So close. On Saturday, May 19, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry will exchange vows in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, and royal fans around the world (estimated at a billion in case you were wondering) will witness the festivities via live streams online and on TV. So much has been made of the 2018 Royal Wedding, however, that it can be hard to keep track of what to watch for and what to expect ahead of the wedding day.
Here, The Knot has compiled all the most important bits and pieces of information you need to know in order to be fully prepared for the whirlwind that is the royal wedding, starting with the time you should set those alarms.
Harry and Markle will exchange vows at approximately noon GMT (7:00 a.m. ET), but in the lead-up to their first kiss and husband and wife, there will be plenty of pomp and circumstance, including approximately 1,200 members of the public, who will begin to arrive at Windsor Castle around 9:00 a.m. ET local time. They represent individuals who have been nominated by Lord Lieutenants around the country for their work supporting communities. Between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m., other notable guests will arrive; at 11:20 a.m., however, the royal frenzy will really begin to set in, as the royal family is expected to arrive at Windsor Castle.
Harry and Prince William, who will act as his best man, will then enter through the West Steps; Markle and her mother will arrive shortly afterward, also entering through the West Steps. The ceremony is set to start promptly at noon.
Harry and Markle will wed in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Palace on Saturday, marking the latest royal event to take place at the historic chapel.
The building as it appears today was started by Edward IV in 1475 and completed 53 years later, in 1528, under the supervision of King Henry VIII, who was later buried there. The chapel has seen its fair share of weddings, christenings, funerals and blessings over the years; in fact, Harry’s uncle, Prince Edward, married his wife, Sophie Rhys-Jones, at the site in 1999, and a service of dedication and prayer was held for Harry’s father Prince Charles and stepmother Camilla Parker-Bowles at St. George’s Chapel in 2005.
One of the big details that has yet to be revealed about the royal wedding is who Markle chose to design her wedding gown, which will undoubtedly spark thousands of copy-cat gowns and eagle-eyed criticisms alike when she debuts it on Saturday. According to Town & Country, a palace source has declared that “Meghan’s wedding dress is finished and safely hidden at Windsor Castle.”
Lead contenders include Burberry, Ralph & Russo, Erdem, Roland Mouret, Inbal Dror, Jenny Packham and Alexander McQueen. Here’s how a few designers envisioned Markle’s dress, as interpreted to The Knot. Plus, editors’ predictions.
Even though the couple will have plenty of well-wishers “taking part” in their wedding on Saturday, the number of guests they are actually inviting to the ceremony and reception itself is severely limited due to space (St. George’s Chapel reaches capacity at 800 people). Still, both Harry and Markle have tried to find a way to include as much of the public as possible. As such, they have invited 2,640 people into the grounds of Windsor Castle to watch the arrivals of not only themselves, but also their guests, who will include everyone from Serena Williams to Princess Diana’s three siblings to Markle’s pal Priyanka Chopra to stylist Jessica Mulroney.
Harry’s two exes, Cressida Bonas and Chelsy Davy, were both invited, though former president Barack Obama and current president Donald Trump are not on the guest list. Celebs like Elton John, who was a close friend of Harry’s late mother, Princess Diana, and Victoria Beckham will be in attendance.
Prince William will serve as best man to Prince Harry. On Friday, a day before the nuptials, Prince Charles was confirmed to walk the bride down the aisle.
The junior bridesmaids and page boys were also announced earlier this week, including Prince George and Princess Charlotte. Harry’s godsons and goddaughters will also join, including Jasper Dyer, Florence van Cutsem and Zalie Warren. Markle has asked the children of her best friend, Jessica Mulroney, to join the mix, including Brian and John, 7, as well as Ivy, 4.
Following the ceremony, Harry and Markle will take a scenic ride around Windsor in a horse-drawn carriage to greet fans as husband and wife. Their ride, the Ascot Landau carriage from the Royal Mews, will act as a tribute to the late Princess Diana as well, as she often chose to ride in this particular carriage over other options. Harry’s decision to choose the carriage also has another layer of sentimentality: he rode in the Ascot Landau at his brother’s 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton.
Kensington Palace made a highly anticipated announcement about the couple’s wedding cake choice back in March, telling royal fans that the pair had opted to go with a “lemon elderflower cake that will incorporate the bright flavors of spring. It will be covered with buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers.” Harry and Markle tapped Violet Cakes owner Claire Ptak for the tall task and the buzz surrounding the pastry chef and her beautiful creations is very real. The confection requires more than 200 lemons and 10 bottles of elderflower liqueur.
“I can’t tell you how delighted I am to be chosen to make Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s wedding cake,” she said in a statement at the time. “Knowing that they really share the same values as I do about food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and most importantly, flavor, makes this the most exciting event to be a part of.”
Harry and Markle broke tradition when choosing their florist, opting to work with Philippa Craddock, a high-fashion florist based in London. In a statement via Instagram, Kensington Palace shared that “the displays in St. George’s Chapel will feature foliage from The Crown Estate and Windsor Great Park, and will use seasonal plants including branches of beech, birch and hornbeam, as well as white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves.”
Markle will pay tribute to the late Princess Diana with her wedding bouquet, which will feature white garden roses, Diana’s favorite. After the ceremony, Markle will leave her bouquet on the grave of the unknown soldier at Westminster Abbey, per royal tradition; she and Harry also plan on donating all of their flowers to charity after the wedding itself.
All for practicality! Windsor Castle head chef Mark Flanagan told Cosmopolitan that the kitchen is already all hands on deck getting ready for the big day. “All the staff are delighted to be involved on the day,” he said. “We’ve even had old staff contacting us if we need some extra support.” The menu will consist of foods that can be easily eaten standing up and served in food bowls—more trendy than stuffy. “Luckily the seasons have just fallen perfectly and that’s become the main focus in the decision making of the menus,” he said. “The couple have been very involved in every detail of it.”
In February, Scary Spice (nee Mel B) confirmed that the Spice Girls will indeed be performing at the royal wedding, sending ‘90s fans into a tizzy. All five members will be in attendance at the ceremony itself, and will then perform before an intimate group of family and friends at the reception. Prince Harry is known to be a big fan of the girl group, even memorably attending one of their shows in Johannesburg, South Africa, when he was still a teen.
During the ceremony itself, Harry and Markle selected several well-known hymns and choral works, calling on the Choir of St. George’s Chapel to perform the songs during the service. They also selected 19-year-old renowned cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason to perform on their big day, a personal connection for Harry, who saw Kanneh-Mason playing during a London event in June 2017. “What a privilege to be able to play the cello at such a wonderful event,” Kanneh-Mason said at the time. “I can’t wait!”