Royalty vs. reality

Apr 3 2011 - 4:01am

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Illustration by BRYAN NIELSEN/Standard-Examiner
Illustration by BRYAN NIELSEN/Standard-Examiner

Sure, they've got a palace and horse-drawn carriages, royal trumpeteers and designer duds.

But chances are, Prince William and Kate Middleton won't indulge in a sumptuous candy buffet or receive a made-with-love-by-Grandma quilt from Queen Elizabeth, either.

The Top of Utah is not without its own unique wedding traditions that stack up -- for better or worse -- against those of the Royals.

Budget

We'll pass on the frills, thanks. Utah was recently dubbed the least expensive place in the nation to get married -- $13,214, excluding the honeymoon -- in a survey by The Knot.com and WeddingChannel.com.

Those who tie the knot in the backyard and whip up their own cake and red punch, can likely shave a few thousand bucks off that estimate. Even the priciest spot to get married in The States -- Manhattan, $70,030 -- doesn't come close to the tab on the House of Windsor shindig.

British newspapers estimate the cost of the royal wedding between $16 million and $130 million.

The father and grandmother of the groom are paying for the royal wedding and reception. The bride's parents volunteered a six-figure donation. Taxpayers cover security, with police earning extra pay because the wedding's been declared a holiday.

Invitations/guest list

Nothing says "Come to our wedding" like a postcard invitation with shots of the happy couple standing arm in arm in front of -- take your pick -- a weathered wood fence, a stone archway or a mountain backdrop.

Few Top of Utah brides opt for fancy invitations, says Mike Williams, sales manager for Bell Printing in Layton. About 95 percent choose the postcard style with a photo montage they design themselves, he says.

A typical Utah guest list runs 150 to 250, say area wedding planners -- a far cry from Britain where, according to the Prince of Wales' website, about 1,900 people are invited to the royal wedding service.

The gold-embellished invitation cards feature the royal insignia.

Rumored on the guest list are soccer player David Beckham and musician Elton John.

Rings

That blue sapphire on Kate Middleton's finger is gorgeous, but diamonds are a Utah bride's best friend by a choice of 1,000 to 1, says Dean Belliston, owner of Ogden's Belliston Jewelry.

Using a family ring as an engagement ring -- the sapphire belonged to Princess Diana -- is rare, Belliston adds, although during the recent recession he says he's noticed more couples resetting the diamond from a mother's or grandmother's ring.

Utahns do favor one quality of Kate's white-gold ring (the sapphire is surrounded by 14 diamonds set in 18-carat white gold): "Almost 100 percent of rings nowadays are white gold or white metal," Belliston says, for both brides and grooms.

Bridal shower

Can she bake a cherry pie -- or a plain old cake? Utah brides are often tested to bake something without a recipe at their shower, says Teresa Hunsaker of the Utah State University Extension Service in Weber County, or challenged with the "How Well Do You Really Know Your Fiance?" game.

There probably won't be a bridal shower because that's not usually done in the U.K., said Pamela Joklik, a Salt Lake City resident who grew up in England and who is married to Frank Joklik, honorary consul of the United Kingdom in Utah.

Rumor was that maid of honor Pippa (Kate's sister) booked four venues for the hen (bachelorette) party, to confuse event crashers. The Telegraph reports it was really a quiet affair at a friend's house.

Bachelor party

Utah grooms typically are treated to a bachelor party themed to their interests, Hunsaker says, be it a round of golf, a camping trip or a game of basketball.

In Britain, according to ABC News, plans included waterskiing and drinking in pubs. The Telegraph says that plan was scrapped after leaks to the press, and replaced by a party at a friend's place.

Wedding & reception

The Beehive State has it all, from weddings in temples and churches to ceremonies on horseback in the mountains. If you can't get hitched in a real castle, you can choose a castle-themed reception center; if not an actual palace, perhaps a historic pioneer-era house.

The royal wedding, of course, will be in Westminster Abbey.

"Traditionally, weddings and funerals take place in Westminster Cathedral," said Joklik, noting that Prince Charles and Diana were married in St. Paul's because it's larger.

William's grandmother is hosting a lunchtime reception for 600 guests at her home -- Buckingham Palace. A dinner, for which 300 invitations were sent, will be hosted at the palace by Prince Charles.

Wedding attire

"What will Kate wear?" may be the big question; her gown is a closely guarded secret.

But for Utah brides, "beads, lace -- a lot of bling" are popular, says Kathy Wood, who owns Maebelle Bridal in Syracuse and The Victorian in Layton.

And, Wood adds, "Ruffles are coming back. ... Ten years ago, a girl would have rather slit her wrist than wear a ruffled dress."

Local gals trying to emulate Kate's look won't have to wait long; knockoffs of the royal wedding gown will hit the market within 24 hours of the April 29 nuptials, Wood says.

Under that white Utah gown may be a surprise, Wood says. Brightly colored shoes, like hot pink, are trendy now.

Bruce Oldfield, a favorite designer of Princess Diana, told ABC News the royal dress will likely be modest -- strapless is not appropriate for a royal church wedding. He thinks Kate may have a second, less conservative dress for the dinner party.

The Huffington Post reports that four pairs of shoes have been ordered for the bride, with varying heel heights. She's expected to walk the aisle in flats.

The groom will likely wear a military uniform. He is a search and rescue pilot with the Royal Air Force.

Decorations

Hiding the basketball standards in the church cultural hall is the aim of many a Utah bride, so Starla Rees says her decorating company (A Dream Wedding by Starla), creates a lot of drop ceilings made of tulle and lights.

To disguise the folding chairs, there are fabric chair covers and matching sashes.

