Tennis ace Andy Murray married his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears at Dunblane’s 12th century cathedral on Saturday, bringing his Scottish hometown to a standstill.
The newlyweds came under a shower of confetti as they left the venue to the sound of cathedral bells at 5.40 pm (1640GMT), just over an hour after they arrived. Crowds cheered as they drove off in a grey car decorated with ribbons.
Sears wore a white dress with a plunging neckline, lace sleeves and a long veil carried by four bridesmaids dressed in identical pink outfits while the groom wore a green and blue tartan kilt.
A bagpiper earlier welcomed the 2013 Wimbledon champion into the church while Sears arrived in a car a few minutes later, to a peel of applause from the gathered spectators.
Ahead of the service, Murray posted a series of “emojis” to his 2.98 million Twitter followers, revealing his plans for the day. They ended with cocktails, kisses and several Zzzz sleep symbols.
Despite earlier hailstorms, the sun shone on family and friends as they arrived for the intimate service in Dunblane Cathedral, which was decorated with huge bouquets of white hydrangeas and full-sized blossom trees.
With an eye on the skies, Murray’s mother Judy tweeted: “Hailstones. Marvellous” and then later “Snowing. #whitewedding”.
Murray revealed that his brother Jamie and friends Ross Hutchins and Carlos Mier were to share best man duties.
Several fans camped overnight to catch a glimpse of the couple and the streets were festooned with bunting in scenes usually reserved for a royal wedding.
“We’re so excited about seeing them and the atmosphere is great, it’s been well worth coming,” said fan Brenda Watson, from nearby Ayrshire.
Reverend Colin Renwick, who married the couple, received huge cheers as he arrived at the cathedral.
The 27-year-old Sears has already become accustomed to the limelight, often finding herself in the cameraman’s sights while watching Murray courtside at events all around the world.
She too grew up in a tennis-loving home with father Nigel Sears formerly the LTA’s head of women’s tennis.
– Whole nation ‘delighted’ –
Shedding her demure image, Sears hit the front pages during this year’s Australian Open when she was filmed muttering expletives in the direction of the box of Czech opponent Tomas Berdych.
She turned up at the next match wearing a “parental advisory explicit content” jersey.
Sears was once described by Judy Murray as “the best thing to happen to Andy”.
But he reportedly upset her when in January this year he sent a ‘joke’ message to a fan saying: “We are getting married just after Wimbledon, should be a great day,” only to have to issue a retraction in a follow-up tweet.
The world number three player is hosting the reception at his own 15-bedroom Cromlix House Hotel, which he bought two years ago for Â£1.9 million ($2.8 million, 2.6 million euros).
Pubs in the town got into the spirit, offering champagne and strawberries to mark the occasion.
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon offered her support, saying: “Andy is a local hero there but he is also a Scottish sporting superstar, and the whole nation will be delighted for him and his new wife.”
The grand-slam champion predicted few nerves come game time.
“We’ve been together like nine-and-a-half years and we’ve lived together for six or seven years as well,” he said.
“So, I don’t think a whole lot’s going to change.”
Murray and Dunblane share a painful past after the town was hit by tragedy in March 1996 when Thomas Hamilton shot 16 pupils and a teacher dead at the Scot’s primary school.
The tennis player, who had to hide in the school during the massacre, broke down in tears when discussing it during a television interview.