June is here and that means one thing: wedding season! North American nuptials may be a fabled enterprise, but British weddings are steeped in custom and have a certain elegance that their overseas counterparts rarely achieve. From the understated and intimate to the lavish and beyond, here are five weddings among some of Britain's biggest names.
#5 Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale (First wedding, September 14, 2002):
This rock-star couple tied the knot in September of 2002 after dating for several years. The couple had two ceremonies, the first of which was in London at St Paul's Church in Covent Garden. Not known for being a shrinking violet, Stefani arrived an hour late in a custom-made John Galliano for Dior gown with a bright pink ombre fade at the bottom. Rossdale — a born-and-raised Brit — wore a traditional morning suit and had his sheepdog escort him. To top off the English half of their double ceremony, the pair whisked guests to the reception on double-decker buses!
#4 Kate Moss and Jamie Hince (July 1, 2011):
Kate Moss' wedding did not disappoint those looking to the famed model for haute-couture wedding inspiration. So chic that it was featured in a spread in Vogue magazine, the wedding was a romantic and bohemian affair on her Cotswolds estate that showed once again she is more than just a model. Her dress was a custom design from John Galliano, and the groom wore a light blue Yves Saint Laurent suit. With 15 (15!) bridesmaids, the affair was an ethereal multi-day event that has likely inspired thousands of brides looking to create their own boho-chic dream days.
#3 Victoria and David Beckham (July 4, 1999):
In one of the UK's most high-profile unions, former Spice Girl Victoria Adams married footballer David Beckham in a wedding that puts most others in the "drop in the bucket" category by comparison — the reception alone cost more than $830,000! Extravagant in the extreme, the couple sat on matching gold thrones, released doves and employed more than 400 people to serve their guests at a stunning castle.
#2 Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell (October 9, 2011):
Coming off an acrimonious divorce (that followed its own lavish wedding), Sir Paul McCartney wed businesswoman Nancy Shevell last fall in an intimate and relatively casual ceremony at the same register office where he wed Linda McCartney in 1969. The couple released an official photo of them, dressed in simple and tasteful wedding attire, that is more playful and speaks to a duo that recognizes the importance of not taking the whole wedding thing too seriously. The pair, who together are reportedly worth the better part of $1 billion, had only 30 guests at the ceremony — proving that while a big wedding is nice, all you really need is love.
#1 Tied — Prince William and Kate Middleton (April 29, 2011); Prince Charles and Princess Diana (July 29, 1981):
No surprise here! In two of the most ultimate little-girl-grown-up fantasies, Kate Middleton and Diana Spencer each married a prince in two of the world's most viewed weddings. Kate's wedding last year at Westminster Abbey was universally admired. From the long sleeves and lace on the dress to the classic car entrance, all of it was fairy-tale perfect. A beautiful wedding that oozed good taste, the only things to fault were the hideous fascinators worn by Will's cousins, Beatrice and Eugenie. The gentlemen looked regal in military ensembles and morning suits, and the women were prim and polished in well-tailored dresses and skirt-suits, making the entire affair seem as though it happened in a dream. One year later and we're still feeling the glow of the "wedding of the century" — the 21st, that is.
But the real tone setter, the wedding that established what a true royal affair should be, is still that of Diana to Charles. From the moment she emerged from her royal coach looking like a French pastry — all layers and poof — it was clear that this was going to be a wedding like no other. Everything was custom, and no expense was spared in the celebration of their union. While the marriage may not have been built to last, Charles and Diana's wedding was most certainly the ceremony that started it all, and it left an indelible impression on the world of matrimony.
by Leigh Bryant
(photos: Top: Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding, one of the most memorable in recent years. Photo by John Pannell, via Wikimedia Commons. Bottom: Nancy Shevell and Paul McCartney by Dan Kitwood via Getty Images Entertainment)