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What are the traditions for a royal wedding?

two wedding rings on pillow

Every wedding has traditions that span back centuries, from wearing white to following the “old, new, borrowed, blue” rhyme, but for royals there are even more traditions that come into play on their big day.

As Harry and Meghan’s nuptials get closer and closer (19th May), we’re wondering what those traditions are and how many of them Harry and Meghan will include, and perhaps more interestingly, which traditions we already know they have changed and modernised.

The dress

Often heralded as the most important aspect of the wedding day, the dress is never revealed before the bride walks down the aisle. Therefore, while we all have to wait on tenterhooks to find out what dress Meghan will be wearing on her big day, we thought we’d look at the most important traditions that royal brides, and grooms, need to adhere to with their wedding attire.

The tradition of wearing white on your wedding day was started back in 1840 when Queen Victoria wore white on her wedding day and many other brides that year chose to copy the queen, and the tradition stuck! Nowadays, all royal brides must wear white on their wedding day, and we don’t think Meghan will do anything different. She’ll also have to wear a tiara, as per royal protocol, so we’ll be looking forward to seeing which gorgeous coronet she’ll choose from the royal vaults!

Don O’Neill, creative director of Theia bridal brand in the US, has shared his thoughts on what Meghan’s dress could look like based on trends and tradition:  “I think she’ll be fully covered. She has to be. It’s the Royal Family she’s marrying into. But the dress will reveal the shape of her body. It’ll be fitted to her. It’ll have long sleeves, a high neck at the back, a little V in front, a seam running down the front covered with pearl buttons.” She’s rumoured to be wearing a dress from designer Ralph & Russo, who also designed her engagement announcement dress.

Harry will, of course, be required to wear his military uniform – as all royal grooms must – so we can’t wait to see what a dashing pair they’ll make!

The rings

Arguably the most important part of every wedding ceremony, the wedding rings symbolise the commitment that the couple are making to each other. However, with a royal wedding there’s an extra piece of meaning imbued into these significant pieces of jewellery.

Since 1923, all wedding bands given and worn by royal spouses must contain Welsh gold. The reason for this is that rare Welsh gold was first given as a gift to the royal family in 1923 and this gold was used for the Queen Mother’s wedding ring when she wed the future King George VI in the same year.

wedding traditions

The bouquet

Queen Victoria also influenced another royal tradition when it came to weddings. Since her daughter, Princess Victoria, included a sprig of myrtle from her mother’s garden in her bouquet, all royal brides have done the same. The myrtle is taken from Queen Victoria’s garden, where it was planted in 1845 and has been used in royal weddings ever since.

Meghan’s bouquet has been commissioned from floral designer, Philippa Craddock, and is set to include many different flowers which reflect the wild and natural landscapes from which many of the plants will be drawn. The floral displays at St George’s Chapel, where Meghan and Harry will tie the knot, will include peonies, white garden roses and foxgloves, as well as foliage from birch, beech and hornbeam. We don’t know whether myrtle will be making an appearance, so we’ll have to wait and see!

Meghan’s bouquet, following tradition, will then most likely be left on the grave of the Unknown Warrior.

wedding cake

The cake

Here is the one aspect of the wedding that Harry and Meghan have definitely eschewed tradition with. Traditional wedding cakes for royal weddings have always been fruitcake and any, and all, aspects of the design of the cake have been kept strictly under wraps until the big day.

However, Harry and Meghan, who have chosen Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery in Hackney to make their cake, have already revealed both the flavour and the decoration. The cake will be a lemon and elderflower cake, covered with buttercream icing and decorated with fresh flowers.

If you’re looking forward to finding out all the details about the royal wedding on the 19th May 2018, there are a number of different ways to watch. If you wanted to, you could travel to Windsor and see the happy couple during their processional route immediately following the wedding.

If you don’t fancy travelling, don’t worry! The royal wedding is also being televised on BBC1, ITV1 and Sky News, so you’ve got your pick of the coverage. Simply tune in between 9am and 10am to watch both the wedding ceremony live and the couple’s procession around Windsor.

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