Strictly Come Dancing star Ian Waite has married his boyfriend Drew Merriman in a beautiful ceremony featured exclusively in HELLO! magazine. The professional dancer and pilot Drew tied the knot inside the 18th-century Sculpture Gallery at Woburn Abbey in a day which was witnessed by their many celebrity friends. "It was the best day of my life," said Ian. "It's been absolutely brilliant. It was so emotional to walk into the ceremony and see friends and family looking towards us." Added Drew: "Someone came up to me at the end of the night and said, 'You haven't stopped smiling all day.'"
Invited guests included Ian's former Strictly partners Zoe Ball and Denise Lewis – who Zoe calls his 'Strictly wives' - the show's judge Craig Revel Horwood and dancers Natalie Lowe, Anton Du Beke, Erin Boag, Vincent Simone, Camilla Sacre-Dallerup, Matthew Cutler, Darren Bennett and Lilia Kopylova. Former contestants BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood and retired swimmer Mark Foster also attended. "We all cried," Zoe revealed. "I'm so happy to see him so happy. Drew had a lot to live up to really, all us 'wives' had to approve and we wholeheartedly do. Ian is the best. I'm obviously completely in love with him - I was tempted to say, 'It should have been me!'"
Ian and Drew married in a romantic ceremony
The ceremony got off to an emotional start with Christina Perri's A Thousand Years playing as Drew's sisters Harriet and Fliss walked the grooms' pet dog Oliver up the aisle. "Oliver was so well behaved," said Ian. "It was almost as if he knew the occasion was quite important. But he did have lots of snacks to help him focus." Andrew then added: "We could hear everyone's reaction. As soon as the music started I looked at my mum and burst into tears and had to take ten seconds to compose myself."
They were also preceded up the aisle by Drew's sister Verity, with her two sons, and Ian's stepsister Anna, with her boys Lucas, five, and Leonardo, two. Two of the youngsters carried the rings. Ian was accompanied by his mother Linda as he walked into the ceremony, ahead of pilot Drew who arrived on the arm of his mother Fiona. After signing the register, the newlyweds walked down the aisle to the strains of Adele's Sweetest Devotion and were showered with confetti.
"The ceremony was wonderful, and then walking back past our friends was my highlight actually," said Ian. "The music was so uplifting." His fellow Strictly stars were delighted to be there. "Ian is one of my favourite Strictly professionals and has been for years," said Craig. "I'm so pleased he’s finally found true love and happiness. I've certainly been through the mill with relationships, darling, and it's so lovely to see two people who are so in love tying the knot. I think it’s brilliant that men can do that now – so I’m here to fly the flag and celebrate."
Anton said: "I have a love for Ian that is unparalleled. Only my wife and my two new children are my greater love – but directly below that is the love I have for Ian. I’m so thrilled for him. Anton attended with wife Hannah, after welcoming twins – a boy and a girl – in March. "Fatherhood is the most incredible thing," said Anton, who showed photos of his children to his fellow dancers. "I absolutely love it." Camilla now lives in LA with her husband, former Hollyoaks star Kevin Sacre. "But every time I come home, I go to see Ian and Drew," she said. "They are both so cheeky and fun. They just match perfectly."
The couple tied the knot on 22 July 2017
The couple shared their memories of that first encounter with HELLO!. They were sat across the aisle from one another and were introduced by a mutual friend. "When I was leaving the airport I rang my mum and said, 'Ian Waite from Strictly was on my flight,'" laughed Drew. "We used to watch Strictly every Saturday. I said, 'He gave me a hug,' and mum said, 'You should have got his number!'" Ian messaged Drew about a month later to invite him on a first date, on 4 July 2014. They saw each other five times within that first week.
"We're different in small ways, but we agree on the big things, like being ambitious about our careers, views on how we want to raise a family," said Drew. Ian proposed on the one-year anniversary of their first date in a suite at the Shangri-La hotel at The Shard, overlooking London. "I cried and we toasted with rosé champagne," recalled Ian. Meanwhile, Ian and Drew are now known as Mr and Mr Waite and the Strictly star told us: "I keep saying 'my husband' and it's a really nice feeling. Our wedding was unbelievable."