By Carl Llewellyn

On the same day that HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were married – Saturday 19th May, 2018 – the Dowlais Male Choir was engaged to sing at the wedding of Rachel and Riou.

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The ceremony took place at the Priory Church of St Mary, Usk. The weather for that day turned out to be quite sunny and that phrase, “happy is the bride that the sun shines on” comes to mind. And it certainly did on the day. Two of the clergy that led the service were the Reverend Graham Opperman and the Canon Bruce Gillingham.

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On arrival the floral display outside the entrance was effectual with two large white vessels placed either side of the door and a floral overhanging foliage above. The floral exhibits were green foliage interspersed with white camellias and pale pink roses. Inside the church the floral theme continued with the pillars decked with similar floral flowers and green shrubbery. The ends of the pews were decked with white and pale pink roses giving a colourful picture of the aisle.

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The magnificent organ stood proud. Built in 1861 for Llandaff Cathedral, it was purchased in 1899 by the Priory Church of St Mary, Usk where it has resided ever since. The present organist is Peter Alan who played the music andhymns for the wedding service.

The choir arrived at 14:00. The stage managers, Richard Cole and John Powell arranged the choir formation and at 15:00 the choir performed for the arrival of wedding guests, with specially selected items chosen by the Bride and Groom. At 15:30 the Clergy and Bridesmaids entered the church to the music of “Ode to Joy” – Beethoven Symphony No 9, 4th Movement. As the Bride entered the church, “The Prince of Denmark March” was played.

During the service three congregational hymns were played: “Love Divine”, “I Vow To Thee My Country” and “Cwm Rhondda”. The choir also performed “Finlandia” as part of the service. Readings from the Bible were given by Emily Benson and James Heller whilst the address was given by the Rev Canon Bruce Gillingham, whose connection with both families spanned three generations. Both his father and grandfather were part of the clergy and married members of the Bride and Groom’s families.

The Bride and Groom signed the register as the choir sang “Benedictus” and the Welsh hymn tune “Gwahoddiad”, before the bridal party left the church to a grand organ sound of “Toccata” – Charles Marie Vidor’s Fifth Symphony in F.

Two best men aided the Bridegroom and the Bridesmaids were dressed in Navy Blue dresses with matching lace tops.

The day was one to remember – The Royal Wedding at Windsor Castle and the FA Cup Final at Wembley, but most importantly for the family and friends of Rachel and Riou because this was their special day. And one which the Dowlais Male Choir were only to pleased to be part of it!

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