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Behind the Scenes of BBC1's Big Gay Wedding with Tom Allen

Adam and Dan are newly married, walking down the aisle together with celebrant Chloe smiling in the background
On an unseasonably warm October day, Great Pottery Throw Down finalist Adam and his equally crafty partner Dan tied the knot in front of their family, friends, Tom Allen and a million-odd members of the British public. And I was their celebrant! Here's the story of how I found myself on BBC's Big Gay Wedding.

Alongside my colleagues in the wedding industry, I am simply bedevilled (as Moira Rose would say) by fake, spam enquiries that come in via my online contact form. So on a sunny September day in 2023, colour me shooketh when my phone pinged with a new enquiry and it wasn't "let me fix your SEO" – it was an invitation to marry a couple in a BBC production celebrating same-sex marriage.

The next 3.5 weeks can only be described as veritable gay chaos. The best kind of chaos, naturally. Let me walk you through it...

Adam and Dan, the colourful clay-whisperers from Brighton, had been chosen as the lucky couple to take part in a documentary to mark ten years since equal marriage came into law. Presented by Tom Allen, the show would be about arranging a gorgeous wedding for the guys, with some celebrity helpers making themselves useful along the way. Meanwhile, Tom would look back to discover how the law got passed, chatting to the politicians and agitators that made it happen.

Adam and Dan were told by the production team to consider who their celebrant would be, and some celeb names were floated. But the couple were conscious that this was their actual wedding day and they wanted an LGBTQ professional to do the job – a safe pair of lesbian hands, if you will. They stumbled across my profile while searching on Instagram, which resulted in the producers sliding into my DMs and causing me to nearly fall off my chair.

Adam, Dan, Egg the pug and Chloe laughing together
Egg the pug trying to slip me some tongue, during our planning session at Adam and Dan's house

I had the most amazing intro call with Dan and Adam, which ended up feeling more like therapy for all three of us – eye-rolling to high heaven about being queer in the wedding world with all the dogwhistle homophobia, and dreaming of the affirming, gloriously camp and meaningful ceremony we could craft together.

The boys were keen, but as with everything on telly I needed to be vetted and signed-off. So after a chat with the producer (where I presume she was making sure I wasn't a hologram, a fascist, a nightmare on Twitter etc), I was left waiting for the verdict.

I tend to start planning wedding ceremonies with my couples 4-6 months out from the big day. That gives me the time necessary to get to know my couple, interview them both, hear memories and stories from their loved ones, plan the logistics of the day, and write about 20 pages of prose from scratch. So when that email hit my inbox, finally giving us the go-ahead, I was next-level ecstatic – I screamed so hard someone in the office next to mine dashed over to make sure I was alright. But I was also petrified: I had two weeks and two days until the "I do"s. Plus a gal pals' weekend away in Somerset and a three-day work trip to Portugal to factor in. Gulp.

The emotional support animal at Dan and Adam's house, and Egg the pug

Safe to say, I didn't waste a second – my lovely girlfriend Emma bundled me in her Jeep and took us to Brighton so I could meet Adam and Dan in-person. They were just delightful: two of the most warm, creative people I'd ever met, welcoming me into their topsy-turvy home packed with technicolour kitsch creations. Adam had been a finalist on The Great Pottery Throw Down and Dan's a graphic designer by trade and now a full-time ceramicist too, so their house is just a feast for the senses.

We hit it off just as much as we had on that initial call and we spent hours drinking tea, making plans, and getting me filled in on their love story. Emma and I even got a go on their pottery wheel!

I was writing their ceremony in every nook and cranny of time I had over the next fortnight – waking up at odd hours of the night to jot down a note on my phone, pulling out the best in-jokes, quotes and memories while I was sat on public transport. I hardly thought of anything else! Well, I thought a lot about my outfit. The theme was pastel and Dan and Adam's suits had purple, blue, green and pink tones, essentially leaving me with yellow. It was a gift from the online shopping gods that the most stunning lemony corduroy suit was on sale with just one left in my size. And tax-deductible, baby!

The suit that truly paid for itself

I felt like I blinked and the day had come around. I got to the venue super early – again, being taxied by my handsome roadie and emotional support animal (my girlfriend Emma). They had chosen somewhere laidback, alternative and local: vintage furniture shop meets wedding venue, Trading Boundaries. Jenny and her team were like swans, gracefully dolling up a marquee for the wedding breakfast, the indoor spaces where Dan and Adam would have a registrar carry out their legal bit, and the outdoor space where our ceremony would take place in front of almost 100 guests.

BBC camera-people were everywhere, capturing the hubbub of those sunny early hours as everything came together. Photographer and fellow South London Awesome Gay Supplier Sidey Clark (we call ourselves the SLAGS) was there, snapping all the details and candid conversations. The unbelievably talented florists, Mahal Kita, were painstakingly putting together their floral arrangement, which framed a salvaged set of stained-glass doors Adam and Dan had made.

