What makes a perfect fairytale wedding? It’s often one where the couple puts thoughtful detail into all the components — following time-honored traditions and creating iconic memories that these days often go viral online. Here we’ll show you those elements from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s royal wedding, along with stunning photos.
See how the newlyweds honored the late Princess Diana (page 12) and even the most unpredictable element that turned out absolutely perfect (page 15).
1. The location held special meaning
The couple tied the knot at the 900-year-old Windsor Castle, a half hour west of London. Not only is it the queen’s preferred weekend residence, but it’s also a place Harry and Meghan spent much of their time while dating.
The ceremony took place at St. George’s Chapel, which looks more like a cathedral than a chapel and seats 800 people.
Next: Who accompanied Meghan to the church
2. Meghan’s mom accompanied her
Meghan and her mother Doria Ragland rode to the church in the backseat of a Rolls Royce. Anxious crowds cheered the much-anticipated first sight of the bride. Meghan’s mom smiled with pride as the two made their way to the chapel. She was decked out in a pistachio green Oscar de la Renta dress and matching summer coat.
Next: You’ll be surprised at some of the A-listers present.
3. A star-studded guest list
A-listers turned out for the occasion, many of them unexpected. As predicted, Sir Elton John performed at both receptions. David and Victoria Beckham, Serena Williams, and Priyanka Chopra — all friends of the royal couple — attended.
Less expected appearances included George and Amal Clooney; it turns out they live 30 minutes away from Windsor. (Amal and Meghan share the same hairdresser.) British singers Joss Stone and James Blunt were also on hand. Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, was TV talk queen Oprah Winfrey; her connection is she’s met with Ragland to plan a tell-all interview.
Next: A smile that lit up the day
4. A smile seen around the world
Who was the boy with the huge smile, missing front teeth, photo-bombing Meghan as she got ready to walk down the aisle? The 7-year-old twin page boys, named Brian and John, are the sons of Jessica Mulroney, a Canadian stylist and one of Meghan’s closest friends.
The little guy quickly went viral. “OMG the page boy loving life,” one Twitter user commented. “Favourite moment so far of the royal wedding is still this page boy’s face when he first heard the trumpet fanfare for Meghan,” another said.
Next: How Meghan’s veil paid tribute
5. Meghan’s veil honored the British Commonwealth
Meghan’s 16 foot-long veil paid tribute to the 53 countries of the British Commonwealth by displaying their flora and fauna. “We both loved the story of that, and it also meant every single one of those countries also journeyed up the aisle with her,” said Givenchy’s Claire Waight Keller, who worked with Meghan to design the veil.
Those creating the veil spent hundreds of hours sewing it. They washed their hands every half hour to keep the material pristine.
Next: The bride stuck with this royal tradition.
6. Her tiara honored her new family
Some had speculated Meghan would forego a tiara. However, she chose to follow royal protocol and honor her new family by wearing the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau. The sparkling accessory, made in 1932, has been in the royal family for decades. It comes straight from the queen’s jewelry vault and features diamonds set in platinum, including a center detachable brooch made of 10 diamonds.
Next: Harry’s reaction to seeing his bride
7. Harry’s first glimpse of his bride
Harry looked nervous while sitting beside his brother, Prince William, waiting for the wedding to start. Soon enough, Meghan walked up the aisle on the arm of Harry’s father, Prince Charles. The couple’s faces both broke into happy smiles at the sight of each other. They both mouthed, “Hi,” and Harry could be seen saying, “You look amazing,” as they waited for the ceremony to begin.
Next: The man who stole the limelight
8. The preacher delivered a passionate message
Reverend Michael Curry, a Chicago native, shook things up when he delivered a passionate wedding sermon. He opened his enthusiastic address with the words of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. He went on to speak animatedly about love, comparing it to fire and waving his arms.
British news outlet Express described the royal family’s reactions as “hilarious,” adding some could be seen smirking. Since royals are used to much more reserved sermons, this certainly was an eye opener. Many said the pastor’s warmth and sense of humor stole the show.
Next: How average people participated
9. They invited commoners
For the ceremony, 2,000 people were invited to the castle grounds to experience the wedding from outside. The palace said it chose invitees from across the U.K. who showed strong leadership and served their communities. This outdoor crowd took in the wedding from loud speakers and video screens.
From outside, they joined in when the choir sang “Stand By Me.” They listened silently when the couple exchanged vows and cheered loudly after they were pronounced husband and wife. They waved and shouted during the newlyweds’ post-wedding carriage procession.
Next: They couldn’t pass up this iconic royal tradition.
10. They kissed before the crowds
After they tied the knot, the newlyweds left the chapel and locked lips outside in front of the jubilant crowds. Fans cheered wildly during the romantic embrace, said to be one of the iconic moments of the day.
The royal wedding day kiss has become a much-anticipated gesture after earlier couples also embraced before the masses. Prince William and Kate Middleton, as well as Prince Charles and Princess Diana, shared wedding day kisses on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
Next: The youngest royal to steal the show
11. Princess Charlotte saw them off
Harry’s niece, Princess Charlotte, joined other well-wishers in waving goodbye when the newlyweds left on their carriage ride. In a much-photographed moment, Charlotte and her mom, Kate Middleton, chatted closely while watching and waving. Charlotte has nailed the royal wave, as the world saw the day her baby brother Louis was born.
Next: How they honored Harry’s late mother
12. They honored Princess Diana
Meghan’s simple wedding bouquet featured flowers from the royal garden at Kensington Palace. Harry picked the flowers himself, making sure to include his late mother’s favorite flowers: Forget-Me-Nots.
Later, when the newlyweds left for their evening reception, Meghan wore an emerald-cut aquamarine ring on her right hand. It sparkled as she waved to photographers from the silver-blue Jaguar Harry was driving. Prince Diana had owned the piece and worn it to several events. Harry gave it to Meghan as a wedding present, according to reports.
Next: They went rogue on the cake.
13. They shunned traditional fruit cake
Harry and Meghan broke from tradition with the cake. Historically, royal couples have opted for fruit cake at their weddings. These two, however, went rogue and served a fresh elderflower and lemon cake with buttercream frosting. Creator Claire Ptak hails from California but now runs a bakery in London.
Attendees were not able to enjoy a slice at the reception, however. They will receive it in the mail as a thank you instead.
Next: The 411 on the second party
14. They glammed up for the second reception
After the 600-guest afternoon reception, the couple freshened up for the next party. Meghan changed into a sleek Stella McCartney gown and Harry into a tuxedo. They hopped into the vintage Jaguar and headed to their second reception at Frogmore House, also on the Windsor Castle grounds. Hosted by Prince Charles, this event was attended by 200 guests.
While it was closed to the paparazzi, word was comedian James Corden played host and Elton John performed. Prince William roasted his brother, and Meghan also made a speech, according to royal expert Katie Nicholl. Fireworks rounded out the event.
Next: The usual gray British clouds departed for the day
15. Even the weather was perfect
Mother Nature gave a gift of her own on the wedding day, as she imparted wall-to-wall sunshine against a blue sky. This made things pleasant for the crowd of more than 100,000 who gathered in Windsor. It also made the after-church carriage ride more enjoyable for the newlyweds — and eager photographers.
Next: See an official portrait.
16. They took official wedding portraits
The new Duke and Duchess of Sussex shared three official wedding portraits after the wedding. They were taken at the Green Drawing Room at Windsor Castle after the couple’s carriage ride. Two photos feature the newlyweds, royal family members, Ragland, and the page boys and flower girls. The third photo is a black-and-white shot of the couple together on a castle terrace.
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