Vegas-style nuptials for Pink Loerie lovers
Plans for a Las Vegas-style "chapel of love" where gay couples may take advantage of the legalisation of same-sex marriages and have instant weddings during the Pink Loerie festival came close to being scuppered by reluctant marriage officers.
Clynt Dunbar, a Plettenberg Bay building contractor, is offering the Las Vegas-style marriages in a pink-and-white gazebo beside the Knysna Movie House.
For R450 - a fee that includes a certificate, photograph, mini wedding cake and R150 for charities - couples may take the plunge every 15 minutes from 10am on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
But "organising a marriage officer has been a bit of a nightmare", Dunbar said on Wednesday.
"A pastor pulled out after he received too much flak from his church. We had a willing advocate, but a George magistrate was not co-operative in legalising him as a marriage officer," said Dunbar.
"Luckily a Durban magistrate has agreed to come to perform the ceremonies."
Dunbar is one of a number of straight entrepreneurs reaping the benefits of the pink dollar - expected to bring more than 8 000 people to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay for the weekend.
"A friend in the department of home affairs told me there was an eight-month waiting list for same-sex couples wanting to get married," Dunbar said, "so I thought the Pink Loerie would be an opportunity to make some money, help people and raise funds for charity."
Despite the instant marriage tag, Dunbar believes that, for many, taking the plunge will not be a spur-of-the-moment decision.
"I have a booking on Saturday for an American couple who have been together for 30 years."
Organisers of the seven-year-old gay festival had initially intended to attempt to set a world record, at the Birds of Eden outside Plettenberg Bay, for the most gay marriages solemnised simultaneously.
But this had been cancelled because of legal complications and difficulties in getting authorities to verify the record, said Mardi Gras founder and organiser Juan, who uses only one name.
"Two celebrity gay weddings are planned for this weekend, but are shrouded in secrecy," he said.
The Triangle Project, "the oldest and most established lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender service organisation in Africa", is to hold a seminar on Sunday on "Same-sex marriage: What does it mean for us?"
It is to examine the process leading up to the passing of the Civil Union Act on November 30, when South Africa became the fifth country in the world to legalise same-sex unions.
Other than weddings, the festival features art, photography and book displays, plays, cabarets and a carnival for girls, beauty pageants and drag shows for boys, music, dancing and a street parade.