A METHODIST minister took a vow of silence over her most important marriage service, because wedding reception guests believed they were celebrating a birthday.

Methodist Minister Lynn Blair has conducted hundreds of wedding services. But at the weekend, she was as nervous as the bride, because the woman in white was her daughter, Sally.

Mrs Blair conducted the wedding ceremony at her church, the Independent Methodist Chapel, in Half Moon Lane, Spennymoor, County Durham. Sally's sisters, aged ten and 29, were bridesmaids.

Guests invited to the evening reception believed they were celebrating Sally's 18th birthday, which took place last week.

It turned out that the surprise party was more of a surprise for the guests.

Mrs Blair said: "It was just family at the wedding. The ones that came to the reception didn't know. They thought it was her 18th birthday party. They thought we were surprising Sally with the party, but we surprised them.

"They were all really gobsmacked. Sally left on her wedding dress for the reception, so everyone could see for themselves that they had got married.

"Her school friend from the forces got leave and she came on the night. Sally was really pleased to see her. She didn't know she was coming. It was a day full of surprises."

The happy couple met in a MacDonalds fast-food restaurant, where her husband, Scott Downie, worked.

Scott and Sally, who works as a clerk, will live in Sunniside.

Her mother said: "It was a wonderful day.

"I was very nervous about the ceremony, I felt sick when I thought about it. But once I started, I was okay."