History was made on April 29, 2011 when Prince William married Kate Middleton, making them the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The wedding was full of time-honoured traditions passed down by other royals, including the white wedding dress, popularized by Queen Victoria, the presence of myrtle in the bouquet, made a must for all royal weddings after Queen Victoria included it in her own bridal bouquet and the balcony kiss, first institutionalized by Princess Diana.
The bride, Kate Middleton, drove through the streets of London, from her hotel to Westminster Abbey with her father in a black Rolls Royce Phantom VI that had been customized so that she could be more easily viewed by the crowds that lined the streets. She was radiating with joy and excitement as she waved to the hundreds of thousands of strangers who came out to celebrate the day, seeming to succumb to nervousness only once, as she approached the Abbey.
Kate’s Maid of Honour, her sister Pippa Middleton, was seen first at the beginning of the ceremony, along with the young bridesmaids and page boys. Pippa wore a white satin, cowl neck dress with a slim silhouette by designer Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. The dress had buttons part way down the back that reflected those of the bride’s dress. She had her hair done half up, half down, like her sister again, decorated with lily of the valley. The young bridesmaids wore white dresses with garlands of lily of the valley and ivy in their hair. The page boys wore red military outfits that mimicked Prince William’s.
Finally, we see Kate Middleton’s dress, a beautiful, ivory, silk dress with a lace appliqué that covered the bodice of the dress and the bride’s arms, designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. The dress had V-neck neckline created by the appliqué with a sweetheart neckline underneath. The dress had a natural waistline with ruffles in the back and buttons part way down the back. The train was 2.7 metres long. The dress had a vintage feel and was reminiscent of the dress Grace Kelly wore to her own royal wedding in 1955.
Her veil was morn modern and simple than I had expected it to be. It was made of silk tulle with a lace trim that came to just below her waist. Though it was not the long cathedral veil I had expected, it really brought the classic look together.
The bride wore her hair in a half up, half down style; reportedly, she said this was so that Prince William would recognize her as she was walking down the isle. Her dark locks contrasted beautifully with her ivory dress and veil.
The traditional tiara she wore was the Cartier ‘Halo’ tiara, lent to her by the Queen, as is the custom, to be worn as her “something borrowed.” She also wore platinum and diamond tear-drop earrings. Following the rule of three, she wore a tiara, earrings and a ring; the absence of a necklace brought an easy charm to her look as she avoided looking too heavily burdened with jewels.
Next we see the groom, Prince William, approaching the altar with his best man and brother, Prince Harry. The both wore military attire. Prince William appeared to have a hard time keeping his stiff upper lip, looking as though he could barely contain his excitement. The Prince kept his back turned as his bride walked down the isle.
As we see Kate enter the Abbey and start her 3 minute walk down the isle, I noted how well dressed the crowd looked with all of the ladies wearing their hats. I also noticed how the trees in London already have their leaves on them, not like her in Ontario, Canada. I was happy to see that the spring-time trees had been incorporated into the décor of Westminster Abbey. As I watched, I thought, the downside to having a royal wedding is that you don’t have many wedding venues to choose from, the upside is that one of those choices is Westminster Abbey.
The bride’s bouquet was an understated, subtle cascade of lily of the valley, hyacinth, traditional myrtle and, of course, sweet William. As a fan of simple, natural looking bouquets and flowers, I loved this bridal bouquet.
When Kate and her father reached Prince William at the altar, the Prince whispered what was believed to be an “I love you. You look beautiful.” to Kate and presumably made a joke about how he wanted a small wedding to his future father-in-law, seemingly to excited and nervous to remain austere. They took the traditional Anglican vows. As Prince William made his vows to Kate, her adorable dimples appeared as she tried her hardest not to smile. The Prince presented his bride with a wedding band made of welsh gold.
After the vows and ring were exchanged and the hymn started to play Kate was finally able to smile, she was glowing as the couple walked to their seats for the next part of the ceremony. As they waited for it to begin they had a private and intimate exchange of words. At the same time Kate’s sister and Maid of Honour, Pippa, looked like she was holding back tears of happiness. During ‘The Lesson,’ read by Kate’s brother, James Middleton, something seemed to have struck a cord with the royal couple that caused them to look at each other a smile.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds took a horse-drawn carriage, the 1902 State Landau, to Buckingham Palace as the three hour, full ring of the Abbey bells commenced. Not only did the predicted rain hold out so they could use the open carriage, but the sun came out as they proceeded to the palace.
Next, the estimated 1 million people began to fill the area in front of Buckingham Palace in anticipation of the appearance of the new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the balcony. When they finally appeared, Kate looked astounded ay the size of the crowd that had amassed. The crowd waited impatiently for the couple’s first public kiss as man and wife, which, since Princess Diana started it in 1981, is done on the balcony of the Palace. After the wedding party, The Queen and the parents of the bride and groom joined them on the balcony William looked at Kate and said, what looked to me like something along the lines of, ‘should we kiss now? Three, two one,’ and quickly kissed her as the crowd cheered. Then, after a few minutes of waving, they surprised us when William once again turned to Kate and said something like, ‘one more kiss? Please,’ and kissed her again. While the crowd went wild all over again, they went inside the Palace to begin their wedding reception.
The event was as intimate as is possible for a royal wedding with millions of people watching. The couple looked so happy, comfortable and completely smitten with each other. The whole day, from the decorations, to the atmosphere, to the perfect poise of the bride had an air of simple elegance.