Royal weddings aren’t exactly closed doors. Harry and Meghan’s nuptials in 2018 were filmed by 80 cameras, helmed by three separate directors, each with their own crew. And that’s not even taking into account the hundreds of photographers outside, clamoring for shots of guests, or even a veiled glimpse at the royal bride-to-be.
Royal wedding receptions, on the other hand, are an entirely different kettle of fish. Previously, all we’ve been able to see from royal wedding receptions was a photo of the bride’s second wedding dress and perhaps a quick snap of the cake. But now, with the release of the second installment of Harry and Meghan’s bombshell Netflix documentary, we have more of a glimpse into the post-3pm antics of royal weddings than ever before.
There were speeches, Elton John, the cutting of the wedding cake with a sabre — they’re just like us! Okay, fine, they’re not but that’s why we love a look inside this private royal tradition. Here’s everything we know about Harry and Meghan’s wedding reception thanks to their new documentary release.
Meghan started the day with croissants and mimosas
Harry and Meghan entering St George’s Hall post-nuptials
When describing the stress of the build up to her wedding, including claims that she was being a “diva bride” and getting into fights with the then Duchess of Cambridge, Meghan reveals that on the morning of the big day she entered an almost surreal “calm space”. A calm space which involved mimosas, croissants, and cheesy wedding songs, apparently. “I don’t know how I was so calm,” she says in the documentary. “All I wanted was a mimosa and a croissant and [to] play the song ‘going to the chapel’ and that’s what I did. It was so great.”
Meghan also recalls walking down the aisle, saying that she told herself: “Just take a deep breath and keep going.” Then, when she got to Harry, she explains how the rest of the world “felt temporary.”
“H and I are just really good at finding each other in the chaos,” she tells interviewers.
The dress had to be ‘flawless’
The duke and duchess inside St George’s chapel
British designer and ex-Givenchy creative director Clare Waight Keller also appears in the documentary to give some insight on Meghan’s dress. As a clip of Meghan leaving the car is shown, illustrating the British public’s first glimpse of it, Keller says: “Looking at the design of the dress, there were many conversations we had over how you [Meghan] want to present yourself to the world. I mean most of us have a wedding with 70 to 200 people, [there were] billions of people watching this wedding.”
The Givency dress was a hit. Designed by Keller, it had a boatneck neckline, short train and huge, flowing veil, all held together by Queen Mary’s bandeau tiara. Keller reveals in the documentary how she felt the dress had to “flawless” as a result: “It has to be flawless, it has to be perfect.”
Drinks reception at Windsor Castle
Harry and Meghan cut the cake at their drinks reception
This came straight after the wedding in St. George’s Chapel (also at Windsor Castle), when Meghan was still in wedding dress one, yet to switch to wedding dress two. Pictures from the occasion show the couple entering the hall of their drinks reception, beaming and holding hands. Harry gives a toast, speaking into a microphone while Meghan watches him fondly. Then, as per military tradition, the pair cut their lemon and elderflower flavoured wedding cake (or cakes, rather – there were three) with a sabre.
Many of the big names of the royal family are seen in attendance in photos from this part of the wedding itinerary, including Prince William and the Queen. Her Majesty is not pictured later in the night, however, when it all looks a bit more raucous, meaning that she probably popped off to get some rest and see her corgis.
Elton John and Idris Elba were on the lineup
Harry and Meghan dancing at their wedding reception
Also in attendance was bonafide royal himself, Sir Elton John, who treated guests to his musical stylings. The Rocketman singer can be seen sat at a piano in the hall of the drinks reception at Windsor Castle, playing to some attentive guests – including Doria Ragland, Meghan Markle’s mother, who can be seen in pictures standing next to the piano and watching Elton intently. “I just really wanted the music to be fun,” Meghan says in the documentary, “even our first dance.”
The couple danced to “Land of 1000 Dances”, which Meghan says she always forgets the name of. “Song of a thousand dances, a thousand… I always get it wrong,” she laughs, sitting with her husband. The upbeat soul track then plays over a sequence of images of Harry and Meghan’s first dance, where the pair can be seen twirling, dipping and spinning each other on the dancefloor, a live band playing behind them. “It was just so fun,” Meghan says, “Just spinning like a whirlwind, it was so great.”
But the music didn’t stop there — next up was actor Idris Elba, who as well as attending the ceremony was also enlisted to DJ the reception. Images show him and Harry embracing over the DJ booth, clasping each other’s hands and chatting. In a radio interview earlier this year, Elba revealed two of the songs he played at the reception: I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston and Still D.R.E by Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg, which the actor added “was Meghan’s choice.”
Meghan gave a poetic speech
Meghan gave a speech where she described the couple’s relationship as a “modern fairytale”
In the documentary Meghan reveals the speech she gave at her and Harry’s wedding, where she describes the couple’s love story – something she calls “a modern fairytale.” She also notes that the bride giving a speech at her own wedding is “A-typical for a woman in the UK”, to which Harry responds “Very.”
“On the crux of why I wanted to speak to you all tonight,” her speech begins, “first of all – it’s been a while.” The duchess pauses reading the speech to add to the camera, “That got a big laugh.”
She continues: “But mostly I wanted to share a story, a story that I wrote about the man that I love and the way that we met. Let’s call this a modern fairytale.
“Once upon a time there was a girl from LA, some people called her an actress, and there was a guy from London, some people called him a prince. All of those people didn’t fully get it, because this is the love story of a boy and girl who are meant to be together.
Meghan watching Harry give a speech earlier in the celebrations
“They meet on July 3 2016 in London and they giggle endlessly, so the next day they have their second date and he brings her cupcakes because it’s fourth of July, a bittersweet celebration he says. Ironic really, her country’s independence from his country, yet in this moment they know they don’t want to be independent of each other.
“And after a month of long distance courtship they settle into the quiet of Botswana, and amidst whatever momentary worries that creep in, they look at each other and think ‘Whatever world, we’re in’. They would love and garden and travel and laugh and rack up more airmiles than any couple could have.
“And when the tides were rough, they squeezed each other tighter, nothing can break us, they’d say, for this love she was a fighter. I appreciate, respect and honour you my treasure, for the family we will create, and our love story that will last forever. So I ask you to raise a glass to the astounding assurance that now life begins and the everlasting knowing that, above all, love wins.”
Then fireworks over Frogmore
The happy couple watching fireworks over the Frogmore House lake
Pictures from later in the evening paint a successful wedding with happy guests, crowding on the dancefloor with vividly coloured cocktails in hand. Bow ties have been loosened and Meghan is dancing with Elton John. People can be seen swaying, belting out lyrics to whatever song was playing at that moment, with Harry and Meghan pictured hugging on the dancefloor, Meghan half-asleep as Harry smiles, his arms wrapped around her.
For the grand finale, guests gathered on the garden at Frogmore House to watch as a huge fireworks display commenced over the lake. The happy couple are stood just in front of their guests, which provided a romantic shot the couple later used in black and white form for one of their Christmas cards, though this is the first time we’re seeing it in full colour.