With just a few days until the long awaited royal wedding between Prince Harry and actress Meghan Markle, more and more wedding planning details are emerging by the minute as the big day draws closer. While we're still waiting on the edge of our seats to see who might design Markle's wedding dress and what it will look like, the couple has been fairly open regarding their wedding plans, and we couldn't be more grateful. We now have insight on everything from the pair's florals, wedding cake, and even their chosen royal carriage. To help curb your royal wedding fascination and prep you for May 19, we rounded up every tidbit of nuptial-related info pertaining to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, for your reading pleasure. Stock up on your Harry and Markle souvenirs and finalize your royal wedding watch party plans, because the ceremony of the year is almost upon us.
For months, we had all been waiting with bated breath for Prince Harry to pop the question, and he finally granted our wishes in early November 2017. The lovebirds revealed during their first joint interview that were enjoying a quiet Sunday night at Nottingham Cottage (where they'll live at Kensington Palace), cooking a roast chicken, when Harry suddenly proposed. Markle described the moment as "very romantic." Much to everyone's dismay, their exciting engagement wasn't officially revealed to the public until a few weeks later. Clarence House ever so modernly took to Twitter to release a statement announcing the big news. The duo has been together since 2016 after meeting on a blind date (talk about the setup of the century).
Made by Cleave and Company, Markle's stunning three-stone sparkler features a center diamond from Botswana, where the couple vacationed prior to the proposal, surrounded by two side stones from the late Princess Diana's collection. Harry revealed that he chose a yellow gold band (trendy!) for the ring "because that's her favorite," and he incorporated his mother's diamonds "to make sure that she's with us on this crazy journey together." Boyfriends, take note—Prince Harry did good. As for wedding rings, jewelry experts predict that the royal pair will opt for simple Welsh gold bands, which has been a royal wedding tradition since Prince Harry's grandparents. Although it was originally believed that Harry might skip out on wearing a wedding ring altogether, like his brother Prince William, a new source claims that the royal does in fact want to sport one.
In another Twitter announcement (which must be the royal news platform of choice) just a day after the engagement news broke, Kensington Palace shared the location of the upcoming royal wedding—St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, home to several royal festivities, including Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla's blessing in 2005 and Harry's baptism in 1984. Compared to Westminster Abbey, where Kate Middleton and Prince William tied the knot in 2011 in front of more than 1,000 guests, St. George's Chapel can only fit about 800 people for a much more intimate feel. It's predicted that Harry and Markle will only have about 600 attendees at the church.
It seems even royal weddings wouldn't be complete without a little drama, and the couple was actually denied their original dream wedding venue. According to a source, the duo wanted to tie the knot at Frogmore House, where they took their dreamy engagement photos, in all its green, garden-y glory. But, apparently royal aides nixed this historical home. Rude.
The Date and Timeline
Although Kensington Palace revealed the venue immediately after the engagement, the official date, Saturday, May 19, 2018, didn't go public until mid December 2017 (also via social media). Reportedly, Harry wanted a quick turnaround for the wedding and chose a venue close to home so that his grandfather, the 96-year-old Duke of Edinburgh, could attend, according to royal expert Kate Nicholl. Quite the family man. Their wedding date will fall on the same day as two retrogrades and a planetary movement, so the stars are aligning in this royal couple's favor.
May 19 also happens to conflict with two other events in the United Kingdom—the FA Cup Final and, on a lesser note, National Redhead Day (perfect for Harry!). The FA Cup Final, a beloved soccer match, marks the last game of the Football Association Challenge Cup and has one of the highest attendance rates in the world. Since neither event can change dates, many soccer fans expressed their anger over both U.K. festivities falling on the same day. Plus, royal weddings traditionally take place on weekdays. However, a palace spokesperson noted that Prince Harry and Markle's Saturday wedding would "give the public the greatest opportunity to watch, come out, support and get involved." The spokesperson also acknowledged the sporting event, noting that they would be considerate of the FA Cup moving forward with wedding plans.
