First same-sex marriage to take place in Northern Ireland
A couple set to celebrate Northern Ireland’s first same-sex marriage ceremony have revealed the happy coincidence that turned them into makers of history.
Sharni Edwards, 27, and Robyn Peoples, 26, will tie the knot in Co Antrim next Tuesday.
The day marks their sixth anniversary as a couple and they had booked a civil partnership ceremony for the date months before the historic law change in the region.
Ms Edwards, from Brighton, and Ms Peoples, from Belfast, have now turned the event into a wedding ceremony.
Ms. Peoples described the preparations for the high-profile wedding as an “incredible whirlwind”.
“This is the biggest coincidence,” she said.
“We weren’t going to be the first or have all of this attention, but we are grateful that we can lead the way for the rest of our community.”
The senior care assistant said she never thought the day would come, due to the reluctance of many local politicians to lift the ban.
Same-sex marriage was finally legalized following a law passed last year by Westminster MPs who stepped in and acted on the issue during the power-sharing standoff in Stormont.
Ms Edwards said she didn’t even know the law was different in Northern Ireland until she moved from England to Belfast.
“Every year you feel pushed back and pushed back no matter how many marches and demonstrations you have, but ultimately we are there,” the waitress said.
“Before I met Robyn I didn’t know myself, because it’s obviously legal in the rest of the UK, so I didn’t know myself until I came over and she opened my eyes.
“When I found out I couldn’t figure it out, I couldn’t figure out why Northern Ireland was so late.
“Now that the bill has been passed to see history make it, it’s just amazing.”
The couple visited a Belfast mural dedicated to murdered author Lyra McKee as they discussed their wedding plans on Wednesday.
Ms McKee, who was gunned down by dissenting Republicans while watching a riot in Derry last April, was a vocal activist for same-sex marriage.
Amnesty International’s Patrick Corrigan said the wedding would be a momentous occasion not only for the couple, but for the tens of thousands of people involved in the campaign for a change in the law.
“It is a great day for them, but it is also a great day for the campaign for marriage equality in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“Rights activists had to fight longer and harder here in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK and Ireland, but we won this campaign and next Tuesday Robyn and Sharni walking down the east aisle the big day, the successful day of this campaign when we know we have finally secured these rights for everyone in Northern Ireland. “
The couple are planning an intimate wedding ceremony followed by a big party.
They will take a 6am flight the next morning for a two week honeymoon in Cyprus.