A wedding day can be a nerve-wracking experience for any bride, but royal brides have a series of strict rules to follow on their big day that only makes the proceedings that much more stressful. Kate Middleton, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, as well as Meghan Markle all had to follow these rules on the day they exchanged vows. These modern brides, however, sometimes skirted tradition in small, but clever ways.
Queen Elizabeth’s Approval Is Step One
The first step on the path to a royal wedding comes before the engagement is even announced. Royal family members must seek approval from Queen Elizabeth before any royal wedding plans can be made. In accordance with the Royal Marriages Act 1772, members of the royal family must ask the monarch for permission to marry.
Royal Bride Bootcamp
Now that the queen has approved the union, non-royal brides or grooms have another item on their checklist to complete. Before becoming a full-fledged member of the royal family, the prospective bride or groom must complete royal training.
Both Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle underwent this rigorous training which taught them what it meant to be a royal. This includes who to curtsy to and when to do so, along with SAS training sessions to prepare them in case of a kidnapping or other security threats.
Bridal Dress Needs Queen’s Approval
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 19: Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex leave Windsor Castle after their wedding to attend an evening reception at Frogmore House, hosted by the Prince of Wales on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Steve Parsons – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth gets involved in the wedding planning process again when it comes time for the bride to pick out her dress. No, she’s not sitting down with the seamstresses or overlooking the entire process. She simply has to give the gown her nod of approval since her tastes in royal formalwear are well-known at this point.
The rules include no short hemlines, no low necklines, and no shoulders on display as a nod to the queen’s preference for conservative dress. Markle’s second wedding gown, a stunning Stella McCartney halter-neck gown, clearly flouted the no shoulders tradition, though the dress she wore for the actual wedding stuck to all the unspoken rules.
Brides Wear British Designers
As a show of respect for the British monarchy, royal brides are expected to wear a wedding dress designed by a British fashion designer. Markle faced some heightened speculation before she unveiled her wedding gown since she’d been known to prefer US and Canadian designers in the past, but she also went with a Brit for her big day, just like Kate Middleton before her.
Special Rules Regarding Tiaras
WINDSOR, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 12: Princess Eugenie of York arrives to be wed to Mr. Jack Brooksbank at St. George’s Chapel on October 12, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Andrew Matthews – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Female members of the royal family wear tiaras on their wedding day and after becoming a married woman. It’s an exciting day for the bride-to-be when she gets to descend into the 150-foot long basement where the collection of royal tiaras is held. According to Finding Freedom, the brides don’t get carte blanche to pick whichever tiara that catches their eye. Instead, the queen gives them a selection of tiaras to choose from.
Royal Wedding Ring Origins
Not every royal groom wears a wedding ring, with Prince William being an obvious example. For those grooms who do choose to wear a ring, as well as their glowing brides, they get the option of having one of the world’s most unique wedding bands.
The queen has a stash of Welsh gold that royal couples can have made into a ring that’s made of one of the rarest and most expensive types of gold in the world. Princess Beatrice decided to part with convention and instead requested a ring made of silver.
What About The Bouquet?
(Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images, Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Royal brides have a lot of choices when it comes to their bridal bouquets, but each one since Queen Victoria’s daughter has included the same flower and wound up in the same place since the Queen Mother married into the family. The tradition of including sprigs of myrtle in the bridal bouquet dates back to 1858, when Queen Victoria’s daughter included the white and cream-colored flower, which symbolizes purity, hope, and rebirth. The bride is allowed to choose whatever other flowers she likes based on their significance or meaning.
Following the wedding, there’s no tossing of the bouquet to determine who the next to be married will be. Instead, the bouquet is laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior out of respect. The brides leave the flowers on the tomb either the day of their wedding, if they wed at Westminster Abbey, or the following day if they married elsewhere.
Wedding Photos Are A Must
Because the royal family is such a huge part of British culture and history, wedding photos are unavoidable. Even royal family members who got hitched in private ceremonies, like Princess Beatrice’s surprise wedding in 2020, must pose for official wedding portraits with their closest family members for the historical record.
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