The wedding will take place on May 19 at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle, where Harry’s father, Prince Charles, and his stepmother, Camilla Parker Bowles, received a blessing from the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2005 after their civil wedding ceremony.
According to Kensington Palace, the royal family will cover the cost of the church service, flowers, music, decorations and reception. The British taxpayers will likely foot the bill for security ― the most costly aspect of the wedding ― as they did for Prince William and Kate Middleton’s 2011 nuptials.
But what else should we expect on the couple’s big day? We asked royal wedding and etiquette experts to weigh in with their predictions.
St. George’s Chapel seats about 800 people ― less than Westminster Abbey, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge married in 2011, which holds 2,000.
“I would consider a guest list of between 500 to 700 people from both sides of the family, but more heavy on Prince Harry’s side,” royal historian Marlene Koenig, who runs the website Royal Musings, told HuffPost.
Note that not all guests who attend the ceremony will be invited to the reception that follows.
Koenig added that about 8,000 people can fit within Windsor Castle’s Lower Ward, located near the chapel. So there may be a process by which the public can apply for tickets to be on the grounds, as was the case when Prince Edward married Sophie Rhys-Jones there in 1999.
There are no official estimates for Prince Harry and Markle’s wedding cost. But for comparison, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding cost an estimated $34 million, with $32 million of that going toward security.
According to CNN, because Windsor is a much smaller town than London, security costs should be less than they were for the 2011 royal wedding. London police estimated that as many as 1 million people came out to try to catch a glimpse of William and Kate’s wedding parade.
Anne Chertoff, royal wedding expert at WeddingWire, noted that while the in-house team is in charge of planning, it will hire outside vendors for things like flowers and the cake.
Wedding trend expert Amber Harrison told HuffPost she imagines Markle will wear a gown with longer sleeves, just as Kate Middleton and Princess Diana did.
“Meghan will likely wear a timeless dress — a simple silhouette with stunning embroidery and incredible detail,” Harrison said. “And I believe she will find a unique way to showcase her own personal style while still adhering to royal traditions and protocol.”
“Whatever she wears, I am certain her dress will become incredibly popular and will be mirrored by many brides,” Harrison added.
Chertoff suggested that Markle’s gown could include meaningful embroidery and detailing, like the dresses other royal brides have worn.
“Imagery that symbolizes love and fidelity or family crests,” she said. “It’s not mandated to do so, but it is a nice way to personalize their wedding dress.”
She may even borrow a tiara from the queen’s collection for the occasion, Chertoff added.
As far as the groom’s attire, we could see Prince Harry and other members of the royal family dressed in formal military uniforms on the big day, Chertoff said.
The wedding will include a traditional Church of England ceremony and is expected to be officiated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Markle, who identifies as Protestant, will be baptized and confirmed prior to the big day.
The bride will carry a sprig of myrtle ― a symbol of love and marriage ― in her bouquet, just as all other royal brides have done dating back to Queen Victoria, Chertoff said.
The wedding band that Prince Harry will place on Markle’s finger will be made from Welsh gold, our experts predict.
“We don’t yet know if Prince Harry will wear a wedding band,” Chertoff said. “His brother doesn’t. It’s a personal choice.”
And because the queen will be in attendance, the bride and groom will honor her as they begin the recessional.
“The bride will do a deep curtsy and Harry will bow as they prepare to walk down the aisle to leave the chapel,” Koenig told HuffPost.
After the ceremony is over, it is tradition to hold a luncheon reception that may be followed by an evening reception with a smaller number of close friends and family.
In the meantime, we’ll be eagerly awaiting that invitation.