Cheryl Tweedy and Ashley Cole married in secret

It was billed as this year’s most lavish celebrity wedding – but the happy couple had already married before their big day.

Cheryl Tweedy and Ashley Cole tied the knot 24 hours before their £500k bash in a low-key civil ceremony at the luxury Sopwell House Hotel in St Albans with just a handful of family and friends.

But there was nothing low-key about their glitzy blessing on Saturday which was held at Wrotham Park where movies Gosford Park and Bridget Jones were filmed.

In a bid to protect their exclusive magazine deal, the couple tried to fool the media by fueling rumours they were to wed at Highclere Castle, where Jordan and Peter Andre married, and ordered marquees to be erected there.

Minders held up white sheets so that no photographers could snap the Girls Aloud star on her arrival at the historic house – only a glimpse of the bottom of her Roberto Cavalli bridal dress could be seen.

And star guests, including Ashley’s Arsenal team-mates, arrived in a fleet of blacked out people carriers.