It’s been a couple of days since the legendary Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and we at Waterlily Weddings are still reeling from excitement and awe at all of the glorious details. The picturesque town of Windsor with its incredible Castle served as impossibly perfect backdrop to this (quite literal) fairytale. The dress, the groom, the floral arch, the cake flavors (!!) and more, the wedding of the year serves us tons of inspiration and we’re delighted to go over the so many “do’s” we’re still in love with!
A Textbook Example In Expression
You often see and read on this blog about how we encourage couples to really embrace themselves and have that reflected in the wedding day, so for me that’s the first thing that really stood out. There was a decided mix of both traditional and modern, English and American touches throughout the day. Every element was selected very carefully and you can tell time was taken to interpret its importance, significance, and if it was appropriate to use in that way. Take the ceremony itself for example: traditional in the sense of the formality, structure, and procedure but modern in that spirited speech by American bishop, the Most Rev. Michael Curry; a mix of traditional Anglican music and American gospel choir; the Duchess walking herself down part of the aisle and then being escorted by her future father-in-law (and king) down the rest. It’s those sorts of details that made the entirety of the day feel fresh, authentic, and appropriate. And most of all, you really felt as a “guest” that you were getting this incredibly intimate insight into the couple themselves and thus, had an emotionally invested interest.
The entire day, down to the smallest detail really was a true reflection of who the Duke and Duchess are themselves in personality and how well they compliment each other. It was masterful in that sense, and precisely why it’s important not just to think about personalizing your wedding day, but making sure to be thoughtful about it and edit so everything makes sense within the overall context and works together in chorus rather than competing. Simply brilliant.
DO consider not just how to express yourselves and your individualism, but ask how will it work in the space overall? Do I need help editing that down? Will that particular detail overshadow everything else? Is everything working together in harmony?
The Floral Arch and Decor
Absolutely O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with the floral arch installation at the entrance to the chapel. 1000% nailed that look and completely set the tone for the decor in the most brilliantly whimsical and elegant way. We’ve seen floral arches, ceiling installations, etc. before but this was done with such integrity towards the space that it really made a stunning and impacting presentation. The structure wasn’t too strict; it wasn’t too “perfect” with it’s trailings from the center entrance door down the length of the staircase and “thicker here and thinner there” form….it had movement and life to it. It felt at once like spring and fairytale and just gorgeous. Branches of beech, birch, and hornbeam adorned with glorious garden roses, peonies, and foxgloves in classic white, ivory, and green tones played off the natural stone of the castle and kept with the botanical garden setting surrounding the chapel. There was a variety of texture to create lots of depth and I’m sure it smelled incredible as you walked through.
Drawing the theme indoors as well, the garland effect continued at the base of the organ loft, instantly drawing the eye up to the rafters of the incredibly beautiful ornate ceiling. Then punches of greenery perfectly placed to enhance (not compete) with the rich decor and importance of ceremony. Well done.
A Blessed Return to the Natural Looking Bride
There was so much I loved about the Duchess’s look. The dress, the veil, the hair, the accessories, the tiara (!!!), but most of all I really loved how natural she looked. I read a recent meme and literally it’s my mantra now: “In a world of Kardashians, be a Duchess.” And honestly, that should be every bride’s mantra too. Perfectly sculpted eyebrows, natural glow, even freckles (loved that!) and a soft, natural beauty really showed an immense confidence in herself and that confidence is what’s going to make for incredible pictures! I love makeup and love strong looks, but make sure to edit. Make sure it’s appropriate to your gown. Make sure it still looks like you!
The Veil That Tells A Story
Love. Love. Love. Love. Love the veil. Loved the length. Loved the style. Loved the compliment to the dress. Really loved the detail with the different flowers representing the Commonwealth and her native California. And love the story behind it.
The stunning scene-stealing accessory was made from silk tulle and featured a border of hand-embroidered flowers. Each flower represented one of the 53 counties in the Commonwealth and were made of threads and organza. Wintersweet was also added — a flower that grows in the garden of Kensington Palace in front of Nottingham Cottage (their home together) as well as the California Poppy — the state flower of her native California. Veil designer Clare Waight Keller says she came up with the idea after a few conversations with the Duchess centering around the “story they wanted to tell” through the wedding look. The Duke and Duchess have committed to doing a lot of work in the Commonwealth, so she wanted to give a nod to that. Together with the other flowers, it tells story of the Duchess herself: her past, her present, and future. I find that so incredibly meaningful and thoughtful. And for added luck, crops of wheat which symbolize love and charity sit at the front, a visual mantra of what guides the Duchess herself.
This detail is more than just a political statement; it’s about declaring her intentions and owning her own. I find it so inspiring to see how a bride can approach her overall look as not just pretty and beautiful, but also as a way of telling her own story and expressing a bit about what helps guide her.
