How Meghan Markle's wedding was different than Kate Middleton's

On May 19, 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle transformed into Duke and Duchess before our very eyes while all the rumors surrounding their big day were either proven or disproven. Did you wake up early to watch?

Although there was no shortage of tabloid fodder leading up to the wedding, the royals themselves were quite forthcoming about the upcoming nuptials during the planning process. We were privy to the gorgeous invitations, got a sneak peek at the guest list, and even learned what wedding presents the couple had requested long before they said "I do.".

From the details Kensington Palace dished out, it was also clear early on that there would be quite a contrast between Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding back in 2011 and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's in 2018. Other than both being royal weddings, they surprisingly didn't have much else in common. From their venues to their wedding parties, these were the biggest differences between the two royal weddings.

Longer engagement, longer to plan?

Although William and Kate dated for a long — seriously long — time, they were only engaged for about five months, Cosmopolitan confirmed. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, on the other hand, dated publicly for just one year before becoming engaged. Even so, the couple was engaged for a longer period of time. Why?

It could just be that William and Kate, having dated for many years, knew exactly what they wanted for their wedding and thus, it was easier to plan. Maybe Harry and Meghan simply needed an additional month to iron out the details. Either way, both royal engagements are blips compared to most other couples'. 

According to Brides, the average length of an engagement in the United States falls between a year to a year and a half. Of course, the "average" person doesn't have access to a whole team of people ready and willing to plan their wedding — for free. Sigh.

There were more celebrity guests

Victoria Beckham, along with husband David Beckham, attended William and Kate's royal wedding in the spring of 2011. That's cool and all, but Harry and Meghan's wedding featured a much longer list of A-list celebs.

In fact, the walk into the wedding looked more like a red carpet event than a religious ceremony at some times. In attendance to the royal nuptials were Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, James and Sofia Blunt, Idris Elba, Patrick J. Adams and his wife Troian Bellisario, George and Amal Clooney, Sarah Rafferty, Gina Torres, Joss Stone, James Corden, Abigail Spencer, Priyanka Chopra, and even Sir Elton John — just to name a few. Oh, and the Beckhams were there for this wedding, too. That's what happens when the bride is an American actress, right?

In addition to having more celebrity guests, the couple also had fewer politicians in attendance than William and Kate. According to CNN, as it was not a royal requirement for Harry.

Let's talk about this guest list

Although William and Kate may have been able to have 2,000 guests at Westminster Abbey, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle found a way to add a whopping 2,640 more people to their guest list. As it turns out, all of these invitees were also members of the public, according to a statement posted on the official royal website.

Although the public guests weren't able to go inside the wedding venue, they were able to witness the arrival of Harry and Meghan and watch the carriage procession, which was a pretty amazing perk. On Twitter, Kensington Palace shared some information about a few of the lucky guests, like Philip Gillespie (pictured above), a wounded Afghanistan soldier who works closely with a soldiers' charity, and a young boy, Reuben Litherland, who was born deaf and recently started teaching sign language to his classmates. Phenomenal people and worthy guests, undoubtedly!

They passed on the fruitcake

The royal family has a longstanding tradition of serving fruitcake at weddings. Chris Dodd, pastry chef at Dalloway Terrace in London, explained how the tradition started to Vogue, saying, "A fruitcake was originally a symbol of wealth and prosperity because of its precious ingredients such as dried fruits, alcohol, and spices." Dodd went on to explain how the diverse ingredients represent the "vastness of the British empire." So, yes, fruitcake is a huge deal to these Brits — even down to our day.

It makes sense, then, that William and Kate didn't deviate from the traditional dessert at their wedding. Harry and Meghan, nevertheless, did. A statement from Kensington Palace prior to the wedding confirmed that the royal couple would serve a lemon elderflower cake, covered in buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers. The cake was not tiered, and instead three cakes of varying sizes were set upon different golden stands. No offense William and Kate, but that sounds way more delicious than a fruitcake. Now if only they would let us sample a piece.

The bride's family didn't foot the bill for this one

The family of the bride pays for the main aspects of her wedding, or at least that's what tradition dictates. Royal traditions, however, are often very different from the average person's. Weddings are no exception. Traditionally, the royal family pays for the "core aspects" of a royal wedding, a statement from Kensington Palace explained. That would include footing the bill for the church, music, decorations — including flowers — and the reception.

