Sunday 19 November 2017

How to have a wedding that’s fit for a queen

For richer, for poorer: Prince
William and Kate Middleton are
cutting back on the bling for
their wedding.
For richer, for poorer: Prince William and Kate Middleton are cutting back on the bling for their wedding.

Lorna Hogg

William and Kate show that it really doesn’t have to cost a king’s ransom, says LornaHogg

So, no carriage and horses for Kate's trip to the Abbey. As royal wedding costs are debated in these times of cutback, simplicity and understatement are key.

Well, the engagement ring is a family heirloom, the ceremony is in the local family church, and Granny is providing a reception at her home.

The groom's father plans a private evening dinner and dancing for close family and friends at his home just across the road, doubtless with plenty of homegrown organic produce. Certainly no unnecessary “pomp and lavishness” here.

All right, so the local church is Westminster Abbey, and the regal guest list could top 2,000. Granny happens to be Head of the Church of England, and also the Armed Services, so plenty of help is on hand. She also has quite a few carriages, as well as palaces, to ensure plenty of the necessary pageantry.

Yet Kate and William's wedding plans could be good news for cash-strapped modern brides and grooms. They are all about making a stylish virtue out of a necessity — and giving wedding cutbacks a regal touch.

Royal weddings have long been influential in setting bridal style — the popularity of carriage transport, and the importance of romantic wedding pictures set against castles, old churches and mansion vistas exemplify that.

However, as 2011 brides look for value for their hard-saved wedding funds, will this wedding still influence their choices? “Absolutely,” according to Michelle McDermott, of Dream Irish Weddings. “Particularly because it is the British royal family, and constantly in focus. The carriage ride, the dress, and beautiful surroundings are part of the fairytale, and the dream for many girls.”

Yet royal weddings also reflect the current trends and lifestyles. The last old-style spectacular royal wedding in Westminster Abbey was that of the Duke and Duchess of York, in 1986, and Prince William was a youthful attendant.

When the Queen's youngest son, Prince Edward, married Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999, they understandably opted for a different style. The bride arrived at St George's Chapel in Windsor in a limousine — unlike Diana and Fergie, who came by carriage to their weddings.

Edward and Sophie opted for a ‘no hats’ cocktail wear style. A buffet reception was followed by a ball, at which Prince William reputedly taught guests line dancing, and the late Queen Mother danced the Twist.

Charles and Camilla had a civil ceremony before their church blessing, again at St George's Chapel, and then an afternoon buffet.

William and Kate, like most modern couples, are determined to have their own modern style, with an evening dinner followed by a dance.

Research suggests that in Ireland, by 2012, civil ceremonies could outnumber those held in church. Whatever their choice, as Irish brides save up for the average €20,000 cost of a wedding these days, their own taste is paramount, as hotels are ever more helpful in providing what is wanted.

“There is much better value these days,” says Michelle McDermott. “Prices have really come down, and brides are also cutting back on the guest list.

“They’re still looking for the fairytale, but now they want to upgrade to a better venue, and maybe some high-octane entertainment for a while.”

Rosemary Maleady of agrees. “People are having smaller, more intimate ceremonies. Hotels have really invested in wedding rooms. They can be beautifully furnished, and if the hotel is in a castle or period residence, it's possible to just walk to the reception, cutting down on transport costs.

“Hotels include a lot of extras these days — such as organic produce or special canapés.”

Couples are prepared to cut back in order to have what they really want. So, it's fewer fireworks, less mood lighting and no dancing troupes, then?

“Overall, a dinner or late lunch for about 20 or 30 close family members remains popular here, followed by a party, perhaps with a buffet.

“Restaurants are also back in vogue. You might go there for a meal, and stay on for the evening, perhaps using one of their function rooms. It’s becoming more in tune with the way weddings once were in Ireland.”

So, wedding style is changing, and it's a sign of the times, as much as available cash. Michelle McDermott feels that today's couples, even if money is not an issue, want a less showy wedding in these straitened times.

“Nothing too flashy — classical elegance and value are what today's brides are looking for.”

Celebrity bling is so yesterday.

So, as the William and Kate Show adds some royal cool to simplified wedding styles, it can only be good news as well as an inspiration for couples on tight budgets.

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