England Set to Hold First Same-Sex Wedding

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Saturday will be the first day gay couples will be allowed to tie the knot in England and Wales, after the government legalized same-sex marriage last July.

For the historic event, the British government has ordered rainbow-colored flags, international symbols of the gay movement, flown over prominent government buildings, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said on Thursday.

Despite shifting public attitudes in England in favor of same-sex marriage, gay marriage has faced opposition from religious groups, including the Church of England. One in five British adults would turn down an invitation to a gay wedding, the BBC reports. Since 2005, gay couples in England have been allowed to enter “civil partnerships,” conferring the same legal rights as marriage.

Despite the criticism, midnight will barely have struck before gay Britons across the country will be celebrating their new status as newlyweds.

In Brighton, England, Neil Allard and Andrew Wale will be the first couple to exchange vows this weekend. They won a contest to be the first ones to be married in the Royal Pavilion.

“They’ve had all sorts of requests for people to come and take part.” Wade said, ahead of the nuptials. “I do feel terribly privileged well to be getting married here.”


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Write to Francesca Trianni at francesca.trianni@time.com