Wedding vows make history

By Alison King -

Rotorua Museum played a part in New Zealand history as two couples cemented their love in two of the country's first same-sex marriages.

There were cheers as marriage licences for Rachel Briscoe and Jess Ivess, from the Bay of Islands, and Richard Rawstorn and Richard Andrew, from Christchurch, arrived at the Rotorua Museum at 8.35am yesterday.

The couples were married in a ceremony organised by The Edge radio station and broadcast live on radio and TV. It will also be a feature of Thursday's 20/20 programme on TV2.

The weddings are among the first same-sex marriages to have taken place around the country yesterday as a new law legalising gay marriages came into force.

Friends and family of the two couples had travelled from the UK and from across the country to celebrate the historic occasion.

"It was incredible to be a part of this," said The Edge presenter Mike Puru.

"One of the beautiful things about today is the support of friends and family; for them to witness that true love being brought to life in front of the country."

The couples were chosen after a nationwide competition. They spent a week in Rotorua planning their weddings, hosting their hen and stag dos and enjoying some of the region's activities and attractions.

After the ceremony Jess said she was relieved it was over.

"It was completely nerve-wracking," she said. "It's been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. My favourite part was seeing Rachel come down the aisle, I had to hold my tears back."

Rachel said she found it overwhelming.

"I'm a little bit lost for words, seeing all our friends and family who we love and having a beautiful woman waiting for me."

"I join my life to yours as your friend, your lover and your confidante," Richard Andrew said to Richard Rawstorn.

The men said they were proud to share this event in front of their loved ones.

"This has put New Zealand on the map," said Mr Rawstorn.

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