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My wedding's on election day but aisle still be voting, says Alliance runner Sorcha

By Brett Campbell

An Alliance Westminster candidate will be casting her vote in a wedding dress - as she is getting married on June 8, the day of the general election.

West Belfast runner Sorcha Eastwood (31) has been engaged to Dale Shirlow (34) since 2009, but the couple only started making wedding plans last August.

She was left speechless on April 18 when Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election for her big day - but she has promised to make the two-minute trip from St Patrick's Church in Lisburn to Brownlee Primary School to cast her ballot.

"I need to squeeze it in after the ceremony before I get my photos and greet guests," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I have given so much of myself to this process already and my partner has been so supportive, it would be a shame not to vote."

The PM's announcement followed a prediction made by fiance Dale last December - based on a strong feeling - that his bride-to-be would end up doing something political in her wedding gown.

"I just have a feeling that something is going to happen," he told her, but she laughed it off as a joke.

However, when the political situation at Stormont started to deteriorate she began to panic.

After some careful consideration, she decided to run in the Assembly election in March, but only on the assumption that her campaigning days would be over long before the wedding.

"I just couldn't get off the ground with wedding planning, I already had to make up for lost time before," she explained.

"I'm an organised person, so I took a week off last August and picked my wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses. I booked all the venues and everything seemed to be going so well."

Miss Eastwood was shopping with her aunt when she noticed countless text messages.

It was her friends telling her that a general election had been called and would clash with her special day. "My reaction was: 'You are joking me, what?'

"It's just as well I took this time off, because I wouldn't have been able to do this otherwise."

Sorcha, who only managed to issue her wedding invitations last week, has been working tirelessly on the campaign trail and is suffering from a lack of sleep.

"It's difficult scheduling in make-up trials and most people don't want to touch my long hair," she said.

"I only got my cake sorted last week.

"I can't wait for the wedding day, just to get a rest."

There will be a big screen at the reception in Enniskillen's Killyhevlin Hotel to broadcast the early projections later that night as they come in.

"It's just one of those things. It's quite funny, it all comes back to Dale's vision," Sorcha added.

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