THE first same-sex marriage to be held at a church in Bury is expected to take place this spring.

Candice Jackson and Suzie Mather said they had always wanted to get married inside a church.

The couple are also "hoping for a little bit of heaven" at their wedding ceremony, which is due to interweave tributes to two family members.

Candice and Suzie, who will wed at Bury Unitarian Church in April this year, praised the minister and congregation for their "kind welcome" and "acceptance of who they are".

“We thought it would be really nice to get married in a church", Candice said. "We wanted the whole church theme.

“I found the Unitarian Church via their website and left a voicemail.

“We wanted to get a feel for the church so we went to meet the minister and members of the congregation. Everyone was really really welcoming; they asked how we met and we were told we could have our own vows.

"It is a beautiful church."

Candice, aged 31, met Suzie, aged 25, through a mutual friend and they began dating just under two years ago.

Former Castlebrook High School pupil Candice said they had both experienced bereavement at a young age.

"My mum passed away when I was 10", she said. "I'm not religious at all but I believe she has gone somewhere.

"Suzie lost her dad when she was little. We wanted a little bit of heaven at our service."

A wishing tree will be set up inside the church to remember their loved ones.

The couple are planning a small, family wedding, with about 50 people in attendance, followed by a reception at Bury College.

Their request to hold their ceremony at Bury Unitarian Church, in Bank Street, was submitted to the church council for authorisation.

Members at Bury Unitarian took a vote on whether to hold the marriage, which was "overwhelmingly carried", the minister said.

Rev Kate McKenna, who has been in post since November 2016, said: "As far as we know, it is the first same-sex wedding to take place at a church in Bury.

"We believe in equality and fairness. As a denomination, we have a long-standing tradition of welcoming LGBT people.

"The church congregation as a whole voted on it in principle. It was overwhelmingly carried.

"We are very privileged to be able to offer it. Candice and Suzie came along just as we were finalising the paperwork to become approved for same-sex marriage.

"We are always happy to provide weddings. They are celebrations of love and commitment — that has got to be a good thing."

Rev McKenna, who has previously conducted same-sex weddings, will be on a pre-scheduled course on the date of the wedding, and the service will therefore be conducted by Rev Cody Coyne, the minister at Cross Street Chapel in Manchester.

Candice, a supervisor at McColl’s convenience store in Ainsworth Road, and Suzie, who works at Safestore Self Storage, will wed on April 26.