Can you believe it's been five years since the Royal Wedding? We were right there with you at 4 a.m. on April 29, 2011, excited to catch a glimpse of the William and Kate and all the royal celebrations! Kate Middleton's wedding dress, those adorable flower girls, that first kiss... sigh. But, if you can believe it, two babies, and many adorable photo-ops later, the couple is celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary — the traditional gift is wood, in case you were wondering — and we're looking back on the wedding of the century!
How They Met
The Prince met his true love just like a lot of people do — in college! And, like Monica and Chandler, they were friends first. Prince William and Kate Middleton met in 2001 while they both attended St. Andrews University. After famously watching Kate at a charity fashion show (the pictures are everything), the future King of England was smitten. The duo became roommates during their second year at school, while the Prince vehemently denied that he had a steady girlfriend. After Kate split from her boyfriend in 2003, the couple is believed to have finally gotten together and they are spotted on a romantic ski getaway. Media pressure allegedly causes a brief time out from the relationship early in 20017, but by mid-summer all was right in the world again.
On November 16, 2010, after 8 years of dating, the future King of England announced to the world that the wait was over — he had found his princess! William and Kate announced their engagement in their first joint press conference and photo call at St. James's Palace. On Kate's ring finger: Princes Diana's famous sapphire engagement ring. After Diana's death, Prince Harry chose to keep his mother's ring, but generously insisted that his big brother use the family heirloom to propose to his princess. "It was my way of making sure mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement and the fact that we're going to spend the rest of our lives together," the Prince told reporters. And he carried the ring with him in his backpack for 3 weeks while waiting to propose on their holiday in Kenya.
The couple told their proposal story during their first TV interview together. "He's a true romantic and we had a wonderful holiday in Africa and it was out there in a very quiet lodge and it was very romantic and it was very personal time for both of us," Kate told Britain's ITV News. "We were out there with friends, so I really didn't expect it at all," she said. "It was a total shock when it came. Very excited!"
The blue Issa London dress Kate wore (matching the ring, of course) to announce the engagement instantly sold out — giving start to the "Kate effect."
See More: 21 of the Royal Couple's Cutest Moments
Photo: Getty Images
With an April date set, the pressure was on for this happy couple to plan the wedding of the century. Anyone involved with the wedding and its planning and execution were under strict confidentiality agreements, making the whole thing very hush hush. On the morning of April 29th, the whole world watched as the young couple made it official at Westminster Abbey, in front of friends, royal family members, dignitaries, and celebrities (David and Victoria Beckham, and Elton John to name a few). The ceremony, officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was watched by nearly 2 billion people worldwide.
Following the ceremony, a carriage processional, and the couple's presentation on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth hosted 650 guests for an afternoon luncheon with champagne and canapés. The couple then cut into their 8-tier wedding cake created by cake-maker Fiona Cairns (they've saved tiers of the cake to cut at their children's christenings).
Photo: Getty Images
After the luncheon, William escorted Kate back to Clarence House in his father's Aston Martin, which had been decorated by friends with a plate reading "JU5T WED."
Like many modern couples, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge opted to forego traditional gifts, asking instead that guests make contributions to their many charitable organizations instead.
Rumors swirled that Alexander McQueen's Sarah Burton was set to design the princess-to-be's wedding gown after the designer was seeing exiting Kate's London home. And when it came down to it, Princess Kate absolutely stunned in a regal ivory lace gown with long sleeves and a 9 foot satin train. Kate was the picture of princess bride, much like Grace Kelly before her, in a tiara borrowed from the Queen — fun fact, the tiara was made for the Queen Mother by Cartier in 1936, from diamonds that belonged to Queen Victoria, and gifted to Queen Elizabeth on her 18th birthday. A blue ribbon was sewn into the bodice of Kate's dress to signify the "something blue." The world's eyes were on Kate as she made her way into Westminster Abbey to marry her prince — well on her and her sister Pippa, whose scene-stealing, body-hugging dress (also by Sarah Burton) made Maid of Honor history.
Her bouquet was simple — myrtle, lily of the valley, sweet William, and hyacinth — every royal bride since Queen Victoria has carried myrtle in her bouquet.
Photo: Getty Images
Following the Queen's luncheon, the young royals had a party all their own. After relaxing with her new husband, the new Duchess of Cambridge changed into another Sarah Burton creation (this time a strapless sating gown with diamante embroidery around the waist, topped with an angora capelet). The newlyweds then headed to a grand formal party for 300 of their nearest and dearest at Buckingham Palace, hosted by his father.
Pink champagne, peach bellinis, and elderflower cocktails were on deck at cocktail hour, as guests caught a glimpse of the Palace's art collection. After guests found their way to their assigned tables (named after places close to the couple's heart), they were served a 3-course menu by chef Anton Mossimann, including terrine of dressed crab and tiger prawns, Aberdeen Angus beef fillet, Welsh lamb from the Highgrove estate, spring vegetables and a trio of chocolate puddings, and homemade ice-cream for dessert.
After dinner it was time for speeches, with Prince Harry delivering a laugh-inducing best man speech that even included impersonations of the happy couple (apparently Kate calls William "Billy), and of course paid tribute to his and William's mother Princess Diana. Next up was the bride's father who also drew laughs from the crowd with his bits. "I knew things were getting serious when I found a helicopter in my garden. I thought, gosh, he must like my daughter," Michael Middleton told the crowd according to the DailyMail.
The party then moved to the disco-decorated throne room, where the newlyweds took to the dance floor for their first dance set to Elton John's "Your Song," performed live by Ellie Goulding. Music and dancing continued until the whee hours, with the future king requesting songs from Tinie Tempah and Body Rockers' I Like The Way You Move to get the party going. At almost 3am a throng of fireworks signaled the end of the party of the century, and the last remaining guests (namely Pippa and Harry) made their way to the after, after party at the Goring Hotel.
Like any other newlywed couple, William and Kate had earned their much-needed break from the stresses of wedding planning. The new Duke and Duchess headed off to the Seychelles for a romantic honeymoon on the secluded island of Desroches.