The couple will officially tie the knot at noon in the U.K., which means your royal wedding viewing parties will begin at 7:00 a.m. EST or 4:00 a.m. PST if you live across the pond. The archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. and Rt Hon. Justin Welby will marry the couple, and Rt Rev. David Conner, the dean of Windsor, will lead the hour-long church ceremony. Markle has also asked The Most Reverend Michael Bruce Curry, a Chicago-based bishop, to give the address at the wedding. Following their vows, Harry and Markle will parade through the streets of Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage. Kensington Palace revealed May 2 that the couple chose the Ascot Landau carriage, which will be pulled by father-and-son horses named Storm and Tyrone on the big day.
Afterwards, the newlyweds will enjoy, not one, but two receptions—a lunchtime version hosted by Queen Elizabeth inside Windsor Castle at St. George’s Hall, and another hosted by Prince Charles in the evening at Frogmore House (which will reportedly feature a festival theme). At some point during the wedding, Markle plans to make history and defy tradition by giving a speech dedicated to her groom, a feat that no royal bride has ever done before.
Harry and Markle chose California-bred Claire Ptak, owner of Violet Bakery, to craft their wedding confection. According to a tweet from Kensington Palace, the royal couple "asked Claire to create a lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright flavours of spring. It will be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers." Ptak's pastries heavily rely on organic ingredients, and Markle had previously interviewed the chef for her former lifestyle blog, The Tig. Traditionally, royal weddings have featured alcohol-soaked fruit cakes, and it was originally believed the couple had chosen a banana cake to commemorate their wedding. However, since this yellow fruit is Harry's favorite, it could make an appearance as a groom's cake. If you're looking to recreate your own version of the couple's wedding cake, Kensington Palace released all the necessary ingredients (although you might not have easy access to 500 organic eggs from Suffolk).
The couple hasn't revealed their potentially scrumptious wedding dinner menu, but rumor has it Markle wants to incorporate an American food trend into the reception—late night comfort food for guests to munch on. Forget fish and chips; this royal bride is reportedly introducing friends and family to the finest American cuisine, from grilled cheese to hot dogs and hamburgers (but, most likely gourmet, of course). As for the duo's formal breakfast reception following their ceremony, Windsor Castle's royal kitchen staff will be preparing meals with fresh produce sourced from local farms (and even Queen Elizabeth's Windsor estate).
Kensington Palace announced the wedding ceremony performers April 24, and they have quite the talented lineup. Sheku Kanneh-Mason, a 19-year-old cellist who won the BBC Young Musicians contest in 2016, will be joined by the southeast England-based Christian gospel band Karen Gibson and the Kingdom Choir. The big day will also feature the Choir of St George's Chapel, and all music will be led by James Vivian, Director of Music at St George’s Chapel.
Several musicians volunteered their vocal talents for the royal wedding reception, but it seems Ed Sheeran might be lucky enough to seal the deal. Royal wedding planners previously reportedly requested the love song extraordinaire's presence to serenade the royal couple on the dance floor, but the singer/songwriter has yet to publicly declare his acceptance. We hope he does, because a live Ed Sheeran first dance song truly couldn't be more "Perfect." Reporters previously asked Sheeran in December if he might perform at the long-awaited royal nuptials, and he jokingly responded, "Yeah, why not." Looks like he might get his shot, after all. Singer/songwriter Sir Elton John (a close friend of the royal family), has reportedly also been asked to sing at the wedding, although it's uncertain whether he'll be playing during the ceremony or one of the receptions.
Additionally, Mel B originally confessed to The Real February 27 that all five members of the former girl band received invites to the wedding (jealous) AND also implied that they would be making a comeback for a royal wedding performance. However, looks like she spoke too soon and got our hopes up for nothing, as TMZ reported that Kensington Palace has not yet asked for their talents at the reception. But, never say never—we're still crossing our fingers that the Spice Girls can at least have their turn at the mic for one song, especially since Mel B also implied that a reunion tour might be in the cards.
