THE gay community is poised to witness an historic event in Swindon with the launch of the town’s first ever wedding fair dedicated to same-sex couples next month.

Prompted by the legalisation of same-sex marriage and encouragements by gay friends to explore an untapped market, Eve Pocock and Anthony Porter, owners of events and photography business Manorwell, jumped at the opportunity to stage a wedding fair with a difference on Sunday, July 6.

But the journey was far from smooth for the Walcot couple who were unprepared for the prejudice they encountered at nearly every turn.

While most hotels were initially accommodating when first pitched the idea for a wedding fair, openings suddenly became unavailable without explanation at the mention of a same-sex event.

Businesses willing to promote their services at a gay fair were also few and far between.

“I really didn’t expect it to divide opinion,” said Eve, 35. “I was talking to one of my gay friends and they said the whole reason they didn’t get married in Swindon was that they felt there was prejudice when they tried to book a venue and because event organisers couldn’t be bothered organising events that were inclusive in the community, so we decided to organise one.

“Some hotels were fine until we said it was a gay wedding fair and then they were fully booked. They made it so obvious, it was shocking. “I didn’t think there was prejudice in Swindon –we have a Gay Pride event, it doesn’t make sense. We thought surely it can’t be that hard.

“Some photographers told us they didn’t feel comfortable doing a gay wedding. “We went to wedding fairs and spoke to some exhibitors who said ‘I don’t do gay weddings. They are such divas, they are a nightmare.’ I was flabbergasted.”

Undeterred the couple pressed ahead with the plans and secured the Mercure Hotel as well as 30 exhibitors, including bespoke jewellery makers, wedding boutiques, venue decorating firms and DJs. Band Josie and the Outlaw will headline the fair.

Although promoted as a gay wedding fair, the event is open to any couple regardless of their orientation.

“It’s going to be glamorous, sharp and colourful,” said the mother-of-one. “The gay community go for different themes. They might go for regal classic or blingy and glossy or sharp and unique.

“So we have tailored it to make it a bit more exciting. “It’s a gay wedding fair but really it’s open to all couples and anyone who is getting married. We want it to be inclusive.”

Manorwell is running a competition for couples to win a photo booth for their wedding. To enter or for details email The Fair will take place on July 6 from 11am until 3pm at the Mercure Swindon Hotel, in South Marston.