their backs were keeping their fingers crossed that they would stall for just a few more years so that they weren’t forced down the aisle by an excitable partner who thought that the this was the most exciting thing to happen to the gay community since matching tattoos. But we have all calmed now, gathered our thoughts realised that we will now never be able to afford to get a mortgage on our own and are reconsidering the endless benefits of saying I do.
So here is our lowdown of what you need to know about civil partnerships and if you decide to take the matrimonial plunge how to make it a good one.

The civil partnership bill was passed on the 18th November 2004, although it took more than a year to implement the act in the form that we now know it, couples could begin to register their partnerships from the 5th December 2005. In the same year, inheritance tax was overhauled treating civil partners as ‘married’ for the purpose of the family taxation.
Civil Partnership (although we can’t in theory call it marriage) is to all intense purposes a marriage. You have all of the rights that straight couples have, but are known as civil partners. You are still free to define each other as you wish behind closed doors; hubby, wifey, ball and chain, but on the paperwork of life you are civil partners.

Just a few of the rights that you can share with your new civil partner are: Joint treatment for income-related benefits, joint state pension benefits, ability to gain parental responsibility for each other’s children, recognition for immigration purposes and, thankfully, in some cases, an exemption from testifying against each other in court.
The thing that you can’t do is religion. Your civil partnership cannot have a holy element. You can do it whilst sky-diving, swimming with sharks or dressed as the Cheeky Girls, but there must not be a dog collar in sight.

You can, after your nuptials, get yourself blessed, as if you weren’t blessed enough marrying the love of your life. Also, of course, if you can find a gay-loving spiritual leader that wants to help you celebrate your union, you are legally free to do so.
So legal stuff aside, there are now lots of bespoke wedding planners that will sort out your perfect day, but here are my personal top five hard and fast cardinal rules to making sure your ceremony goes off with a bang.

Firstly: If you are having a lesbian day of love and you both want to wear a dress - measure the aisle. Last summer I went to the civil partnership ceremony of two buxom blondes who had fulfilled their childhood dreams of wearing dresses that made Princess Di’s look understated. However, due to their lack of planning, they had not foreseen that the aisle, not big enough to accommodate both of them, caused them to end their ceremony bumping down the red carpet like a pair of weebles. When they had finished their ‘I do’s’ they couldn’t walk back up the aisle together and one had to follow after the other looking like they had experienced their first wedded contretant on the happiest day of their lives.

Secondly: Pets. Oh god, why do we do it? I know we love our pooches and pussies, but is there really any need to have them as ring bearers? One male friend of mine insisted on having his terrier at his ceremony. He stood in the registry office holding this terrified dog who decided to have a queeny tantrum and scratch him to bits. Every wedding photo he has now looks like a police shot.

Thirdly: Be careful when inviting everyone in your diary. Seating plans can be a nightmare. Be clear as to whether when Sandra and Susan; and Bob and Bruce split up they are now best friends or worst enemies. Your seating plans are always bound to start or end a tryst but be aware of the community family tree as you don’t want to end up with handbags at dawn before you have even toasted the creator of the swan ice sculpture.

Fourth: Don’t get matching ‘his and his’ or ‘hers and hers’ figurines on top of the cake, it looks like twins marrying and often scares small children.

And finally: Don’t invite the Daily Mail.
Adhere to all of these things and I guarantee that you will have a Civil Partnership to be proud of.


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