By Rutendo Borerwe
Courtesy of The Daily Telegraph UK
It will be the most important day of their shared lives to date, imbued with centuries-old tradition as they take vows before God, their families and the Queen.
But not for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a day of too much solemnity, as they promise a 2018 wedding focused on fun, joy and a chance to celebrate with the public.
The couple, who announced their engagement in November, are planning their own wedding celebration that “reflects the characters of the bride and groom”.
Here’s all the news!
When is the big day and who is planning it?
The wedding is on Saturday, May 19 at St George’s Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle, where Prince Harry was christened. It is said to have become a “very special place” for the couple in their relationship so far.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Office at Buckingham Palace is responsible for organising royal weddings, but Harry and Ms Markle are leading the show. However, under the guidance of Harry’s private secretary, Edward Lane Fox, the Lord Chamberlain’s Office is dealing with the ceremonial aspects of the day.
The service will begin at 12pm.
The “core aspects” of the wedding, including the church service, associated music, flowers, decorations and reception, will be paid for by the Royal Family, with Ms Markle’s parents both set to attend.
How did Prince Harry propose?
Former Suits star Ms Markle told last year how she could not wait to say “yes” to the prince when Harry got down on one knee as they cooked a roast chicken dinner at his home, Nottingham Cottage in the grounds of Kensington Palace.
Indicating the depths of his feeling for his bride-to-be, the prince revealed in a television interview: “It was this beautiful woman just sort of literally tripped and fell into my life, I fell into her life.”
‘It was an instant yes’: Meghan Markle on her engagement to Prince Harry
Invitations – who is on the guest list?
Invitations have been posted to 600 lucky guests, with a select 200 close friends invited to an after party at Frogmore House, Windsor.
The couple do not have an official list of political leaders on the guest list which means neither Prime Minister Theresa May or US President Donald Trump will be going, and former US President Barack Obama has also missed out.
Royal sources said the guest list will be restricted to those who have a direct relationship with the couple, and was taken both because St George’s Chapel is relatively small, and because the prince is not in the direct line of succession.
Some members of the public have received an invitation to wait in the grounds outside the chapel to watch the bride and groom and their wedding guests arrive and leave.
Other guests will include members of Ms Markle’s family – her mother Doria Ragland and father Thomas Markle Snr – and of course many members of the royal family.
Tennis star Serena Williams and Ms Markle’s former Suits co-stars Sarah Rafferty, Patrick J Adams and Wendell Pierce could also be on the list.
The invitations were produced by Barnard & Westwood, which has held the “Royal Warrant for Printing & Bookbinding by Appointment to Her Majesty The Queen” since 1985.
Die-stamped in gold and then burnished, the invitation features The Three Feather Badge of The Prince of Wales. They also reveal that the dress code is Uniform, Morning Coat or Lounge Suit, or Day Dress with Hat.
What about the best man and bridesmaids?
The Duke of Cambridge will be Harry’s best man, missing the FA Cup final to be at his brother’s side.
The Duke, who has always been the front-runner for the supporting role at the May wedding, is “honoured” to have been asked, Kensington Palace said.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte look almost certain to be page boy and flower girl. The siblings already know the score – they performed those roles at the wedding of Pippa Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge’s younger sister, to James Matthews in May last year.
Ms Markle may also choose some grown-up bridesmaidsfrom her close set of friends – most likely Canadian stylist Jessica Mulroney and Indian actress and philanthropist Priyanka Chopra. She might even pick a best woman.
Ms Mulroney and Ms Markle have been firm friends since meeting in Canada where Markle filmed several series of her Netflix series, Suits, and bonding over a shared love of yoga (the duo both practice regularly).
The dress – all bets are off
Bookmakers suspended betting on the designer of Ms Markle’s wedding dress in March when British couture company Ralph & Russo pulled ahead to become 1/3 favourites.
The label, helmed by Australians Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo (a couple in real life) have shot to prominence after a string of celebrity endorsements.
In 2014, Angelina Jolie wore the label to Buckingham Palace to receive an honorary damehood, in 2016 Gwyneth Paltrow to the Oscars. Add to that list of fans Beyonce, Rihanna and, finally, Meghan Markle herself, who chose a £56,000 embellished couture gown for the official photos taken to mark her engagement to Prince Harry.
Before betting was suspended, London-based designer Erdem was at 3/1.
Ms Markle’s stylist and close friend Ms Mulroney runs a bridal store in Toronto was said to have helped the bride choose her gown.
A very traditional ceremony
The couple will be making their vows at St George’s Chapel, which last hosted a royal wedding in May 2008 when Peter Phillips – son of The Princess Royal – married Autumn Kelly. Prince Edward also wed Sophie, the Countess of Wessex, there in June 1999.
The traditional ceremony will be conducted by The Dean of Windsor, The Rt Revd. David Conner while the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, will officiate as the couple make their marriage vows.
Inside the chapel where Harry and Meghan will get married
Miss Markle, who was a UN women’s advocate, is unlikely to opt to obey the prince. They will probably choose the Series One (1966) Book of Common Prayer ceremony, just as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge did, which allows the bride to drop “obey him” and “serve him” from the religious proceedings.
Harry also has to decide whether to wear a wedding ring. William does not wear one.
The regiments Prince Harry served with in Afghanistanwill also have a “special place” during the ceremony. Household Cavalry troopers will line the staircase at St George’s Chapel, while streets within the precincts of the castle will be lined by members of the Windsor Castle Guard from 1st Battalion Irish Guards, and by Armed Forces personnel from the Royal Navy Small Ships and Diving, which has the Prince as Commodore-in-Chief, and the Royal Marines, where he is Captain General.
The 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, where Prince Harry served as an Apache Pilot in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, will also be represented, as well as The Royal Gurkha Rifles, his comrades in Afghanistan in 2007, and RAF Honington, where he is Honorary Air Command
Don’t miss the procession
After the ceremony, among the first people to congratulate the couple will be some of the 2,640 charity workers, community champions and local school children who are being invited to watch the wedding from inside the walls of Windsor Castle.
Then at 1pm, the newlyweds will then undertake a two mile tour of Windsor greeting well-wishers. They will leave Windsor Castle by carriage via Castle Hill, travelling along the High Street and through Windsor Town before returning along the Long Walk for their reception.
Are you as excited as we are?