For those wondering how Princess Eugenie would follow cousin Prince Harry's over-the-top wedding, she answered with a weekend-long affair that was all fun and games.
Wedding planning is tough no matter how you slice it. (The "it" in this case being a four-tiered, fondant-covered confection.)
But we'd argue that Princess Eugenie had a particularly sizable challenge when putting together her 2018 vows. How does one go about impressing those in their well-to-do, seen-it-all circles when most of them had attended a pretty swanky affair at the exact same venue just five months earlier?
So, truly, kudos to her team.
The actual ceremony forever binding Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter and longtime love Jack Brooksbank—who are celebrating both their second anniversary today and the impending arrival of their first child—was every bit the formal, grandiose event one would expect from someone 10th in line to Britain's throne. There was the demure, Peter Pilotto gown, featuring just a hint of a low back to show off the scar from Eugenie's childhood scoliosis operation, and a reading hand-selected by the bride from The Great Gatsby. Not to mention two performances from Andrea Bocelli, the legendary Italian tenor apparently available as a wedding singer if you're either real-life or reality royalty.
During an afternoon reception at Grandma's place, some 800 guests sipped Pol Roger Champagne, nibbled on mini Yorkshire pudding canapés and watched as the newlyweds cut into their five-tier autumnal chocolate and red velvet cake.
Then the new Mr. and Mrs. hopped into James Bond's Astin Martin and it was all fun and games from there.
An evening bash at Windsor Great Park's Royal Lodge, the official residence of Eugenie's father, Prince Andrew, featured a Robbie Williams' performance that got the likes of Naomi Campbell and Demi Moore dancing, food trucks and plenty of Casamigos Tequila, Brooksbank a brand ambassador for George Clooney's spirit.
And the day-after festivities were a true carnival, with game stalls, a ferris wheel and an actual carousel wheeled onto the grounds.
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Not too shabby.
Because for all of the-world-is-literally-watching pressure, there are more than a few perks to being a royal bride: You've got access to some of the grandest venues in existence, a fairly lofty budget (Eugenie's weekend celebration reportedly rang in at $400,000) and, no matter what else might go wrong, you get to wear a tiara. (And not one you shelled out a few hundred dollars for at a bridal salon.)
So, yeah, we'd happily slap on a fascinator and attend any royal bash, but we're crowning a few of our favorites here.
Just two years after the end of World War II with the country still rationing food and other imports, Britain's future queen could hardly go overboard celebrating her marriage to the handsome naval officer she'd loved since she was 13. But with six kings and seven queens among the 2,500 in attendance on that November day in 1947, dressing to impress was a must. Saving up all her clothing coupons, she selected an ivory silk gown covered in some 10,000 seed pearls and a 13-foot star-patterned train—an ensemble that took 350 women seven weeks to make.
A year after American movie star Grace Kelly crossed paths with Monaco's prince in the French Rivera, she gave up her acting career to marry him in a classic design by costumer Helen Rose that would be name-checked by brides for decades to come. And it wasn't just the high neck, antique Brussels lace ensemble that had fairytale enthusiasts labeling the April 1956 event at Monaco's St. Nicholas Cathedral as the wedding of the century. Movie stars like Cary Grant and Ava Gardner were among the 600 on hand to watch Grace say "oui" when asked if she took Rainier as her husband and to dine on caviar and lobster as the prince sliced into the couple's six-tier, 200-pound cake with a sword, releasing a set of turtledoves. Post-nuptials, the two literally sailed off into the sunset on their new 147-foot yacht.
Just weeks after her 18th birthday, the Danish princess wed Greece's newly appointed King, the man she'd first become smitten with at 13 when his family visited hers. Following a pre-wedding ball at Athen's Royal Palace, guests gathered in the candelabra-filled Metropolitan Cathedral of the Annunciation on Sept. 18, 1964 to watch Archbishop Chrysostomos join Anne-Marie (in a dress by Danish designer Jørgen Bender) with the new monarch. A ceremony highlight saw various royals—the guest list reading like a who's who of European nobility—hold crowns over the young couple's heads.
