Pair tie knot in Scientology church

Herald Series: Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli have become the first couple in Britain to tie the knot at the Church of Scientology Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli have become the first couple in Britain to tie the knot at the Church of Scientology

Two newlyweds have become the first couple in Britain to tie the knot in a Church of Scientology chapel.

Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli, both 25, walked down the aisle in the historic ceremony after winning a landmark legal battle at the Supreme Court to exchange vows at the church.

Dressed in a traditional white wedding dress and clutching a white and red bouquet of flowers, Louisa beamed as she emerged from the ceremony arm in arm with her new husband.

Guests applauded and threw confetti over the newly married couple from East Grinstead, West Sussex, as they walked out of the Church of Scientology in Blackfriars, London.

Asked how he felt after the wedding, Mr Calcioli told Sky News: "Just ecstatic - a little bit speechless, just so happy that this day has finally come."

As the ceremony began, a female singer performed Some Say Love, by the American country and pop singer LeAnn Rimes.

Guests intoned Scientology's "prayer for total freedom", saying the words: "May the author of the universe enable all men to reach an understanding of their spiritual nature.

"May awareness and understanding of life expand, so that all may come to know the author of the universe.

"And may others also reach this understanding, which brings total freedom.

"At this time we think of those whose liberty is been threatened, of those who have suffered imprisonments for their belief, of those who are enslaved or martyred and of all those who are brutalised, trapped or attacked.

"We prey that human rights will be preserved, so that all people may believe and worship freely, so that freedom will once again be seen in our land.

"Freedom from war, and poverty, and want. Freedom to be, freedom to do and freedom to have. Freedom to use and understand man's potential - a potential that is god-given and god-like.

"And freedom to achieve that understanding and awareness, which is total freedom. May god let it be so."

The groom's sister, who was among eight bridesmaids dressed in maroon, read an excerpt from 1922 children's novel The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

The bride's brother read from Scientology founder and pulp fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard's essay What Is Greatness?

"The hardest task one can have is to continue to love his fellows despite all reasons he should not," he said.

"And the true sign of sanity and greatness is to so continue. For the one who can achieve this, there is abundant hope.

"For those who cannot, there is only sorrow, hatred and despair. And these are not the things of which greatness or sanity or happiness are made."

There were laughs as guests were invited to speak up if there were any reason why the couple could not be legally joined in marriage - but remained silent.

Both bridge and groom were asked if their "reality of the love" they felt for each other was "such as will be constantly creating through health and sickness, through adversity as well as good fortune, can you confront and grant forgiveness for shortcomings as readily as grant praise for their many sterling qualities"?

Both in turn answered "yes" before also swearing their covenant to avow their "solemn purpose to love, cherish and honour" each other.

The couple were told that their wedding rings represented "time and space, which are without ending" before being declared "truly and legally, husband and wife".

After they kissed the chapel erupted in cheers and applause. They then signed the wedding register.

They left the chapel to the sound of It Must Be Love by The Beatles before heading to their reception at the Merchant Taylor's Hall in the City of London.

Asked how he was feeling, the groom said "ecstatic, so, so happy".

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