Planning a wedding fit for a king – and queen

Wedding RingsThe countdown is officially on! The wedding of the year is just months away and anyone who is about to get married – and let’s face it even those of us who are not – is eating up every bit of gossip about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding plans.

The marriage of monarchy and Hollywood promises to be a both a regal and ritzy affair: no expense will be spared for the wedding celebrations of the nation’s favourite sweethearts. But, take away the multi-million-pound budget, and Harry and Meghan face exactly the same planning dilemmas as every other couple.

From the wedding dress and the venue to the cake and evening entertainment, they have lots of decisions to make. The chances are that they will bring in a wedding planner – or indeed a whole squad of them – to help them through the process.

But if you think a wedding planner is just for the rich and famous, think again. When you book a wedding at Maryculter House Hotel, my colleague Beverley Mackinlay and I will be on hand to give you lots of advice on every element of planning, whether it’s how far in advance to book your photographer or the best room layout for the size of your guest list.

Read on for some of the other top tips I share with my brides who absolutely deserve to be Queen for the day…

The Dress

Princess Diana went full on 1980s meringue with her silk and taffeta ensemble from the Emanuels while Meghan’s soon-to-be sister-in-law Kate went for timeless elegance in a dress created by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen. Megan is good friends with stylist Jessica Mulroney, who also runs the bridal store Kleinfeld Hudson’s Bay in Toronto – fans of Say Yes to the Dress will know! – so it’s inevitable she will turn to her for advice.

However, the actress will have designers queuing up to dress her and book their slot in royal history. If you too want a custom gown, then it’s not actually beyond reach.

There are many talented dressmakers in Aberdeen and the wider area who are incredibly skilled and experienced: why not set up an appointment, take along some photographs of the styles of dress you like and ask them to help you design something? You can be involved in the creation of your wedding dress from the start, adapting it at each fitting, and getting something truly unique that no one else will have.

The Band

The royal couple are certainly not short of showbiz friends who would jump at the chance to sing at the wedding. Ellie Goulding was top pick for William and Kate, and singer-songwriters Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith have both gone on record to say that they would love to be part of May’s celebrations.

The chances are that you don’t have Adele or Elton John on speed dial, but if you wanted to add a fun element to your wedding, why not book a tribute act? There are some incredibly good singers out there representing everyone from Frank Sinatra to Take That: have a look at videos on social media platforms and see if you can tell their voices apart from the real thing.

Maybe you would rather have them entertain guests while you are having photographs taken than during the evening, and if so I can provide information on lots of different acts suitable for receptions from ceilidh groups to cover bands. Whatever you decide, book them without delay: even Beyonce may have to decline an invitation to perform at the royal wedding if she was in the middle of a world tour.

If you would prefer to have a DJ, a fun way to get guests involved is to include an RSVP slip with the invitation, asking them to state the name of the song that will definitely get them throwing some shapes. You then get your own wedding playlist – and an assurance that the dancefloor will never be deserted.

The Invites

If there is one element of the wedding that Meghan will want to closely scrutinise it will be the invitations: she is an expert calligrapher and used to create wedding invites for her Hollywood friends as a hobby. I suspect, however, that even someone as skilled as she would find fault with the traditional gold embossed invitations sent out by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office at Buckingham Palace.

In the not too distant past brides would go to their local stationery shop and pick invites from a catalogue. More recently there has been a sea change in the other direction, with brides choosing to make their invitations by hand. If you don’t want something off the shelf but don’t have the time or skills to create your own handmade invites, you might want to look online. There are lots of print specialists who now give you the option to personalise templates with you own text and photographs, bringing together the best of both worlds.

And in this digital age, I’ve also worked with some couples who don’t actually send out any physical invitations in the post. Whether you create a Facebook event or set up an online platform, you can manage all elements of your wedding guest list at the click of a button. Maybe that’s the route Harry and Megan will take…I just hope Her Majesty remembers to check her junk mail folder.


By Gemma Thompson, wedding and events co-ordinator

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