The first of Queen Elizabeth's four children to wed, Anne's November 1973 vows were declared a national holiday, with 2,000 guests filling the pews of Westminster Abbey, thousands more lining the streets and a reported 500 million glued to their TVs. Maureen Baker, chief designer at Susan Smalls, created a Tudor-style gown with seven-foot train for equestrian Anne and the monarch provided the Queen Mary's Fringe, the same tiara she'd selected on her own wedding day. At the banquet that followed, guests enjoyed lobster, partridge and peppermint ice cream plus the 5-foot-6 cake (the same height as Anne!) topped with a statue of a female jockey.
Much of the June 1978 affair between Jordan's king and the Royal Jordanian Airlines exec, his fourth bride, was somewhat understated. The Princeton grad wore no makeup with her custom silk crepe Dior and a simple veil as the two exchanged their vows in Arabic on a a damask settee in the Zaharan Palace's sitting room. After they emerged onto the lawn where their 500 guests waited, they toasted with soft drinks as Islamic law prohibited champagne. But when cutting your 3-foot, seven-tier fruitcake requires a golden Hashemite sword, you've officially entered over-the-top territory.
Sure, the marriage lasted just two years and was eventually annulled, but of the Monaco princess' three weddings, the first was decidedly the most glamorous. Crowds gathered in the June sun to watch Grace Kelly's eldest daughter marry banker Philippe in the courtyard of the Royal Palace of Monaco in 1978. Sketches of the bride's Christian Dior gown having been leaked ahead of the event, designer Marc Bohan scrambled to make changes. The result—in a noticeable departure from her mom's timelessly elegant, yet quite extravagant gown—was a lightly embroidered organdy with a sheer lace bodice that complemented her floral headpiece.
There's a reason fanatics of The Crown eagerly await how the Netflix series will recreate Charles' 1981 wedding to his future princess. Two words: That dress. The iconic ivory taffeta gown that had British reporters rummaging through the dumpsters outside of designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel's studio hoping for any scrap of detail featured antique lace dating back to Queen Mary, some 10,000 pearls and a stunning 25-foot train. Throw in a glass coach, 3,500 well-heeled guests and 27 wedding cakes and you've got enough fanfare to leave some 750 million worldwide viewers transfixed.
After rejecting his proposal twice, not wanting to give up her career as a diplomat, Masoka wed Emperor Akihito's eldest son in a multi-day June 1993 affair. The 800 invited guests weren't witness to the actual 15-minute ceremony on the grounds of the Imperial Palace that saw Naruhito (in the traditional orange robe) read from a 1,200-year-old text to his bride, who was cloaked in a 30-pound silk kimono that took three hours to put on, but they greeted them after and some 200,000 fans lined the streets to watch the newlyweds (changed into more Western wedding garb) drive to their home at Tōgū Palace. Following a private dinner, the pair took part in a three-night ceremony where well-wishers offered rice cakes and their prayers for the couple to produce a male heir. They welcomed their only child, Princess Aiko, eight years later.
When Jordan's future king (the eldest son of King Hussein) spied Kuwait-born business grad Rania walk into his sister's January 1993 dinner party, "I knew it right then and there," he told People in a 2005 interview. "It was love at first sight." Following a two-month courtship, he proposed in front of her family and they set about planning their Zahran Palace nuptials for that June. Rania tapped British designer Bruce Oldfield to create a short-sleeve gown with exaggerated lapel and gold detailing. The crowning detail: an updo so towering she had to duck getting out of her arrival car. Abdullah's military uniform, meanwhile, included a ceremonial sword that was quite handy when it came time to cut the towering, crown-covered cake.
To wed the heir apparent to Greece's now-defunct throne, London-born, Hong Kong-bred socialite Marie-Chantal (she abdicated her art history studies at New York University when her prince proposed during a holiday ski trip to Gstaad, Switzerland) chose a pearl-encrusted ivory silk Valentino gown that took 25 seamstresses four months to make. The July 1995 ceremony at London's Greek Orthodox St. Sophia's Cathedral was the finale of a week of events that included a tea hosted by Queen Elizabeth and a lavish ball where 1,300 guests dined, danced and rode a carousel under a marquee constructed to resemble the Parthenon.
