Sibling rivalry on hold as Miliband senior sees Miliband junior wed

Just days after reavowing his commitment to non-commitment by saying stable families were more important than the institution of marriage, Ed Miliband wed his long-term partner Justine Thornton yesterday in a low-key civil ceremony.

Posing for photos on the wind-swept drive to a country house hotel near Nottingham, the Labour leader wore a bold blue suit from Aquascutum, paired with a pale-blue tie. Ms Thornton wore a floor-length ivory dress by the designer Alice Temperley.

At the couple's insistence, the wedding was kept as private as is possible when the bridegroom is the Leader of the Opposition. Screens were put up around the building to thwart long lenses, which were only welcomed during a slightly awkward and windblown photocall.

The event was strictly limited to friends and family members, including their two small sons. Just 50 people watched the couple say their vows (minus any promise to obey). The only MP among guests was David Miliband, who arrived with his wife, Louise, wearing a pink tie – and a grin to rival the size of his younger brother's.

The 25-minute ceremony, conducted by a local registrar, included readings of the poem "I Carry Your Heart With Me", by EE Cummings and an extract from the best-selling novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin.

The couple decided not to have a best man at the wedding – despite the younger Miliband carrying out that duty for his brother – or bridesmaids. The only speeches were delivered by the Labour leader and his new wife, who will use her maiden name in her professional life as a barrister.

Mr Miliband said that they wanted their wedding day to be appropriate to a couple in their 40s who already have children. Last night they were heading on a short honeymoon – and will hold a party in the Labour leader's Doncaster constituency when they return.

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