The first ever same-sex couple in Northern Ireland to get married have today walked down the aisle.
Robyn Peoples, 26, and Sharni Edwards, 27 tied the knot in County Antrim on Tuesday following a landmark changed in the law last month.
The couple decided to get married on their six-year anniversary and were originally planning on getting a civil partnership, having secured the date before Westminster MPs backed the new legislation last year.
But when it became clear the first marriages could take place in Northern Ireland this week, they changed their ceremony to a wedding.
Robyn Peoples, 26, (left) and Sharni Edwards, 27, (right) tied the knot in County Antrim on Tuesday following a landmark changed in the law
The women are the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Northern Ireland after a change in the law. They are pictured today during their ceremony at the Loughshore Hotel in Carrickfergus
After a long and high-profile campaign for reform, same-sex marriage in the Six Counties was eventually made legal by MPs who stepped in to act during the powersharing impasse at Stormont in July.
They were legalised in England, Scotland and Wales in 2014, but Northern Ireland refused to follow suit.
The power-sharing assembly voted in favour of it for the first time in November 15, but the motion was blocked by the DUP who used a ‘Petition of Concern’ to stop it happening.
The law officially changed on January 13, but couples have to register their weddings at least 28 days beforehand, so the first weddings could only take place this week.
Ahead of the ceremony, Ms Peoples, a care worker from Belfast, said the pair were sending a message to the world that ‘we are equal’.
‘Our love is personal, but the law which said we couldn’t marry was political,’ she said.
The couple (pictured today) decided to get married on their six-year anniversary and were originally planning on getting a civil partnership, having secured the date before Westminster MPs backed the new legislation
‘We are delighted that with our wedding, we can now say that those days are over.
‘While this campaign ends with Sharni and I saying ‘I do’, it started with people saying ‘No’ to inequality. By standing together, we’ve made history.’
Ms Edwards, a waitress from Brighton who did not even know the law was different in Northern Ireland until she moved to Belfast from England, added: ‘We feel humbled that our wedding is a landmark moment for equal rights in Northern Ireland. We didn’t set out to make history – we just fell in love.
‘We are so grateful to the thousands of people who marched for our freedoms, to the Love Equality campaign who led the way, and the politicians who voted to change the law.
‘Without you, our wedding wouldn’t have been possible. We will be forever thankful.’
Robyn Peoples (left) and her wife Sharni Edwards (right) are pictured raising a glass at their wedding today
The couple tied the knot in Carrickfergus, County Antrim, Northern Ireland today
While the wedding took place in County Antrim, at Westminster, campaigners were preparing for a celebratory reception to thank those MPs who acted on the issue.
Sara Canning, the partner of murdered author Lyra McKee, who was shot dead by dissident republicans in Londonderry last April, is attending the event organised by Amnesty International and the Love Equality campaign.
The couple visited a memorial to her painted in Derry earlier this week.
Her partner said: ‘What a wonderful moment in our history.
‘This really means so much and has brought me some much-needed light in what has been a dark year.
Ahead of the ceremony, Ms Peoples (left), a care worker from Belfast, said the pair were sending a message to the world that ‘we are equal’
All smiles: The couple celebrated with family and friends after same-sex marriage was legalised in Northern Ireland last month
‘I know Lyra would have been so overjoyed to see this day. She was a strong advocate for equal marriage and we both took part in the marches organised by the Love Equality campaign.
‘Of course, this historic moment is a little bitter-sweet. It had been our dream too.
‘Lyra and I should have been an engaged couple now, planning our own wedding day.
‘But I am so happy for Robyn and Sharni, the first couple to marry under the new law.
‘We’ve been in touch in recent days and I’m delighted for them and for all the other couples who will follow.’
The couple visited a memorial to LGBT murdered journalist Lyra Mckee painted in Derry earlier this week