Winning wedding day hopes

By Lindy Laird of the Northern Advocate -
Bay of Islands couple Rachel Briscoe, left, and Jess Ivess may be only a few votes away from winning a historic wedding ceremony and party.
Bay of Islands couple Rachel Briscoe, left, and Jess Ivess may be only a few votes away from winning a historic wedding ceremony and party.

A Bay of Islands couple could make history by becoming the first lesbian women in New Zealand to legally tie the knot.

Jess Ivess and Rachel Briscoe are one of two lesbian and two gay guy couples left in a nationwide radio competition to win a double wedding on April 19 to celebrate the day same sex marriage becomes legal.

They always knew the wedding they've been saving for would be romantic and memorable - they just didn't expect it to go down in history.

On Tuesday, Ms Ivess and Ms Briscoe learned they were one of the two remaining lesbian couples in The Edge's stiff competition for a same-sex wedding extravaganza. Supporters can vote twice a day (once by text, once online), as many days as they like, for their favourites.

The couple has been saving for their wedding since the same-sex marriage bill was passed so jumped at the chance to win the fully paid, double couple do at the Rotorua Museum and Blue Baths in Rotorua.

"It's such a beautiful place, it's so exciting to think we might get married there," Ms Ivess said.

They met over three years ago on a Kiwi Experience bus tour on the West Coast and hung out for a while afterwards, until Englishwoman Ms Briscoe returned to the United Kingdom.

Far from a holiday fling, their romance had only just begun.

"I hopped on a plane and went over and got her," Ms Ivess said, "and it's been just wonderful ever since."

The fun-loving couple work in tourism and hospitality - Ms Ivess manages Base (a bar and backpacker lodge) and Ms Briscoe works for Fullers Great Sights - so are comfortable with the high profile wedding's promotional and tourism angles.

As for the gimmicky aspect and sharing their big day with another couple they don't know, that is only a mild "downside".

They've met the other finalists, got on really well, and expect the event to be quite a party.

If they win they'll have only a short time to make arrangements and there is so much to think about, not least what the brides will wear and what music they'll choose for their first dance.

There's also the pressing matter of how to get Ms Briscoe's loved ones in England to the church on time - but the hitches pale amid the thrill of being this close to a winning wedding - if the votes keep coming in.

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