A healthy lifestyle has long been an integral part of Markle's routine, and she's also keeping up with variations of her favorite yoga and Pilates regimens from across the pond. When in L.A., Markle has been known to frequent studio classes like Y7 and Platinum Pilates, which her close friend Heather Dorak owns. While neither of these programs have yet to make it to London, Markle has made do with a hot yoga studio near the palace for pre-wedding workouts. Fit for a royal, this specific location has special lights designed to prevent Seasonal Depressive Disorder. According to Joe, the owner of Markle's fave L.A. juice kitchen, Revitasize, the bride-to-be also likes to stock up on fruits and veggies when she's stressed out to keep her energy levels high.
As for beauty, Markle already takes extra measures to maintain her to-die-for complexion, so she'll most likely continue the same skincare routine up until the wedding. London-based facialist Nichola Joss is partly responsible for Markle's stunning skin. Joss works her Markle magic through frequent face massages, including her notoriously extensive "inner facial," which features a massage so thorough that it goes into the inner mouth. If it works for future royalty, maybe we should all hop on board. And, rather than enlisting the help of a professional makeup artist for the wedding day, Markle and two of her American friends will take on the royal bride's beauty look, according to The Express. Kate Middleton similarly did her own wedding day makeup, with the help of Hannah Martin, a Bobbi Brown makeup artist.
As a royal preliminary step, Markle, who grew up Christian, also had to get baptized and confirmed in the Church of England—headed by Queen Elizabeth—before being married on May 19. Quite the royal to-do list! It's believed the ceremony was performed in secret by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby (who will marry the couple) at the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace, where Prince George was also baptized. Per the Church of England, the lovebirds are also believed to be undergoing premarital counseling before the big day.
What would a wedding be without plenty of liquor flowing? The royals are keeping their alcohol selection classy (and surprisingly affordable)—Markle and Harry reportedly chose Chapel Down winery to provide vino for their reception. Will and Kate used the same vendor for their 2011 nuptials, so the wine must be good if it gets the royal stamp of approval not once but twice. Prices for Chapel Down's bottles vary, but you can sip like royalty and get your hands on a white Bacchus for just $16.89.
For the aspect we're most interested in, we seem to have the least info. We do know, however, that Markle will mimic Kate Middleton and wear two different looks throughout the day. But when it comes to the designer(s), we're still in the dark. Hints have been dropped for Alexander McQueen, Inbal Dror, and Roland Mouret, one of Markle's go-to designers. As of recently, Ralph & Russo, the design duo behind Markle's engagement photo dress, is pegged as the top wedding dress contender, according to a source via Daily Mail, who also added that the gown has a £100,000 price tag (about $135,000). However, no further confirmations have come forth (but we do know that it won't be Vera Wang). Several bridal designers also submitted their predictions of what the fashion-forward future bride's gown could look like.
Omid Scobie, a royal reporter and biographer, confirmed Markle's first top-secret dress fitting to ABC News on January 19, so she definitely locked in a lucky label early on. According to Scobie, Markle "expressed the desire to wear something simple and classy and very elegant" on the wedding day. He also revealed that Markle's close friend and bridal stylist, Jessica Mulroney, flew in to London to help the bride-to-be during the fitting. Mulroney is assisting with the royal wedding planning alongside Markle.
Prince Harry apparently knows nothing about what Markle's wedding day looks have in store, and the couple actually plans to abide by one longstanding (and adorable) wedding dress tradition come May 19. The future royal groom will get his first look at his blushing bride's frock as she walks down the aisle. Brace yourselves for what has potential to be the best groom reaction of the decade. However, per the untraditional route, Harry and Markle will skip the customary balcony kiss at Kensington Palace come May 19, most likely because their wedding venue is located about an hour away. While Harry might not see the dress until the day of, Markle will be modeling it for Queen Elizabeth at least a week before the wedding (no pressure). In the meantime, one of the future bride's gowns is currently stowed away at Windsor Castle until she's ready to walk down the aisle.
Royal or not, every bride-to-be deserves one last fling before the ring. However, Markle's soon-to-be elevated social status means it's probably safe to assume shots and strippers won't be making an appearance. The future bride reportedly celebrated her bachelorette (or hen party as they say across the pond) March 4 at a secret five-star resort. Casual. Markle most likely enjoyed some R&R with her bride tribe, although her mom and Kate Middleton, who was seven months pregnant at the time, weren't able to attend.
