Wellness

Everything you've always wanted to know about the royal wedding but didn't know who to ask

Royal experts on plus ones, first dances, after parties and more!

Royal experts on plus ones, first dances, after parties and more!

(Images from iStock/Getty Images)

Despite the daily dispatch of wedding deets from media outlets across the globe, there remain so many mysteries. We want the real dirt. Like, will the wedding party be poppin' bottles while getting ready? Are you allowed to take selfies inside St. George's Chapel? Is the reception open bar? We turned to a prestigious panel of royal experts to get the scoop on the inner workings of the royal wedding. Dr. Sarika Bose, an English professor at the University of British Columbia, Bronwyn Cosgrave, a fashion historian and Carolyn Harris, a royal historian and the author of Raising Royalty: 1000 Years of Royal Parenting, tackle all of our toughest questions.

So, you've scored a golden ticket. Do you get a plus one?

Sarika Bose (SB): Usually, both members of a couple would be invited by name on the invitation, with possibly some guests being invited to bring a guest who is not identified specifically on that invitation.

Carolyn Harris (CH): Attendance at royal weddings is carefully controlled. Official visitors and friends of the couple may bring their spouses but guests who know the royal couple in other capacities, such as through their charities, are sometimes invited alone. Even members of the royal family generally do not bring a "plus one" who is not a spouse or fiancé. In 2011, Princess Beatrice attended her cousin Prince William's wedding without her boyfriend at the time, Dave Clark.

Is the reception open bar?

SB: Traditionally, a guest is offered all food and beverages by the host, so yes, it would be "open bar", even if this particular terminology would not be used.

What time does it start, what time is it cut off?

SB: The ceremony starts at 12pm, and from what we know from the schedule, it won't be very long. Guests will have started arriving and being seated well in time for a prompt start. The couple is set to first greet 2,640 guests who have been invited to watch the ceremony from screens located within the walls of Windsor Castle. These guests include charity workers, local school children and community members. By 1pm, the couple will take a 2-mile carriage drive around the town of Windsor to greet people lining the streets.

There will be two receptions, a formal "wedding breakfast" for 600 guests, and a smaller after-party for 200 of their friends and family. The first takes place after the carriage ride. This formal reception, hosted by the Queen, will take place for the 600 guests at the Gothic style Windsor Great Hall, in Windsor Castle, which traditionally hosts state banquets. The second reception is less formal and is hosted by the Prince of Wales in Frogmore House (on the grounds of Windsor Castle where the bride and groom posed for their official engagement photos). Like other after parties, it is likely to go late into the night.

Do you give gifts? What kind?

SB: The couple has asked for gifts to their charities. In the past, gifts from family members and close friends have ranged from jewellery and china to crystal and art, as well as property. In addition, there have been gifts coming from other countries and their rulers. Gifts often come from associations (a sewing guild, for example), but also from many individuals, and these range from small gifts (like a plastic cow I once saw that had come from a dairy farmers' association for an earlier wedding), to engraved silver and so on. The Palace tries to find ways to display them for the public to see, and sometimes has a special exhibition for a few months, and then puts them in storage.

CH: Both William and Catherine, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle encouraged donations to charity instead of gifts. Royal couples receive a wide range of gifts from official gifts from Commonwealth Heads of Government to homemade gifts from members of the public. The political and cultural circumstances surrounding a royal wedding sometimes influence the gifts. When the future Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip in 1947, British women sent clothing ration coupons (which were returned with thanks) and members of the public in North America and Australia sent canned goods as food and clothing rationing was still in effect in the United Kingdom in the years immediately following the Second World War.

Does the wedding party drink while they're getting ready?

SB: This is not written down as tradition, but it's not unlikely that they might have some champagne while getting ready!

Will Meghan wear something old, new, borrowed and blue?

SB: The details of the wedding dress are so secret that bookmakers have suspended bets! But apparently a top contender is the British couture company, Ralph and Russo. But designer Erdem is also in the running. With some Canadian influence from Meghan Markle's friend, the stylist and bridal consultant Jessica Mulroney, there might be a Canadian touch!

