Skip to main content

Home News News UK

Lorraine ‘so excited’ to host on-air wedding to mark 10 years of gay marriage

Exclusive: "This is just an incredible way of symbolising our love for each other," the couple - Gavin Sheppard and Luke Avaient - has told Attitude

By Alastair James

Lorraine is hosting the wedding of Gavin Sheppard and Luke Avaient
Lorraine is hosting the wedding of Gavin Sheppard and Luke Avaient (Image: ITV)

Lorraine has said she is “so excited” to be hosting a real-life gay wedding live on air on her show to mark 10 years since the first gay weddings in the UK.

On Wednesday (27 March) Lorraine will act as the celebrant for the wedding of estate agent and performer Gavin Sheppard and NHS nurse Luke Avaient from Cardiff. The pair was introduced to Lorraine and her audience on Tuesday’s show.

Describing Gavin and Luke as “the loveliest guys”, the TV host told Attitude exclusively why she wanted to do this. “We wanted to celebrate the fact that it doesn’t who you love, everybody should be allowed to love who they want to. I thought it was important to mark that.”

As well as celebrating how society has progressed in the last decade Lorraine recognised that things are “not perfect.” But despite there being a “long way to go,” she said it was important to celebrate progress.

She told Attitude it means “a lot” to her to do this thinking back to the 80s and past attitudes towards the LGBTQ+ community. “We never thought we’d see this day. We never thought there’d be this level of acceptance.” She closed by adding, “It’s joyful, it’s absolutely joyful.”

Also speaking to Attitude Luke and Gavin shared that they first met online via a dating app in the summer of 2019. “Much to my dismay I didn’t get much interest from Gav,” Luke said remembering that he thought he was “barking up the wrong tree.”

By chance, the two met in person in November 2019 while Gavin was in the hospital where Luke worked for a routine appointment. “That eye contact and connection away from the apps, reality kicked in,” explained Gavin. However, the next day Luke went away for a month-long holiday in the Philippines and deleted all the apps. “I didn’t want any distraction, this is my time,” Luke said.

A month later, their first date didn’t start brilliantly, as Gavin ended up waiting at a restaurant for an hour and a half. But Gavin said he knew he should wait. “When he walked through the door I just thought ‘Game over’. That was it,” Gavin said of how besotted he was with Luke. The two ended up being kicked out hours later as they were the last two in the restaurant.

Gavin, who is HIV positive, disclosed this on the first date. After doing some homework Luke improved his understanding of HIV. Gavin joked: “Then he realised I was good for him,” with Luke agreeing: “I’m keeping this one.”

“This is just an incredible way of symbolising our love for each other”

The pair have been together ever since with Gavin proposing in 2022 at an Anastacia concert with the singer taking part. “It was incredible,” Gavin recalled. They thought they’d wait a bit to get married before Lorraine’s programme advertised an opportunity to celebrate 10 years of same-sex marriage.

Gavin applied one morning while Luke was asleep beside him. “I thought ‘What the hell. I’m going to put the application in and see what happens. I even put that in the application, I put ‘By the way, Luke doesn’t know I’m actually writing this, he’s snoring next to me.” Gavin didn’t tell Luke for a few weeks while conversations happened with the show’s producers.

“His initial reaction was ‘Absolutely not!’,” Gavin shared. But Luke came around. Ahead of the wedding, Luke said he was “excited” but nervous. “If you don’t have excited nerves you don’t really want it. I can feel it in my belly,” Luke told Attitude. Gavin’s main concern, he said, was tears. “I can feel myself going now,” he said pausing before laughing sweetly with Luke.

“This is just an incredible way of symbolising our love for each other,” continued Gavin. “And cementing that love and putting everything into place,” added Luke. The pair will also have a group of close family and friends in the studio on Wednesday morning.

Getting married was something Luke hoped for growing up. “But it was never something that was a reality because it wasn’t a legal option. To have that opportunity now, it’s hard to put into words.” Gavin also never thought marriage would be on the cards. “You never feel you’re going to meet the ‘right one’.”

In 2023 YouGov reported that support for gay marriage was at a record high. Both men celebrated this. “That’s indicative of what’s happening now is positive, what we’re doing is the right thing,” said Luke. “Going forward all we can hope for is that positive energy and support is going to increase.”

On meeting Lorraine, Gavin said it was like meeting a friend. “She’s a British treasure. I’ve grown up watching this woman on TV and she’s lovely.” Luke chipped in: “It feels like you’ve known her for years the first time you meet her. It’s that warm connection.”

Tune in to Lorraine to watch the wedding, tomorrow from 9am on ITV1 and ITVX.