We all have varying degrees of fascination when it comes to the Royal Family of England. Some will glance at the photos of the upcoming wedding days casually and days after it happens; others have plans to watch every detail unfold even if that means doing so in the middle of the night to accommodate the time difference in the UK. The following is generally geared toward those who fall into the latter categories.
Many of us may never know what it's truly like inside the royal wedding, so instead, we turned to self-taught experts whose knowledge comes pretty darn close. And in hopes of shaving away a few degrees of separation between us and the soon-to-be-newlyweds Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, we enlisted the help of Susan Courter of What Meghan Wore, CNN Royal Contributor Victoria Arbiter, and Kaitlin Menza, one half of the duo behind the podcast Royally Obsessed (a must-listen for anyone who's made it this far into this story).
Between them, we were able to gather a few more insights on what to expect for the big day, what traditions are paramount, and, yes, we obviously talked all things Markle dress predictions. Read on for it all.
When it comes to guest dress codes, there's little guesswork.
"Most of the weddings take place in the morning [in the UK], and the invitation will state what the proper attire is," explains Courter of what we can expect from the guest fashion. "In the churches [in Britain], people do wear the hats, they do wear a jacket or a dress coat, and their arms and shoulders are covered. For the men, you may see a top hat and a tailcoat."
There is one exception: "Any guest who is attending that once served in the military or is presently serving will likely wear their uniform," Arbiter says. "People who are no longer serving in the military often choose to forgo their uniform and will wear a morning suit, which is what Harry and William wore to Pippa Middleton's wedding last year."
The deal with fascinators.
"For the ladies, of course, it's all about the hats and fascinators," Arbiter says of guest style. "The way a British wedding works—not just a royal wedding—is that the ladies would keep their hats and fascinators on for the reception following the wedding unless it is a sit-down lunch, in which case they would take off their hats. They want to make sure their hat or fascinator will keep their hair nice underneath as well."
The one color that's a big N.O.
"Ladies do not wear black to British weddings," Arbiter tells us. "The color black is reserved for mournings. It's an old tradition." Along with black, the correspondent also says that, as per most other cultures, guests avoid wearing white as to not upstage the bride. "You'll see ladies dressed in garden party–type styles, not a long, formal evening gown that you'd see in the U.S.," she says of the morning ceremony. "And also a lot of bright colors."
Speaking of white dresses…
"Queen Victoria is believed to be the woman who essentially invented the tradition of a white wedding dress in the Western world," Menza tells us. "She wore a white dress for her wedding in 1840." Menza also shared another royalty fun fact regarding Markle's soon-to-be grandmother through marriage. "Queen Elizabeth got married in the austere post-WWII era England and used ration coupons to purchase the fabric of her dress," she says. "Always the proud patriot!"
>The most educated wedding dress guesses.
>"Roland Mouret was at the top of my list immediately," Courter tells us, "Meghan has a tight bond and friendship with him. She tends to gravitate toward designers she knows and who she's comfortable with. And he's a British designer. A British designer will make the dress, of course."
>Menza, however, doesn't entirely agree with this. "For a while, the most solid assumption we could make about Meghan Markle's wedding dress was that it would come from a British design house. The bets were on Erdem, Burberry, Stella McCartney, Jenny Packham, or perhaps Emilia Wickstead or Alexander McQueen (which, of course, Kate Middleton wore in 2011). But now a lot of experts are convinced Meghan's going with Ralph and Russo, an Australian couple based in London. Meghan wore one of its dresses for her engagement photos—that stunning, wildly glam gown with the skirt of tiered ruffles and the sheer top with metallic embroidery of ferns."
>No matter which, if any, of these theories pan out, it's very likely there will be multiple dresses for Markle to wear during the festivities that will last all day long. "I wouldn't be surprised if Erdem pops up as a second dress later in the night or at some point over the weekend," Courter hypothesizes.
>As if the bride-to-be doesn't have enough to think about…
>"Royal brides do have to be particularly careful because what they choose has to stand the test of time," Arbiter states as an added pressure that could come into play with Markle's choice of wedding dress. "These pictures will be looked at by historians generations from now. If you look at Princess Margaret's dress, the Queen's dress, and Kate Middleton's dress, all of them hold up really beautifully for future generations. Princess Diana's just looks like a big display of the '80s," she adds. "There is a certain responsibility in choosing a dress in terms of if it will stand the test of time."
More easy-to-miss details of the day.
"British royal brides always include a sprig of myrtle, a fluffy white flower, in their bouquet," Menza tells us. "It's a tradition going back to Queen Victoria in the 19th century." Furthermore, she adds, "They also lay their bouquets on the tomb of the unknown warrior. They usually incorporate lace into their gowns, though that seems like a timeless bridal choice more than anything."
>What you (unfortunately) won't see.
>After exchanging "I dos" at St. George Chapel and attending the reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth, things are still not quite over. "Everyone will be in their 'glad rags' as we would say, which are their fancy clothes," explains Arbiter of the evening party to be hosted by Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Parker Bowles. "It's easy to think 'Oh it's royal; it must be completely over-the-top,'" Arbiter says. "It's not—it's just all the youngsters wanting to have a dance and will probably be drinking quite a lot and there will be nice food. It won't be like anything that you might see perhaps like the Kardashian wedding. The royals are quite restrained. There are only 200 people going to the evening event, so given the number of people that Harry and Meghan know, these guests have been selected very carefully."
>And don't hold your breath for the wedding speech.
>Just last week, Prince William was named as Harry's best man, a position the older brother joked as being a bit of sweet revenge. "[William] will likely make a speech at this reception in which he'll poke fun at Harry and share funny stories and everyone will have a good laugh," Arbiter says of the evening's party, "but we'll never be privy to what exactly goes on."
In case you still don't have the date set in your calendar and have canceled all other plans, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding will be held on the morning of May 19. Here's to the couple and to uncovering all the royal details as they unfold.