Whether it’s inviting that second cousin, twice removed, or properly listing the wedding party on the ceremony program, there’s always certain rules when it comes to celebrating your nuptials. But what about when your ceremony is a royal affair?
For Meghan Markle’s upcoming I dos with Prince Harry, there’s a whole set of guidelines she’ll have to follow, such as receiving Queen Elizabeth’s written approval and formally sending invitations under the Queen’s command. The following etiquette rules should be observed by anyone joining the monarchy — although, rules are sometimes made to be broken.
The royal family sits on the right side of the church
As with any wedding, one of the biggest stressors is seating. While it’s common to have a reserved section for family of the bride and groom, when it comes to royal nuptials, there is a strict rule for royals. So long as the groom has royal blood, the royal family sits on the right side of the church. If the groom isn’t royal, the family will sit on the left side.
The bride must arrive in a carriage and wear white
While Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana arrived to their weddings in glass, horse-drawn carriages, Kate Middleton eschewed tradition and arrived in a 1977 Rolls Royce Phantom VI, on loan from the Queen. Royal brides also must wear white, a tradition which dates back to Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840.
The groom must wear a military uniform
First introduced at Queen Victoria’s marriage to husband Prince Albert in 1840, this tradition has been adopted by all royal grooms since. This won’t be a problem for Prince Harry, who has been serving in the army for a decade, and has completed two tours in Afghanistan.
The bridal bouquet must include myrtle from Queen Elizabeth II’s garden
That same 1840 wedding inspired another tradition for all of the following royal engagements by incorporating myrtle into the bridal bouquet. The herb of love, myrtle, has been in every bridal bouquet since Queen Victoria’s wedding – and it’s not just any sprig. The herb has to come from the shrub Queen Victoria planted after her wedding.
The bride must lay her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior
At the Queen Mother (Queen Elizabeth)’s wedding in 1923, she laid her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey. This detail was a tribute to her late brother, Fergus, who died at the Battle of Loos during Wold War I. This detail has been repeated by every royal bride since.
The bride’s wedding ring must contain Welsh gold
Since the Queen Mother’s marriage, all wedding bands given to the bride have been made of Welsh gold. This will be a complementary detail to Markle’s stunning engagement ring.
There will be a formal wedding portrait
A tradition dating beyond 1947, Markle and Prince Harry will also be treated to a formal wedding portrait featuring the likes of always-adorable Prince George and Princess Charlotte.
The ceremony has to happen around noon
While there isn’t a specific reason, it’s a tradition that will be continued through Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry with invitations announcing a 12 p.m. start.
Shellfish won’t be served — but there will definitely be fruitcake
Guests are typically invited to a lunch reception hosted by the Queen after the ceremony, but, according to tradition, shellfish won’t be on the menu — for the simple reason that there’s a food poisoning risk. Garlic will also most likely be left off the menu – as it’s forbidden in any cooking done at Buckingham Palace. One thing you can bank on if you’re invited to the royal luncheon? Fruitcake. While the upcoming royal wedding’s cake is a lemon and elderflower concoction, there’s typically a second cake which will most likely be fruitcake.
There will be an official kiss on the Buckingham Palace balcony
While royal newlyweds have made an appearance on the famous balcony ever since Princess Victoria’s wedding in 1858, it wasn’t until Princess Diana and Prince Charles made their appearance and kissed for the crowd below in 1981 that it became a tradition. In 2011, Middleton and Prince William really set the bar by sharing two kisses on the balcony.