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William and Kate's Royal Wedding -- What to Expect

Prince William and Kate Middleton have vowed to keep their nuptials simple (after all they're not exactly a "flashy" couple), but simple is a relative term when you're second in line to the British throne.
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There's nothing like a wedding to lift our spirits, and a royal wedding is the ultimate mood lifter during an economic recession. As the Archbishop of Canterbury who married Charles and Diana stated, "This is the stuff fairy tales are made of." Even though the royal engagement was announced 2 days ago, there are still many wedding details that have not been decided or revealed.

Prince William and Kate Middleton have vowed to keep their nuptials simple (after all they're not exactly a "flashy" couple), but simple is a relative term when you're second in line to the British throne. After all, how many "simple" weddings will be watched by an estimated 1 billion people around the world? The British public understandably might not want (or to partially pay for) a lavish wedding, but they and the rest of the world love the majestic pomp and circumstance that the British royal family does so well. So it's not as if they could just get married under a tent in the Middleton backyard, or elope in Vegas. Here then are some things I expect to see from this royal wedding:

The Venue There are three possible venues for the wedding: St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, and St. George's Chapel. St. Paul's Cathedral is, of course, where Charles and Diana got married in 1981. This is not the traditional site for royal weddings but it was selected as it could accommodate more people (3,500 guests attended) than the smaller, around 2,000 capacity Westminster Abbey. I would rule St. Paul's out simply because I can't see William wanted to start off his own marriage off at the same venue as his parent's less-than-successful marriage.

St George's Chapel was where Charles and Camilla got married in 2005, as well as the site of some minor royal weddings, such as the wedding of William's cousin Peter Philips (although he's not technically a royal) in 2008, and that of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones (now the Earl and Countess Wessex) in 1999. This location will be easier to manage from a security point of view due to its smaller size, but we can probably rule it out as Clarence House made the announcement "The wedding will take place in spring or summer of 2011 in London." St. George's Chapel is in Windsor Castle, not in London, and the public wants to fill the streets of London to celebrate the wedding of their popular young prince.

So that leaves Westminster Abbey which has historically been the site of important royal occasions such as coronations, weddings and funerals. The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth), her sister Princess Margaret, Princess Anne, the Queen Mother, and Prince Andrew (Duke of York) all got married there so my money is on Westminster Abbey.

The Date: Since the official announcement states either spring or summer of 2011, the speculation is that it may be in March, July or August. While the royals can plan a wedding relatively quickly (after all, they do have a lot of help), I would think that four months is a little too short of a time period, even for them. Also, a major royal wedding such as this would have to take into account the schedules of all the other royal guests from the world's other royal families, as well as heads of state. Many of them have their schedules planned a year in advance. It took six months from engagement to wedding for Charles and Diana, so I would say that summer would be a safer bet. William is said to favor a March wedding, and he usually gets what he wants. However, logistically it might be a challenge to pull off.

Whenever it is, my guess is that it won't happen in June as there is the Trooping of Color (the Queen's birthday parade), Royal Ascot, and Prince Philip's 90th birthday on June 10, as well as William's own birthday on June 21. The Queen doesn't like too many royal events happening on the same month so I can't see the palace putting on a royal wedding as well. July might bring back painful memories for William as his parents' wedding will be exactly 30 years ago on July 29, 2011. Kate Middleton might share Diana's engagement ring, but it is highly unlikely she will share Diana's wedding date so if it does happen in July, it won't be on July 29.

August is looking like the strongest contender at the moment, especially since royal aides have made inquiries at Westminster Abbey for August 12 or 13. We probably won't have to wait long for the date and venue to be announced.

The Wedding Dress: This is the one detail that we will all have to wait until the day of the wedding to see what it would look like. As much as we would like a fairy tale princess image like Diana on her wedding day, Kate Middleton will be 29 when she gets married and has a more mature and sophisticated style than Lady Diana Spencer, who got married at the young age of 20. Also, Diana's voluminous wedding dress with puffy sleeves fits with her image, the style at the time, and the size of St. Paul's Cathedral, which needed something grand to suit the space.

Whichever design Kate chooses, she won't veer too far from her usual classic style, which is elegant with a hint of sexiness. The dress will of course have a train although it won't be as long as the 25-ft train Diana had. Since it will be a royal wedding, don't expect anything too low-cut. Princess Diana got a dressing down from the palace after appearing in a cleavage-baring black evening gown on her first public engagement. She was firmly told, "We royals don't wear that sort of thing, dear!"

The Designer: Brazilian-born, London-based designer, Daniella Issa Helayel (known as Issa) has been a wardrobe favorite of Kate's for many years. It was an Issa blue dress that Kate wore on her engagement day, which perfectly complemented her sapphire engagement ring, and showed off her fantastic figure.

