In the run-up to the Royal-meets-Hollywood wedding, Fashion Editor Stephanie Smith considers what delights the dress code and guest list will bring.
For those of us who love a good wedding, no matter how large or small, how elaborate or low-key, the prospect of a Royal wedding is a matter of huge excitement.
This Saturday’s nuptials, when Prince Harry marries LA actress Meghan Markle at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, is going to be one massive special occasion style fest. There’s the dress (rumoured to be by Australian designers Ralph & Russo at a cost of £100,000; Meghan wore a £56,000 embellished Ralph & Russo couture gown for the official engagement photos), the shoes, the jewels, the flowers, the cake and canapes – and that’s just for starters.
For true fashion lovers, however, it’s all about the guests, and the outfits that they will even now be agonising over, as they prepare to step out, before the watching world, to attend the wedding of the year.
Silhouettes and colours, hats, shoes and bags, how ensembles are put together or styled – this is what we want to see and consider (okay, judge), so here’s hoping there will be extensive and detailed TV coverage and media outlet photos of all the guests as they arrive.
Unlike Prince William and Kate Middleton’s lavish, state-pleasing do, this will be a less formal, less political affair, and hopefully all the more fashionable for that. There will be 600 guests for the church ceremony, with 200 close friends invited to an after-party close by, which means day-to-night dressing or maybe complete outfit changes (which we may or may not get to see). And 2,640 members of the public have been invited to the Windsor Castle grounds, to watch the bride and groom and their guests arrive and leave.
Serena Williams and Meghan Markle’s former Suits co-stars might be on the list, among other actor friends, mingling Hollywood glamour with British high society. All eyes also will be on Meghan’s mother, Doria Radlan, and of course the Royal family, especially Kate, Beatrice and Eugenie, Sophie Wessex and little Princess Charlotte and Prince George. Indian actress Priyanka Chopra, stylist and close friend Jessica Mulroney and Made In Chelsea’s Millie Mackintosh are also thought to be among the guests, but we won’t know for sure until the big day itself.
The dress code is uniform, morning coat or lounge suit, or day dress with hat, so fairly wide-ranging with much scope for interpretation. Etiquette guidance bans cameras, bulky bags, mobile phones “and any devices used for image capture”.
A Royal wedding throws the spotlight on special occasion dressing, reminding us all how fun and important it is to consider carefully what we wear for all the events to which our dearest family and friends have invited us. Colleen O’Brien, personal shopper at Harvey Nichols Leeds Style Concierge, says, “When shopping for a wedding, Royal or not, my advice is to stay true to your own personal style. Too many people wear what they think they should wear to a wedding, but I say choose something you feel happy in. That way your confidence will make you stand out from the crowd without anyone accusing you of trying to upstage the bride.
“Peter Pilotto has been a popular choice for wedding goers this year. The cuts are flattering, the fabrics beautiful and many of the styles have floaty sleeves, which has the benefit of making them suitable for most weather eventualities without having to consider (and carry) a cover-up.”
On the High Street, special event dressing this season is all about beautiful print, eye-catching colour and fluid, flattering silhouettes. Go long or short, and obviously avoid white. Always check, if you can, what colour the bride and bridesmaids will be wearing, to avoid unintended wannabe wedding party clashes.