How to host your own Royal Wedding Watch Party

Pink peo

Who doesn’t love a royal wedding? If you are not one of the 600 or so (reportedly) invited guests you will have to be satisfied with viewing the festivities in front of the telly. So why not make it a party?

This will be my third royal wedding fête. Many women our age were up before the crack of dawn in 1981 to witness the pomp and circumstance of the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. That was some great television. Seven years ago we gathered in front of the tube, rubbing very tired eyes, to watch Prince William marry commoner Kate Middleton. We were so happy for the young prince the world had taken as its own.

In less than a month we have another chance to participate vicariously in a fairy tale wedding when Prince Harry and American Meghan Markle celebrate their nuptials. This might be it for a while, folks, so make the most of it by throwing your own Royal Wedding Watch Party. You will need to invite your guests, create a dress code, and provide refreshments for when they arrive and for after the wedding festivities are over.

When is it, anyway?

Prince Harry and Megan Markle’s wedding will take place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, at 12 noon GMT (7 a.m. EDT). The ceremony will be followed by a carriage procession through Windsor at 1 p.m. GMT (8 a.m. ET).  The whole thing will be live broadcast by major networks.

  • The Today show will begin commentary on NBC at 4:30 a.m. EDT with Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb reporting live.
  • PBS will run a five-part nightly series starting May 14, which will end with a live broadcast of the wedding on May 19.
  • CBS will start their coverage at 4:00 a.m. EDT from Windsor with Gayle King, Kevin Frazier, and special guest Tina Brown.

Check local listings for other markets.

Invite your guests

You will want your guests to arrive between an hour to an hour and a half before the wedding ceremony is scheduled to begin (That would be 5:30 – 6:00 a.m. EDT; other time zones adjust accordingly) to watch the all-star arrivals. Aristocrats! Celebrities! Royal carriages! Think of it as the red-carpet spectacle before the actual event. After all, the Spice Girls are expected to attend.

Invitations also should specify the dress code for your party, which gives you a lot of room to play. The royal wedding stipulates “Morning Coat or Lounge Suit; Day Dress and Hat.” You don’t have to be that formal, but hats! The English hat custom is centuries old but began to fade out in the 1960s, and more so after the Church no longer mandated that women wear hats to services.

Beige and back English wedding hathat,
Stone downbrim hat by Rachel Trevor-Morgan

The aristocracy has kept the hat tradition alive and in recent years they have become more creative and attractive.

Asking your guests to bring and wear fancy hats—even if they are in their pajamas and robe—will create an instant festive atmosphere in the pre-dawn hours.

In England, a hat by St. James-based milliner-to-the-queen, Rachel Trevor-Morgan, like the one at left will set you back some £945.00 (now on sale for £472.00).

Lucky for us, there are plenty of much more affordable options on, from the conservative and elegant to frilly over-the-top to outer space-inspired fascinators.

Trio of fancy women's hats red white blue
From left: SAFERIN women’s organza wedding hat, $15.89; Welrog women’s dress hat, $22.99; FEI YU fascinator, $17.89; all on 

Set the stage

You can go completely kitsch with flags and bunting and a life-size cutout of the happy couple. If you would like something closer to the real thing, however, take your cue from the English manor house, many of which are popular wedding destinations.

Pink peonies

Create a floral centerpiece of seasonal spring flowers. London-based florist Philippa Craddock  will create the arrangements in St. George’s Chapel and St. George’s Hall, using branches of beech, birch, and hornbeam; white garden roses, peonies, and foxgloves. Other flowers to consider for your display  are anemones, hydrangeas, ranunculus, and white or Stargazer lilies, which florists and some grocers should have in stock in mid-May.

Bring out the fine china.  Blue and white teapotThis is the time to use that colorful floral Spode or Royal Albert or Wedgwood teapot and cups with saucers that are buried in the back of your closet. Make the table cheerful with linens and placemats The Union Jack is red, white and blue, colors that can be used as accents.

Treat your guests to some traditional (and delicious) English cuisine       

Here’s the thing. Few people will be ready for a hearty breakfast at 5 a.m., especially a traditional English breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, fried bread, and grilled tomatoes and mushrooms. In fact, the Queen eschews that heavy fare, preferring a freshly brewed pot of Earl Grey tea (no milk or sugar) in bone china cup, with a few biscuits.

Your guests probably will arrive bleary-eyed (and possibly a bit cranky). Have a pot of tea steeping under a cozy, milk and sugar readily available. Fortnum & Mason created a Wedding Breakfast tea that is a combination of Assam and Kenyan teas, which you can find at Williams-Sonoma. You might also have a pot of coffee on hand for the non-tea

drinkers. They also may be a bit peckish, though, and will welcome a few snacks. Keep the English theme with jam pennies, oatmeal scones, and English breakfast biscuits, like Belvita.

Wilkins & Sons Marmalade

Serve with marmalade and strawberry jam from Wilkins and Sons (Tiptree preserves), which is favored by the Queen. The company has held a Royal Warrant since 1911. A Royal Warrant is a mark of honor to companies who have supplied goods or services to HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales or their households.

For the champagne toast at the end of the wedding ceremony—approximately 8:00 a.m. EDT—bypass France and try an English sparkling wine. Reviewing several vineyards in Southern England, Food & Wine magazine found that “cutting-edge vintners are making sparkling wine that rivals those from the great houses of France.”

Yes, this is England. Camel Valley Vineyard

Bookie’s choice for the royal wedding is Chapel Down, which was poured at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding and at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. But Cornwall winery Camel Valley may be the dark horse favorite (and certainly the choice of Poldark fans)—it was granted a Royal Warrant by the prince of Wales this spring, the first English sparkling wine to receive royal appointment. Until recently, English sparkling wines were not available in the United States, but they are slowly making their way into the market and can be located on

By now it’s time for some serious food.

The royal wedding party will take a carriage parade around the substantial Windsor grounds. Your guests can ramble to the dining table for an adaptation of the English Wedding Breakfast.

Kedgeree with eggs
Kedgeree with eggs

Despite its name, the wedding breakfast is not eggs and bacon but a full meal consisting of appetizers, main course, and dessert. And the cake, of course.

 Your guests will be well into their fourth hour of the day, so savory, brunch-like traditional English dishes will shine here.


Sample Menu Selection

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and truffle, roasted tomatoes

Toad-in-the-hole (Breakfast sausages baked in a Yorkshire pudding-like cake)

Salmon kedgeree with boiled eggs (Kedgeree is a curried rice and salmon mixture)

Sausage rolls, bacon sandwiches, and roasted tomatoes

Crumpets, scones, and toast with preserves

Strawberries and cream

Orange juice, tea, coffee


A slice of wedding cake ends the party

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are breaking with tradition and have chosen a lemon-elderflower cake for their wedding cake.  The usual English wedding cake is a fruitcake covered in white icing. No doubt the lemon-elderflower cake will be lighter, but as one royal watcher noted, “I do like a bit of fruitcake, though. It goes so well with a bit of cheese.”

Elderflower-lemon cake with mascarpone from Cygnet Kitchen

If bakeries in your neck of the woods haven’t caught the elderflower wave, you can make your own from scratch, or by glazing a basic vanilla cake (box mix is OK) with a lemon-elderflower syrup. The elderflower flavoring comes from a liqueur like St-Germain, or use DRYCK FLÄDER elderflower syrup from IKEA. Make it as simple or fancy as you like. Cover with buttercream. Top with seasonal flowers. Your choice. It’s a beautiful way to send your guests into the rest of their day.

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See also: For a glam viewing of the Royal Wedding head to these hotels in Toronto, New York, and London

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