A couple who will make history by becoming the first to marry in a Church of Scientology chapel hailed their wedding as a “victory” over “inequality and unfairness”.
Louisa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli, both 25, will walk down the aisle this afternoon in a ceremony which will be beamed live on the internet.
They will become the first couple to tie the knot in a Scientology church after winning a landmark legal battle in which the Supreme Court ruled that the chapel was a ‘’place of meeting for religious worship’’.
In a statement released ahead of today’s nuptials, the couple said their wedding was a “momentous” day and the culmination of a five-year battle to have their religious rights recognised.
The couple, both from East Grinstead, West Sussex, said: “We are extremely happy to announce today our marriage at the Church of Scientology in Queen Victoria Street, Victoria.
“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.
“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.”
The couple said they decided to share “this happy day” with the world on their website, adding: “We would like to thank everyone who has sent us their good wishes.
“We are naturally extremely excited.”
Bride-to-be Miss Hodkin took legal action after the registrar general of births, deaths and marriages 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’’.
Five Supreme Court justices upheld Miss Hodkin’s challenge following a hearing in London last July.
In their ruling they said religion should not be confined to faiths involving a ‘’supreme deity’’.
They said the Church of Scientology held religious services, therefore its church was a ‘’place of meeting for religious worship’’.
A Church of Scientology spokesman said: ‘’We are delighted that Louisa and Alessandro can now be married in their church in front of their family and fellow parishioners.
‘’They have paved the way for other Scientologist couples.
‘’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.’’
The couple’s website can be found at www.allowed.uk.com. The ceremony will be broadcast from 4pm.