Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's romance has broken many age-old traditions (opens in new tab). However, with just under 48 hours until the royal wedding (opens in new tab), there are still some strict wedding rules we can expect them to abide by. Ahead, 30 marriage traditions that have existed throughout royal history.
The bride must wear white on her wedding day.
The well-known tradition actually started with Queen Victoria in 1840.
There's always an engagement announcement.
Could Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's get anymore adorable (opens in new tab)? Probably not.
They must take an official wedding portrait...
...like this one from Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. Perhaps we'll get another peek at baby Prince Louis (opens in new tab) with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's portrait?
There's always an interview following the engagement announcement.
There's actually a big difference between Prince William and Prince Harry's interviews—from the atmosphere to the body language to the outfits. See for yourself here (opens in new tab).
The reception normally includes two cakes...
Would you LOOK at the details on Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding cake (opens in new tab)?
...and the traditional flavor is fruitcake.
On the left is the royal wedding cake of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981, and on the right Prince William and Kate's from 2011. Harry and Meghan broke this tradition and chose a spring-inspired lemon elderflower cake. (opens in new tab) Learn more about the royal wedding menu here. (opens in new tab)
The bride leaves her bouquet at the grave of the "Unknown Warrior..."
...which is a spot in Westminister Abbey where all brides since the late Queen Mother (opens in new tab) have left their bouquets following the wedding. Meghan and Harry will marry in Windsor Castle (opens in new tab), so they won't be following this tradition.
Speaking of bouquets, the bride always carries a sprig of myrtle.
Using this flower in the wedding bouquet is a royal tradition (opens in new tab) dating back to Queen Victoria. It’s known as the “herb of love.” Harry and Meghan enlisted florist Philippa Craddock (opens in new tab) to decorate their venue.
The most traditional site for a royal ceremony is the Chapel Royal at St. James Palace.
It housed the weddings of Queen Anne (1683), George III (1761), George IV (1795), Queen Victoria (1840), and George V (1893). Kate Middleton and Prince William's wedding took place in Westminister Abbey. Kensington Palace announced Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding will take place (opens in new tab) at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle—straying from tradition.
The royal family typically travels in a Glass Coach to and from the wedding venue.
However, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge traveled by car and Princess Diana and Prince Charles took a carriage. Harry and Meghan will be riding in a carriage, as well (opens in new tab), the first time we see them as a married couple.
They have designated "page boys" for the wedding.
A.k.a. groomsmen. The page boys and bridesmaids of Prince William's wedding are pictured above. Prince George was a page boy at Pippa Middleton's wedding (opens in new tab) and will also be a page boy at Harry and Meghan's wedding. See the full list of bridesmaids and page boys here. (opens in new tab)
If the bridegroom is a member of the royal family, he has "supporters" instead of a best man.
However, Prince William broke this tradition when he named his brother best man. According to The Guardian (opens in new tab), "Bridegrooms in royal weddings traditionally chose a 'supporter' instead of a best man. The Prince of Wales chose his brother Prince Andrew to be his supporter when he married Diana at St Paul's Cathedral in 1981." Harry chose William to be his best man (opens in new tab) as well.
All royal wedding bands contain Welsh gold.
This began with the wedding of the Queen's late mother in 1923. It's three times more valuable than gold from Australia or South Africa (!!!). Speaking of rings, you can get a peek at Meghan Markle's engagement ring here (opens in new tab) and see our predictions on what her wedding ring will look like here (opens in new tab).
The royal family pays for the wedding...
...even though American tradition calls for the bride's family to pay for the wedding (opens in new tab).
The royal family sits on the right side of the church during the ceremony.
The only exception is if the groom is not royal, in which case they sit on the left.
The 1701 Act of Settlement prohibits royals from marrying Catholics.
The royals are the head of the Church of England, which is a Protestant Anglican church. The goal of the Act (opens in new tab) is to keep the Protestant heritage alive and well. Markle was baptized (opens in new tab) into the Church of England before the wedding.
There are two wedding receptions.
Most British weddings are held at noon and are followed by a seated luncheon called a "wedding breakfast." There's also a gathering in the evening (opens in new tab). Harry and Meghan will have a luncheon (opens in new tab)at St. George's Hall after the wedding service (opens in new tab) and an evening reception at Frogmore House, hosted by Prince Charles.
Royals must get the Queen’s permission to marry...
True story. The Royal Marriages Act of 1772 requires it (opens in new tab). Meghan Markle met the queen (opens in new tab) multiple times and spent quite a bit of time with her before Harry proposed. The Queen then signed a document called the Instrument of Consent (opens in new tab), which made it official.
...especially if they're marrying a commoner.
Lookin' at you, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton.
Women who marry royal male successors assume their husbands' titles.
The honor of having the princess title precede your first name is reserved for ladies born into the royal family. Therefore, Meghan Markle won't be called "Princess Meghan."
So even if a woman is marrying a Prince, it doesn’t mean she’s automatically a Princess.
There's a big difference between a Princess and a Duchess, and people are still debating (opens in new tab) whether Kate Middleton is both. Technically Princess Diana shouldn't even be called Princess Diana—she's Diana, Princess of Wales. Meghan Markle won't be considered a princess because she doesn't have royal blood (opens in new tab).
Instead of a bachelor party, the male has a "Stag party"...
...and instead of a bachelorette party the woman has a "Hen party (opens in new tab)." (FYI Diddy and Kanye were not at Prince William's Stag...only in my dreams.)
Newlyweds and members of the royal family always make an appearance after the wedding...
...and wave kiss in front of the crowd. (We are all the little girl on the left.) Harry and Meghan won't have a balcony kiss because Windsor Castle doesn't have a grand balcony the way Buckingham Palace does, but we will get to see something.
The groom wears military regalia to the wedding...
...since it's tradition for royal males (opens in new tab) to serve in the military.
The wedding dress is typically made with lace.
Kate Middleton's gown was designed by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen and Princess Diana's dress was designed by Elizabeth Emanuel. Taking bets on who will design Markle's gown (opens in new tab). Here's everything we know about the dress (opens in new tab).
Once you’re married to a royal, you can’t be active in politics...
...because royals have to maintain a public role (opens in new tab). Plot twist: Prince Harry had to meet with Melania to maintain bipartisanship because he's BFFs with Barack and Michelle Obama (opens in new tab). (Kidding, but not...)
A piece of the wedding cake is mailed out as a 'thank you' to guests.
No, we're not kidding. Pictured above is a slice (opens in new tab) from William and Kate's 2011 wedding. Guess you can really have your cake and eat it too!
Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.
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