An historic castle near Danby will be the first in the county to host a same-sex marriage, the Gazette can reveal.
Danby Castle will also be one of the first in the country to host a lesbian marriage when new legislation comes into force a week tomorrow.
Both women will walk down the aisle in wedding dresses at the 14th century castle that was the built by the first husband of Katherine Parr, later wife of Henry VIII.
Wedding planner Jemma Champion said she is delighted the local venue will host North Yorkshire’s first gay marriage and said: “We’re absolutely thrilled.
“It’s something that will become normal over time. It’s nice to have a claim to fame.”
The publicity-shy Teesside couple are in their late 30s and had chosen the date for a civil ceremony, not realising the date coincided with the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill which passed through Parliament in July last year.
Following the new-style gay marriage, the venue hopes to become a Mecca for gay couples who wish to tie the knot.
“I think the reason why people choose us for same sex marriages is we are exclusive use and hidden away,” said Mrs Champion. “They don’t have the nosy hotel guests or tourists casting judgement. We are a hidden corner of the North York Moors where they can be with their families and not worried about anyone else.
“But we would quite like some guys. All of our same sex marriages are ladies, but we would just love some guys. That would be fab.”
The medieval castle is said to have been the home of Henry VIII’s sixth wife, Katherine Parr, and with a number of same sex ceremonies already being held there, Jemma said they have been warmly-received in the village.
Mrs Champion said a gay wedding is similar in most ways to a straight one, however the first marriage will have one important difference – both wives will wear a wedding dress on the day and they will walk down the aisle together.
An online poll revealed that Etta James’ 1961 love song ‘At Last’ is the most popular first dance at same sex marriages, and this will be the response from one couple when they finally are able to upgrade from a civil partnership to a full marriage.
The couple said: “We are extremely happy and excited about the prospect of same sex marriage coming into force. We are happy and proud in our civil partnership, but the prospect of ‘converting’ or ‘upgrading’ to a full same sex marriage is also exciting as equality is important to us.”
Although same sex marriages will be legal from March 29, the government has not yet set a date for when couples who are already in a civil partnership can enter into a same sex marriage.
Mrs Champion said same sex couples approach their wedding day in the same way as heterosexual couples. “It’s still the best day of their lives,” she said, but added that lesbian brides are often more laid back than their straight counterparts.
She added: “They are just so chilled and they are not so anxious about everything. Same sex couples are really laid back and just want a day with their family. I would do them all the time if I could.”
The medieval castle was launched as a wedding venue six years ago by Carolyn and Duncan Bavister.
The idea was to only do a handful of weddings, but the business has now grown and is sold out, with 60 being held there this year.
Even Danby Castle’s resident photographer is hoping to upgrade her civil partnership to a marriage at the venue.