Practically any designer in the world would jump at the chance to dress the future princess on her big day since this dress is sure to be an iconic dress for years to come, as well as set wedding fashion trends around the world. However, Kate is likely to choose a British label, and other British designer names that have been mentioned include Alice Temperley, Bruce Oldfield, and even Stella McCartney. I'd say McCartney is a long shot, and even though I don't think it will be Bruce Oldfield either, he'll be an interesting choice since he was a favorite designer of Diana's in the early years of her marriage, and he has also designed other royal wedding dresses such as that of Queen Rania of Jordan.

The Tiara: Since Kate doesn't come from an aristocratic family, she likely won't have a family tiara like Diana, who wore the Spencer heirloom tiara on her wedding day. Kate will either be gifted or loaned a tiara by the Queen, as was done when commoners Sarah Ferguson and Sophie Rhys-Jones married into the royal family. Other than the tiara, I don't expect Kate to wear a lot of other jewelry other than perhaps a pair of earrings or a simple necklace. While royal ladies tend to wear their hair up with a tiara, I hope that Kate keeps her gorgeous thick hair down on the wedding day.

The Ceremony: Wherever the venue, this will be a Church of England wedding as the Queen is head of the Church of England. Prince William will be in his military uniform (he's Flight Lieutenant Wales in the Royal Air Force) and his chief supporter (best man) will be his brother Prince Harry. Kate's chief bridesmaid will, of course, be her younger sister Philippa (known as Pippa); like Diana, she will likely have young bridesmaids as well. Some possibilities include seven-year-old Lady Louise, the daughter of Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, Viscount Linley's young daughter Margarita, and Lady Helen Windsor's six year old daughter, Lady Eloise. William's cousin, Zara Philips (with whom he is close), might also play a role in the ceremony.

Kate will arrive with her father in the same glass coach that took Lady Diana Spencer to her wedding. Afterwards, William and Kate will get in the horse-drawn, State Landau coach and travel down the streets of London to Buckingham Palace. People will be lined up all the way from Pall Mall to the palace for a glimpse of the royal couple on the balcony, and hopefully, that first kiss as a married couple. Watch for playful Prince Harry to either write or tie something cheeky to the back of the carriage! Also, royal brides don't throw their wedding bouquet or the garter belt either so don't expect to see an undignified scramble for either item.

The Wedding Guests: Along with family and friends of the bride and groom, members of the royal families of Europe, Asia and the Middle East will be invited, as well as various heads of state. So we could be seeing Princess Maxima, Princess Letizia, Queen Rania, and possibly President and Michelle Obama at the church. Favorite royal musicians and artists such as Elton John will also be on the guest list.

The Royal Titles: While many anticipate "Princess Catherine," unless the Queen decides otherwise, Kate's official title upon her marriage will actually be Her Royal Highness, Princess William of Wales. Yes, it sounds strange, but in the British (and some other) royal families, a new princess takes her husband's first name after marriage. That's why you have a Prince Michael of Kent in the royal family.

Diana's official title was actually Diana, Princess of Wales, not "Princess Diana". However "Princess Diana" and the even shorter "Princess Di" is easier for people to say, and for newspapers to fit on headlines. So I'm sure that people would refer to Kate as "Princess Catherine" or "Princess Kate" even though these are incorrect titles.

If the Queen bestows upon William a dukedom as she did with Prince Andrew, who became the Duke of York on his wedding day. The Queen has a choice of several dukedoms such as Cambridge, Sussex, Connaught, and others, and she will avoid those with a negative connotation such as Clarence. Constitutional experts say that the Duke of Cambridge is the likeliest choice, and the last Duke of Cambridge, Prince George, is said to have believed passionately in love. An auspicious start for William and his new bride, who will then become HRH, the Duchess of Cambridge.

The Honeymoon: Top bet is Kenya, where William proposed; Africa is also very close to the prince's heart. But why choose just one location? Royals tend to have more than one honeymoon destination. Charles and Diana started their three month honeymoon at Broadlands - the family home of Prince Philip's family - in Hampshire England, before boarding the royal yacht Britannia and cruised to Egypt, Tunisia, Sicily and other Mediterranean sites. Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden and her husband also went on an extended world honeymoon to Brazil, Tahiti and New York, among other places.

However, William and Kate probably won't be gone quite so long as the prince still needs to finish his three-year stint with the Royal Air Force in North Wales, where he and Kate will be based. Once he's done with the RAF, the royal couple might move into an eco-friendly, Georgian manor house Prince Charles had built in Herefordshire that's fit for a future king and queen.