To tie the knot with her Dutch prince in April 2004 (the two wed in a civil ceremony at the City Hall in Delft, followed by a religious service at the Oude Kerk), human rights activist Mabel commissioned Amsterdam fashion house Viktor & Rolf to craft a one-of-a-kind piece. Covered in 248 handmade bows of various sizes, the silk creation took a reported 600 hours to complete.
A decade before he'd be named king, Spain's prince wed his queen—a news anchor he'd quietly been dating for a year before announcing their engagement—at Madrid's Almudena Cathedral in May 2004. Following a traditional Catholic mass led by the archbishop of Madrid, the bride (in a silk dress crafted by 87-year-old Spanish couturier Manuel Pertegaz) and her groom were greeted with a military salute as they made their way to a Rolls-Royce for their processional. At the Royal Palace reception, Felipe offered a sweet toast to his new wife, gushing, "I am a happy man because I have fulfilled my most precious dream. I have married the woman I love."
Significantly more pared down than his first nuptials, Charles and Camilla's April 2005 wedding had to overcome scheduling logistics (originally planned for 24 hours earlier, they had to push the date back when he was called upon to attend Pope John Paul II's funeral) and the Church of England's decidedly not modern views on divorce. The solution saw them split the day into two parts with Charles and his bride—in an Anna Valentine cream silk chiffon dress—exchanging vows at Windsor Guildhall before receiving a marital blessing at St. George's Chapel. (She slipped into pale blue for the occasion.) But perhaps the most notable moment came when the Queen likened their controversial romance to a popular horse race, saying in a toast, "They have overcome Becher's Brook and The Chair and all kinds of other terrible obstacles. They have come through and I'm very proud and wish them well. My son is home and dry with the woman he loves."
No detail was too extra for Sweden's first large-scale event since the princess' parents—King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia—wed in 1976. After Victoria, in a Pär Engsheden ivory duchesse silk gown, exchanged vows with her personal trainer at Storkyrkan Cathedral in June 2010, a military guard and fighter jets accompanied their horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of Stockholm. An appearance atop the Royal Palace balcony for the you-may-now-kiss-the-bride moment was followed by a grand reception that saw Victoria wisely detach her dress' 16-foot train before attempting a waltz.
Okay, this is an obvious one. England's first over-the-top, let's-all-wake-up-at-4-a.m.-to-watch wedding in some 30 years, the April 2011 affair did not disappoint. The future Duchess of Cambridge was regal in a custom lace Alexander McQueen gown, designed by Sarah Burton, her groom dapper in the red tunic of his Colonel of the Irish Guards uniform. There was a towering, multi-tiered traditional fruitcake, a bewitching maid of honor (hi, Pippa Middleton!) and a horse-led, open-carriage processional from Westminster Abbey to Buckingham Palace where a pint-sized bridesmaid, unimpressed by the Union Jack-waving crowds and the Royal Air Force flyover, nearly stole the show. All in all, jolly good fun!
Their pre-wedding drama exceeded the nonsense with Meghan Markle's dad by a country mile, the Olympic swimmer reportedly attempting to flee to her native South Africa after learning her 20-years-older fiancé had potentially fathered a third illegitimate child. Later denying the rumors, the two went ahead with their splashy three-day $55 million 2011 vows anyhow. Everyone from Naomi Campbell to Karolina Kurkova descended onto the wealthy European municipality to see Grace Kelly's son wed in a July 2 Roman Catholic ceremony in the palace's courtyard. The event was so high-profile, Roberta Armani later said she and Giorgio Armani made two versions of the off-the-shoulder Armani Privé gown—the duchesse satin embellished with 40,000 individual Swarovski crystals and 20,000 pearls—lest something happen to the first.
