As the royal wedding date draws closer, the world is growing eager to know all the specifics about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's big day. While British royal nuptials have long been steeped in steadfast tradition, the soon-to-be-newlyweds are definitely breaking from protocol and adding a unique and personalized flair to their ceremony. Ahead, the big ways that Meghan and Harry are switching things up on May 19.
On May 19, at at Windsor Castle, about twenty miles west of London. Traditionally, most royal couples get married at the capital's Westminster Abbey, where Prince William and Kate Middleton said their "I dos" back in 2011.
The non-traditional choice of venue is not a full break from royal protocol—the duo will follow a who walked down the aisle at the Windsor Castle locale. Most recently, Harry's cousin Peter Phillips and wife Autumn Kelly were married at St. George's Chapel in 2008. Harry's father, Prince Charles, and stepmother, Camilla Parker Bowles, shared a at Windsor Castle after their civil service marriage in 2005.
"Windsor is a very special place for Prince Harry, and he and Ms. Markle have regularly spent time there during the last year," a rep from Kensington Palace explained to in November of last year, when the venue was first announced. "They are delighted that the beautiful grounds of Windsor Castle will be where they begin their lives as a married couple."
To the disappointment of British citizens, Prince Harry and Markle will marry on May 19, which falls on a Saturday. Traditionally, a royal wedding falls during the work week (Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge were married on a Friday), and the residents of the British Commonwealth are granted a "bank holiday" (i.e. no work). Despite opposition, banks in the United Kingdom will remain open on May 19, .
For royal fans tuning into the from across the pond, the weekend ceremony is probably preferable, so you don't have to play hooky to see Markle's dress in real time. However, the ceremony is scheduled to take place at 12 PM local time, which translates to 7 AM EST/4 AM PST, meaning an early Saturday morning wake-up call for those of us in the U.S.
The Guest List
The official wedding guest list has not been released to the public, but we know Markle and Harry deviated from royal tradition with their invites due to the smaller size of their ceremony location. In early March, Kensington Palace the couple into the grounds of Windsor Castle to watch the bride, groom, and wedding guests arrive at the chapel and view the carriage procession after the ceremony. This doesn't typically happen—traditionally, royal wedding invitations are only issued to guests attending the ceremony and the reception.
For his wedding to Kate Middleton in 2011, Prince William did not issue any invitations to the public—he invited 1,900 guests to the Westminster Abbey ceremony. St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle of 800 people and does not accommodat thee 2,000 guests traditionally invited to attend the royal weddings held at Westminster Abbey. This may be why Harry and Markle sent public invitations for honored citizens to join in the pre- and post-ceremony processionals.
The public guests 1,200 members of the public "from every corner of the United Kingdom" who have been nominated by nine regional Lord Lieutenant offices, according to Kensington Palace. Harry and Markle have requested the guests be from various backgrounds and ages, including young people who are active in their communities.Adding to , 200 people from charities that Markle and Harry have become associated with, 100 students from two local schools with close ties to Windsor Castle (The Royal School in Great Park and St. George's School), 610 Windsor residents and members of the St. George Chapel, and 530 members of the Royal Households and Crown Estate will be included.
For esteemed guests inside the chapel, the May 19 ceremony is likely to be a star-studded event. royal favorites Elton John, the Spice Girls, David and Victoria Beckham and Kate's sister Pippa Middleton. There's also a chance we'll see a few of Markle's A-list pals, like Serena Williams and Priyanka Chopra, at the ceremony.
The Wedding Party
Traditionally, . Instead of adult friends, it's typical that children of the royal family or aristocracy will serve as the "wedding party." The Duchess of Cambridge broke this rule when her sister Pippa became the most famous maid of honor of all time at her 2011 wedding to Price William. And now, it by appointing a maid of honor to stand with her on her big day.
Early in January, it was reported that , but since then, the identity of her right-hand woman has not been confirmed. Royal speculators are betting Markle her longtime BFF and stylist Jessica Mulroney as her MOH.
Mulroney and her husband Ben (son of former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney helped Markle and Harry after their romance first broke news. She also accompanied Markle to the , .
The Bridal Escort
Allegedly, Meghan Markle's father if he'll be escorting his daughter down the aisle on May 19. As is tradition in America, British royal protocol holds that the bride's father escorts her to the groom on her wedding day, as was the case when the Duchess of Cambridge beside her father at Westminster Abbey.
Harry and Markle landed on a surprising for their wedding. Last month, Kensington Palace confirmed that Claire Ptak, owner of , an organic bakery in Manchester would be crafting a spring-worthy "lemon-elderflower" dessert for the couple's May 19 "I dos."
, "The couple have asked Claire to create a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright flavors of spring. It will be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers."
Though the elderflower cake is sure to be delicious, it goes against royal wedding cake protocol, which states the wedding cake should be fruitcake—not a flower-flavored cake. Kate and William enjoyed an after tying the knot.
The After-Ceremony Processional
Though Harry and Markle will through the town of Windsor after their official vows ceremony, it will look different from the traditional royal walk. Since the couple's wedding venue is outside of Manchester they will not have a London procession.
Furthermore, due to distance, it's likely that the day will not include an iconic balcony kiss, which Kate and William partook in after their wedding ceremony. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge famously kissed in front of an enormous audience on a balcony at Buckingham Palace on their wedding day. Since Windsor Castle is 45 minutes away from this site, Markle and Harry will have to create their own iconic kiss moment.