Friday 23 August 2019

Couple forced to cancel dream wedding on Greek island after sex act photo leads to ban on foreigners

Hundreds of brides and grooms have been forced to rearrange ceremonies after British couple's joke picture sparked outrage

St Paul's Bay, Rhodes
St Paul's Bay, Rhodes

Chris Baynes

A British couple have been forced to cancel their dream wedding on a Greek island after a viral photo of another pair of newlyweds simulating a sex act, led a local Bishop to ban foreigners from getting married there.

Emma Coupland and Stephen Wilson had planned to tie the knot at the chapel in St Paul's Bay, Rhodes, which is famous for its scenic setting.

But after another British couple, Carly and Matthew Lunn, posed for a picture showing them simulating oral sex while she was still in her wedding dress.

The image went viral after they posted it on Facebook and it came to the attention of Bishop Kyrillos, the island's most senior clergyman, who promptly banned forbidden foreigners from marrying at the church.  

Travel operator TUI has since contacted couples to inform them their weddings could not go ahead as planned.

“They contacted me last week, telling me that it was official cancelled," Ms Coupland, 24, told The Sun. "I was devastated."

The Wakefield mother had booked a ceremony at the quiet bay for May next year, but will now marry her fiancé at a busier spot further away. They said guests had been forced to rearrange travel plans and the best man can no longer attend because he cannot afford to book new flights.

“It was meant to be a little white chapel wedding, with fantastic views, in a quiet area on a little beach," Ms Coupland said.

A TUI UK spokesman said: “Following a recent decision by the senior bishop for the island of Rhodes in regard to weddings at St Paul’s Bay, we are contacting affected couples directly to discuss their options.

“While the situation is beyond our control, we understand how important and distressing this is to our customers with weddings already booked."

Ms Lunn, 34, was said to be "mortified" at the consequences of the picture, which she and her husband agreed to pose for as a joke. The pair are reportedly facing legal action from other couples whose weddings have been cancelled.

Giorgos Eleftheriou, a community leader in Rhodes who performed the Lunns' wedding ceremony, said brides-to-be had called him in tears after their plans were ruined.

“Shame on those two for the damage they have done," he said after implementing the ban last month. "Would they have done the same in their homeland; in front of a British chapel, a Jewish temple, a Muslim mosque?

"We are Greek and we cherish our traditions and the sanctity of our religious sites We cannot allow this disgusting behaviour to prevail.”

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