A dramatist and a guesthouse owner will make history after being named as the first same-sex couple to get married in Brighton and Hove.
Andrew Wale and Neil Allard were selected by a panel for the honour of being married at one minute past midnight on Saturday, March 29.
The wedding will be held at the earliest moment that the law allows and means the couple will be one of the first gay marriages in the country.
In another first, the pair will be married in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion.
The couple first met when they started chatting on a bench outside of Pavilion Gardens seven years ago and say the iconic building formed the backdrop to their early dates, including one trip inside the regal retreat.
They learned they would get married inside the Pavilion while on holiday in the Canary Islands last week, but have been keeping it a secret from nearly all their friends and family until Valentine’s Day when it was made public.
Mr Wale, who has recently been writing and performing for a drama group in Norway, and Mr Allard, who has run the Seabreeze Guest House in Upper Rock Gardens in Brighton for seven years, said they had planned to get married this year and jumped at the chance of getting married in the Pavilion.
The pair said they now have a few headaches arranging a wedding in just six weeks with friends set to fly in from Norway, Germany, Moscow and Spain.
Mr Allard, 49, joked that one of the problems with a midnight wedding will be making sure his father stays awake past his usual bedtime.
They will have been allowed to use the Music Room free of charge while The Grand in Brighton have offered one of their luxury sea view rooms for the couple on their wedding night.
Mr Wale, 48, said: “I didn’t think about the timing of the wedding at the time, I never expect to win anything.
“I think it’s an honour and it’s a massive step forward for gay people and society as a whole.
“But you have to keep things in perspective that there is hardly anywhere in the world where we could go on honeymoon and feel comfortable holding hands and there are worsening situations in Africa and in Russia so we are very aware of being part of all that.
“We will be keeping our own surnames, I don’t think we need to follow all the old traditions of marriage that have nothing to do with us.”
Councillor Leo Littman, who was also married at the Pavilion, said: “The panel’s decision was unanimous.
“We all felt this particular couple had shown a real fondness for the city and the Pavilion, and an excitement about the law-change; not just for themselves, but on behalf of the community.”
Brighton and Hove City Council senior ceremonies registrar Trevor Love said: “This will be a momentous and historic day for the Registration Service in England and Wales and for all of those couples making their marriage vows together.”