Gay couple told to just ‘cross out the word bride’ on marriage certificate

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A gay couple have criticised Essex County Council after they were issued forms which only referred to a ‘bride’ and ‘groom’.

The couple – Sean Fredericks and Robin Hopkins – were married yesterday (6 August) after ten years together. However, their experience was tainted after they were provided with outdated forms, reports the Essex Chronicle.

The ceremony forms provided on the day referred to the ‘giving away’ of a bride. They also require the couple to repeat sections of text that refer to them as ‘bride’ and ‘groom’.

Sean and Robin were understandably furious with this mix up, with Sean saying: “It was appalling, I gave them an opportunity to correct the mistake, but instead they just told us to cross out the word bride.

“It should be quite easy to change a Word document. There’s been enough time since the law changed, but it doesn’t seem to have filtered down to some of the councils.

“The authorities need to realise this is inexcusable, it’s so naïve and insensitive to just send out a form without any consideration of who it is going to.”

The couple also revealed that they faced similar issues in the past when attending wedding shows in London.

“These are the biggest wedding shows in the country, you’d think they would have caught up with the times,” Sean said.

“It’s not just the registry forms, as guest books, photo albums and even wedding cards all state only bride and groom, it is very frustrating,”

Sean hopes that by sharing his story no more couples will have to go through the same upset: “I don’t want other gay couples to go through what we’re going through,” he said.

In a response, a council representative stated that the couple were originally given the updated forms, but were later provided with replacement ones which were out of date.

“We care greatly that all people using our services, for what are very significant events in their lives, are treated with equality and respect,” said Councillor Roger Hirst, a customer services cabinet member for Essex County Council.

“That includes making sure our forms use the correct terminology. We have a marriage planner form which fulfils those requirements, and which was provided to this couple last November.

“It appears that regrettably, when they requested another replacement copy closer to their wedding day, the couple were mistakenly provided with an out-of-date electronic version.

“Essex County Council understands a wedding is an extremely important day for every couple and always aims to ensure planning it is as simple and painless as possible.

“We sincerely regret any upset this administrative error has caused on this occasion.”