Here at Shuperb, we’re all excited for the next Royal Wedding on Saturday (but a bit miffed we didn’t get a day off for it). We’ve picked our outfits, organised the street party, and come up with our best excuses as to why the happy couple left us off the guestlist. But why all the fuss? While we wait for the appointed day, here is the Shuperb guide to the Royal Wedding.
Why is it a big deal?
Royal weddings are hardly a new phenomenon. Throughout the centuries there have been royal weddings large and small (and in the case of Henry VIII, frequent), and without them, we wouldn’t have royal families at all. A commoner’s wedding is fun enough – you get to wear a nice hat, sip champagne, and gossip about so-and-so the second cousin. With a royal wedding you get all of the above, but on a grander scale, filled with ancient ritual and heraldry and golden everything. Plus, you can do it all from your home – no sorting out hotels in the Cotswolds or talking to Great Uncle Harry, just lunchtime Bellinis and heckling the BBC coverage.
So we’ve agreed that royal weddings are a fun time. However, as we are down to just thirty sovereign monarchs in the world (including the Pope) the opportunities for royal weddings have dwindled somewhat. It’s no wonder then that the British royal family remains so popular. The wedding of Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge drew a million people onto the streets of London in celebration and was broadcast in over 180 countries. Plus, nobody does pomp and circumstance like the British. So, if you’re after a public union with all the trimmings, the British royal family is your safest bet.
Who, when and where?
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to marry at 12pm BST on Saturday 19 May, 2018 at St George’s Chapel, Windsor. Afterwards, there will be a carriage procession through Windsor and two receptions: one hosted by the Queen for all attendees, and another later for family and close friends.
The best man will be Prince William, who chose Prince Harry as best man for his wedding. Meghan has not selected a maid of honour, and all the bridesmaids and page boys will be children. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will perform the marriage ceremony, and he has been listening to “Blinded By Your Grace” by Stormzy to help settle his nerves ahead of the day. He baptised and confirmed Meghan into the Church of England on 6 March ahead of the wedding.
Who’s been invited?
600 guests have been invited to the ceremony, with a further 200 invited to the reception. All of the obvious members of the royal family will be there, like the Queen, and some members of Diana’s family will be too. Since it’s a private wedding, rather than a state occasion like William and Kate’s, no political leaders need to or are expected to have been invited. Harry’s party train will be there, those friends he’s been pictured partying with worldwide, and likely some comrades from his military service too. The Spice Girls are also reportedly invited, so David Beckham is likely to turn up as well. Aside from the celebrities, the Royals have also invited 1200 members of the public, many chosen in recognition of their charity work, to watch the couple’s arrival and departure from the grounds of Windsor Castle.
As for Meghan, it’s a bit less clear. Her mother Doria Ragland will join her in the car to Windsor Castle, and her father Thomas Markle Sr. was due to walk her down the aisle, but it has since become uncertain whether he will even attend the wedding. Her estranged half-brother and half-sister definitely won’t be there, as both have been outspoken in the media about their differences with Meghan. Meghan is also friends with Serena Williams, but there’s no word on whether she will attend, let alone her old castmates from Suits.
Sadly, there will be no corgis in attendance. Willow, the Queen’s last remaining corgi, died in mid-April. She was the fourteenth generation descended from Susan, the corgi presented to Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1994. The Queen still has two dogs, Vulcan and Candy (both the result of Princess Margaret’s dachshund mating with one of the corgis) but they should consider themselves lucky if they even get to attend the reception.
As you might expect, there is a vast tapestry of rituals and traditions associated with the royal wedding. However, the young princes have some form in breaking with tradition. We’ve already mentioned a few as we’ve been going along, but here are a few things you can expect to see – and a few you won’t.
Tradition – Prior to 1840, royal brides tended to go for blue or black wedding dresses. This changed with the wedding of Queen Victoria, who began the modern tradition of brides wearing white. She chose white so that the crowds could see her more clearly.
Today – It’s widely expected that Meghan will turn up in white, but we don’t even know who’s designing the dress, so there still could be an upset.
Tradition – Royal weddings usually take place on a weekday, fuelling the hopes of an extra bank holiday from Britons nationwide.
Today – Sadly, Harry and Meghan are getting married on a Saturday, which means no day off. William has to miss the football too – Saturday’s also the FA Cup Final, which William usually attends in his capacity the President of the FA – since he can’t be in two places at once.
Tradition – There is some contention as to whether, as Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Queen should attend the wedding of Meghan Markle, a divorcée. As precedent, the Queen didn’t attend the civil ceremony of Charles and Camilla, but she did attend the subsequent Service of Prayer and Dedication.
Today – The Queen is a confirmed guest at the wedding, and she’s even hosting a reception. Clearly, divorce is no longer as much of a problem in the royal family.
What to wear if you’re invited
The royal invitation specifies “uniform, morning suit or lounge suit” for men, and a “day dress with hat” for women. What does this mean in layman’s terms?
For men the uniform is self-explanatory – for those serving in the Armed Forces, dress uniform may be their preferred option. If Harry is not in uniform, however, you do run a risk of outshining the groom.
Many will go for a morning suit, which is comprised of a black or grey morning coat (single-breasted jacket with tails) with matching trousers, a waistcoat (sometimes of a contrasting or flamboyant colour), and a shirt.
This is paired with a tie – some may choose to wear their public-school tie. This ensemble can be accessorised with a pocket square, a boutonnière, or a top hat.
Finally, you have the choice of a lounge suit, which is essentially a business suit with the flexibility to be less sober in colour or style.
Women are expected to go for a knee-length dress, with sleeves or a wide strap, or a skirt worn with a jacket. Accessorise this with daytime jewellery such as pearls, and a pair of tights. A fancy hat is an essential touch – take inspiration from those worn at the Royal Ascot.
As for shoes, polished black Oxfords with a toecap but no brogueing are the only choice for men. Don’t go for patent leather either, as that’s more appropriate for evening dress. You can find a selection of appropriate shoes here at Shuperb.
Women should wear high heels (but not extreme ones) or wedges if it’s going to be soft underfoot. Obviously, these will need to be carefully selected, but we have a great selection of heels, wedge shoes and sandals to choose from, so have a browse.
Party togs for the rest of us
If your invitation has been lost in the post, never fear, you can join in the fun at a street party, pub, or even hold a gathering at your own house. While you can certainly choose to dress as if you were really attending, that may turn heads for the wrong reasons. Instead, take the opportunity to dress up a bit smart, but within the realms of common sense, and liberated from the formality of a dress code.
Men, take inspiration from the morning suit, but don’t be bound to actually acquiring tails. Instead, wear a waistcoat, white shirt and tie with a pair of chinos or smart jeans to look smart, but not like you’re trying too hard. From here, you have a wide range of shoe options, depending on what works with your combo. The more casual will go for some canvas shoes, to undercut the formality. Many, however, will choose a nice pair of Chelsea boots, brogues, or maybe a brand of quirkier formal shoes like Gucinari or Mister Carlo.
Women should probably skip the hat, but otherwise should embrace the opportunity to choose a dress, skirt, or a suit that’s a little more daring (or perhaps just more comfortable) than strictly formal wedding attire. If you do go for some higher heels, though, we recommend sticking a fold-up pair of Butterfly Twists in your handbag just in case you need to do some dancing.