MANY siblings are intent on outdoing each other – but one pair of sisters were more than happy to share the biggest day of their lives.
Gwenyth and Linda Hill had a joint wedding ceremony as they tied the knot with friends Robin Harrison and David Jolly. Now, four decades on, the two couples have celebrated their ruby wedding anniversaries with another joint bash.
The nuptials took place on August 12, 1974 in Northern Ireland – fast forward 40 years, and Portobello was the venue for the landmark celebrations last week.
The party by the seaside saw friends and family pay tribute to the couples.
While their unusual wedding remains a talking point amongst those who learn of the story, Mr Jolly insisted the ceremony seemed perfectly normal at the time.
The 62-year-old retired secondary school teacher said: “Of course it was a big day for us, and we didn’t really think so much at the time about it being a double wedding, but later, whenever we mentioned it to people, there was a huge interest in it.”
There was only one ceremony as around 150 guests flocked for the wedding in White Abbey, near Belfast, before the couples were spirited off for a joint reception in nearby Ballygally.
Despite plenty of scope for confusion – “I nearly married my sister-in-law,” joked Robin – the nuptials passed smoothly.
It was held unusually on a Wednesday afternoon – the only time the brides’ father, thankful he only had to deliver one speech, was able to secure time off from his job as a butcher.
But the newlyweds drew the line at a shared honeymoon, Robin, 61, and Gwenyth, 63, heading for Scarborough, while David and 61-year-old Linda remained in Country Antrim.
It wasn’t long before the couples became families, the Harrisons getting off the mark first.
They have three sons, Peter, Gareth and Scott, and a daughter, Sarah, as well as four-year-old grandson Finlay.
Robin, a specialist in housing consultancy at city centre-based chartered surveyors David Adamson, and Gwenyth moved with their family to Portobello in 1998. He said he believed the secret to their long and happy marriage was “love and understanding”.
The Jollys have two children – daughters Claire and Laura – and grandson Noah, since falling in love “at first sight”, according to David.
The couples travel between Edinburgh and Northern Ireland often to keep their friendships intact.
Last week’s ruby wedding celebrations took place at Robin and Gwenyth’s home on the Portobello shoreline, as around 70 guests flocked to play games and enjoy a barbecue. The party was bathed in sunshine as Robin rolled back the years by pulling on a replica suit from his wedding day along with a wig to recreate the 70s look – although he stopped short of hauling out the original platform shoes he wore as he strolled up the aisle.
Instead of presents, the couples asked for donations to be given to the breast cancer unit at the Western General Hospital, where the Harrisons’ daughter-in-law, Yasmin Milne, wife of Gareth and mother of Finlay, is being treated.
Robin said she had a promising prognosis and hailed her treatment as second to none, while David said he thought the charity donation was “a great idea”.
Donations have now reached the £850 mark. “We’re absolutely delighted and everybody dug very deep,” Robin said.