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The Wedding Industry Insider: The royal engagement

08 Dec 2017

It's been the topic on everyone's lips since the official announcement, and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement continues to glean global interest. Here's what we know...

Image: SJ Illustrations/ Words: Sarah George

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The rumour mill has been in overdrive for months, but our suspicions were confirmed when Prince Charles made the long-awaited announcement on Monday, 27th November that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are to wed. Only a week after Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip's 70th wedding anniversary there was new news to report from Buckingham Palace and Prince Harry/Meghan Markle fever has well and truly taken over the world. 

A short courtship prior to the announcement (the couple have only been dating since summer 2016) shows how quickly the couple have fallen for each other and following their official appearance and TV interview, it was endearing to see how at ease they were in one another's company.

Meghan - an American actress most known for her role in Suits - is used to the spotlight somewhat, and appeared the most confident and collected out of the two during the official royal engagement interview. Yet while she is used to the cameras and public interest, she will no doubt have a long way to go to fully adapt and acclimatise to her newly acquired role and responsibility... including her uptake of 'princess lessons'. But until then, we have a royal wedding to look forward to and here we take a look at all the key details we have so far....

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The proposal

Who knew Prince Harry was such an old romantic? The prince opted for a low-key proposal to Meghan at their home, Nottingham Cottage at Kensington Palace. During a quiet night in "roasting chicken", Harry got down on one knee and popped the question, to which Meghan couldn't say 'yes' quick enough... we don't blame her. 

The date and venue

Taking place on Saturday, 19th May, St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle is the grand setting where the couple will exchange vows. A venue which royal correspondents have claimed was an obvious choice to differentiate this wedding from that of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at Westminster Abbey. 

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The dress

There is no doubt that all eyes will be on Meghan Markle and her chosen dress. Will she stay true to her classic and timeless style or will she opt for something more daring yet demure? Her favourite fashion designers include Erdem, Antonio Berardi, Marchesa and Misha Nonooo, but this is not to say she won't deviate on her big day. 

British bridal designer, Stephanie Allin, has shared her prediction for the dress: “In some ways you can imagine Meghan wearing a Victoria Beckham-style dress; Meghan would suit a dress with more architectural styling than a boho dress.  I think we may be in for a surprise with Meghan’s gown, as potentially she could go for a Canadian designer, but I think she will want to go for someone who is not a big name.  The actress has a slender figure and this means she can get away with wearing something figure hugging.  I would not be surprised if she went for a lace dress because she tends to wear a lot of luxury fabrics,  I am envisaging a beautiful silk crepe gown and something with a lot of movement and modern sensibilities.” See Stephanie's sketch below...

 

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Toronto-based bridal couture designer, Ines Di Santo, has also sketched her prediction of what she envisages Meghan to wear on the momentous day. "Meghan is very dainty and elegant and has a beautiful figure. This gown reveals her curves in a tasteful way,” says Ines Di Santo. “It’s an off-the-shoulder design with a low-cut back to showcase her lovely neckline and statuesque physique."

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The ring

Prince Harry's perfect engagement ring choice set the hearts of females around the world aflutter. The yellow gold trilogy ring features a central diamond from Botswana - a place that is special to the couple, which is flanked on either side by diamonds taken from Princess Diana's collection. Commenting on how he has ensured his dear mum is playing a part in his engagement, Prince Harry said: "The diamonds from my mother's jewellery collection makes sure she is with us on this crazy journey together. She would be over the moon - so excited for me - and she'd probably be best friends with Meghan. But with the ring and everything else, I'm sure she's with us - jumping up and down somewhere else." 

Most previous royal engagement rings have been designed by Garrard who were the Crown Jewellers from 1843 to 2007, however Prince Harry opted to design Meghan’s ring himself and had Cleave & Company, who are the Court Jewellers and medallists to The Queen, make the ring. The ring is thought to have cost in region of £150,000 to £400,000 and if correct, makes it the most expensive engagement ring in royal history

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For brides looking for a similar ring, Diamond Heaven has created a replica of Meghan Markle's engagement ring, priced at £1,100. 

It is thought that Meghan will opt for a plain wedding band to complement her engagement ring, similar to Kate Middleton's pairing here. 

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The flowers

The couple have called upon London florist Philippa Craddock to design the floral arrangements for the day. Using plants and flowers from the Crown Estates and Royal Parks, the floristry team will decorate St George's Chapel to the couple's wishes. Specific flower requests include white garden roses, peonies and foxgloves, as well as branches of beech, birch and hornbeam. Following the wedding, the flowers will be donated to local charities.

Meghan's bouquet will also feature the traditional sprig of myrtle, which has appeared in the bouquets of royal brides since Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's wedding in 1947. Myrtle is considered to bring good luck in marriage and in recent years the myrtle used in royal bouquets comes from the same plant Queen Victoria was gifted in 1841, which is still flourishing to this day.

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Image: Bonnie Kittle via Unsplash

The cake

Elderflower and lemon are the wedding cake flavours that have been requested of Claire Ptak, who runs Violet Cakes in Hackney, east London. The 'bright colours of spring' are also said to be incorporated. 

Ms Ptak said: "I can't tell you how delighted I am to be chosen to make Prince Harry and Ms Markle's wedding cake. Knowing that they really share the same values as I do about food provenance, sustainability, seasonality and most importantly flavour, makes this the most exciting event to be a part of."

To celebrate the wedding, British supermarket chain Iceland has announced its own version of the royal wedding cake for customers to enjoy at home.  

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Their new titles

So will the UK have a new princess? Not quite. According to the Evening Standard and the rules of British peerage, Meghan won’t become Princess Meghan because you can’t become royal through marriage (boooo), however she will take on the title of Her Royal Highness Princess Henry of Wales in her husband’s name. Princess Diana became known as this by the media, not officially by the royal family. It is thought that Harry and Meghan will become known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex but this depends on the Queen, who will grant the couple a royal dukedom on their wedding day. And if the much-loved couple have children? Their offspring will be a lord or lady. 

So there you have it, what we know so far about the royal engagement. Stay tuned to Bride on Facebook and Twitter for updates as we receive them and in the meantime, we will leave you with the official engagement interview (which we've watched countless times already)...

The Photographer

Alexi Lubomirski has been chosen to take the official photographs at the royal wedding. Lubomirski, who previously took Prince Harry and Ms Markle’s iconic engagement photographs, is a British-born fashion and celebrity photographer who worked for Mario Testino at the start of his career. On his Instagram, he said: “I could not be more thrilled or honoured to photograph this historic occasion. Having taken Prince Harry and Ms Markle’s engagement photos, it brings me such joy to be able to witness again, the next chapter in this wonderful love story.”

The news was announced on Friday 13 April via Kensington Palace. “Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle have selected Alexi Lubomirski to take the official photographs at Windsor Castle following their wedding at St George's Chapel on 19th May,” the statement read. “Alexi is a well-known portrait photographer, and photographed Prince Harry and Ms. Markle last year at Frogmore House, Windsor, to mark the news of their engagement."