While Markle and Harry have become slightly notorious for defying royal protocol, there are some long withstanding rules the couple can't dodge. For one, strict royal rule decrees that Markle can't officially wear a tiara until after she's married. However, the chances of her rocking one on the big day are high. She most likely has several historical royal options to choose from, including the Spencer Tiara that Princess Diana wore on her big day or a few headpieces belonging to the Queen Mother. Or, the bride-to-be could go the original route and design her own custom hair accessory. Markle also has to brush up on some royal etiquette before she joins Harry's fam, like knowing when and who to curtsy to and refraining from taking selfies. Harry, Markle, and their wedding guests will have to by abide by one other royal tradition at the receptions—not eating after Queen Elizabeth is finished with her meal. Grab that wedding cake while it's hot, royal guests! In preparation for her royal status, Markle even deleted her social media accounts.
While Markle unfortunately will not become Princess Meghan following her wedding, she will earn some pretty sweet new credentials from the Queen herself. Traditionally, the Queen gifts the royal bride and groom with their official titles on their wedding day—one for use in England, and another separate moniker for Scotland. Currently, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is pitted as the couple's official English titles. Their Scottish titles, however, will require a bit more brainstorming on the Queen's part, according to Harper's Bazaar UK, since she has to consider the other members of the royal family and their ranks. One option is the Earl and Countess of Ross, but the last royal to assume the Ross title was executed in 1649. The Queen may choose to steer clear of this label because of its rather unlucky connotation.
The royals mailed wedding invitations to their lucky guests March 22, in the name of Harry's father, Prince Charles of Wales. The stationery features ivory card stock with a black script font and Prince Charle's Three-Feathered Badge embossment in gold. The invites deem the dress code as a "uniform, morning coat, or lounge suit" for men, and a "day dress with hat" for female guests. Each invite came with seven pages of "critical guidance" instructions outlining the do's and don'ts of royal wedding guest etiquette. Despite having fewer wedding attendees than expected, Markle and Harry chose not to extend plus one privileges to all their guests, but it makes sense considering they both have quite the large social circles and simply can't invite everyone. Wedding guests also had to be pre-approved by both the Queen and the government.
With Markle's acting career and Harry's A-List posse, there's bound to be no shortage of celeb friends at their ceremony, (including, reportedly, two of Harry's exes). Not all of the couple's cronies are officially confirmed, but we can count on Priyanka Chopra, the Spice Girls, and Markle's former Suits co-stars, including her on-screen hubby Patrick J. Adams, to make an appearance. However, Barack and Michelle Obama, who have become Harry's close pals, won't be in attendance. In order to remain neutral, the Foreign Office, which strives to maintain Britain's best interest, advised the royally engaged couple not to invite any foreign leaders to the wedding. This also means that current U.S. president Donald Trump didn't get an invite, either, along with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Being the amazing couple that they are, Prince Harry and Markle announced via the Royal Family website that they want to include the public in their nuptials, so 2,640 lucky citizens will get to watch the bride and groom make their grand wedding entrance. But these won't be just any commoners—1,140 people will be members of the Windsor Castle area and members of the Royal Households and Crown Estate; 100 students from the Royal School, Great Park, Windsor, and St George's School, Windsor Castle; 200 from charities and organizations the couple holds near and dear; and 1,200 members of the general public from all ages and backgrounds in the United Kingdom, who will be nominated for the privilege by nine regional Lord Lieutenant offices. Can this apply to the United States as well? The couple also plans to incorporate 250 members of the British Armed Forces in their big day.
Additionally, in order to honor his late mother, Princess Diana's memory, Prince Harry has invited his relatives on the Spencer side of the family, which includes Di's three siblings (Earl Spencer, Lady Jane Fellowes, and Lady Sarah McCorquodale), their spouses, and their children. Harry's aunt, Lady Jane, will also perform a reading at the wedding ceremony.
