Our lesbian wedding
Alex, 26, and Julia, 27, got married earlier this year. So far so normal? Not entirely: Welsh Alexandra and American Julianya are a gay couple, and among the first lesbians in Britain to have a Civil Partnership.
Get in on
Julia: We met in 2000 via the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) society at Cardiff University where we were both students. I'd fancied the pants of Alex from the moment I met her but I was in a relationship. Then that ended of it's own accord. We went to the beach in September 2003 where I pinned Alex down with rocks and told her I liked her. Neither of us thought it was going to be a long-term relationship, but then I broke my knee - "the lucky break" - and I ended up moving in with Alex and her family. She pushed me around in a wheelchair for six weeks while it healed... and love blossomed.
Alex: It came to the point where Julia could have moved out but I didn't want her to. If you'd asked me if I wanted to live with her the day before she broke her knee I'd have said "Hell, no." But it was fine - we didn't argue or get in each other's way and I didn't feel imposed upon.
J: We carried on living together for a year and then my visa expired. We had very few options so we saw an immigration lawyer who gave us terrible advice. I flew back to the States in May 2005, returning a couple of times before all my visitor's visas ran out in November.
A: We had a serious discussion about whether we wanted to get married. It had never before been an option for lesbians, and wasn't something that either of us held dear for that reason. Then after the legislation changed we got some fantastic advice from the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group. They stressed that civil partnerships come with the same rights and responsibilities as marriage.
The law change
J: I felt relieved that the option became open to us more than anything because for over a year we'd been very uncertain about what would happen with our relationship.
A: A lot of the people at our wedding counted it as a momentous social change that they wanted to celebrate. To me, though, it was just inevitable that the law was going to change. When it did change, it was brilliant timing for us.
J: Alex's parents are very open and have been supportive of our relationship from the start. They are drastically different to my parents - who were unwilling to attend the wedding - and my country, which is unwilling to recognise my right to maintain an overseas relationship. It is nice to have the privilege and the responsibility that any loving and serious relationship deserves.
The Big Day
A: My Mum told us that we could have any kind of wedding that we wanted. They would pay for it all on one condition - that we both wore fluffy meringue-style dresses. We were less keen!
J: The question of what to wear was actually something that took me aback. I thought people would be most interested in the legalities of the ceremony and the sea of change it represented, but actually their first and often only question was, "Oh my god, what are you going to wear?!"
"I thought people would be most interested in the legalities of the ceremony and the sea of change it represented, but their first question was, "Oh my god, what are you going to wear?!"
A: Having turned down the meringue dresses we chose trouser suits and the cheaper, more familiar option of a small ceremony at County Hall on a Tuesday. We held the reception party for 250 people at our local pub on the following Saturday.
J: We were quite surprised with how quickly an air of normality descended upon the proceedings. We had the odd glitch; finding things to put on top of the cake was quite difficult. Periodically, when it became apparent that we were not planning a heterosexual wedding some people were less keen to assist than they might have been. The only real frustration that we encountered though was when we left the house for our ceremony; the students across the street were showering us with homophobic abuse.
A: But then all the hairdressers at the end of the road waved us off, while a complete stranger in the restaurant where we went for our meal came up to us and said: "Congratulations, I hope you are very happy," and that made up for the idiots earlier.
A: While there are still certain places that we wouldn't hold hands or kiss, I think it is getting easier to be out and proud.
J: Things are changing, but I think it'll take another three or four generations until everything settles into normality. The fact that we now have hate crime legislation helps as well.
A: Maybe, but for some of the chavs it will take more than legislation to stop them from leering and whistling or even kicking your head in.
The meaning of marriage
J: I think for us it's meant greater security and comfort in our relationship. It also means that I can work so I'm no longer dependent on Alex in the way that I was before. We've been granted the legal ability to maintain our commitment to each other.
A: The big change for me was moving in together, so on a day-to-day level there's been no drastic change in our lives.
J: I think we've both been very lucky and blessed to have met each other but also to be able to stay together, and to have had a much more positive experience than a lot of other gay couples will have had. It's going well so far.
Interview by bouquet catcher, Susie Wild