The other wedding of the century?

Tomorrow sees the long-awaited marriage of Ed Miliband and Justine Thornton. Richard Hall and Adam Sherwin help you get in the mood with a guide to the big day

The venue

Ed and Justine will follow a line of local celebrities through the doors of Langar Hall in Nottinghamshire to utter their vows. This dates back to the 1986 nuptials of Ken Kercheval, star of the US drama Dallas, who held his wedding reception there. More recently, the Tottenham Hotspur centre back Michael Dawson tied the knot there, as (going further back) did the actress Sarah Lancashire, known for her Coronation Street role as Raquel Watts, who brought with her a throng of soap stars of the late 1990s.

Langar Hall charges up to £25,000 for weekend marquee weddings, but the Milibands have opted for a smaller ceremony of around 50 people, costing about £5,500. The venue's owner Imogen Skirving said of the estate: "It's a very naturally pretty place, with lovely trees and parkland and it's quite small. We are able to give our guests privacy, which is what I think they are looking for." Built in 1837, the hall was once the home of Thomas Bayley, Ms Skirving's great grandfather, a coal magnate and the Liberal MP for Chesterfield from 1892 to 1906.

The menu

The locally-sourced menu includes steamed asparagus and lemon butter sauce as a starter; for the mains, roast saddle and chargrilled leg of Langar lamb, or grilled and stuffed aubergine with hummus and a mixed bean salad. Tradition is the order for dessert: knickerbocker glory, crème brulée or summer pudding. House wines at Langar Hall start from £20 a bottle, and the happy couple have also contributed 20 bottles of champagne for toasting – perhaps with the expectation that David would like to say a few kind words about his brother – at a total cost of £612.

The congregation

Perhaps eager to avoid a political headache in choosing guests, Ed has been eager to emphasise the modest size of the wedding. He has described it as "small", whittling down the invites to include only family and "very close and old family friends".

The former Foreign Secretary David Miliband and his wife Louise are invited. One potential guest is Frances Osborne, wife of the Chancellor George Osborne, a close friend of Justine's since they studied together at Cambridge. The two went travelling together and remain chums. The former prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are once again not invited. The Conservative Party will be represented by the proprietor Ms Skirving, who was a Tory councillor for a decade. As for the token "Pippa Middleton figure", alas, neither Ed Miliband's adviser, Polly Billington, nor his campaign organiser Rachel Kinnock, can make the big day.

The dress

As with the Duchess of Cambridge, Justine Thornton's dress will not be revealed until the day itself. She is understood to have made a more restrained choice than hiring the Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton. Justine's fashion choices for grand occasions – generally ridden with landmines for political spouses – have generally been well received. Stepping out at the royal wedding in April, the future Mrs Miliband wore a long dress of deep purple, accompanied by a matching suede jacket and hat; following Ed's election as Labour leader, she invested in a gamine new haircut and wardrobe, given the nod by fashion editors.

The best man

There will, as some media noted with relish, be no best man – despite Ed having been best man to his brother at his wedding 13 years ago. Ms Skirving explains: "I don't even think it'll be bridesmaids or too many people in there with them, just the registrar and the bride and groom and the witness. I don't know who the witness is, I would love to say it would be his brother, but I just don't know for sure."

The registrar

Ms Skirving again: "I've got it written down here somewhere – I think the name was Hazel. They're definitely from the Rushcliffe register office."

The gifts

The couple decided against having a wedding list. Guests who would like to send the couple a congratulatory token are asked to make a donation to charity. The beneficiaries will be the children's charity Barnardo's and Methodist Homes for the Aged, the Nottingham branch of which cared for Ms Thornton's grandmother for many years. Mr Miliband has already received one wedding gift. At the Christian Socialist Movement's 50th birthday party on Monday evening, he was presented with a framed drawing of the Christian socialist academic RH Tawney. One for the garden shed?


Although he describes himself as an atheist, Ed will acknowledge his Jewish heritage at the conclusion of the civil ceremony by taking part in the traditional wedding ritual of the "breaking of the glass" and stamping on a glass goblet wrapped in cloth. The ritual alludes to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 70AD and also symbolises the fragility of the trust, commitment and love that make up a marriage.

The 'hag' do

A decidedly new mannish affair at the Miliband family home, with Justine in attendance (a joint hen and stag do – "hag do"). The night was low-key, and ultimately disappointing for paparazzi hoping to capture the Labour leader chilly and naked, chained to a lamppost. But Mr Miliband insisted that it would not be that dreary: "It won't be two Fabian Society lectures and half a pint of beer, as somebody suggested."

The street parties

The councils in areas most likely to see street parties on Ed and Justine's big day seemed ill-prepared for such an occurrence yesterday, only 48 hours before the nuptials. A spokeswoman for Doncaster Council, where Mr Miliband is an MP, said: "We have had no requests at present for street parties." Nor had the council yet received any applications to close streets for celebrations in Nottingham, Justine's home town and the nearest city to the ceremony.

The honeymoon

A five-day trip to Europe; the happy couple will head off a day after the wedding. Our congratulations to them.

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

COO / Chief Operating Officer

£80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments