Royal Wedding Wiki

The dress! The cake! The horse-drawn carriage! Despite Prince William and Kate Middleton’s silence about the big day, here’s your cheat sheet for Friday’s ceremony.

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AP Photo

The Venue: Westminster Abbey

Estimated to be built sometime around 960, Westminster Abbey was first used by King Edward the Confessor as his palace and later became a coronation site for Norman kings in the 1200s before becoming a “ Royal Peculiar” in 1579, or a church responsible directly to the sovereign. In its day, it was used for royal weddings, but no weddings were held there for some 500 years—until Princess Victoria’s granddaughter Patricia of Connnaught married a commoner there in 1919. William’s parents were married at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the Abbey was the site of one of the sad milestones of William’s life—his mother’s funeral was held there in 1997.

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The Carriage: 1902 State Landau

Although forecasters predicted rain, it wouldn’t be a royal wedding without a carriage! William and Kate rode in a horse-drawn carriage, called the 1902 State Landau. It is normally reserved for Queen Elizabeth II when she is entertaining visiting heads of state. If it did rain, the couple would have ridden in the famous glass coach that was used by Princess Diana on her wedding day 30 years ago. The State Landau led a procession of five coaches that carried Maid of Honor Pippa Middleton, Best Man Prince Harry, five young pages and bridesmaids, Kate's parents Michael and Carole Middleton, William's father and step-mother Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. And to get Kate to the church on time, she rode in the Windsors’ Rolls Royce Phantom—the same one that was attacked by rioters in December while carrying Prince Charles and Camilla.

The Dress: Alexander McQueen

Kate pulled off a near-impossible feat before the wedding: Managing to keep her dress top secret. The estimated two billion TV viewers, however, did see her gown before her future husband as she left the Goring Hotel for Westminster Abbey. As rumored beforehand, Kate wore an Alexander McQueen dress designed by Sarah Burton. The lacey, v-neck gown featured a two-meter, 70-centimeter train as well as French Chantilly lace and English Cluny lace throughout the bodice, underskirt and skirt, which was made of ivory and white satin gazar. And of course, it was complete with buttons: the back of the dress had 58 gazar and organza-covered buttons fastened by Rouleau loops. The dress is expected to have a heavy influence on bridal fashion, as other wedding designers are ready to start incorporating her look. “This is going to exceed by far any order I’ve done,” said New York-based wedding dress designer Shala Moradi.

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The Uniform: Colonel of the Irish Guards

Everyone may have been focused on Kate’s dress, but Prince William’s uniform had its admirers as well. Though he was expected to wear the traditional RAF uniform, William wore the striking uniform of Colonel of the Irish Guards with its famous bright redcoat, gold and scarlet sash, golden sword slings and a forage cap. The 28-year-old prince is commissioned in all three armed services—but the newest, the Army’s honorary Irish Guards position is his highest title. On their wedding days, William’s father and grandfather both wore Royal Navy dress.

The Milliner: Philip Treacy

Hats off! A favorite hat-maker of Kate and Camilla, Philip Treacy, provided 36 hats for the Royal Family and the Middletons for the big day. The must-have fashion accessory for the big day brought out everyone’s personalities—from royal cousins Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie wearing daring designs to Camilla in a wide-brimmed beige creation. A very pregnant Victoria Beckham also wore a pillbox Philip Treacy creation. As predicted by oddsmakers, the Queen wore a yellow hat.

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The Rings

Following royal tradition, William did not be wearing a ring, but Kate did. The bride wore a lump of Welsh gold already owned by the royal family, The Daily Mail reported. William follows in the footsteps of his grandfather, who does not wear a wedding band, although Charles does wear a wedding band under his signet ring. The palace insisted that William’s decision came down to “personal preference.” An aide said: “It was something the couple discussed, but Prince William isn’t one for jewelry—he doesn’t even wear a signet ring—and decided he didn’t want to."

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The Best Man and Pages

Prince Harry carried off his official duties without any big flubs—he handed off the ring to his brother without dropping it, as some feared. Although there were 5-1 odds that he would drop the ring, it seems unlikely given how seriously Harry is taking his best man duties. He was joined by two pages: Tom Pettifer, William’s god-son and the son of his former nanny, Tiggy Legge-Bourke; and Billy Lowther-Pinkerton, the son of Prince William and Prince Harry’s private secretary since 2005.

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The Bridesmaids

Kate’s sister, Pippa Middleton, has taken a beating in the press for some of her maid-of-honor choices, but she stunned crowds at the wedding with her white cowlneck Alexander McQueen gown with lace detail and buttons down the back. William's first cousin Lady Louise Windsor, his second cousin the Honorary Margarita Armstrong-Jones and his god-daughter Grace van Cutsem were also bridesmaids.

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The Royals

Over the years, the Windsors have been criticized as cold and even as a “ deeply weird bunch.” A family bound by tradition, Diana referred to Charles as “Sir” until the day of their engagement and even to this day, members of the royal family send each other notes if they want to see each other—even if they are staying in the same house. Charles and Camilla, while reportedly “thrilled” with the upcoming wedding, are not exactly warm and hospitable to the Middletons, with one source saying Camilla described her soon-to-be in-laws as “trying too hard.” But there are signs that William—and his mother’s influence—have loosened up the Windsors: the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh met the Middletons for the first time a week before the wedding, in what was described as a “warm atmosphere.” There’s hope yet for William’s generation: All the cousins are reportedly close, and first cousins Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie reportedly helped plan the hen party. William and Kate’s wedding comes only days after the anniversary of his great-grandparent's famous 1922 wedding, and also only days after the queen’s 85th birthday. But then again, there’s that male pattern baldness gene

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The In-Laws

People called Kate’s grandmother Dorothy a social climber who “wanted to be the top brick in the chimney,” but could the granddaughter of a coal miner really expect her own granddaughter to marry into the royal family? As for William’s new in-laws, much has been made about their middle-class origins, how they met while Michael was a flight dispatcher and Carole was a flight attendant (earning Kate the lifelong snarky nickname “ doors to manual”), the false story of how Carole chewed gum and said “toilet” in front of the queen, and how Kate’s uncle offered cocaine and girls to reporters. But William is reportedly so close to the Middletons that he calls Michael "Mike" or even dad, and William eschewed tradition and spent Easter with the Middletons. While derided as “commoners,” the Middletons are actually self-made millionaires, who started their own business, Party Pieces, with their children reportedly modeling the clothes to save money. Rounding out the family are sister and maid-of-honor Pippa and younger brother James.

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The Guests

It’s the question every Brit is asking: Who got an invite? There were a few notable snubs (Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Fergie), there were some big names on the invite list, including Guy Ritchie (a Middleton cousin), David and Victoria Beckham, Elton John and David Cameron. There are 1,900 guests invited to Westminster Abbey, with 1,000 of the couple’s closest friends given the best seats. William’s uncle, Earl Spencer, who famously slammed the royal family at Diana’s funeral, was seated far away from them. As for the seating chart, a source said William and Kate “worked tirelessly to get the seating plan just right. They have done the hard work and I can tell you it has taken months.”

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The Cake

They’re not a normal couple, so why would they only have one cake? William and Kate have ordered two: a traditional multilayered fruit cake and a chocolate cookie cake commissioned by the groom. The royal wedding cake is no laughing matter: At the wedding of William’s great-grandparents, King George VI and the queen mother, the cake weighed 300 pounds, was 10 feet high and eight feet in diameter. The first tier was a reproduction of Windsor Castle and St. George's Church, the second tier was a replica of Glamis, the bride's ancestral home, the third tier was a Masonic emblem—signifying the connection of the duke and the bride's father, with cupids below standing on ladders and ringing bells. On the top tier was a massive vase containing a bouquet of York roses.

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The Music

It’s usually one of the biggest arguments between generations when planning a wedding, and it looks like William and Kate won this one. “The couple have very, very strong ideas about what they want,” said Christopher Warren-Green, the London Chamber Orchestra’s music director who will be the conductor for the wedding. “And after all, at the end of the day, it is their wedding. It’s a young couple’s wedding, they should have what they want.” Warren-Green wouldn’t give any more details though, saying that he had to respect the wishes of the couple, who want to keep things top secret. But maybe William and Kate shouldn’t get too close to having their own music: Warren-Green is an old friend of Prince Charles’, saying he has been “musically acquainted” with him for over 30 years.

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The Flowers

Although this is the role of a lifetime for a wedding florist, Shane Connolly said he treated the April 29 nuptials “like any other wedding.” Connolly said he and Kate hit it off from the start. At their first meeting, “every word we said to each other was, ‘Oh that’s right, that’s exactly what I’d want,’” he said. Connolly supplied the flowers for Charles’ and Camilla’s 2005 wedding, but he described that wedding as “very understated,” and said that William and Kate’s wedding will instead be reflective of their personalities because that’s “ what’s important.” I just want to do my best for them. But I feel I’m completely in tune with the client.”

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The After-Party

With a best man like Prince Harry and a maid of honor like Pippa Middleton, the after-party is destined to be epic. Harry has converted three state rooms at Buckingham Palace for an exclusive after-party, which he calls the “ wedmin.” Caterers have been briefed to prepare a 6 a.m. “survivors’ breakfast” of bacon sandwiches—a sign that Harry hopes the party will go into the wee hours. Some of Pippa’s party plans may have been going a bit too far: Courtiers apparently “shuddered” over Pippa’s idea to have disco balls at the after-party being held for 300 of William and Kate’s closest friends. Although Charles reportedly was not happy with her plans, a source said William “stepped in and insisted he wanted the evening to be very different from the formal Champagne and canapé reception being thrown by the queen immediately after the wedding.”