Belfast Telegraph

Belfast couple sharing wedding day with Harry and Meghan

By Claire McNeilly

It could have left one Northern Ireland couple in a right royal quandary.

When Shirley Brown and Peter Lavery opted to tie the knot on May 19, they never imagined they would be sharing the date with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials.

However, the east Belfast sweethearts say it will take more than a Windsor wedding to overshadow their special day.

Neither NI Chest Heart and Stroke worker Shirley nor lawyer Peter had been keeping an eye on royal affairs after Kensington Palace announced that Harry and Meghan would marry in May.

It was only during their engagement party in January that friends told them of the clash.

Instead of lamenting over having to share the spotlight, they both said they were looking forward to celebrating their special day alongside what's sure to be the most-watched wedding of the year.

Shirley (39) revealed that Peter popped the question 10 months after they began dating, although they had been friends for five years before that.

She also admitted that, after they set the date, neither of them realised its significance.

Shirley said: "If anything I think it makes it all the more special."

Peter added: "We had invited a few friends to our engagement party at the end of January and that's when they told us it was the same date as the royal wedding and the FA Cup final."

Shirley bought her dress in Blush on the Lisburn Road shortly after getting engaged, but the design remains a tightly-guarded secret.

"It's not a typical bridal dress," she said.

Peter has opted for a dark suit, which he said he'll liven up with a splash of colour - "a pink handkerchief and flower".

His best man will be coming all the way from Australia.

He will also have six groomsmen - four friends and two godsons.

Meanwhile, Shirley's sister and best friend will be bridesmaids and she's having three flower girls dressed in pink.

Peter added: "Some people told us we shouldn't be getting married on the same day as Harry and Meghan and I think a lot of people were expecting us to change it, but if anything it makes our day more special."

And Shirley revealed that a childhood friend who grew up with her is also getting married on May 19 in Edinburgh.

She added: "It'll definitely be more memorable."

The couple will get hitched at 2pm in St George's Church, High Street, Belfast, followed by a reception at Coco restaurant for 100 people.

Meanwhile, Harry and Meghan will marry at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The service begins at noon.

Peter said: "The royals must have decided to get married at noon because they heard we were scheduled for later that day. They'll probably be travelling around London in their carriage by then.

"We're thinking about getting a carriage to go round Belfast but we'll probably go for a walk-about instead."

Prior to the ceremony, Shirley said: "I'll be watching the royal wedding while I'm getting ready for my own."

Peter admitted he'll "be having brunch in the Merchant Hotel".

Peter proposed on Christmas Eve morning in Botanic Park, near the rose garden at a spot they "used to go to when we were courting".

It didn't come as that much of a surprise to Shirley, though.

She said: "We had been looking at rings a couple of weeks beforehand. When he arrived at the door with a massive bunch of flowers I had my suspicions."

She also revealed that she'd narrowed down her engagement ring preference to two; thankfully he "chose well", picking a marquise diamond surround by smaller diamonds.

They will honeymoon for a fortnight in Crete.

Peter added: "If Harry and Meghan are half as happy to be getting married as we are, they're on a winner. We wish them all the best."

Belfast Telegraph

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