The world witnessed a transformative moment for the Royal House of Windsor, but will the couple’s personalized, multicultural wedding affect bridal trends to come? Here are a few ways it might.
A Divorcée Wears White. And Why Not?
Yes she is now Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex, but no one would have imagined her transformation while watching the understated, divorced American bride at her second wedding.
Will divorced women take Markle’s lead and have big weddings, even bigger than the first, and wear white gowns? Both have been no-no’s in the past for American weddings.
And will green be the new complimentary color for mothers and the rest of the bridal party?
A Simple Dress (and a Long Veil)
There was no ostentatious bling on the unadorned bridal dress Markle wore that was designed by Clare Waight Keller for Givenchy.
In 2011, when Kate married William, owners of American bridal emporiums assumed they would sell high-neck, long-sleeve lace dresses, similar to the one Middleton wore. After all, doesn’t every bride want to look like a princess?
Designers and store buyers were so certain of this that they quickly stocked their showrooms with similar designs in many price points, low and high.
How wrong they were.
Brides-to-be here admired the royal gown from afar, but then searched out the barest, strapless, most embellished dresses available for themselves. Let’s just say many American brides preferred to look more Kardashian than Middleton.
“We probably still have a few left,” said Ronnie Rothstein, an owner of Kleinfeld in New York, a store that was well stocked in dresses that looked like Kate’s and now has at least a half-dozen that resemble Meghan’s.
“Remember women want to dance at the reception and you can’t move in a dress with sleeves. They are too restrictive,” he added, trying to come up with a polite reason for the unsold goods.
Darcy Miller, an editor-at-large for the magazine Martha Stewart Weddings, said she is noticing more classic, simpler bridal dresses paired with dramatic veils. Just like Markle wore at her wedding. (Although her veil was 16 feet long — probably not in the future for American brides.)
Markle wore a simple diamond tiara once worn by Queen Mary; of course that was a royal privilege — a loan from Queen Elizabeth — but stores do sell simple tiaras and embellished veils.
No Boring Ceremonies. Be You.
The ceremony took place in an austere Anglican Church and although there were traditional elements, this was no button-up royal ceremony.
The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, an African-American from Chicago and the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, gave a spirited homily alongside Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, who was the officiant. Curry’s sermon, spoke of love and inclusion and took the words of Martin Luther King Jr., to invigorate — and surprise — the royal family and other guests.
Natalie Neilson Edwards, who owns Broomstick Weddings, a company that specializes in organizing interfaith, interracial and mixed cultural events, said it is more and more common to see two clergy members at weddings today because many couples have different backgrounds. And that is a trend very likely to continue.
Music was another way this royal wedding was more personalized than in the past. So long Anglican hymnal.
“Stand by Me,” sung by the Kingdom Choir, which is based in southeast London, was unexpected and seemed to create a stir among some in the church. Neilson Edwards said “it was magical.”
And, the 19-year-old cello soloist, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, wowed churchgoers immediately after the ceremony. (He is the first black musician to win the BBC’s Young Musician Award in its 38-year history.)
“I was blown away by the inclusion of the bride’s culture,” Neilson Edwards said. “There were many African-American guests and an African-American bishop. It was very empowering to see how clear the bride was about her culture.”
Neilson Edwards added, “According to the 2010 census here, one-sixth of weddings in the U.S. are mixed racial.”
And with more modern vows like the newly minted duke and duchess chose — there was no mention of “man and wife” (they said husband and wife) and no mention of obeying — places of worship might seem more inviting for couples who want to personalize.
The Children as Bridal Party
Move over bridesmaids and groomsmen and make room for the children.
The royal wedding might have finally changed some long-standing bridal traditions like who makes up the bridal party. Enlist the little ones! They are much cuter anyway! (And you can only hope as well behaved as the royal children were for the duke and duchess.)
Forget asking your best friend to be a bridesmaid or groomsman. Let them save (lots of) money, take a seat, and watch your happy day. Don’t make your best friends buy dresses they’ll never wear again.
Another advantage to skipping the bridesmaids and groomsmen? Nobody’s feelings are hurt when they don’t make the cut.
Walk Down the Aisle: I’ve Got This
Neilson Edwards said couples are moving away from traditional wedding rules. “Brides are escorting themselves down the aisle, like Markle did for example. Now we are getting married our way,” she said.
Yes, Markle ended up walking alone most of the way down the aisle after her father bowed out, but now, can you imagine her wedding any other way?
Vishal Joshi, the chief executive of Joy, a wedding planning website and app, said: “I think brides should do what they feel like doing. Literally brides used to be given away by their father to their husband like property. There was a negotiation before a wedding. There is some cuteness to tradition but not all traditions have good origins and some have to be taken down.”
Now many couples live together before marrying, he said, adding, “our generation should create new traditions.”
Less Jewelry, Less Makeup
Will brides wear less makeup and be adorned with just a little jewelry after seeing Markle wearing diamond stud earrings (forget big chandeliers) and a thin diamond bracelet, both from Cartier?
“Hair styles are looser,” Miller said, “and makeup is more natural now.”
The bride’s mother, Doria Ragland, wore a mint green Oscar de la Renta dress and coat with a coordinating fascinator reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy’s simple 1960s style. But her nod to modernity and individualism was the demure but noticeable diamond nose stud.
A White Bouquet. Also, Go to Your Garden.
It would be elegant if white floral bouquets like Markle’s make a comeback now, even though there has been a lot of color added to American weddings.
The language of flowers is important and romantic, too; Markle’s bouquet had a sprig of myrtle in it — a sign of hope and love, often in British royal bridal bouquets. It also included some flowers hand-picked by Prince Harry (forget-me-nots, a favorite of his mother, Princess Diana) from the Kensington Palace garden the day before the wedding.
Out With the Old. A Fresh and Local Cake.
Americans, it may be time to deconstruct those towering, tiered (or do we mean tired?), sugary wedding cakes that most people don’t eat anyway and get creative with flavor and design.
Markle and Harry’s went a very different direction with sponge cake, skipping the traditional, no-expiration-date English fruitcake.
They chose the flavors of lemon and elderberry-flower baked and heavily decorated with fresh flowers by Claire Ptak, a London-based baker who owns Violet Cakes and uses local organic and seasonal ingredients. Instead of the towering tier, it was presented as four cakes on three separate resting places (one golden plate and two golden goblets) situated at varying heights.
There were 600 at the reception. We don’t know if they all ate cake. But here is what it was made of: 200 Amalfi lemons, 500 organic eggs from Sussex, about 44 pounds each of butter, flour and sugar, and 10 bottles of Sandringham elderflower cordial.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
MARIANNE ROHRLICH © 2018 The New York Times