Some 3,000 guests poured into the 1,700-room Nurul Iman Palace to watch the Sultan of Brunei's daughter wed civil servant Pengiran. The September 2012 vows—the capper of a weeklong celebration—saw the bejeweled royal ushered into the throne room by 16 spear- and shield-carrying guards. A 20-minute ceremony culminated in a prayer from the state religious leader and a 17-gun salute. Naturally, the princess switched into yet another glittering ensemble with accompanying tiara before the reception.
The Luxembourg heir apparent's October 2012 nuptials to Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy had all the requisite pomp and circumstance we've come to expect: hordes of titled invitees, a kiss atop the balcony of the Grand Ducal Palace, adorable bridesmaids and page boys. But the true standout of the religious ceremony at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Luxembourg was the custom Elie Saab gown. Just one outfit the designer crafted for the day, it boasted a 14-foot train and some 50,000 pearls and required a grand total of 4,000 hours of work.
King Carl Gustaf's youngest selected the stately statue- and column-filled Slottskyrkan chapel at Sweden's Royal Palace as the site for her June 2013 vows to British-born, New York City-based banker Christopher. Though the bride topped her pleated silk organza and Chantilly lace Valentino with a jeweled crown called a diadem and the duo participated in the standard horse-and-carriage procession, kiss atop the palace steps and armed military protocol, her groom declined the offer of his own title so he could continue his work in finance.
A year after his brother Guillaume wed, the second born son of Luxembourg's Grand Duke Henri married doctorate student Claire in a September 2013 civil ceremony in her home country of Germany. Three days later, they took their show to the South of France for a religious union at Basilique Sainte Marie-Madeleine. In her own Elie Saab gown with a 10-foot train and floral tiara, the daughter of a telecommunications millionaire ascended to royalty in the 12th century cathedral then stepped outside to greet her adoring fans.
Ah, spare heirs! A year before big sis Victoria's 2010 vows, Carl Philip became a Swedish tabloid fixture when he ended a 10-year romance with an ad exec upon meeting waitress Sofia in a Stockholm club. Having starred on the country's Paradise Hotel—a reality show with the exact premise you'd imagine—and made out with fellow participant Jenna Jameson on camera, she went on to model topless (with the help of a boa constrictor!) for men's mag Slitz. Suffice to say their June 2015 wedding sounds like a fun one. During the ceremony at the Slottskyrkan chapel, singer Al Fakir sang Coldplay's "Fix You" and David Pagmar performed a Swedish version of Rihanna's "Umbrella." As they exited, their gospel hymn transitioned into Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately," the same mash-up used in Sister Act 2.
Wisely avoiding his brother's Westminster Abbey venue, Harry headed some 21 miles outside of London for a romantic, countryside celebration with the former actress where the cultural statements were as big as the white garden rose, peony and foxglove arrangements. At the May 2018 Windsor service, a Black pastor quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., a gospel choir sang "Stand By Me" and the duchess-to-be walked herself partway down the aisle like a damn queen. Then she slipped into a sleek Stella McCartney halter and Princess Diana's Aquamarine ring and partied alongside Oprah Winfrey, Priyanka Chopra and the cast of Suits as Idris Elba spun Whitney Houston tunes and George Clooney tended bar.
There was an Aston Martin getaway car, two performances by legendary Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli and Queen Elizabeth's eye-catching, emerald-studded Greville Emerald Kokoshnik tiara. But the biggest takeaway from this October 2018 bash was that it was a lot of freakin' fun. Who wouldn't want to ride a carousel, play bumper cars and spend all night dancing alongside Demi Moore, Kate Moss, Liv Tyler and Cara Delevingne?
Proving a wedding need not be huge to be spectacular, Eugenie's older sis wed the moment England's COVID-related restrictions were lifted in July 2020. Weeks after scrapping her original London nuptials, Beatrice borrowed a vintage Norman Hartnell dress from Grams to match the Queen Mary diamond fringe tiara the monarch wore at her own 1947 vows and covered The Royal Chapel of All Saints at her family's Windsor residence in blush and white blooms. Less than 20 guests—including the Queen and Prince Philip—were on hand to watch the pared-down ceremony and a dozen or so more scored an invitation into the flower filled tent, where music streamed from an iPhone kept the party going well into the night.
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