August 6, 2008 in Nation/World

A marriage made in the heavens

RAPHAEL G. SATTER Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Vicar George Brigham, right, conducts the marriage ceremony of Darren McWalters, left, and Katie Hodgson as they fly over the English countryside Tuesday. The wedding was broadcast over loudspeakers to the congregation waiting on the ground below.
(Full-size photo)

LONDON – It was Katie and Darren’s wedding day and they were in the clouds – strapped to the top of biplanes reciting vows 1,000 feet above the earth.

Katie Hodgson, 23, took to the skies Tuesday in a full bridal gown on the top wing of red-and-white plane operated by Team Guinot, a group of stunt pilots. Groom Darren McWalters, 24, flew by her side on an identical plane, while the Rev. George Bringham – flying ahead of the couple – married them over an airborne communications system.

Sky News television footage of the ceremony showed the bride’s dress fluttering wildly in foul weather as the three shouted to make themselves heard over the din of the aircraft.

“I ask you therefore, will you love her, honor and keep her and be faithful to her so long as you both shall live?” Bringham yelled.

“I will!” McWalters yelled back.

The airplanes sent out trails of white smoke as the couple belted out their vows about 1,000 feet above the ground. Special microphones relayed the ceremony to Rendcomb Airfield near the English city of Cirencester – 90 miles west of London – where the wedding guests were waiting.

Wind and rain eventually cut the flight short, but the couple said they had a blast.

Hodgson said that as a girl she never would have imagined she would wed on the wing of an airplane.

“As I got older I became more adventurous,” she said, before adding: “I bring the adventurous side out of Darren – he used to be scared of heights.”

McWalters told Sky: “We are a bit crazy together … so we wanted something that suited.”

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