Wedding guru, Jane Dayus-Hinch, a top United Kingdom wedding and event planner and host of Canadian reality television show Wedding SOS gives us her expert advice and knowledge on royal wedding etiquette.
As details about Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton's wedding emerge, we know the couple, their families and a cadre of royal planners are busy trying to ensure every movement will go flawlessly. "They plan for nothing to go wrong," said Dickie Arbiter, former press secretary to Queen Elizabeth II.
“In my experience,” says Jane Dayus-Hinch, “that doesn't mean something won’t go wrong but we can rest assured that tradition and pomp and circumstance will dominate much of the day.” “When I am in doubt about anything to do with etiquette, I was always told to consult Debrett's Guide - a wonderful resource and authority appertaining to anything to do with manners, dress code forms of address, and royal protocol,” says Dayus-Hinch.
We asked, “What is the proper etiquette for a royal wedding?”
‘You’re invited....lucky you,’ if you’re one of the 1900 guests to be coming to the wedding ceremony of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
‘Yes the invitations are out,’ and if you’re a dignitary, family or close friend you probably received a second invitation to be one of the 600 attendees invited to the breakfast following the ceremony, hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
‘Party in the evening,’ 300 close family and friends will also receive a third invitation to attend the reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by Prince Charles.
According to Jane Dayus-Hinch, once you have received your invitation, check your calendar and make sure you can attend…. it’s proper etiquette.
“Promptly, accept or decline responding on the formal RSVP card provided and mail it back in the return sender envelope.
“Depending on whether you are invited to dinner or not you may need to advise of special dietary requirements, wheelchair accessibility or security needs,” says Dayus-Hinch.
“Whatever part of the day you are invited to,” she says, “an information package will provide you with details as to the dress code, where to park, which entrance to enter, a copy of the seating plan, itinerary and timing of events you will be attending.”
A Shower Gift
“No need to worry about a shower gift for the royal couple; Brits don’t observe the custom of bridal showers,” says Dayus-Hinch.
Royal Wedding Gift Giving
What to get the royal couple for a wedding gift?
It all depends on who you are, according to Dayus-Hinch. “If you’re a Head of State or another Royal family you will be giving a gift from your country.”
“Likewise, Ministers would give a gift from their province or their place of residence and politicians would give a gift on behalf of their party. Media stars, only if requested, may perform a service in lieu of a gift.
“As for family and friends or the hundred golden lottery invitation invitee’s (to be won by British citizens) they would consult the gift registry prior to the wedding,” she says, “and the gift would be sent ahead of the wedding day with a card attached.”
Note: Rumour has it Prince William and Miss Middleton will be requesting a donation to a charity in lieu of gifts.
Stag Night or Boy’s Party
“Traditionally the best man throws the bachelor party or stag, in this case that would be Prince Harry, Prince William’s brother,” says Dayus-Hinch.
“It’s his responsibility to organize and arrange (approximately a week prior to the wedding) a private affair for friends of William’s, to celebrate his last night of freedom.”
“Harry’s responsibilities as best man also include safe keeping the wedding rings to hand over at the appropriate moment during the wedding ceremony and assisting William the morning of the wedding making sure he’s on time,” says Dayus-Hinch.
Hen Night or Bachelorette Party
“Usually organized by the maid or matron of honour in this case it will be Catherine’s sister Philippa Middleton,” says Dayus-Hinch
“Philippa’s duties, depending on whether this is to be a weekend affair with a 'spa' day or just a night out on the town, include organizing all the girls who will be attending and arranging the party.”
“I would imagine that Catherine will opt for a private party where no cameras or paparazzi will have any opportunity to capture her in a bad light prior to the wedding,” says Dayus-Hinch.
What can you expect at the ceremony…?
This is a very high profile wedding ceremony at Westminster Abby and will be televised to millions of people all over the world. The ceremony will start at 11:00 am in the morning and last 45 to 55 minutes.
The service will be conducted by Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the highest-ranking Church of England figure after the monarch. He will conduct the service with two other senior Church of England clerics. The Dean of Westminster, John Hall and the Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, will give the address.
“It’s unlikely the couple will write their own vows,” says Dayus-Hinch, “as that’s seen to be a modern addition.”
“They will have the choice of vows from Rite A or Rite B wording (honour and obey).”
“They can personalize the wedding ceremony at Westminster Abbey with their choice of music, décor chosen by the bride and a photographer, who they have already chosen, Hugo Burnand from the British Tatler magazine,” says Dayus-Hinch.
“They can select three or four hymns and will be advised on a choice of prayers.”
As for Jane Dayus-Hinch, she is still waiting for her invitation, whether she receives one or not she still wishes the royal couple a happy day filled with love, laughter and friends bestowing good wishes on them.