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Inside the wedding of LGBTQ power couple Benjamin Cohen and Anthony James

The CEO of PinkNews and his husband, activist Anthony James, share details about their big day… 

Leanne Bayley

The term "power couple" can get banded around a lot these days, but Benjamin Cohen and Anthony James are out to make a difference in the world for the LGBT+ community. Benjamin, CEO of PinkNews and the man responsible for leading the campaign for same-sex marriage, and Anthony, a 31-year-old Chair of the 13,500 trainee GPs at the Royal College of GPs,  have been making plenty of ones-to-watch lists recently. Anthony was named in the list of the most powerful GPs in the UK by Pulse magazine and Benjamin made the Evening Standard's Progress 1000 list. But while this cool couple is changing the world - from fronting campaigns to giving LGBT+ teens and young people a voice and a place to call theirs in the media, when you meet them you realise they're also just a couple of loved up newly-weds, who can't wait to start a family.  

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Benjamin and Anthony cutting the cake on their wedding day

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

Given these two are so busy, it's amazing they even had time to plan a wedding! Anthony, who recently celebrated becoming the Chair of the Royal College of GPs Trainee Community, is determined to make changes in the world: "I do a lot of work in the LGBT+ space - I work for the royal college of GPs as part of their LGBT steering group, I work for PinkNews as a health advisor, I work as one of the leads on the TedX NHS. I've been a trustee of Mermaids which is a trans young people charity - there's a lot going on." 

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Spread the Love - a cute 'green finger' touch to the table setting

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

Benjamin is a major dotcom superstar and has many strings to his bow. He started his career as a Channel 4 News correspondent, but now mixes news with activism: "I led the campaign for same-sex marriage, I am a trustee of a major international development charity called Humanity & Inclusion. But my main job now is running a business, and while I seek to achieve change through changing the minds of the fifty million people who consume PinkNews content every month, and we know we are changing hearts and minds with what we're doing, I consider myself much more of a business person than an activist. Anthony is much more of an activist than a business person I suppose."

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A very happy Mr & Mr

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

But that's why they make such a dream team - and found planning their wedding together a fun - but admittedy stressful - experience. 

"We spent just over a year planning everything, it was at Kew Gardens. Anthony was the creative director but I did all of the logistics," Benjamin told us when we sat down with the pair to discuss their May wedding held in one of London's biggest tourist attractions. "It's one of the most stressful things I've ever had to do."

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The wedding kiss 

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

He continued: "We had a civil wedding to start off with, in the morning, and the witnesses were Lynne Featherstone, Baroness Featherstone, who was the minister for equality who I worked with on the equal marriage campaign, and the other was one half of the first couple to get married on the first day, whose wedding we had gone to with Lynne. That was really important to us."

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Anthony and Benjamin with their special witnesses

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

For the religious ceremony, the pair decided against having a rabbi perform the duty and chose a family friend to lead the service instead. "I'm Jewish, but Anthony isn't, so we wanted a ceremony that we could write ourselves - both sets of parents were involved in the ceremony, a lot of our friends, siblings, it was a really nice ceremony - it meant a lot." 

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Taking hold of the mic with their sisters

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

Lots of orchids and tropical flowers made up the decorations on the couple's big day. "We had the reception in the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens so it has a big tropical section so we wanted to keep that tropical vibe throughout the day."

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The setting at Kew Gardens looked stunning 

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

Benjamin continued: "It was a Jewish wedding so we had the ceremony, then the reception, then the dinner and dance, which was in the Orangery. We served Middle Eastern food.

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Pudding number one

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

The desserts were called 'Inside the Potting Shed' and 'Egg and Soldiers' which was an egg filled with vegan Crème brûlée and the soldiers were biscuits to dip into it."

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Pudding number two

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

And how about entertainment? Well, they provided it themselves: "We did lots of Jewish dancing at the beginning. We had a band called One Entertainemnt and Anthony and I had our first dance taught to us by Robin Windsor, who used to be one of the pros on Strictly. I almost managed to do it once. He choreographed it but our living room wasn't big enough to practice." 

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Jewish dance time, complete with neon necklaces

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

If you thought you'd be able see every element of their big day on Instagram, you'd be wrong - Ben limits what he posts on social media as at times it remains a sadly hostile space. "I get a lot of homophobic, transphobic and anti-Semitic abuse when I post stuff on Instagram and that puts me off sharing too much. I get bucket loads of abuse from people."

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The Pride flag-inspired jewels in their wedding rings

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

But this duo know exactly who they are and what they want to achieve, so they won't let bullies on social media derail their plans. And what's next for the pair? Well, they're looking to start a family as soon as possible, and are in the process of their surrogacy journey, with Anthony's sister their egg donor. "The plan is to get pregnant in 2020," Ben reveals, with a look of excitement in his eyes. "Our next mission is to meet a surrogate to make this dream a reality. That's a really important step."

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A closer look at the simple but chic wedding cake complete with peacock feathers as decoration

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

Career-wise, they've got big plans too. "We've grown a huge audience on Snapchat and other social platforms but my primary goal is to grow PinkNews," says Ben. "We're doing a lot of different things. We started off creating news - and that's the core of what goes on our website - but what's on our social channels and our video channels is just very different. It's very interactive and very alive and that's allowing us to develop a core audience in the US. They're using our lenses and filters - some of our users are coming out using our filters… and because of the private nature of Snapchat, and because their parents probably aren't on there, young people can be quite honest about themselves on our platform and I love that." 

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Of course the CEO of PinkNews had pink lighting on his big day

Photo: Paul Grace, of Paul Grace Photography

Anthony has big aspirations when it comes to his career and they go all the way to parliament: "My short-term goal is to improve the healthcare and wellbeing of both patients and NHS staff. We've progressed loads in the last 18 months but there's still a huge amount of prejudice of doctors and healthcare professionals so my main focus will be pushing forward in that area. Longer term, I am also really interested in helping Ben on PinkNews, but my ambitions are political and becoming an MP in the future." 

Follow Benjamin on Twitter @benjamincohen and Anthony on Twitter @DrAnthonyJames