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Charles, Camilla wedding won't set trends, experts say

A royal wedding is usually a landmark event, but few event experts expect the April 8 wedding of Britain’s Prince Charles to his longtime paramour, Camilla Parker Bowles, to set wedding styles.

The wedding plans, announced in January, have been beset by confusion.

The engaged pair, both divorced, first announced they would wed in a civil ceremony at stately Windsor Castle. But only seven weeks before the wedding, Clarence House, Charles’ official office, said the wedding would take place in Windsor’s town hall instead.

'Commoner' Crisis

Clarence House said that the new venue will allow the public to see the newlyweds arrive and leave. But under British licensing law, registering the castle as a wedding venue would have meant opening it up to commoners' weddings as well.

British lawyers have wrangled over whether it's even legal for royals to marry in civil court.

London wedding coordinator Siobhan Craven-Robins (www.siobhancraven-robins.co.uk) notes that when the announcement of a Windsor Castle wedding first broke, “I was commenting on the fact that I couldn’t understand how they could get married in Windsor Castle when it had no license. If only they had hired me!”

A blessing led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams will take place after the ceremony at the castle's St. George's Chapel, followed by a reception at the castle's state apartments. Some 700 guests are expected to attend the ceremonies.

The MOG—Queen Elizabeth—roiled the waters by announcing that she will attend the blessing and reception, but not the ceremony. Buckingham Palace said that her decision respects the understated nature of the wedding, but the press has ballyhooed it as a royal snub. Elizabeth will be the first monarch in 142 years to miss the wedding of one of her children, the tabloid the Sun reported.

“The arrangements have been such a shambles—changing venues, the Queen not attending the ceremony, etc.—that I believe that the public have no time for it,” notes Richard Groves, managing director of London-based Create Food and Party Design (www.createfood.co.uk). With the media shut out of the events, “the chances of copycat dresses [and] food & beverage presentation are virtually nil.”

Diana and '80s Opulence

The April ceremony will be quite a departure from Charles’ ill-fated marriage to Lady Diana Spencer in 1981. Widely known as “the wedding of the century,” the event in St. Paul’s Cathedral was attended by 3,500 invited guests; an estimated 750 million people around the world watched on TV. Complete with a 25-foot train, Diana’s opulent ivory taffeta and antique lace wedding dress—designed by David and Elizabeth Emmanuel—set the tone for 1980s weddings.

Parker Bowles has chosen London design team Robinson Valentine to create her wedding costume, and cutting-edge milliner Philip Treacy to design her hat.

Wedding planner Tara Fay, head of Dublin-based Xena Productions (www.xena-productions.com), suggests that by choosing Treacy, Parker Bowles may indeed be trying to set some trends. Fay expects that the April wedding “will be copied—obviously not to the same extent as Diana’s was, but for older couples, and anyone who is an admirer of the Royal Family,” she notes.

Despite public cynicism since the fairy-tale royal wedding 24 years ago, “It has not diminished people’s desire to marry either in a church or civil ceremony,” Groves says. “Bookings are up, and people are still spending money.”

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