When William and Kate got married, they broke this longstanding tradition. The Middleton family made a "six-figure contribution" to the couple's royal wedding, a senior royal aide confirmed to Vanity Fair. "It is something they absolutely wanted to do," the aide added, "and William graciously accepted." With an estimated net worth of $30 million, Kate's parents probably didn't mind dropping a few (hundred thousand) Gs. 

This was not the case at Harry and Meghan's wedding since Kensington Palace confirmed early on that they would be the ones bearing the cost.

Big differences in the wedding party

Having Kate's parents contribute some funds to the royal wedding wasn't the only way the couple broke royal protocol. William and Kate had a best man and maid of honor at their wedding — unthinkable! Okay, so it's not exactly scandalous, but it definitely isn't traditional. 

The Guardian explained that royal grooms choose a "supporter" as opposed to a best man. Nevertheless, William asked Harry to be his best man and, well, the rest is history. Kate also went against the grain by choosing to have her sister in her wedding party. Marlene Koenig, British and European royalty expert, told Town & Country, "The Duchess of Cambridge having her sister, Pippa, was unusual." Although it's not an uncommon sight in commoner weddings, Koenig explained, "Most royal brides do not have adult bridesmaids." That's right — the wedding party is traditionally children.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle did follow tradition — at least regarding this aspect. Ten young children served as pageboys and bridesmaids, completing their wedding party. 

The big day wasn't on a holiday

Having your wedding on a Friday, as opposed to a Saturday, can be a great way to save some cash, wedding planner Anne Book told Brides. Of course, that's probably not what William and Kate had in mind when they got married on a Friday in early spring. Friday weddings may limit who is able to attend, but surely that's no problem for the royals either. 

The government declared their wedding day, April 29, a bank holiday so the public could celebrate the royal occasion, The Telegraph reported. Having their wedding on that day enabled there to be two four-day weekends in a row, as Easter was the weekend before and May 2 was already a bank holiday.

Unfortunately for Harry and Meghan — and our friends across the pond — the British government did not declare a bank holiday for their royal wedding. Thankfully, the royal couple opted for a Saturday wedding so, at the very least, more people were off from work to celebrate.

Going to the (other) chapel

"The wedding service will begin at 12noon at St George's Chapel," Kensington Palace confirmed prior to Harry and Meghan's wedding. As was the case with William and Kate's wedding, their nuptials were a grand affair in a spectacular setting. Be that as it may, the location was not the same. William and Kate were married in Westminster Abbey, a much larger church than St. George's Chapel. 

According to People, Westminster Abbey has a capacity of 2,000 people whereas the chapel can only hold about 800. Of course, 800 guests is not a small wedding by any stretch of the imagination, but it is still a more intimate venue than the abbey. It's still, however, incredibly opulent and likewise fit for a royal. 

Weddings have taken place at St. George's Chapel since the mid-1800s, the church's official website explains. More recently, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles' dedication service was held at St. George's. Some months after Harry and Meghan's wedding, Princess Eugenie of York and her fiancé Jack Brooksbank will also say "I do" inside the royal chapel at Windsor Castle.

No balcony kiss

Were you heartbroken when Kensington Palace announced the venue for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding? No, just us? You see, St. George's Chapel doesn't have a balcony — and that's a big deal. 

"We won't get to see that big balcony wave that we got with the royal wedding being in central London and of course at Buckingham Palace," royal expert Katie Nicholl told Entertainment Tonight predicted before the wedding. Of course, no balcony wave also means — wait for it — no balcony kiss!

The kiss, a tradition started by Prince Charles and Princess Diana back in 1981 was recreated by Prince Andrew and Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson at their wedding in 1986 and then eventually by Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011. Sadly, because St. George's Chapel is not only without a balcony itself but also located far from any other balcony-bearing royal venues, the traditional smooch was a big nope this time around. No, you're crying!

Still, we weren't denied their first kiss as husband and wife. Instead of a balcony, Harry and Meghan stopped for their first smooch on the steps of the chapel before getting into their horse-drawn carriage. It's still deserving of a swoon, right?