Bronwyn Cosgrave: The dress will indeed be new. Something "old" — or vintage-inspired — may be integrated within its design. Or the design of another element of her bridal attire - such as the veil or her shoes. In terms of the dress, its lace, textile or the cut of the actual garment may be vintage-inspired. Meghan Markle very often wears blue, so it is likely that she will adhere to this sartorial tradition. She also seems to have a network of close female friends, including Priyanka Chopra, Jessica Mulroney and Serena Williams, so she may borrow something from one of them, or from her mother, Doria Radlan, to make this momentous trip down the aisle. Given that this is a royal wedding Markle may put a novel personal spin on the "borrowed" aspect of this tradition and accept the loan of something memorable or unorthodox.

What's on the menu at the 'breakfast' following the ceremony?

SB: There will be an organic lemon and elderberry buttercream cake created by one of the bride's favourite bakers, Claire Ptak, who has a bakery in London's Hackney area. This goes against tradition because it may be the first time a royal wedding cake has not been a fruitcake.

CH: Wedding breakfast menus in the past have included dishes named after the couple. At the wedding breakfast for Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, the main dish was Suprême de Volaille Princesse de Galles, a chicken breast stuffed with lamb mousse named for the new Princess of Wales. While wedding breakfasts traditionally featured French food, recent royal weddings have showcased British cuisine.

Are selfies allowed inside St. George's Chapel?

CH: Not during the ceremony. Personal photography will be closely controlled within St. George's Chapel. When the Queen's grandson, Peter Phillips married Autumn Kelly in 2008, Hello! Magazine published photos of the wedding reception and the guests leaving the chapel (with the couple's permission) but not the ceremony itself.

Will the couple have an official hashtag?

SB: Probably. The Palace is trying to stay modern and current, and this particular royal couple is known for having been active on current social media.

Can they write their own vows?

SB: They will not be doing this, but they have some choice in the traditional ceremonies they wish to use. They are likely to choose the Series One Book of Common Prayer (1966 version) for their ceremony, as did the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It is more modern than earlier traditional vows, so that the words "obey him" and "serve him", spoken by the bride, are omitted. The ceremony will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor (as they are getting married in St. George's Chapel on the grounds of Windsor Castle), but the vows themselves will be officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.

Will Prince George and Princess Charlotte be in the wedding?

CH: Prince George and Princess Charlotte are likely to be in the wedding party as royal wedding parties often include children. William and Catherine's wedding party included four young bridesmaids and two young page boys in addition to Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton.

Which celeb is most likely to sing their first dance song?

SB: There are speculations about Elton John or the Spice Girls.

Is it true that guests are mailed slices of cake after the wedding?

SB: Traditionally, yes.

CH: Royal wedding cake is traditionally a fruit cake, which allows for slices to be packaged and transported to guests and those unable to attend the wedding and also preserved for future occasions. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, however, are breaking with tradition by commissioning a cake with buttercream icing, which will not be able to be preserved in the same manner as fruitcake.

How much will the wedding cost?

CH: The costs are being assumed by the Queen, who will host the wedding breakfast and the Prince of Wales, who will host the evening reception. Both the Queen and Prince Charles have private funds though the Duchy of Lancaster and Duchy of Cornwall respectively. The precise numbers will not be released.

Where is the couple going on their honeymoon?

SB: Possibly to Botswana, a favourite place. So far it's a closely-guarded secret.

CH: Until recently, royal couples usually honeymooned in Britain. When Queen Elizabeth II's uncle, Prince George, Duke of Kent and Princess Marina of Greece chose to travel to the Caribbean for their honeymoon, their plans seemed extravagant compared to the more modest honeymoons to English and Scottish country estates by George's siblings. The Queen and Prince Philip honeymooned at Broadlands, the estate of Philip's uncle Lord Mountbatten. Charles and Diana combined a traditional royal honeymoon, at Balmoral Castle, with a Mediterranean cruise on the Royal Yacht Britannia. William and Catherine honeymooned in the Seychelles and there are reports that Harry and Meghan will honeymoon in Namibia.


Caitlan Moneta (@caitlanmoneta) is a Toronto-based fashion editor, writer and stylist. She's a firm believer that there's nothing a little retail therapy can't fix.

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