Rather than ask guests for a new blender or china set, Harry and Markle have decided to request charitable donations. Kensington Palace declared via Twitter April 9 that the soon-to-be-married couple chose seven different organizations that they hold close to heart, and established a Royal Wedding Charitable Donations page to donate to each. The charities include CHIVA (Children's HIV Association), which helps young children with HIV in the U.K. and Ireland; Crisis, an organization dedicated to the homeless; and Myna Mahila Foundation, a charity that supports women in Mumbai's slums by providing employment and sanitary products. They also chose Scotty's Little Soldiers, a charity that supports children of deceased members of the British Armed Forces; StreetGames, which uses sports to empower children to build positive communities; Surfers Against Sewage, a marine conservation that works to protect oceans and beaches; and The Wilderness Foundation UK, a charity that teaches urban youth the importance of wild nature and science.
But, royal reporter Roya Nikkhah told The Sunday Times that the couple privately registered for a few essentials through Soho House, a members-only club and lifestyle company located in a few major European and North American cities. While Nikkhah couldn't confirm their wedding picks, she's certain Soho House staples like bedding, robes, and even energy-efficient light bulbs will make the cut, and close friends and family will likely gift from their secretive list. Queen Elizabeth, however, will take her gift one step further, though, and is rumored to be giving the couple their own country home—York Cottage, which sits on the Queen's Sandringham House estate in Norfolk, England. Sure beats a new toaster. Her Majesty similarly gifted another cottage on the estate, Anmer Hall, to Prince William and Kate Middleton when they wed in 2011.
Harry and Markle chose floral designer Philippa Craddock to supply their wedding day blooms, according to a Kensington Palace statement released April 1. "The floral displays in St George's Chapel will be created using locally sourced foliage, much of which will be taken from the gardens and parkland of The Crown Estate and @WindsorGtPark," the palace shared on Twitter. Craddock plans to use plants that are in-bloom during May, which includes a few of Markle's favorite florals—peonies and roses.
Bucking popular American wedding tradition, the future royal bride has reportedly chosen not to have a maid of honor for the big day. In an update released by Kensington Palace May 4, Markle's parents' official roles in the wedding were revealed. Her mother, Doria Ragland, will ride with Markle via car to Windsor Castle the morning of the wedding. It was originally up in the air whether Markle's mom or dad would get the privilege of walking her down the aisle, and it was confirmed that her father, Thomas, would do the honors. However, following health issues and paparazzi scandal, her father will no longer be attending the wedding. In his place, Markle will walk the first half of the aisle alone, and has chosen Prince Charles to escort her the rest of the way.
As for Harry, he finally asked his older brother, Prince William, to serve as his best man. Three days before the wedding, the palace also announced the couple's 10-person bridal party, and naturally Prince George and Princess Charlotte made the cut as a page boy and mini bridesmaid, respectively. For the rest of the lineup, Harry and Markle have turned to a few of their godchildren, Jessica Mulroney's three children, and the son of one of Harry's mentors, rounding out the cutest bridal party ever.
The newest member of the royal fam, Prince Louis, most likely won't be a part of the big day, considering he'll only be about four weeks old at the time. And, based on his health, it was up in the air whether Harry's grandfather, Prince Philip, would be healthy enough to sit through the ceremony after recovering from hip replacement surgery. But, the palace confirmed the day before the wedding that he'll be in attendance.
Despite the tradition that the bride's family foots the wedding bill, the royal family will cover most of the costs. Kensington Palace declared early on that "the Royal Family will pay for the core aspects of the wedding, such as the church service, the associated music, flowers, decorations, and the reception afterwards," which they also did for Will and Kate's wedding. With an estimated cost of $45,520,303 (yes, you read that correctly), this eight-figure wedding will rack up quite the expenses. However, because the royal family won't spot all the wedding expenses, Markle will most likely have to buy her own wedding dress, as Kate Middleton did. British taxpayers will also contribute to the wedding budget to pay for increased security in the areas surrounding the wedding venue.
The Economic Benefit
On the other hand, the wedding itself is expected to generate a lot of dough for the U.K. Reuters estimates an economy boost of 500 million pounds (or $680 million) from the royal wedding, a majority of which will come from the increased number of tourists. Wedding parties and souvenirs are also expected to rake in even more moolah, so stock up on your "I ❤️ Harry" swag.