Below we briefly tell our stories to date, and explain why it was so important to each of us to be married in our own Church.
My name is Alessandro Calcioli; I’m a graphic designer, an amateur photographer and a Scientologist.
I was born in Sunderland in 1988 and lived there until 2000 with my parents, three brothers and sister. We moved to East Grinstead where I still live today, only now I live there with my soon-to-be-wife Louisa and our daughter Ayla, born just two days before our hearing in the Supreme Court.
Louisa and I have known one other our whole lives. Our mums are friends and so, born just two months apart we first met at a very early age. I still have the odd memory of a three-year-old-Louisa as we played together. When my family moved to East Grinstead in 2000 we ended up at the same school, Greenfields School in Forest Row.
We became friends, and by the time I graduated sixth form there (having studied Art, English lit. and Drama at A-Level) we were best friends – but still just friends. It wasn’t until several months after we had both left school and started volunteering at the Church of Scientology in London that our friendship became something more, and it was on Louisa’s eighteenth birthday that we shared our first real kiss.
Three and a half years later I proposed, getting down on one knee on a large rock overlooking the local reservoir. It was more romantic than it sounds – but only just.
It took me all of 45 seconds running through The Lanes in Brighton with Louisa’s younger sister to find the right ring, and the proposal was planned with similar attention to detail. I bought some food she liked, we drove to a nice picnic site (big rocks overlooking the reservoir) and towards the end of the picnic I awkwardly extracted the ring box from my jacket and got down on one knee.
Of course, she was already sitting down on the rock, so the effect was lost slightly and I think she thought I was just taking my time to stand up. I asked her if she would marry me (I’d intended to make some grandiose speech, but of course nothing suitably romantic came to me at the time, so I just stuck with the traditional ‘I love you so much, will you marry me?’) and she smiled lots and kissed me and told that she had guessed that’s what the picnic was for, and took out her phone to text her sister – at which point I pointed out she hadn’t actually said yes.
Once that was cleared up we did what all modern couples do after they get engaged; we sat on our phones for 5 minutes, silently sending messages to everyone telling them the good news.
Then of course came the battle to get married in our own church using our religious ceremony. It was something we both felt very strongly about, and in fact had agreed to start finding out what would have to be done before we were even engaged.
Many people have asked us what Scientology is and why it was important to us get married in the Church of our own religion. What follows is very much a personal view, but one which we hope will answer some of those questions.
In many ways I’ve been a Scientologist all my life. My parents and grandparents (on one side) are Scientologists, so naturally when I was younger I was brought up using certain Scientology principles. However a key principle in Scientology is that what is true is what is true for you.
L. Ron Hubbard stressed that one shouldn’t have to take things on blind faith, but actually seek to learn and discover things for oneself to develop a personal understanding and acceptance of the truth of the thing. So as I grew up I used the teachings of Scientology that I considered useful to me. As the years passed I found myself using more and more aspects of Scientology as I learned more and discovered the truth in it for myself. Because that’s what Scientology is really all about – learning about the world we live in and discovering for oneself a path to a better life and to an understanding of spirituality and god.
While I feel I am still travelling this path for myself, I have a very definite and deep feeling of spirituality in my life thanks to Scientology. It annoys me sometimes that I have rarely seen Scientology accurately described in the media or on the internet. So I always say to people – do not believe what you read or hear, whatever it is, but find out for yourself by visiting a Scientology church. The doors are always open.
My name is Louisa Hodkin. Currently I’m a full-time mum to Ale’s and my baby daughter, Ayla Rose Calcioli. When I am not being this, I volunteer at the Church of Scientology in London, which I have done since I left school after completing my A-Levels.
I’ve lived in and around East Grinstead my whole life, although we’ve moved houses a few times. I was fortunate enough to be born into a big family, and really enjoyed growing up with two brothers (one older) and a younger sister who remains my best friend to this day. Family is very important to me, and I attribute my close ties with my siblings and parents to the Scientology principles that help to create a naturally loving family unit.
I did my whole education at Greenfields School, a school near East Grinstead which uses L. Ron Hubbard’s technology for study. Many of my friends there were also part of the local Scientology community as naturally we shared similar outlooks on life.
Although I’ve been told I knew Ale when I was younger (somehow Ale remembers me and I don’t recall him at all!) my first real memory of him is when he arrived back at Greenfields in 2001. I can quite clearly remember telling my friends ‘we can’t be friends with him – he looks like a dinosaur’; I was a thirteen year old girl, what can I say?
Evidently my shameless attempt to keep him out of my life failed and by the time my fourteenth birthday came around we were good friends. Our friendship grew over time as we began to know each other more and more. Admittedly there were some bumps along the road, like when he decided to go out with my best friend over me (for a whole week) and when we had to kiss in our A-level play (something that would test most platonic relationships). But we made it through all that and became more than ‘just friends’.
Because we had been friends for so many years and knew each other so well, it wasn’t too long before I knew I wanted to marry Ale. I’ve always wanted a big white wedding, and I saw so many other Scientologists have to go through a civil ceremony a day or two before their Scientology wedding service that I thought ‘this isn’t what I’ve always dreamed of, there must be some way around it’. I want my wedding day to be the most special day of my life, and I thought that having to go through the legal proceedings of getting married before my ‘actual’ wedding would mar the occasion.
So when my brother was legally married in Scotland by a Scientology minister I knew there was hope and I started to work out what would have to be done to get married legally using my religious service and in my own church.
Scientology, for me, has always been a way of life. I’m sure this is true for most people who are fully committed to their religion. Religion isn’t just about putting your hands together in prayer once a day. For me, my religion influences and contributes to every aspect of my existence. I think I would feel incomplete without it, like there was some part of me unfulfilled, or in need of answers and truth. But when people ask me what Scientology is like – as has happened a lot just lately – I usually say it is better to discover for yourself than listen to anyone’s opinion!