Why yes, Etiquetteer did get up before dawn to attend an informal viewing party for the wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle, complete with coffee, scones, and Festive Gentlemen in fascinators. Now styled the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, the bride and groom enjoyed flawless weather and a rapturous ovation from the commoners. Just like all the other billions of viewers, Etiquetteer has opinions:
While lots of people are going on about Audrey Hepburn and Givenchy (since the gown's designer is the new head of Givenchy), Etiquetteer got much more of a whiff of imperial Russian court dress (that oval neckline, straight skirt, and looooong train) stripped and streamlined by Balenciaga. Meghan approached the altar with no beading, no trim, no fringe, no braid, no flounces, no ruffles, no lace, and no problems. It was perhaps the most awe-inspiring exercise in pure form ever to walk down an aisle, and Etiquetteer hopes more brides will abandon ill-chosen strapless gowns for this style.
The veil, of course, was equally magnificent with its restrained embroidery of the 53 flowers symbolizing the 53 nations of the Commonwealth. That said, Etiquetteer feared for its integrity as the bride rounded a few corners. Where were the bridesmaids or other attendants to steer that thing?
The one thing - the one thing in an otherwise perfect day - was the bride's escaping tendrils of hair. Her otherwise elegant chignon needed to be immobilized by whatever means necessary so that she would not have to keep pushing it back from her face.
WHAT THE LADIES WORE
Really, everyone looked so Perfectly Proper, but . . . Etiquetteer just doesn't like it when ladies wear black to weddings. And you know that Etiquetteer has always encouraged ladies to Consider Navy Blue. So Etiquetteer was scowling at the scowling Victoria Beckham, who was clearly channeling Norma Desmond. And Etiquetteer was preparing to lead an attack from the village of High Dudgeon about wearing black at a royal wedding, only to find out that it's Really Navy Blue. There's just nothing like doing the right thing and having it look wrong anyway, is there? At least Etiquetteer found out before launching that attack!
On television Zara Phillips Tindall looked as though she was wearing a black maternity coat, so Etiquetteer was relieved to discover later that it was really teal, so that's all right.
Her Majesty's green and purple ensemble at first appeared one strand of gold beads away from a Mardi Gras, but the green wasn't, in fact, as bright as it first appeared. The overall effect reminded Etiquetteer of the color combinations of Christian Bérard, so bracing for spring.
Otherwise, dusty rose is such a reliably dignified color for a wedding, especially a spring wedding, and Oprah Winfrey clearly led the Ladies of Dusty Rose in Perfect Propriety.
Doria Ragland, the mother of the bride, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall coordinated so beautifully in muted green (Ms. Ragland) and pink (the Duchess). The Duchess's large and impressive pink topaz, worn with a dog collar of pearls, made Etiquetteer wish that the Duchess of Cambridge had worn One More Important Piece. Her earrings were beautiful, but unobtrusive.
But really, the greatest relief was that someone gave Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie a talking-to about their headgear. This time around they looked quite appropriate. But Etiquetteer can only stand back in awe of Karen Gibson, who led the Kingdom Choir. With hair like that, you don't need a hat!
Etiquetteer will conclude this section by bowing in admiration to Amal Clooney.
STAGE MANAGEMENT AND LOGISTICS
One of the loveliest unexpected moments of this beautiful day was seeing all the little bridesmaids and pageboys arrive at the church chaperoned by at least one mother (the Duchess of Cambridge). Was that not charming? And was not the toothy page holding the bride's train absolutely adorable smiling over her shoulder as she prepared to enter the church? (Still, it's not Perfectly Proper to upstage the bride.)
The bride entering the church alone, and not on the arm of a male relative, marks a significant departure from tradition, but Etiquetteer endorses it heartily. Indeed, this bride is far from the first to do so. Jeanette MacDonald Herself walked down the aisle alone at her wedding to Gene Raymond on June 16, 1937, and that's only one example.
There has already been a great deal of commentary about the successful blending of black culture into this weddng ceremony and Etiquetteer can only add that the overall effect was seamless. But Bishop Michael Bruce Curry went on just a wee bit too long. When he said "We need to sit down. We have to get you married," that should have been a clue - a gift from himself to himself - to leave the pulpit and sit down, not continue for the length of what he's already said. Oh yes, it was an inspiring sermon (even though some members of the Family were clearly hearing American preaching for the first time)! But any public speaker calling attention to the length of their speaking needs to pick up the clue phone on which he's calling himself.
Etiquetteer will conclude by observing the changing role of the Royal Closet in Saint George's Chapel. In the painting above you can see Queen Victoria, in her perpetual mourning black, looking down from the Royal Closet onto the marriage ceremony of her son Edward, Prince of Wales, to Princess Alexandra of Denmark. This time, for Prince Harry and Meghan's wedding, the Royal Closet was near bristling with lighting for television.