THE congregation had just settled down in St Nicholas's, in the
north Yorkshire village of Husthwaite, for the baptism of
four-month-old Harry Thornton, when the priest announced that
Harry's parents' marriage was the first item on the day's order of
The stunned silence lasted only briefly before the guests broke
into spontaneous cheers.
Apart from the baby's mother, Yvonne Dennis, and father, Andrew
Thornton, the only people who knew the secret were the Vicar, the
Revd Liz Hassall; the best man, Jimmy Derham; and the photographer,
Robert Smith. Even the couple's parents had not been told.
Mr Thornton, a National Hunt jockey, and Ms Dennis, a wedding
florist, had known each other since they were seven, but had been
in a relationship for only three years.
The new Mrs Thornton said that the idea came from a comment by
her future mother-in-law, about five weeks before the baptism on 13
September. "She asked jokingly: 'Have you thought any more about
getting married, or are you going to do it all together?'
"Nothing more was said, but later we thought: 'What a brilliant
"I see weddings every week, and people get completely wrapped up
with the thrills and spills, and forget why they are getting
married. By keeping it low-key, with the people who are important
to Harry, we avoided all the fuss.
"We kept it a secret so people wouldn't rush off to buy special
outfits - that gets in the way of what's important. We thought
that, as long as everybody is there who means a lot to us, it
doesn't matter what they are wearing.
"When Liz made the announcement, people's faces just dropped.
Some cried, some laughed, and then there was a huge cheer."
Mrs Hassall said: "I was really delighted when they asked me,
because baptism is a big commitment, and marriage is another big
commitment that you make before God.
"I asked the congregation to stand up, and told them: 'We've got
a secret to tell you. I know you are all here for Harry's
christening, but I have got a marriage licence in my hands.' There
was a spontaneous roar."
Mrs Thornton said that their honeymoon was equally
straightforward. "Andrew had a ride at Sedgefield a few days later;
so Harry and I went along. It was a great day out - even if Andrew
did come only third."