Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s big day is finally near, making some Americans especially excited as the bride is from California.
It has been seven years since the last royal wedding, when Prince William and Kate Middleton tied the knot, and people are again seemingly interested in every detail – especially since the couple seems to be departing from tradition in many ways while still holding to longstanding tradition in others.
First and foremost, Queen Elizabeth II must approve the marriage; she requires the first six people in line for the throne to obtain formal permission, which includes Prince Harry.
There are also many traditions for a royal wedding that may seem quirky to Americans, but a favorite and honorable ritual is for the bride to leave her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior inside Westminster Abbey.
This began in 1923 with Queen Elizabeth as a way to honor her late brother.
Another tie into the British military is for the groom to wear military dress if he has served. Prince Harry, like his father and brother, has served; however, some speculate he will wear morning dress attire.
After the ceremony, there are typically two receptions. One directly follows the wedding and the second is more intimate. Prince Harry and Markle’s second reception will be hosted by the father of the groom, Prince Charles.
For the reception, British wedding cakes are typically a fruitcake. Prince William, Prince Charles and the queen all had fruitcakes at their weddings. The tradition holds that the newlyweds will send guests a slice of the wedding cake in the mail with a thank-you card after the wedding – it takes a long time for a fruitcake to spoil.
However, Prince Harry and Markle broke tradition by outsourcing to a London bakery for a lemon cake with buttercream icing, according to an announcement by Kensington Palace.
There are many traditions that differ between the United States and the United Kingdom. A favorite tradition in the U.K. is for British women to wear fancy hats (much like the women who are actually attending the affair) while watching the royal wedding from the comfort of their homes. Americans typically have the bridesmaids lead the processional. Across the pond, bridesmaids walk behind the bride and her father. In Britain, the groom has his back to the audience and does not get to watch his bride walk down the aisle. In America the groom watching his bride walk down the aisle is a favorite photo opportunity.
Now that you know what to expect, be prepared for an early wake-up call on Saturday. Royal wedding coverage begins at 5 a.m. central time on NBC, PBS, CBS, BBC America and E!.