The date's been set, the location finalized! But that's just the beginning when it comes to all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the upcoming wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Amy Eisinger, Editor from WeddingChannel.com, shares etiquette advice for everything you need to know about royal weddings.
ROYAL WEDDING ETIQUETTE FOR THE BRIDE
Stick to Royal Traditions Although he's not next in line for the throne, William and Kate will most likely stick to the format of a state ceremony, with all the pomp and ceremony you would expect of such an event - they are calling it "semi-state affair." They'll host visiting dignitaries and other VIPs, and will also, most likely, be required to have a receiving line, which traditionally consists of the bride, groom, and both sets of parents having to greet and shake hands with each guest as they enter the reception.
The current Queen followed her father and grandfather in leaving her wedding to Mendelssohn's Wedding March, so if Kate does want to stick to tradition, she will likely choose that too.
Who Should Pay Lots of brides these days, we know, don't exclusively pay for the wedding. It can be split amongst the parents, or even paid for by the couple. In this case, Kate's parents will not be expected to pay for the wedding because of the groom's royal status. It may be considered a generous gesture for them to pay for her gown or the rehearsal dinner. It has been reported that Charles is going to pick up the tab for most of the wedding, and that the Queen might also chip in. Taxpayers will not be paying for the actual wedding, but they will have to pay for the extra security.
The Gown When planning a formal wedding, the bride usually wears a long, white gown, chapel train, gloves and an optional fingertip length veil. Very formal weddings would require the bride to have a full-length veil and extended cathedral train. Although Kate will be adding in her own style, we expect the royal family to keep to traditions. The dress will still need to be grander than most dresses we see. Princess Diana's over-the-top, ivory, pure silk taffeta gown was very traditional and made a statement, but was not the most fashionable for brides. Kate has a minimalist style, so she'll want to keep the ruffles to a minimum and she may consider a dress with bare shoulders- perhaps in a soft eggshell white color similar to Diana's. She must have some sort of crown or tiara to finish the look. Knowing that she's already wearing Diana's ring, we may expect to see more royal family jewelry/ vintage/ heirloom pieces from their collection.
The Flowers It's a royal wedding tradition for a sprig of myrtle, from the bush grown from the original myrtle in Queen Victoria's wedding bouquet, to be included.
Choosing the Wedding Party Think long-term and put family first, if at all possible. British wedding tradition is similar to American weddings in that the groom's brother, Prince Harry, will stand as his best man and the bride's younger sister, Pippa, will be maid of honor.
Seating Arrangements Wedding reception seating charts are tricky enough for regular weddings, so just imagine the politics that's going to go into figuring out the seating for Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding! The traditional top table consists of the bride and groom, their respective parents, the best man (supporter) and maid of honor (chief bridesmaid). There are two people missing from this traditional top table - the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh - so William and Kate should opt for a larger top table that includes them.
The Fare Traditionally, the wedding breakfast takes place in the Buckingham Palace. It is an elaborate menu of at least 10 courses, written in French, as is the royal banqueting custom, that includes dishes like cod with oyster sauce, roast leg of lamb, ballotines of duck with Cumberland sauce, pheasant with potato ribbons, pastries with fruit and chocolate profiteroles.
There must be a champagne toast! Random fact: Bollinger was served at Prince William's parents' nuptials, and is often served at royal events, so it might be here too!
ROYAL WEDDING ETIQUETTE FOR THE ATTENDEES So you're lucky enough to be invited to the royal wedding of the century? Do you know what to wear, what to say, how to address the Queen and what kind of gift to give the royal couple?
You're Invited RSVP as soon as possible. The first step in the long process leading up to the wedding is to make a decision about going (especially for a royal affair) and return the card as soon as possible. British RSVPs tend to be more formal than in the states and are always full sentences. The RSVP card would probably be something like, "Mr. and Mrs. Henry Smith are delighted to accept your gracious invitation and look forward to witnessing this joyous celebration."
Take careful note of whose name is on the card. Unless the card specifically says "and guest," you may not bring a date, and don't ask to bring one either. William and Kate are sure to work hard on their guest list making sure that they don't leave anyone off by mistake.
During the Ceremony Don't disrupt the ceremony. Don't text on your phone or talk to the person next to you and if you find yourself in the middle of a coughing fit or sneezing attack, leave the premises immediately.
Arrive on time. You should always arrive on time, and if you're late, stand in the back so you don't interrupt the ceremony.
What to (or Not to) Wear Don't wear white. Under no circumstances should you wear any variation of white - including ivory or cream. You don't want to take any attention away from the bride by donning a similar color. Since this is black tie, most people will probably opt for darker colors, even though it's spring. And remember, just because you're a foreign dignitary, it doesn't give you an excuse to wear your native garb. Just about everyone should be in long gowns, full tails or formal military dress, where appropriate. We could very well see some gorgeous springtime hats; however, not inside the Abbey, and possibly not during the reception either.
Don't come underdressed or wearing something too revealing. When in doubt, opt for a long dress unless otherwise stated on the invitation. Avoid dresses that are too short, tight, or low-cut.
Men should wear suits, unless the invitation has requested black tie. Women should choose dresses, skirts, or elegant suits in darker, sophisticated colors and fabrics. Lengths vary according to what's in style at that particular time and place. Jewelry can be more elaborate.
Addressing the Royals To impress the Queen, men should give a little bow from the neck and ladies should give a small curtsey. And be sure not to touch anyone unless touched by them first! Don't even offer to shake hands.
Gifting Be sure to give a wedding gift. Guests should give the royal couple a wedding gift regardless if they attend or not.
Don't bring the gift to the wedding. If you do attend the wedding, don't bring the present with you. Instead, ship it to the couple's home.
William and Kate may have a registry as an option, but in this case, many foreign dignitaries may choose to not stick to the registry and instead bring something representative of their country. That differs from traditional etiquette that recommends guests stick to the registry.
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