10 Royal Traditions to Steal for Your Own Wedding
You don't have to be a prince or princess to take advantage of these great ideas.
We look to the British royal family for inspiration on everything from fashion and beauty advice to entertaining etiquette, so it's only right that we turn to them for wedding ideas, too. And for good reason: Royal weddings are some of the most beautiful, special celebrations around, they're a huge deal for the monarchy, and they're historically significant affairs. Add in the fact that royal nuptials include a level of opulence that's usually beyond the average couple's reach and it's easy to understand why people become so fascinated by these weddings. Well, that and the fact that almost every bride-to-be wants to feel like Duchess Kate (or Meghan Markle!) on her own big day.
"Commoner" brides might not be able to get married in a tiara made from the Queen's collection of crown jewels or exchange vows in Westminster Abbey, but there certainly are ways to incorporate aspects of the royals' nuptials into your own. The British monarchy's wedding traditions are a good place to start. So many of their marriage rituals can be adapted for your nuptials—including the concepts of meaningful bridal bouquets, kid-centric wedding parties, and unique wedding cake flavors—and some might even make you feel like you've written yourself into a history book that dates back to the times of Queen Victoria.
Here, we've decoded several popular, longstanding royal wedding traditions and suggested ways to make them your own. From exchanging wedding bands that are written into your family's legacy to sending guests home with a slice of your cake, the following ideas are sure to make your wedding feel like a royal affair—simply because it was actually inspired by one.
Royals up to sixth in line to the throne (Prince Harry is currently fifth) must receive permission from the reigning monarch to marry. While most of us aren't at a reigning Queen's mercy as we choose a life partner, plenty of couples practice this tradition in their own way. For some duos, this means sitting down both of their families and sharing their intentions to marry. Alternatively, some grooms ask their bride's father for permission before proposing. Whatever your method, there's definitely a way to incorporate the idea of asking for your family's blessing into your engagement.
Choose a Family Stationer
The London-based company Barnard & Westwood has been responsible for making royal wedding invitations since 1985, and most recently printed the stationery suite for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's nuptials. Follow in the monarchy's footsteps and consider having your paper suite designed by the stationer who created your sister or cousin's set. Encourage your family's future brides to do the same.
Give the Children a Bigger Role
Young bridal parties are part of the culture of British weddings. We all remember Prince George and Princess Charlotte's adorable debut at Pippa Middleton's 2017 nuptials—they served as pageboy and bridesmaid, respectively. To make this tradition your own, consider adding more flower girls or ring bearers to your wedding party. If there aren't enough youngsters in the family to bring into the mix, another option is to simply give the children you do have a larger role. Maybe your ring bearer and flower girl actually hand the rings over to your officiant when it's time instead of just tossing petals or sprinting down (and back up) the aisle.
Carry a Meaningful Bouquet
Every royal bride since Queen Victoria (who was married in 1840!) has carried myrtle in her bouquet, including Princess Diana and Duchess Kate Middleton. The bloom isn't sourced from just anywhere, though; it comes from Queen Victoria's 170-year-old garden, which has been preserved to this day. Pay homage to this royal ritual by including the flower in your own clutch. Alternatively, ask your mom about the florals that made appearance in her arrangement and start a bloom-specific tradition of your own.
Wear a Sparkly Headpiece
A royal wedding wouldn't be complete with a crown. For most of British history, a bride was supposed to wear a headpiece from her own family's collection and would then be allowed to borrow one from her husband's family after the big day. Duchess Kate didn't observe this tradition, though—hers was her "something borrowed," a 1,000-diamond-studded Cartier headpiece on loan from the Queen—but Princess Diana did. She wore a Spencer tiara that had been in her family for centuries. To emulate these royal ladies, consider adding a sparkly headpiece, like a hair comb, headband, or even a tiara if it suits your fancy—and your style.
Ask Guests to Wear Something Special
If you remember one thing about Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice's attire at Prince William and Duchess Kate's wedding, let it be those sky-high hats. Hats and fascinators are a longstanding staple of traditional royal dress (think you about it—have you ever seen Queen Elizabeth without a hat?), especially at weddings. Since asking your own guests to don caps likely won't pan out, consider enforcing a color palette-specific dress code.
Exchange Special Weddings Bands
The gold used to make the British monarchy's wedding bands has been sourced from the same mine in Wales for nearly an entire century. The reason? Welsh gold has a higher percentage of gold than the standard 18-carat, which gives it a richer, warmer color. The tradition first started in 1923, when Prince Harry's great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, had her wedding ring sourced from the Clogau St. David mine in Wales. Every royal couple since has followed suit. Making this tradition your own doesn't require a major splurge, though. Instead, ask your parents or grandparents about the contents of their wedding ring and have bands cast in the same medium, whether it's platinum, gold, white gold, or silver.
Serve Up a Traditional Wedding Cake
Fruitcake has been the preferred wedding cake flavor at Kensington Palace for centuries. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, and Prince William and Duchess Kate have all served the classic British flavor, but only time will tell if Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will follow suit. The couple's cake baker has said their confection will be a lemon elderflower one, but they could serve two treats, just as the groom's older brother did for his nuptials. Although fruitcake isn't a popular flavor in the States, there's a way to make this tasty tradition work for you. Serve up a cake flavor that your parents or a sibling sliced into on their wedding day—classic vanilla buttercream is likely to go over better with your guests.
Take an Official Wedding Portrait
The royal family takes an official portrait every time a close relative ties the knot; the photo is usually snapped in the Throne Room of Buckingham Palace and includes virtually everyone, cousins and babies included. While your photographer will probably snap a ton of family shots over the course of the day, make it a point to get the entire clan together for one posed shot. You'll treasure it in the years to come, especially as the children grow and the family expands even more.
Send Guests Home with Wedding Cake
We've seen many a creative wedding favor in our day. Our favorites, though, are definitely the types you can eat. The Royal Family must feel the same way—they've been mailing pieces of wedding cake to guests as thank you gifts for quite some time now. While mailing cake seems a little farfetched, sending attendees home with slices of boxed cake instead of a traditional favor is a brilliant idea. It's an easy way to guarantee that your cake won't go to waste at the end of the night.