Couple named for first gay weddings at museum

The winners of a radio competition that will see one of the first gay and lesbian marriages in the country have been announced.

The two winning couples, Richard Rawstorn and Richard Andrew (Christchurch) and Jess Ives and Rachel Briscoe (Bay of Islands) will be married simultaneously at the historic Rotorua Museum on Monday, August 19.

The radio station behind the competition, The Edge, announced the winners yesterday.

The day of the weddings will be the the first day gay couples can legally marry in New Zealand.

Rotorua Museum director Stewart Brown told the Rotorua Daily Post he couldn't wait to meet the winning couples.

"The next few weeks will be really exciting as all the plans fall into place. The museum is going to look amazing for this historic event."

New Zealand is the 15th country to allow gay marriages.

Paihia couple Jess Ivess and Rachel Briscoe found out yesterday that they were one of two couples to win a competition for a joint same-sex wedding - courtesy of radio station The Edge.

The prize is an all-expenses paid, simultaneous wedding at the historic Rotorua Museum on the morning the Marriage Amendment Bill comes into law on August 19.

There were no guarantees that they would be the first, but Ms Ivess said they had a good chance.

"It's going to be a race to the registry office," she said.

The joint ceremony will be shared with fellow winners, Christchurch couple Richard Rawstorn and Richard Andrew.

Ms Briscoe, who was in Auckland for the announcement yesterday morning, said she and Ms Ivess were elated at the news.

"We're a little bit amazed, a little bit excited, not quite sure it's real."

However, a last minute twist in the competition has placed all of the wedding preparations into the hands of Mr Rawstorn and Mr Andrew - and vice versa.

"They get to make all the decisions. It's pretty crazy," Ms Briscoe said. "I'm thinking about sending them a cake basket."

The two couples had already become familiar over the course of the competition, but they would know one another "a hell of a lot better" now, she said.

While the pair will have almost no say on the details of their special day, they don't think the boys are about to stitch them up.

"I think the other boys will do really well. We've been having a chat about how they see their day going and ... it's all very tasteful," she said.

The two couples will be wed simultaneously, and then share a split room for separate receptions.

Ms Briscoe and Ms Ivess met on a Kiwi Experience bus tour on the West Coast more than three years ago and have been saving for their wedding since the same-sex marriage bill was passed in April this year.

Ms Briscoe, originally from the UK, said the news hadn't quite sunk in yet, but it would probably hit them on their return home to Paihia. - with the Northern Advocate

- Rotorua Daily Post

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