A Thoughtful Gesture: The Bride’s Bouquet
It’s hard not to compare the Duchess’s bouquet (or the Duchess of Cambridge’s for that matter) to Princess Diana’s. Considerably smaller in shape and size to Diana’s full cascade style, the smaller posy-sized bouquet the Duchess clutched on her wedding day seemed to serve more for symbolism than aesthetic effect. Royals are constricted in that they must have all-white flowers for their wedding bouquets (although a colorful springtime palette would have looked exquisite for the record!). And another royal tradition dating back to Princess Victoria includes including a sprig of myrtle in the bouquet — symbolizing hope and love. But even here where the protocol seemed dictated and non-negotiable, the Duke and Duchess managed to get in a bit of personalization and may have just started a new favorite trend in the wedding world.
Prince Harry hand-picked some of the flowers that went into his bride’s bouquet, including a few forget-me-nots — a nod to his late mother Princess Diana (they were her favorite flower). The complimented the softness and spring collection of sweet peas, lily-of-the-valley, astilbe, fragrant jasmine, and astrantia just perfectly and added that incredibly sentimental touch. I am completely in love with the fact that the groom chose to include a little something in his bride’s bouquet, and from the very garden that is their first home. I am so inspired by this gesture and would love to see more grooms surprising their brides with a little sentimental gesture that is just so incredibly romantic and thoughtful!
Two Looks: Bride AND Groom!
We’ve seen the bride maybe change into something more comfortable for the reception/dancing portion of the evening but I am LIVING for both of her looks, but also can we stop for a second and give a shout-out to Prince Harry’s wardrobe change as well!
The stunning 3/4 sleeve Givenchy gown with boatneck detail was an absolute perfect fit for the Duchess’s frame. Simple accented with spectacular crown, earrings and bracelet, her overall look wasn’t overly styled or trying too hard. It was perfectly balanced, each element working with one another so you spent some time with each detail and just “oooo’d” and “aaah’d” at its beauty but kept on for the next detail. Every piece from the gown’s shape and color, to the veil’s length and detail, to the tiara’s shape and color, to the jewelry all worked again in concert to create a spectacular look. Not to be outdone, Prince Harry was a vision in strong military suit of rich black and vibrant reds.
After the ceremony they changed for the evening reception. The Duchess’s white Stella McCartney evening gown with halter neck was exquisite — form-fitting and comfortable but still regal and supremely elegant. Loved the Duchess’s hair again for this look, allowing the silhouette of the dress to really shine through and accessorizing with a brilliant aquamarine ring that dazzled. But again, not to be outdone, Prince Harry changed into a classic and smart tuxedo to match the vibe and tone for the evening’s festivities.
Loved how they both did a change and I really hope grooms will take inspiration for this as well! Work with the entirely of your day! Play around with something more casual or formal. Don’t be afraid to work in your own style and changes to create complimentary looks!
The Guests: style, color, and fascination!
Many couples focus on the wedding elements and their personal looks, but one of the most overlooked aspects is the guests. If you’re planning to invite guests to your wedding, it’s a good idea (and well within etiquette) to provide a clear direction you’d like them to go in for how they are expected to dress for your event. This can be as little as a semi-formal or formal indication to asking them to stay within a certain color palette. The reality is, they’re going to be part of your wedding day (and part of the pictures!) and something thought out in advance will always end up looking better.
The royal wedding is another great example of how you can provide guidance and even ask your guests to embrace a cultural tradition or theme! Everything from bright colors like Amal Clooney’s glorious nod to sunshine yellow to neutral tones like Serena Williams’s elegant dusty rose dress by Versace stayed within the season and allowed for individual expression that still worked in the setting. Some floral prints worked in as well offered something fresh. Loved Doria Ragland’s mint Oscar de la Renta dress and coat combination with soft white embroidery detail — the tone of greens throughout the immediate family on both sides was a lovely compliment to the garden theme in the decor and made for excellent pictures! We saw a glorious teal blue with floral detail ensemble from Lady Kitty Spencer, loved Victoria Beckham’s navy dress (her own brand) and paired it with a pop of amazing burnt orange heels. Loved the guys in a variety of suits, including tails!! But for me the best part were the fascinators and hats!! Glorious!
The point here is, to not be afraid to set a standard of expectation on part of your guests for them to dress a certain way. Everyone can find a price point that works for them, expression in color or style, etc.; but the point is to ensure some level of consistency so everyone feels comfortable and pictures come out great!
To Wrap It Up
We can sit over a cup or two of tea and discuss for days all of the incredible details and gush over how perfect the day ways. From the brilliant sunny day to the picturesque Windsor, the stunningly beautiful chapel to the whimsical and romantic decor, the two looks (times two!) to the parade of fascinators. We got together with the team to break it down to our personal favorite moments, loves, and all the glorious inspiration!