A private affair and a national event as Zara and Mike marry

THE wedding of Zara Phillips and Yorkshireman Mike Tindall was celebrated on Saturday night by the Queen and members of the royal family at a lavish palace reception.

Zara wore a gown created by the favourite designer of her grandmother, the Queen, and it was a day of big hats as the couple sealed their love at a private ceremony in Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk in front of their families and friends.

Despite being billed as a private wedding, the royal nuptials still had the air of a national event - with England rugby star Tindall and Zara, a former equestrian world champion, proving a big draw for the public.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were among the congregation but today’s wedding ceremony was never going to be on the scale of their huge Westminster Abbey wedding earlier this year.

Today, crowds of more than 6,000 people were treated to the spectacle of seeing senior members of the monarchy and leading figures from the world of sport.

But all eyes were on the bride who wore a beautiful ivory silk gown by designer Stewart Parvin, as well as a traditional veil and tiara.

The well-wishers lining the famous Royal Mile gave an enormous cheer as she arrived to reveal the ivory silk faille and silk duchess satin gown by the British and Edinburgh-trained designer.

In a tribute to Scotland the bride had thistles incorporated into her bouquet of white blooms.

There had been speculation that Tindall, 32, might don a kilt but he and his best man, fellow England player Iain Balshaw - who was sporting a black eye - opted for traditional morning dress.

The royal bride had talked before the wedding of how she was looking forward to becoming Mrs Tindall, but she will remain Zara Phillips to preserve her sporting name.

Wedding guests included famous names from the world of rugby such as England’s coach Martin Johnson, his predecessor Sir Clive Woodward and Scotland’s coach Andy Robinson.

Tindall also invited Lawrence Dallaglio and Jonny Wilkinson - former teammates who, like the groom, were part of England’s World Cup-winning squad of 2003.

A touch of glamour was added by some famous women from sport and entertainment - skeleton racer Amy Williams, television presenter Kirsty Gallacher, Una Healy, a singer with girl group the Saturdays and Coronation Street star Katherine Kelly.

Amongst the other royal guests were the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.

Also in the congregation were the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, whose titles in Scotland are the Duke and Duchess of Strathearn, Prince Harry, the Duke of York and his daughters Princess Beatrice and Eugenie.

The royal women put on a colourful display of big hats and dresses with bold hues while the royal men looked smart in morning suits.

Taking pride of place during the ceremony was Zara’s mother the Princess Royal and father Captain Mark Phillips and Tindall’s mother Linda and father Phil.

Commentators welcomed the stylish looks of the royals, with many saying the relaxed elegance of the fashions reflected the bride and groom.

Zara’s choice of the ivory silk gown by Stewart Parvin, who creates dresses for the Queen, teamed with Jimmy Choo shoes, was perfect, according to Peta Hunt, fashion director of You & Your Wedding.

She had predicted the dress would reflect Zara’s personality, and after the wedding said: “It looks fun and flirty without being too restrained.

“Who else could go to a wedding and have their dress done by the same person who does their granny’s?”

The fashion director believed the other royal women had risen to the occasion: “I thought they had calmed down a lot, I thought everyone looked quite elegant, even the two sisters seemed to have learned a lot.”

And she welcomed the rebirth of hats as the headpiece of choice for the royals.

“I think the last royal wedding finally put pay to multiple feathers on people’s heads,” she said.

“I think it’s about time that we went back to millinery and had that instead of birds having flown into people’s heads.”

The wedding reception was being staged in the grounds of Holyroodhouse, bathed in evening sunshine. Music from the celebration could be heard in the streets around the royal residence.

The Queen and Duke were expected to stay for the cutting of the wedding cake and probably a number of speeches before leaving the younger royals and guests to party into the night.

But the traditional honeymoon break will be postponed as the newlyweds will be back at training this week.

Zara, 30, will be competing in the Gatcombe Park horse trials later this week and Tindall, 32, is likely to feature in an England rugby match against Wales next