We want locals to feel this is their wedding

Thomas Van Straubenzee and Lady Melissa Percy.
Thomas Van Straubenzee and Lady Melissa Percy.

The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland want the grand wedding of their youngest daughter on June 22 to be a local affair.

Lady Melissa Percy, 25, will marry Thomas van Straubenzee, 30, in a wedding made in Alnwick, with the ceremony at St Michael’s Church and the reception at the Percy home, Alnwick Castle.

And the event is set to provide a massive boost to the local economy.

It is expected to be one of the biggest social events of the year, yet the Duchess has told the Gazette she really wants the community to enjoy the occasion.

“There will be some high-profile guests, but people have to see everyone,” she said. “We want local people to feel this is their wedding.

“This is all about the loyal extended Alnwick family and we really want them to share in it.”

Although invitations have yet to be sent out, the Duke and Duchess are planning for 500 guests, which will make it bigger than the wedding of their other daughter, Lady Katie, in February 2011.

It will be held in the summer when there will be more people in Alnwick and more lining the streets.

And the guests are set to be higher profile.

The couple keep exhalted company, with Mr van Straubenzee being good friends with Princes Harry and William.

“But we don’t want the guests to steal the thunder from the bride. This is all about Melissa and Thomas and we mustn’t forget that,” said the Duchess.

Discussions have already been held with Northumbria Police to balance security with accessibility to allow the public as good a view as possible, as guests are expected to walk from the castle to the church along Bailiffgate as they did for Lady Katie’s marriage.

Household controller and wedding organiser Andrew Farquharson said: “We have to manage with the police, who obviously have a job to do, security against the wishes of the local community to be involved.

“It worked beautifully with Katie but this time there will be more people. It’s the height of tourist season and accommodation is already sold out in Alnwick for that weekend.

“I could only find two bedrooms in the whole of Alnwick. It’s bringing business to the area.”

The Duchess is also keen to source locally as much as they can for the wedding.

“Florists and caterers have been told where possible to use local products and I have already enlisted the help of local taxi firms,” said Mr Farquharson. “The Duchess is one of the best ambassadors for businesses in the North East and everything we do, we try to source locally first.”

One of those local businesses is butchers’ Turnbulls of Alnwick. Mark Turnbull said: “

Gordon Castle, county councillor for Alnwick, said: “I am very pleased that the couple have made this decision. The Ducal family are strongly identified with Alnwick and a high-profile wedding of this kind will certainly bring great benefits, including a fair number of very prominent guests.

“It will be an excellent start to the summer season because everybody loves a wedding. Let’s hope Alnwick’s weather doesn’t let them down!”

There will be “10 minutes of amazing fireworks between 10pm and 11pm” at the castle and the Duchess is considering putting catering vans in the Pastures to allow people to enjoy the view.