Royal Weddings

Royal wedding: Eight key trends from Harry and Meghan's big day

As the confetti settles on Britain's Prince Harry and new wife Meghan's big day, Tanya Sweeney outlines the key trends for adding some 'Markle sparkle' to your own

In the week of what royal household insiders dubbed the 'Markle Debacle', no one could really be sure if Saturday's royal wedding would be fabulous, farcical or a bit of both.

But in the end, the royals did what they've always done best and pulled a flawless fairytale out of the bag. A worldwide audience of more than two billion watched Prince Harry being overcome with emotion as a sun-dappled Meghan Markle glided down the aisle.

The confetti has settled, the hangovers abated and our eyes have finally stopped leaking, so the question begs to be answered. Will this elegant and oh-so-modern royal wedding influence Irish nuptials? In a word, absolutely. Expect an uptick in 'Markle sparkle' in weddings the world over.


We asked wedding planner Collette O'Leary ( about whether some of these new wedding trends might go down well closer to home.

1 Walking down the aisle alone

If Meghan wanted to look like a fierce independent feminist before signing herself into The Firm, this was a surefire way of going about it. While her father Thomas recovered from heart surgery, it was mooted that mum Doria might step in to give Meghan away, but in the end, the bride made part of the walk on her own before being joined by Prince Charles midway down the aisle.

Collette's verdict: We have more divorced parents in Ireland, so a lot of brides make the decision to not walk with either Mum or Dad. A growing number of them will bring their children. Of the ones who walk down the aisle alone, it's less to do with 'I'm running my own company and an empowered woman' and more about family circumstance.

2 The dress

Meghan surprised everyone by going for Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn's favourite fashion house, Givenchy. The simple bateau neckline and long sleeves of the bonded silk cady dress were offset by a filigree tiara (on loan from the Queen). Hand-embroidered floral motifs were worked into the five-metre veil, a nod to the 53 countries in the Commonwealth. The last word, everyone agreed, in timeless, simple elegance.

Collette's verdict: The boatneck was so flattering on Meghan's décolletage that we'll certainly be seeing an upswing in it. It's an absolutely timeless look, unlike, say Diana's dress, which was very much '1980s bride'.

3 The ceremony

Hoping to intertwine Meghan's African-American culture and Harry's British one, the ceremony featured an Episcopalian bishop from the US and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The former, Michael Curry, almost stole the show with his impassioned sermon; aside from that it was business as usual with hymns, a Bible reading, the Lord's prayer and 'to have and to hold'. Yet in addition to classic works by Bach and Schubert, the Kingdom Choir performed the Ben E King soul classic 'Stand By Me'. Try booking a choir for your big day after that.

Collette's verdict: We have an awful lot more weddings outside the confines of the church now, and many have an interfaith or humanist minister, that lends itself more to the structure of the royal wedding ceremony. A lot of Irish brides would love a gospel choir, but they can be expensive.

4 The food

While many eyebrows were raised at the idea of a non-traditional lemon and elderflower cake, Claire Ptak's creation was every inch a showstopper. The couple did away with a traditional sitdown meal in favour of bowls of food and canapés - among them langoustines wrapped in salmon, pea panna cotta and quail eggs, and chicken fricassee - served to wedding guests.

Collette's verdict: The brides who come here to get married from Australia or the US don't like the sitting-down-for-hours tradition. We do versions of canapés called 'manapés', as you need to serve a decent amount of food. As for the cake, everyone is sick of chocolate biscuit cake and I predict a huge swing to those flavours, like lemon and elderflower.

5 The wardrobe change

While Harry switched his Blues and Royals uniform for a natty tux, his new wife changed into a bespoke Stella McCartney halter-neck that was much more free-flowing than her day attire. Well, could you imagine getting a 'dirty burger' on that Givenchy gown?

Collette's verdict: Some high-end brides might change, but for a lot of Irish brides, they spend a lot of money on wedding dresses so the last thing they want to do is change out of it.

6 The guest dress code

In this case, it was strict: Saturday's dress code included tuxedos or suits for men, with a tie. Women were required to wear a knee-length dress with a hat. Bare legs and bare shoulders were forbidden. It certainly didn't stop several people having a bit of fun with their outfits, and among the best dressed were Amal Clooney in sunshine yellow Stella McCartney, Princess Diana's niece Kitty Spencer in floral Dolce & Gabbana and Harry's ex Cressida Bonas in vibrant striped Eponine.

Collette's verdict: Royal etiquette is so strict, so we wouldn't be at that. We say, 'black tie', 'cocktail' or 'informal' and that's about it. The venue would dictate a lot of it.

7 The afters

Anyone hear Harry murmur after the ceremony that he needed a drink? We did. He let his hair down at the mother of all shindigs, hosted at Frogmore House by Prince Charles. Candyfloss and 'dirty burgers' were served up, and there was yet another serving of soul for the first dance, as the couple took to the floor for 'Land of a Thousand Dances'. Comedian James Corden presided over the events, which allegedly included a dance-off between royals, risqué speeches and even a beer pong session.

Collette's verdict: Is there room for innovation in the Irish afters? Absolutely. We've done Prosecco and beer pong in previous weddings, but it can be hard to do it in a 5-star venue.

8 The goodie bags

As if being showered in kudos and getting a look at Oprah wasn't enough for the wedding's 1,200 non-VIP guests, they also walked away with a hessian goodie bag. Among the goodies were Windsor Castle water, traditional shortbread, and a giant chocolate coin. Many of the items ended up on eBay within hours.

Collette's verdict: A lot of destination brides already do 'welcome bags'. If they're asking guests to travel down the country, couples put small gift bags in their wedding guests' hotel room containing things like still water, crisps, chocolate and Berocca. Another couple offered a bag with mini bottles of gin and tonic, and an emergency kit bag, with painkillers and Dioralyte, for the morning after.