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EDITIONS
 Monday, 25 January, 1999, 20:03 GMT
Church condemns 'blind wedding'
First kiss ... on their wedding day
First kiss ... on their wedding day
A British couple who met for the first time on their wedding day have gone ahead with the marriage ceremony.

They completed their vows at Birmingham's Hyatt Hotel in a strange "blind-date" style wedding despite strong protest from church leaders that their plans were "a dangerous and immoral experiment".

Carla Germaine, a 23-year-old former model, and sales manager Greg Cordell, 28, won a competition, Two Strangers and a Wedding, organised by Birmingham's BRMB radio station.

The ceremony was due to go out live on air on BRMB but was delayed for 30 minutes after registrar David Williams expressed distaste for the idea, saying he did not want it "turned into a media circus".

Extra marriage vow

The happy couple
Greg was reported to be 'gobsmacked'
During the service the pair, who had spoken only once on the telephone, made an extra vow which they had chosen themselves.

Mr Cordell told his bride-to-be: "I commit myself to you and our future life together. I shall stand by you as a lover and a friend whatever may come.

"I shall be honest and share my hopes and fears. When you are weak I shall support you, when you are strong I shall follow.

"I will strive to love you for the rest of my life. I promise this with pride and joy."

Miss Germaine made the same vow, her voice breaking with emotion, before the registrar told the groom he could kiss the bride.

"When he lifted back her veil, that was the first time he saw her properly," BRMB spokesman Mike Owen told reporters.

The bride said: "I am extremely pleased. I told them from day one what I liked and this is very good."

'She is stunning'

Her new husband seemed equally pleased, and said: "When I saw Carla I was gobsmacked. She is stunning." The smiling couple appeared to meet the press, linking arms and looking relieved.

The two finalists were matched by a panel which included relationship counsellors and astrologer Russell Grant.

But church leaders accused them of "reducing a sacred and momentous decision to a media event".

Three joint presidents of Birmingham Churches Together, the Bishop of Birmingham, the city's Catholic archbishop and Free Churches representative wrote a letter of protest to the radio station. They urged it to reconsider its decision to back the wedding.

"Both marriage and the human beings involved are too important to be manipulated in this way," it said.

Mr Owen defended the wedding by saying it was "more scientific than most arranged marriages".

The couple were among 200 contestants, mostly in their twenties, for the competition which asked questions on race, religion, prejudices and sexual attitudes.

Pre-nuptual agreement

The new bride: 'I am extremely pleased'
The new bride: 'I am extremely pleased'
The couple had to sign a pre-nuptial agreement which stops them making any claims on each other's possessions or property if the marriage fails.

They have won a free honeymoon in the Bahamas. They will spend their wedding night in the 750-a-night Chamberlain Suite at the Hyatt Hotel, and will sleep in the bed used by Prime Minister Tony Blair during the G8 summit.

If they stay together they will have the free use for a year of a Ford Puma sports car and a two-bedroom apartment in Birmingham's exclusive Symphony Court development. Their neighbours will include footballer Stan Collymore.

The whole package, including dresses, cars, reception, honeymoon and accommodation has cost BRMB an estimated 50,000, Mr Owen said.

The bride remained coy about whether the couple would consummate their marriage on their wedding night. "You will never know," she said.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Daniel Boettcher reports from Birmingham
The BBC's Daniel Boettcher: "The couple are complete strangers"
  Daniel Boettcher reports for BBC News 24
BBC Midlands correspondent Daniel Boettcher: "If it was meant to be a publicity stunt, it worked"
  Daniel Boettcher reports for BBC Six O'Clock News
BBC Midlands correspondent Daniel Boettcher: "This was always going to be an unusual marriage"
See also:

04 Sep 98 | Asia-Pacific
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