Estimates are that 2 billion people watched Prince Harry marry Meghan Markle on Saturday, but wedding professionals watched with an especially educated eye. Here, we present the takes of eight wedding professionals as they share their expert comments on the innovative affair: the floral, her gown, and those chairs ….
THE FLORAL AT ST. GEORGE’S CHAPEL
“I appreciated the fact that it was abundant and luxurious, which is in alignment with the venue; however, there was a simplicity and restraint that kept it modern, chic and sophisticated. The simple palette of green and white with greenery being the dominant specimen foreshadowed the fresh spin on the ceremony to come.” —Kristin Banta, Kristin Banta Events, Los Angeles
“I thought it was very tasteful and not over-done. Loved the ratio of all the greens and foliage to the floral that was used. Very British countryside.” —Frank Andonoplas, MPW, Frank Event Design, Chicago
“I was in awe of the entire decor and specially the entrance arch. Loved that Philippa Craddock used the greenery from the Windsor grounds and the touches of white. What was touching the use of lily of the valley, which was Princess Diana's flower, in addition to the peonies and the roses.” —Nahid Farhoud, Nahid Global Events, San Diego
“I was initially disappointed that we wouldn't get the iconic balcony kiss until it became incredibly clear that the dramatic floral arch at the entrance was going to serve as the perfect backdrop for the moment. As it turns out, it created an even better picture of the couple shot from behind the arch. It was exquisite.” —Meghan Ely, OFD Consulting, Richmond, Va.
“I loved the lush greenery and white floral elements at St. George's Chapel. I thought they were powerful and natural without being forced. It felt very airy and definitely bridal. I also loved that the royal wedding flowers were then turned into bouquets for hospice patients.” —India Rhodes, Wilkinson Rhodes, San Antonio
“I have to admit at first look—which was a long view—I wasn't crazy about the floral installation on the front of the church. However, once I got a closer look, I did fall in love with it. From a distance it was hard to see anything beyond all the greenery, but as you got closer you could see the floral that was incorporated in. The floral installation inside the church was just stunning and impeccably done. It, as well as the outdoor install felt fresh, lush and like spring! I'd read the florist incorporated floral elements that existed there locally, which lent the look a very natural, organic feel, especially on the outside of the church. It almost looked like it had been there for forever!” —Cyndi Basker, Celebrated Events by Cynthia Basker, South Bend, Ind.
“I love that Meghan and Harry brought their activism into their floral design. Their floral designer pick, Philippa Craddock, is passionate about the environment--she avoids using floral foam and uses minimal plastic—and Philippa picks a charity to partner with every year to raise money toward. This year, it is Drop4drop, an organization dedicated to alleviate the world water crisis. The blooms that were used in the floral design were sourced locally from the Royal Gardens and included pollinator-friendly plants, and after the wedding, the florals were donated to hospices and women’s refuges.” —Brittny Drye, Love Inc., New York
“In concept, I loved the greenery/floral arches. I thought in places they looked sparser in florals then I would have personally preferred. I was expecting the floral to look a little more refined, and streamlined and not as garden-inspired, but lovely nonetheless.” —Ashley Stork, Magnolia Vine Events, Birmingham, Ala.
THE BRIDE’S BOUQUET
“Loved the petite dainty size. I think this will become a new trend.” —Andonoplas
“I thought we had a handle on best practices for personalizing a wedding but having Prince Harry handpick flowers for her bouquet took it to a new level I didn't even know existed.” —Ely
“I thought the bouquet complemented Meghan's minimalistic style beautifully, and embodied a variety of intimate touches. It incorporated scented flowers handpicked by Harry from the Kensington Palace gardens, which is a beautiful personal element. The florist also used Diana's favorite flower, the forget-me-not, in the bouquet. Finally, the bouquet included myrtle sprigs, grown from the same myrtle plant used in the Queen’s wedding bouquet of 1947. The combination of these details is what truly made the bouquet both stunning and meaningful.” —Rhodes
“It’s expected for royal brides to have all-white bouquets, so Meghan followed suit with a bouquet of forget-me-nots—Princess Diana’s favorite—sweet peas, lily of the valley, astibe, jasmine, astrantia and the royal tradition of a sprig of myrtle.” —Drye
“I was not a fan of the bouquet. I'm sure if I had seen it up close it would have been lovely, but from what I could see it looked a bit 'weedy' and not in proportion with the rest of the bride's overall look. I understand—and love—the sentiment behind the floral choices, but wouldn't it have been just as lovely to incorporate those choices into a look that was a little more consistent with the floral at the venue/church? The bouquets for the children appeared to be smaller versions of the bride's, and for them, they looked sweet and in proportion.” —Basker
“Meghan Markle’s bouquet, although on the smaller side, totally completed her overall bridal look. The simplicity of the bouquet's composition allowed us an opportunity to focus on her glow and other details, such as her tiara!” —Bron Hansboro, The Flower Guy Bron, Richmond, Va.