Gerber daisies, in bright pinks, oranges and greens, seem to be the flower of the day in Utah, says Rees.

According to The Telegraph newspaper, the royal florist expects a profusion of British flowers -- roses, delphinium and sweetpeas. The ABC News Royal Wedding Blog suggests white daffodils, a symbol of Wales, might be present.

Royal brides have a sprig of myrtle in the bouquet, a tradition dating back to Queen Victoria's wedding.

As for the tossing of the bouquet, it's a tradition for royal brides to leave the wedding bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior -- throwing the bouquet would require a spare.

And the garter toss?

"I doubt in this situation that would happen," said Joklik. "But they're a fun couple, so who knows."

Transportation

Kate and William may get away in their horse-drawn carriage, but Top of Utah newlyweds will more likely cruise off in a sleek limousine. A white 14-passenger stretch is a hit for weddings, with a little bubbly -- sparkling cider, of course -- served up inside, says Marsha Boam, owner of Utah Executive Limousine in Layton.

Like any commoner, Middleton will travel to the church by car -- a Rolls-Royce Phantom VI.

But she will leave the abbey in the coach with her husband," said Joklik. "It's the same coach Diana used." The open-top 1902 State Landau carriage will carry them to Buckingham Palace. If it rains, they'll be enclosed in The Glass Coach.

Wedding cake

Let them eat purple, lime green or polka-dotted cake -- anything but plain white. Colorful fondant is all the rage atop cakes, Utah wedding planners report, along with cakes crafted in unusual shapes and offset stackings.

Guests who hang out to the end of the reception may get a piece of the wedding cake after it's cut, but another dessert is stealing the spotlight: cupcakes -- "decorated to the nines," Rees says.

The royal wedding cake will be a fruitcake.

"It's never anything else," said Joklik. "The reason for using fruitcake is that's the only one that will keep. Normally, you keep the top layer for the christening of the first child."

Several news sources say the multilevel cake will be decorated with flowers representing the kingdoms of the U.K.

Refreshments

Say hooray that the day of the stereotypical cake-nuts-and-punch Utah reception seems to have disappeared.

More common nowadays is a croissant sandwich, green salad and fruit, says Marilyn Smith, owner of the Grand Reception Center in Ogden -- plus desserts like brownies, raspberry bars or peanut butter bars.

Or dive into a chocolate fountain, complete with fruits, marshmallows and Rice Krispie Treats for dipping, says Hunsaker.

The royal wedding breakfast will be served at the lunchtime reception. "It doesn't matter what time of day it is, it's called a wedding breakfast," said Joklik.

CNN reports the breakfast won't be a sit down affair, but will feature 10,000 canapes served to mingling guests.

Dinner menus haven't been published, but John Richards suspects it will involve fish.

"The queen likes salmon," said Richards, who works at Little Taste of Britain in Layton, and worked at Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool 10 years ago, when the queen ate there.

"It will be a set meal, I'm sure, with several courses," said Joklik.

Entertainment

Forget the live band or even a DJ spinning the couple's favorite tunes at a Utah wedding. "Now they just load up the iPod with the songs that they like," Smith says, "and they bring them to me and we just run them through our sound system."

And will Kate and William have their own wedding video? Anyone who has been to a Utah wedding has no doubt enjoyed watching video highlights of the happy couple during the wait in the receiving line. That comes after signing the guest book, of course, which is likely to be designed like a scrapbook.

Music for the royal wedding ceremony will be performed by The Choir of Westminster Abbey, The Chapel Royal Choir, The London Chamber Orchestra and The Fanfare Team from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. Commoners can buy the album, which will be recorded and released by Decca Records.

The Mail Online reports harpist Claire Jones will entertain at the afternoon reception. Another U.K. paper, The Sun, claims the evening reception will have a 1980s disco theme.

Gifts

Kitchen-Aid mixers and cookware are in, and formal china is on the decline, in Utah, says Heidi Jensen, who oversees the gift registry at Macy's in the Layton Hills Mall. "Couples are definitely after getting the more practical (items)," she says.

Handmade quilts still reign supreme, particularly at LDS weddings, Hunsaker says, where families of both the bride and groom may turn out their finest stitchery.

In lieu of gifts at the royal wedding, guests are asked to give to the couple's favorite charities through their website, www.officialroyalwedding2011.org. There are more than two dozen to choose from.

Party favors

Oh my heck, get a load of the candy buffet. Dishes and dishes of jelly beans, gummy bears and M&Ms, all in the wedding colors, of course, are offered for guests to munch on at the reception or to take home in a net bag at a Utah wedding, says Laura Grimsley, manager of Zurcher's in Riverdale.

Other cool favors are candy bars with the couple's names on the wrappers, small bags of Jordan almonds or miniature boxes of chocolates.

Royal websites haven't disclosed news about party favors. The royal couple, not wanting to look extravagant, could order from the Middleton family business, Party Pieces. At www.partypieces.co.uk, there are silver organza favor bags, cake-shaped bubble containers and Union Jack-printed candy.

Honeymoon

Who needs Paris when you've got Park City? Instead of jetting off to exotic locales, plenty of Top of Utah couples are content to head to nearby honeymoon spots like Park City or Yellowstone National Park.

California -- Disneyland included -- is popular with newlyweds venturing out of state, as recent wedding notices in this newspaper attest. Or anyone might feel like royalty basking in the sun in Hawaii, Mexico or Jamaica.

Guesses about the royal honeymoon cover the globe !­-- from Canada to Australia to Kenya.

The Daily Mail reports the couple, in keeping with the idea of keeping wedding costs down, may be staying close to home on the U.K.'s Isles of Scilly.

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