Duke of Westminster to add modern touch to society wedding of the year

MoneyJun 7, 2024 IDOPRESS

The marriage service of the Duke and duchess-to-be Olivia Henson will be in modern English

Credit: Grosvenor2023

The Duke of Westminster will eschew the traditional English service often used by royal or aristocratic couples at the society wedding of the year,The Telegraph can reveal.

The marriage service of the Duke and duchess-to-be Olivia Henson will be in modern English to reflect the “contemporary couple” with a “personal” service followed by an “intimate gathering”,the Dean of Chester has revealed.

The couple have made specific choices for scripture and hymns that are very “significant for them”,the Very Reverend Dr Tim Stratford said.

As such,the service at Chester Cathedral on Friday will also be in contemporary language rather than traditional 17th century English in a decision that reflects the pair’s “contemporary” nature,he told The Telegraph.

Dean Stratford will officiate the wedding after Hugh Grosvenor,the seventh Duke of Westminster,insisted that local clergy help him tie the knot.

The wedding,widely considered the society event of the year,will see Prince William attend as usher to support the groom,who is godfather to Prince George.

The King,who is the Duke’s godfather,will not attend as he continues to undergo cancer treatment and will have only just returned from France after attending the 80th anniversary of D-Day commemorations.

The groom finds himself in the unusual position of being godfather to Prince Archie,five,as well as Prince George,ten,and is one of very few who has maintained links with both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Sussex.

He and Prince Harry are understood to have spoken on the phone and agreed it best if he stays away amid ongoing tensions with his brother.

‘Beautiful,meaningful’ service

Lifting the curtain on the eve of the anticipated wedding,the Dean revealed that Friday’s service will feature a “very beautiful,meaningful,contemporary set of words” to express their love.

He told The Telegraph: “They’ve made some choices which are personal and very,very significant for them. And I think I can say that they’ve chosen to have the service in contemporary English,not in 17th century English,which is a choice.

“That’s a choice for everybody. So anybody who’s married in the Church of England could choose the 1662 prayer book or you can have a common worship,marriage service.

“The scripture itself,that’s about the words of the service and the promises you make to one another.

“So they’ve chosen to make their promises to each other in contemporary language,which I think has a lot of resonance with contemporary experience of what marriage is.”

The service will be in contemporary language to reflect the pair's "contemporary" nature

Credit: Grosvenor 2024

In the Church of England,there are three forms of words for a marriage service.

Most weddings use the words from The Marriage Service from Common Worship,which is in contemporary language and offers the most flexibility in the choice of readings and prayers.

However,sometimes couples have special reasons for wanting a ceremony that uses old language,such as ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ instead of ‘you’ and may use the Book of Common Prayer (1662).

There is also an updated version of the 1662 service,known as Alternative Services: Series One,which was used by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for their wedding.

Dean Stratford added: “In a song-like language,or songs,you can express love more powerfully on anybody who comes into a church to make these promises,that’s what they’re asking for.

“And I think they have chosen a very beautiful,contemporary set of words to use to do that.”

Around 400 guests,who have all been issued a strict no-gifts instruction,will descend upon the picturesque county town for the main event tomorrow on Friday,followed by a more intimate gathering the next day for family and close friends.

Preparations at Chester Cathedral for the society wedding of the year

Credit: Paul Cooper

Preparations at Chester Cathedral for the society wedding of the year

Credit: Paul Cooper

Chester will be decorated with 100,000 flowers paid for by the Duke to mark the occasion,which they will be planted in displays across the cathedral city throughout the summer.

The florist employed for the wedding is an eco-conscious firm that counts actress Lily James as patron.

Flower and Press,a London-based floral design studio,will handle the flowers at the Cathedral.

Run by a small team of three,the florist reuses flowers to make pressed artwork in an effort to reduce waste and be more sustainable.

Celebratory treats

As part of celebrations,the bride and groom are supporting three independent Chester businesses by subsidising free ice-cream,gelato and sorbet for people who are visiting the city centre on Friday.

Cheshire Farm Ice Cream,based in the heart of the Chester Market,is offering a range of single-scoop ice-creams or slices of a new lemon-sponge flavoured arctic roll.

The roll has been created in acknowledgement of the lemon-flavoured wedding cake that guests will be served at the reception.

The happy couple were watched by excited members of the public during a final rehearsal on Thursday afternoon,when the Duke was said to be looking “pale” and “nervous” as he went inside the cathedral.

Meanwhile,it has emerged that a 90-year-old academic living in Australia could become the saviour of the Duke’s family title first bestowed on his ancestors at William IV’s coronation in 1831.

If the newlyweds do not have a son,the historic Duke of Westminster title will die with him.

However,his subsidiary title,the Marquess of Westminster,will live on through the Earl of Wilton,his fourth cousin once removed,who lives in Melbourne and also happens to be related,through marriage,to Ms Henson.

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