Couple get married in Britain's first Scientology wedding

Scientologists Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli won a landmark legal battle to have the Church of Scientology recognised as a "place of meeting for religious worship"

A Scientology couple who won a landmark Supreme Court case to allow their wedding to be held in one of the controversial group’s chapels got married on Sunday.

Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli, both 25, declared that their “happy day” was the culmination of a “long, five-year battle to achieve a simple freedom - the right to marry in our own church”. It was the first wedding in a Scientology chapel in England.

The judges’ ruling in December said that the chapel should be registered as a place where marriages could take place because “Scientology comes within the meaning of a religion” – a decision that could have significant ramifications as religions can seek charitable status and tax exemptions.

A government source said at the time that the ruling could “open the floodgates” to other groups claiming to be religions for tax purposes.

The Church, founded by American science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, said on Sunday that this would be “the first of many weddings” and that people living overseas were planning to come to London to get married.

The couple, from East Grinstead, where Scientology’s UK headquarters are based, said in a statement that “all weddings should be magical and momentous for the couple concerned”.

“But we are conscious that ours, as the first for our religion in England, has its own place in history,” they said.

“It has been a long, five-year battle to achieve a simple freedom - the right to marry in our own church with a service in accordance with the rites and customs of our religion and surrounded by our friends and family.

“We are pleased and proud that our victory brings to an end inequality and unfairness, not just for Scientologists, but for people of all faiths - because the Supreme Court have now provided a definitive description of what a religion is, which had not existed before in English law.

“We would like to thank everyone who has sent us their good wishes. We are naturally extremely excited.”

Prior to the court case, the registrar general of births, deaths and marriages had refused to register the London Church Chapel for the solemnisation of marriages under the 1855 Places of Worship Registration Act - because it was not a place for “religious worship” as Scientology does not believe in a supreme deity. The Supreme Court’s ruling said religions did not necessarily need to believe in a god-like figure.

The Church of Scientology – dismissed by some as a money-making cult – said it was “delighted” that the couple were able to marry in “their church in front of their family and fellow parishioners”.

“They have paved the way for other Scientologist couples,” it said in a statement. “We extend our congratulations to the happy couple and wish them well in their future life together. This is an historic day for religious equality and freedom for all in the UK.”

A spokesman declined to comment about the church’s intentions over its charitable status, saying Sunday was “all about celebrating a wedding and we’re not thinking beyond that right now”.

“However I have no doubt that this is the first of many weddings! I know of several queuing up already,” he said. “I’ve even heard of people overseas wanting to come back to London to be married in the London chapel.”

David Hodkin, the bride’s brother, was married at the Church of Scientology in Edinburgh, after Scientology ministers were authorised to perform wedding ceremonies by the Scottish registrar general in 2007.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Jose Mourinho on Sky Sports
footballEXCLUSIVE COLUMN Paul Scholes: It was not a leg-breaking tackle, as the Chelsea manager had claimed
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 General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower