Your royal wedding viewing party guide is here: 3 ideas, from relaxed to regal
Inside: The perfect food, decor and dress code for your ideal event — and the bingo card for all of them!
The royal wedding is officially under a month away, and if you're planning on tuning in to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say 'I do' in front of the whole Windsor clan (and millions of captive fans) you've probably already started thinking about how you're going to watch. Yes, the event airs in the wee hours of the morning here in our country, but it's not every day a self-described "honourary Canadian" enters the monarchy now is it? Even if you don't usually dabble in the goings-on of the royal family, this is the ultimate in viewing party fodder, as referenced in our epic royal wedding bingo card.
To help you get a head start on all the party prep, we've pulled together three ideas for themed bashes depending on the time you're willing to spend, the amount of guests you want to invite and the overall vibe you're feeling. Or pick and choose your favourite elements from all three to create a custom, memorable affair. So brush up on the basics of the upcoming nuptials, review the royal dress code, examine the vast array of reception eats from eras past and then feast your eyes on our suggestions for decor, food and fun come May 19th.
The slumber party
Throw this if: You want to avoid the arduous task of convincing your friends to make the trek over to your place at 7 a.m. on a Saturday to stream the nuptials, and aren't much of a morning person yourself. Starting the party the night before gives you the opportunity to really relish in the unofficial start of Canadian summer (Meghan and Harry's chosen date falls on Victoria Day weekend) and provides an excuse to throw it back with all of your sleepover faves from when you were a kid. Keep the guest list small and the dress code casual; get decked out in your favourite pjs, or maybe even a new pair in honour of the occasion. Then, in the morning, celebrate with small bites and some much-needed caffeine as you take in the ceremony.
How to decorate: In keeping with the theme of your bash, and in honour of Meghan's induction into the royal family, turn your TV area into the coziest corner with fit-for-a-princess bedding, faux fur pillows, luxe satin pillowcases and fuzzy, oversized throws. Pick up bubblegum pink paper plates and cups (this will help minimize clean up, too) from the dollar store to dine off of for good measure.
What to snack on and sip: Take your cues from bride-to-be (and noted gourmand) Meghan Markle and fill your table with two of her favourite "vices": French fries and rosé! Opting for an oven-baked option will cut down the grease so you don't feel gross when you get up at dawn, and mixing up this fruity rosé spritzer is a budget-friendly choice that will help capture those almost-summer vibes.
For something sweet to sample as the night goes on, try out these cookies and cream-covered treats that bring a bit of elegance to a few of our most treasured slumber party snacks: popcorn, cookies and peanut butter cups. They can be made in advance too, so you don't have to worry about prepping everything night of.
Keep things simple in the AM by serving this Blood Orange Pound Cake. After going all out the night before, you'll be grateful to stick to light bites in the early hours of the morning while turning your attention to the happy couple.
Up the fun by: Taking inspo from modern milliners and DIYing fascinators to sport during the ceremony! The internet is bursting with easy-to-follow tutorials for stunning headpieces, like this pretty peach one with faux florals and pom-poms, or this wedding-white lace number. But if you're more into freestyling, gather supplies from the craft store (think tulle, glitter, feathers, faux flowers gems, beads, lace, plain clips and headbands), pick up a few fresh florals and greens to really make the final product pop, and set up stations so your pals can customize their contraptions and really have fun with it. Just make sure to have a glue gun on hand — school glue just won't cut it here.
While you're crafting, flip on a royal flick, like Lifetime's sure-to-be-sappy Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. Or, if you're looking to brush up on your monarchical history, take a gander through CBC's selection of engrossing documentaries all about the Windsor family. Of course, later into the night, you can always switch on Suits to help bid adieu to Meghan Markle's acting career while playing 'Spot the Toronto Landmark' in the process.
The low-key tea
Throw this if: You want to get in on the festivities but don't have the time (or energy) to put a ton of work into it. Meghan and Harry have a rep for being understated and easy going, opting for a smaller ceremony (relatively speaking, at least) with a looser guest list and lack of state officials, so why shouldn't you follow suit? Focus on the food and drink and let a traditional afternoon tea menu guide the selections for your spread. Encourage your guests to show up in their favourite weekend brunch look — anything they won't mind getting covered with scone crumbs, that is.
How to decorate: In the interest of making prep time and clean up manageable (who really wants to start their long weekend by scrubbing glitter off the floorboards?) keep the aesthetic minimalist with a few fine touches, like florals and place settings, that will complement the snacks you're serving. Pick up a set of open mouth vases from the dollar store and DIY a bunch of these pretty peony arrangements to place around your table or TV area as a wink to the bride's bouquet, which is likely to include this favoured flower of Meghan's. While you're there, source supplies for simple springtime place settings that can cover your coffee or dining table — depending on where you'll be watching —bringing a bit of colour and warmth to the space.
What to snack on and sip: Sticking to the basics of a traditional English tea will help take some of that "Oh God what am I going to make!?" stress off of your plate, while giving a gastronomical nod to the nation the Harry and Meghan will call home. Start, of course, with scones and make sure to serve with extra clotted cream on the side (anything else would be blasphemy). Prepare bite-sized tea sandwiches for a savoury option, and whip up these impressive, aromatic opera cakes (the layers of which can be made weeks in advance and kept in the freezer) for something sweet to finish things off.
For refreshments, steep a couple large pots of your favourite English Breakfast or Earl Grey so guests can fill their cups as they see fit throughout the morning. Despite the fact that it will exceptionally early when the ceremony starts, it is a celebration and champagne is a staple at most afternoon teas in England, so these bubbly grapefruit cocktails will fit right in with the rest of your spread.
Up the fun by: Taking bets on the best-dressed guests, testing your friends with tons of royal wedding trivia (like what past parties ate and what attendees are allowed to wear) and trying all your wittiest observations out on a crowd before sending them into the Twitterverse. After all, you chose a low-key event for a reason, don't let the day get bogged down by activities that'll get in the way of taking in the main event.
The all-out affair
Throw this if: You're deep into your dispute with the postal service, because you're certain your wedding invite was lost on its way to you, but you want a secure back-up plan in case the terrible mix-up doesn't get solved in time. Seriously though, this is option is for superfans, the kind of royal enthusiast who's always up on what Kate's wearing, has every line of The Crown memorized and knew about the new baby's arrival before it was even announced. If you're going this route, get your invites out as soon as possible so you can make the dress code as dramatic as you please while giving your guests ample time to prepare. Whether you want your pals to show up in jewel-toned jammers, their finest oversized sun hats or dressed to the nines like they're attending the ceremony, that's up to you!
How to decorate: Deck your space out in all Union Jack everything. Hang bunting, like this adorable kind from Etsy, along the walls, across your mantle and around edges of your coffee table, or DIY your own version using printouts of the pattern. Blow up tons of red, white and blue balloons and scatter them around your space. Most importantly, set up a photo wall (you can follow this tutorial as a guide, up until the fang part) just steps away from where you'll be watching, give your guests plenty of props to pose with, and let them document all the fun they're having!
What to snack on and sip: Everything about your event will be extra, so opting for elegant menu that edges on OTT is the natural choice. Kick off the meal with elevated pastries like flaky, homemade croissants, or beautiful banana cream pie eclairs and pair them with a raspberry prosecco cocktail that's topped with edible gold leaf to really wow your guests.
For the most impressive finale to an already incredible feast, pay homage to Meghan and Harry's much-discussed cake choice by baking your own lemon and elderflower masterpiece. We love this version for it's creamy mascarpone icing, but if you want to keep it classic with traditional buttercream, there are copious copycat recipes out there to choose from when selecting your sweet.
Up the fun by: Getting all your guests in on a rousing round of royal wedding bingo! And don't worry, as we hinted at earlier, you don't have to go to the trouble of coming up with the cards from scratch. CBC Life has created eight printable versions that shuffle all the phrases and clues so fewer guests will up with the same set. Not only will this game keep your friends glued to the action so they're not talking over the ever-important commentary the whole time, it's a great excuse to give out fun prizes, which can be as simple as sending someone home with all the delicious leftovers, or as extravagant as a $100 bottle of Meghan's favourite wine.
CBC will be broadcasting the royal wedding on May 19. Adrienne Arsenault will host, and you can watch it on CBC TV, CBC News Network or online at cbcnews.ca.