For those who harbour Disney-themed fantasies for their pending nuptials, the union of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle promises to be a feast of regal inspiration, wedding watchers say.
In keeping with a long history of royal trend-setting, the matrimony on May 19 could dictate styles for seasons to come — from the cut of the wedding dress, to the floral arrangements, to the length of the guest list, said Molly Lux, a Saskatoon-based wedding planner.
“They’re royalty. They’re kind of the epitome of trends and what’s hot in the wedding world,” said Lux.
“They just do everything so big and grand, and everyone kind of stops and watches.”
The 2011 wedding of Prince William and the now Duchess of Cambridge, formerly Kate Middleton, had a noticeable influence on what Lux’s clientele envisioned for their big day.
After the bride’s sister, Pippa Middleton, made jaws drop in a form-fitting ivory gown as a maid of honour, Lux said she saw a spike in demand for white bridesmaid dresses.
As Kensington Palace scrupulously doles out details about Prince Harry and Markle’s nuptials, Lux said the information that has been made public reflects current bridal trends as much as it looks to set future fashions.
The couple’s florist is harvesting in-season foliage from the gardens surrounding Windsor Castle to arrange designs that reflect the wild and natural landscape of the wedding locale, palace officials said.
An untamed, “picked off the road” floral esthetic has also been popular among engaged couples Lux has worked with this season.
Prince Harry and Markle could also help bring back the cake-cutting tradition, which has been sidelined for years in favour of bite-sized dessert tables, said Lux.
For Halifax bride-to-be Maggie-Jane Parker, there’s an allure surrounding the royal wedding for both practical and aspirational reasons.
“As a young girl, you dream of that princess wedding and finding prince charming, and it’s still very much in the narrative of romantic stories, even today,” she said.
“There’s appeal too in the kind of fanfare of it, because most people would not necessarily have a wedding of that size or that grandeur.”
As the 24-year-old plans her wedding on P.E.I. in late August, Parker said she is interested to see how the Harry and Markle will continue to buck the royal status quo.
A former actress and divorcee, Markle’s very inclusion in the royal family signals a break from stuffy notions that your true love has to be your first, Parker said.
“I think it’s a nice narrative to have that maybe your second marriage is to a prince.”
Parker said she’s heard that many engaged couples have copied the royal request for charitable donations in lieu of gifts, or have reallocated their budgets for wedding favours towards good causes.
She and her fiance have drawn inspiration from the couple’s politician-averse guest list, which she said has helped relieve some of the pressure when it comes inviting divisive figures to her own nuptials.
If Harry and Markle can snub global leaders like U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Parker said ”maybe not inviting that uncle isn’t going to be the end of the world.”
One of the most hotly anticipated reveals in the wedding world will come when Markle steps out in her wedding dress, said Kim Ironmonger, designer and owner of Toronto’s Valencienne Bridal.
“The minute the dress is coming out of the carriage, designers are very rapidly taking inspiration from that dress, or even actually copying that dress as close as possible,” she said. “Whatever look they’re going for, they could set a trend.”
In recent years, Ironmonger said many of her clients have sought to replicate the long-sleeved lace the Duchess wore on her wedding day.
She anticipates that Markle will take wedding fashions in a bolder direction than the last royal bride, who perhaps due to proximity to the throne, wore a more conservative gown.
“I think Meghan is very unique, and she’s going to be looking for a very different dress,” predicts Ironmonger. “We’re going to have some fun surprises.”
Among the dressmakers who have been floated for the coveted royal commission are London-based luxury brand Ralph & Russo and Canadian-born designer Erdem Moralioglu’s British fashion house, both of whom Ironmonger feels could pull off the embellished, princess-cut gown she envisions for Markle.
Toronto-based royal watcher Patricia Treble, who runs WriteRoyalty.com, said whichever designer Markle chooses, the dress will likely be preserved for posterity.
She said many royal wedding dresses are treated as “works of art” to be put on display, and some have even altered the course of fashion history.
For instance, colourful wedding gowns were all the rage when Queen Victoria wore a white dress to marry Prince Albert in 1840 — a style decision that would later be credited with kicking off the white wedding tradition, said Treble.
But it’s too soon to say whether Markle will be a style icon in the vein of Harry’s late mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, she added.
However, she said she could see the soon-to-be royal making her mark on nuptial fashions, perhaps even upending the Victorian white wedding tradition by wearing blush pink.
“Until we actually see it, we won’t (know). This is the fun,” said Treble. “She could do anything she wants.”