Royal weddings x Real weddings

Can you imagine guests taking selfies on William and Kate’s wedding? Or a royal wedding without seating plans? What about vendors taking lots of photos during a royal wedding setup? We can see that at “regular weddings” or even at celebrities’ weddings, but you certainly won’t see it on weddings from royalty. Besides the huge budget, royal weddings have a few differences from the “real life weddings”. Find out which aspects of royal ceremonies and receptions can be applied on “real life weddings” and which ones simply don’t fit!

1.No cameras!

At some royal weddings, mobile phones and cameras are forbidden for obvious reasons. But does that work for “ordinary weddings”? The wedding planner Elie Berchan believes that when creating a royal wedding, it’s always nice to stick to some traditions and customs. “Although mobile phones have become a huge part of our lives nowadays, it’s somehow difficult to completely forbid them, especially with the new young generation. So it is normal for ‘ordinary couples’ to first frown upon the idea, but a planner can help warm up a specific idea to a couple as they get to know each other”, he declares.

According to the wedding planner Belen Esquivel,  “ordinary couples” think they can have other angles from guest photos that the photographer didn’t capture, and they all like to have as many pictures as possible at their wedding so they let guests take pictures with their cell phones. “They may also think that their friends and family will love to capture that special moment and this makes them happy”, she explains.

However, the wedding planner Joyce Mnguni also points out that nowadays more couples are choosing this option to keep their ceremony more private. “We even have a sign that states ‘welcome to our unplugged wedding’”, she explains.

2. Seating plans

Elie Berchan says that seating plans are very important, for both kinds of weddings, but at royal weddings it is essential. “Even at non-royal weddings, it takes time and several trials to reach the desired seating plan. This is where the planner needs the couple’s input the most, as they have to go through the guest list and start dividing people in the best way possible. Also, we have to keep in mind that a planner prepares a floor plan that should be taken into account when arranging the seating plan”, says Elie.

Belen Esquivel believes that couples in “real life weddings” do like to have a seating plan in both, ceremony and reception. “This is because they want their close family and wedding party to have a special place to sit, usually in the first rows at the ceremony and a special table at the reception”, she claims.

3. Unwanted guests

Who wouldn’t like to be invited to a royal wedding? Well, to avoid wedding crashers and paparazzi, some measures are required on weddings from royalty, such as giving a password to the guests (yes, it happened on Pippa Middleton’s wedding).  “On royal weddings, people receive specific invitations, to avoid any hiccups or unwanted guests. This trend is being used at non-royal weddings but to a lesser extent. Most couples are now even applying such tactics to their seating charts, we had several weddings that used name tags in order to place each guest exactly as they intend on each table. This is actually a very useful and organized way of dividing your guests and saves a large amount of time. It evens helps us as planners distinguish the VIP guests, the guests who need an extra hand, or even guests that have specific allergies, having such an organized way of work truly facilitates the work and helps us avoid sticky situations”, explains Elie Berchan.

Belen Esquivel says that she never saw “password invitations” on “real life weddings”, but she says that the most common way to avoid wedding crashers is to put in the invitation a number of spaces reserved for a specific guest. “I think that for royal weddings they usually have just royal guests, leaders and diplomats and few friends, while in real life couples chose their closest friends and family. Royal weddings have strict invitation protocols to follow, it is not like that in real life. It is really very hard not to have unwanted guests in real life weddings”, she observes.

Joyce Mnguni also says that the “password invitation” is not necessary for real life and she claims that a good way to avoid unwanted guests is to do a destination wedding. “ On destination weddings, only those who are invited will show up”, she says.

Wedding planner: Elie Berchan | Photo: Pulse Production

4. No ring, no bring

Pippa Middleton’s wedding became famous for the “no ring, no bring” policy, which means that no boyfriends/girlfriends were allowed (but she had to take a step back to invite Prince Harry’s new girlfriend). But that probably would not work for real life weddings and even for royal weddings, it is complicated. “Actually that policy isn’t really applicable for non-regular weddings. As all partners are welcomed to join as a plus one”, says Elie Berchan.

Belen Esquivel also agrees with that: “In El Salvador, people usually add a plus one to a guest they know he/she has a formal relationship event though they may be no ring”.

5. Kids’ squad on royal weddings

It is really common to see on real weddings lots of children as ring bearers and flower girls. “At Royal weddings, you always find several children, whereas at non-royal weddings such customs are found but vary based on the wedding itself. I would say on average of 2-4 flower girls are usually present along with 2-3 ring bearers”, says Elie Berchan.

Belen Esquivel points out that one of the differences is that in royal weddings the bride doesn’t have bridesmaids, they have little flower girls, young girls and not like real life weddings that are usually the bride’s best friends. “In real life weddings, some couples don’t even want kids at the wedding as it is hard to keep them entertained especially during the ceremony. But the majority of couples like to have kids as flower girls and ring bearers as people think it looks so cute! But it is always recommended that children are seated with their parents and take a nanny with them so that it is easier to take care of them”, she states.

Joyce Mnguni says that couples usually have kids that are immediate family, such nephews and nieces, not more that 3. “Kids usually hang around their parents once the processional is done”, she declares.

6. Privacy

Elie Berchan says that privacy and respect to the country’s culture are really important at royal weddings. “In traditional Muslim weddings, which are common amongst the Arab region, the staff is usually full of women, in order to respect traditions. In general, when preparing for a royal we have to take into consideration that our suppliers are and making sure they understand that royal wedding details should be kept extremely private and details should not be shared.  Furthermore, we take extra measures to increase security and protection at royal weddings in order for everything to run smoothly”, he explains.

7. Tradition

According to Elie Berchan, Royal weddings tend to be more conservative and traditional ranging from the bride’s wedding gown, to the guest’s attire. “They have unique etiquette that distinguishes them from others. From the very exclusive guest list to the more conservative dress code, even to include ‘No ring, No bring’ policy. Whereas, at non-royal weddings there is more of a modern spin on bride’s dresses’ and guests tend to show more cleavage”, he says.

Belen Esquivel says that royal brides also have specific rules to follow when choosing their wedding dress, while real brides don’t.

8. Bigger staff, huge efforts

Elie Berchan mentions that at non-royal weddings, a smaller staff is required. “Ranging from musicians, waiters, photographers, etc. Of course, this is depending on the wedding, but generally royal weddings require much more time and effort to be completed”, he points out.

9. More personalized

Joyce Mnguni believes that “real life weddings” are more personalized. “On real weddings, everything is more personalized, if you don’t feel like have a cake at your wedding then you just don’t book a cake. If you want to skip the first dance so be it. You add your own flavors, you don’t have to follow all the traditions”, she concludes.

10. A few things in common

Elie Berchan says that there are common protocols for both weddings: “both types of weddings require necessary care and preparation. There are always guidelines that need to be followed whether it’s the religious ceremony and customs, to the floor plans and seating charts, to even dealing with suppliers. A wedding is the happiest day of a couple’s life, and should never be taken lightly no matter who the guests are”.


First photo credit: Hugo Burnand/Clarence House

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