Good luck guessing which parts were ceramic and which were Vicky Sponge...

The wedding planner, Lorna from My Oh My Weddings, was calmly and capably overseeing proceedings, when I would have been on the ground in foetal position. I doff my cap to you, Lorna! Fungi fanatics The Caley Brothers were peppering decorative mushrooms all through the venue – a quirky detail Adam and Dan had chosen. And Bee May Baker was on a ladder assembling her and the couple's collaborative and truly gobsmacking cake – partly edible, partly ceramic, entirely fabulous.

I locked eyes with Tom Allen who was filming bits and bobs for the documentary so floated over to say hello. Tom was completely charming and the cameras rolled as we joked about "straight marriage"I adore my straight couples, fear not! – though I'm sure that won't make its way into the finished edit. Imagine the gammony outrage!

Then it was time to get into my suit, read back over my ceremony a few times, do some power poses and take some very deep breaths: we didn't have long to go. The venue staff led me upstairs to a greenroom they'd fashioned from their staff area. For some totally unknown reason, they'd given Sophie Ellis-Bextor the gorgeous high-ceiled boudoir and I was in the kitchen, steaming my suit alongside Dettol and a spice rack. I took a very sneaky wee in Sophie EB's private loo because she hadn't arrived yet and I was desperate (forgive me Sophie!), and it was time to take our places.

She has no idea I peed in her loo, the beautiful fool

The ceremony felt like a dream sequence: Dan and Adam's wedding party, Tom Allen carrying Egg, and the couple walked up the aisle to Sister Act's I Will Follow Him – the choral verses before it pops off. It was spine-tingling and magical and I was pretty choked by the time they arrived at the front to me. Despite this being my job, that always bloody happens! Get a grip, lass.

I told Adam and Dan's story as they watched on from their seats at the front. I always recommend my couples spend some time sitting down facing their guests during their ceremony; it covers up those knocking-knees, the awkward shifting from foot to foot, and allows you to actually relax and enjoy the story, like everyone else.

The ceremony was punctuated with hoots of laugher, a few sniffs and tissue flourishes, and plenty of beaming smiles. My face actually hurt afterwards, I'd been smiling so hard!

One moment in particular had everyone in stitches: in telling me the story of their early days of friendship, Adam had joked that Dan had been a bit of a flirt at the time, shall we say. During the ceremony I described this as Dan's "slut era", to an explosion of laugher and protestations from Dan. Apparently Adam had gotten confused and it was in fact Adam who'd been a hit with the boys. Suuuure, Dan! It was one of the highlights of the ceremony, cracking us up for months afterwards.

The aforementioned "slut era" debacle

Tom Allen delivered a reading of Gloria Gaynor's I Am What I Am which moved us all far more than I'd expected, the lyrics ringing out defiant, pertinent, and proud. And Dan and Adam exchanged their own completely original vows, which I'd helped them to write privately so they'd be a surprise to each other on the day.

I can still remember exactly what they both said: it was simple yet profound, an authentic declaration of their commitment to one another and the life they'd built together.

Expert ring-bearing, Egg. I guess you did fine too, Tom

I also wrote them a totally personalised set of questions to respond with "I will" as they exchanged their rings (with thanks to Tom Allen and Egg for bringing them to us!). I wove together some of the brilliant in-jokes and references they'd shared with me, alongside the deep and unconditional love they have for each other. That's what the commitment of marriage is to me: a pledge to treasure and protect all of the silly, sincere, special things that makes your love irrevocably yours.

And with the rings exchanged, all that was left to do was have a smooch to seal the deal and cover them in Flutter Darlings confetti (twice for the cameras, of course)!

Name a more iconic trio, I'll wait

With the ceremony over, I could finally let loose! Possibly the hairiest three weeks of my life had culminated in that big emotional release of storytelling, cheering, laughing and tears – and I was viscerally relieved. Emma whisked me away to force me to drink about a litre of water and rub my face because it was hurting so darn much from all the goofy smiling, before we got back to the dance floor ready for Sophie Ellis-Bextor to serenade the couple with their first dance. Strictly's Oti Mabuse had choreographed it to perfection, as we watched on shrieking and clapping in 23-degree October sun.

The rest of the day was a total blur: it involved Prosecco, some extremely big moves from Bake-Off's gay icon Janusz, Sophie EB making a very witty joke about poppers, about 700 hugs, more face-ache from grinning like an idiot, a harem of men on the dance floor worshiping Emma for the lesbian god she is, and falling into bed after we were all booted out at midnight.

Surely the glitteriest grooms you'll ever see

While Adam and Dan's wedding might have given me 20% more grey hairs, it was certainly one of the most memorable, meaningful days in my career yet, and one I'll never ever forget. And I cannot wait to relive just a tiny snippet of it in Big Gay Wedding with Tom Allen on BBC1 and iPlayer – keep your eagle-eyes peeled for 1-second of me on screen!

Fancy an utterly unique ceremony, like Adam and Dan's?

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