Couple’s wedding vows ‘too religious’ for Tower Hamlets officials

Gary and Louise Lidington married at Wilton's Music Hall last weekend. Credit: Dominic Whiten

Gary and Louise Lidington married at Wilton's Music Hall last weekend. Credit: Dominic Whiten - Credit: Dominic Whiten

“In sickness and in health” are words many people associate with the happiest day of their lives – but officials told one couple their vows were too religious for a civil wedding ceremony.

Gary and Louise Lidington were left stunned when registrars from Tower Hamlets Council informed them they must change their vows just hours before their big day.

The couple received an urgent telephone call telling them they could not legally use the phrase in their civil ceremony at Wilton’s Music Hall in Shadwell last weekend.

They had to re-write their vows the day before last Saturday’s ceremony – or risk having to call it off at the 11th hour.

“In sickness and in health” was replaced with “in sickness and when we are well”, and “to have and to hold” was substituted for “to hold and to have”.


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The phrases were deemed inappropriate because of their links to the Church of England’s Common Prayer Book.

But public relations executive Mrs Lidington said the couple had chosen their vows specifically because of their traditional ring.

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“I was horrified by it because they are so important,” she told a national newspaper.

“Ever since I was 11 I just imagined that they would be the words I would use when I married my husband.

“It just seems ridiculous that words which don’t mention religion could be so problematic.”

And the pair, who live in London, admitted they struggled to hold it together as they exchanged vows at the historic venue in Graces Alley, just off Cable Street.

Barrister Mr Lidington, 43, stumbled over the lines, while the 39-year-old bride broke down in a fit of giggles.

A council spokesman apologised for the short notice the couple received, adding: “It was important that their civil ceremony complied with the relevant legal process.

“We worked closely with the couple to ensure that the vows they exchanged on their special day were as close as possible to those they had initially chosen.”

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