Timing really is everything
Kate and Will's royal wedding ceremony was a great example of how timing makes a big difference. When it comes to the timing of music to generate emotional moments, these pros nailed it. Now let's just say you don't have access to The State Trumpeters of the Household Cavalry to announce your arrival. No matter. The point is the music selections, as old school as it comes, and Kate's processional, as slow as we've seen, were timed to coincide beautifully. Having your ceremony musicians at your rehearsal and asking them to edit the music as required, can help you achieve the same result.
Personal wedding websites
The world's most popular personal wedding website, officialroyalwedding2011.org, is not a template we commoners should be following. My editors and I checked Kate and Will's official wedding website regularly so we could learn every detail, but for couples, revealing so much information before your event can make the actual event a bit of a snooze for your guests.
Instead, the goal of your wedding website should be to provide useful resources for guests—directions, hotel options, local cars and cabs, and a general outline of the day, or weekend activities. It should feel personal, reflect your story as a couple, and share appropriate information about the key people in your lives or in your wedding party. The one thing we liked about the royal wedding website was their tastefully "hidden" request for donations in lieu of gifts. Your list of wedding registries should be equally out of sight when visitors first arrive at your wedding website.
Sexism is alive and well
I must admit I was rather surprised at the dramatic hand off of Kate from her father to her husband. Personally, I've never loved this "Who gives this woman?" part of a traditional Christian ceremony. But if Kate liked the idea, why not have her Mom (sorry, her Mum) there to also "give her away" considering she was an equal in raising her?
Kate's dad's lifting up her hand and giving it to Will, just felt wrong to me. I got over it until they were pronounced "Man and wife"! Huh? How about husband and wife?
This huge event with 2 billion viewers was an opportunity to delete from our culture some of the "wedding traditions" that are rooted in the (patriarchal—and not-too-distant) past. In particular, the very real, yet-to-be vanquished idea of women being the property of men. We say we should fight against acts of sexism in other parts of the world, yet when we include them in our own lives, in a very important event, we call it "tradition." This may be something to think about as you plan your ceremony, even if you don't change a word.
Bridesmaids in white?
Let's take a quick look at what bridesmaids are all about. Way back in ye olden days, a bride was a very valuable commodity because of her dowry and other payments her family had to make to the groom for taking her into his fold. So brides were often the victims of kidnapping. (Like they didn't have enough to worry about?) In an effort to confuse would-be thieves and camouflage the bride, her female friends and family dressed in clothing similar to the bride's.
The royal tradition of including young girls from family friends as bridesmaids makes sense—these folks had some serious security. But we were delighted to also see an adult attendant, Kate's sister Pippa, in white. We've been predicting the return of white bridesmaids dresses for a while now, and hope that vision of loveliness will inspire brides to dress their bridesmaids in similar attire.
Love it or hate it, Kate's dress by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen was a fabulous example of the power of a perfect fit. Even if the dress's style bored or disappointed you, you had to admit it was flawlessly executed. Personally, I loved it. I'm pleased to see the return to simple, classic gowns on the bridal fashion runways, but the magic here was not just the design, it was the impeccable tailoring. Brides today have a huge number of gown options from designers who understand a modern woman—not the case 15 years ago. Now you lucky women can find any style you love and should spend your valuable time and money to get a perfectly tailored fit. No hiking up the sliding strapless gown, puckering seams, and fallen straps. Hire a seamstress or tailor to get it right on your body and no matter who made it or where you bought it, it will look equally flawless.
We've all got them. The parents' college friends you've never met. Business associates you've never even heard of. Not to mention the list of must-invites that you know well and worry will make you, or someone else, uncomfortable. They're the ones who drink too much, can't keep their opinions to themselves for a few hours, or are likely to cause the police to show up at the reception site. Kate and Will had a number of them including the ambassador of a violent dictator who was uninvited at the last minute. They did not invite Will's aunt, Sarah Ferguson since she has a tendency to make a scene (and sell access to her ex-husband Prince Andrew), but her daughters made up for the slight, directing all eyes on themselves by wearing truly obnoxious hats (Beatrice) or clothing (Eugenie).
Kate and Will's invite list was a good lesson in seeing past your own concerns with the confidence that no one has the power to ruin your wedding day—except you. Sometimes "well, it's important to the family, we just have to do it" is actually the right way to look at the situation. Because a wedding is not just for you to get married, that's what the marriage bit is for. A wedding is for your family and friends—weirdos and all—to celebrate the union.