Ecumenical wedding for Catholic party leader

 The Catholic leader of the Liberal Democrat party, Charles Kennedy, married his Anglican fiancee Sarah Gurling at an ecumenical service in the House of Commons chapel on Saturday. A lone piper played the Skye Boat Song as the MP for Ross, Skye and Inverness arrived at the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, about 20 minutes before the midday ceremony, accompanied by his best man, Lord Razzall - the Liberal Democrat elections campaign manager. The private service was conducted by Canon Robert Wright, chaplain of St Mary's Chapel; Westminster; Fr Michael Seed, Ecumenical Secretary to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor; Rev Ailsa Newby, Vicar of St Annes and All Saints, South Lambeth; and Rev David Page, Vicar of St Barnabas' Church, Clapham Common. About 150 guests attended the ceremony, followed by a reception in the Commons dining room. The guest list was made up mainly of family and friends, including the bride and groom's parents Jill and Peter Gurling, and Mary and Ian Kennedy. VIP guests included Prime Minister Tony Blair, (a friend of both the bride and groom), Liberal Democrat leader Sir David Steele, Lord Jenkins, Baroness Williams, Scotland's deputy first minister Jim Wallace and Labour MP Austin Mitchell, who has been friends with the groom for years. During the service, the homily was given by Rev Newby, who raised a chuckle when she mentioned Archbishop Rowan Williams, (the unnannounced future Archbishop of Canterbury) in the presence of Mr Blair, quoting from his writings on love and marriage. Prayers were read by Rev Page. The couple posed for photographs on the steps of St Stephen's Entrance. Mr Kennedy wore a charcoal grey suit and red and gold tie. The bride wore a traditional dress made from duchess satin. In their wedding statement, the Kennedys said: "We met through politics and hope to find a balance between our public and private life. "Our marriage is based on love and friendship and it's a very private decision between two people which, in the years to come, we shall try to keep separate from the political arena." Mr Kennedy proposed to Ms Gurling, 32, head of government relations at National Lottery operator Camelot, at his family's croft in the Scottish Highlands over the New Year holiday. The bride, who comes from South London, is the sister of Mr Kennedy's best friend James. The pair met while she was helping with the then Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown's election campaign in 1997.

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