THE BRIDE'S GOWN
“Loved the boat neck. The dress was simple but it resembled Megan's personality. The use of the material was perfect; it did not show wrinkles, which is very important for wedding dresses. OMG—the veil and train were to die for. The work and details in them were just out of this world. I just felt that the work in the veil and train made up for the simplicity of the dress so it all fit well together and complemented each other, specially by adding the special tiara—Queen Mary's tiara!” —Farhoud
“We absolutely loved the gorgeous veil that Meghan wore down the aisle! We've seen many brides request cathedral length-veils with blushers in the past few months, and now that Meghan wore this look, we anticipate the trend to increase even further. With the very simple gown she wore, we expect many brides to follow Meghan's lead and accessorize in a much bigger way for their wedding day. We also loved her simple touch of earrings and bracelet to accentuate her look. While her tiara was gorgeous, we don't expect many brides to follow her lead, as nothing can compare to the crown jewels!” —Brittany Finkle, Happily Ever Borrowed, New York
“The clean lines and structure of her Givenchy dress were perfectly paired with a jeweled headpiece and veil accompanied by a modestly embellished chapel length train. In my opinion, this was a classic elegance often replicated but not often truly emanated since Jackie Kennedy.” —Banta
“The dress was polarizing—some loved it and some felt it was lackluster. I, for one, thought it was perfect for the occasion. She did not need all the frills, and it was well suited for the formality of the event and the location. Long live the boat neck! Her veil was the perfect, dramatic complement to her gown. I loved the symbolism of the florals representing the 53 countries of the Commonwealth—she was truly communicating in the moment that she was dedicating herself to her new home. The children carrying it down the aisle behind was equally touching and fun. I loved her makeup—or lack of! Meghan Markle is beautiful all on her own and did not need to put on a full face. My only wish is that she had had a few extra bobby pins for those flyaways!” —Ely
“I felt that the bride’s ceremony gown was perfection. Again, Meghan’s choice of designer was clearly thought out, selecting the first-ever female creative director for the iconic brand, Givenchy. Many viewers noted that her dress looked ill-fitting, but I feel that it was intentionally so—after all, do you think one of the biggest design houses in fashion would send an ill-fitting gown down an aisle being watched by billions of people? I feel Meghan purposefully didn’t want it to be skintight, sending a message to young girls everywhere that you don’t have to be super thin, or wear form-fitting clothing to be beautiful. I also loved her very natural makeup look and her choosing not to cover her freckles and moles. In a very unrelatable scenario, Meghan Markle still somehow made it seem like she was just a bride, marrying the love of her life. Her 16-foot cathedral veil also was filled with symbolism. The silk tulle featured a trim of hand-embroidered flowers from each of the 53 counties in the Commonwealth—which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex intend to focus heavily on as their new roles—as well as the wintersweet, which grows on the grounds of Kensington Palace, and the California poppy. Crops of wheat were also embroidered into the design, which symbolize love and charity.” —Drye
"I loved the bride's look! The gown felt absolutely timeless, elegant and yet modern at the same time. It will absolutely stand up to the test of time. It may have looked a bit plain had it not been for that spectacular veil and tiara, but that is where I feel the genius of the ensemble lies. The simplicity of the gown allowed for the drama of the veil with the embroidered edging depicting the flowers from all of the counties in England, and from California as well! The tiara was also a perfect complement to the ensemble—it added a bit of sparkle, glamour and most definitely a sense of time and place/history. I think each element allowed the other to shine to their fullest.” —Basker
“I loved the veil, and the symbolism behind it. I also thought the neckline on the dress was lovely, but overall I have to admit that I was underwhelmed with the dress as a whole.” —Rhodes
"The subtle nods to Diana were incredibly touching—from incorporating her favorite flowers to having her sister do a reading. It was clear she was never far from their hearts. Michael Curry brought down the house—he was the real MVP of the day. It really felt like history was being made that day—well done to the couple for bringing 'The Firm' into the 21st century.” —Ely
“I saw lots of personalization in the ceremony. Megan was able to bring some of her customs in the ceremony, such as the special ceremony by Bishop Michael Curry, who brought the black American church to the royal wedding. His sermon was a fierce, inspiring example of the Anglican tradition at its best. The breathtaking performance by Karen Gibson and the Kingdom Choir singing "Stand By Me" …. And leaving an empty seat in memory of Princess Diana was just so emotional and touching. Meghan walking down the aisle solo proving that women are powerful and can stand alone. Also, for [Prince Charles] to escort her halfway down was big change in the royal family.” —Farhoud
“The modern and westernized twist was quite acute and both bold and refreshing in my opinion—from the musical selections and gospel choir to her escort down the aisle by Prince Charles to the sermon given by Rev. Michael Curry. It was refreshing and wonderful, albeit slightly surprising at moments, to see such a unique spin on a royal wedding ceremony. I applaud the palace’s approval of the couple’s personalized approach to the day.” —Banta
“The music for the ceremony was exquisite! That cellist! However, I was pretty surprised to hear secular music, which is strenuously verboten in the cathedrals/basilica in which I do a lot of my weddings. For me, it took me out of the moment and disrupted the flow a bit. I hate saying this because again, I understand the reason behind the choices, but it felt inconsistent with the magnitude of the occasion. Also, who could argue with the message the pastor delivered? I actually loved his message of love and inclusivity, but maybe a royal wedding was not the venue/ time/ place for the manner of delivery—ugh, I feel awful to say so though!” —Basker
“When it was all said and done I thought to myself, wow I was expecting 100 times more ‘stuff,’ given all the hype. However, I was very pleasantly pleased that it all seemed very ‘dialed back,’ and the focus was on their love for each other.” —Andonoplas
“I absolutely adored the gospel choir. Every wedding should now have one.” —Rhodes
“Every element of the ‘Peoples Wedding’ was captivating and inspiring. It couldn’t have been further from what we have come to expect from royal weddings. The music selection, the speakers and even the guest list had me on the edge of my seat. I couldn’t have been more impressed with where the couple chose to break tradition and allow all more of their personality to shine.” —Hansboro
BUT THOSE CHAIRS!
“I hate to nitpick but I wasn't entirely on board with the folding chairs in the church. I literally gasped when I saw them—especially since they weren't even the nice kind! Although I'm sure they were the way they were for practical reasons, they were such a sharp contrast to everything else we were seeing.” —Ely
“I would love to know who made the choice of folding chairs for the ceremony! With all of the fabulous chair rental options out there, why those? They felt inconsistent with the elegance of the venue/ floral/ event—the Queen of England, for goodness sake!” —Basker