Originally created 01/26/99

Wedding between strangers prompts criticism in England



LONDON -- A wedding between two strangers who met for the first time when they exchanged vows Monday has drawn criticism from church leaders and marriage counselors.

Carla Germaine and Greg Cordell were married after winning each other in a "lonely hearts" competition organized by BRMB radio station in Birmingham in central England.

Relationship counselors and church leaders have accused the radio station of reducing the institution of marriage to a game show.

The station called the competition "Two Strangers and a Wedding," in reference to the hit British movie "Four Weddings and a Funeral."

The ceremony was scheduled to be broadcast live on the radio but the registrar expressed his distaste for the idea, saying he did not want it "turned into a media circus," a spokesman for the radio station said. It was broadcast 30 minutes later.

The model and the salesman, both in their 20s, dismissed the critics and vowed to make their marriage work. "Everyone expects us to split up, but we want to prove them wrong," Cordell said.

The couple were selected from 200 hopefuls by a panel employed by the radio station. The panel included relationship counselors and an astrologer.

As well as each other, they won a free honeymoon in the Bahamas, where they will be accompanied by a film crew and a newspaper reporter. Their prize also included free use for a year of a sports car and a two-bedroom apartment in an upscale development in Birmingham.