According to tradition, a royal bride must wear white even if she’s been married before (as Meghan had been).
Meghan chose a simple yet regal Givenchy gown designed by Clare Waight Keller (48), who became the first female artistic director of the French fashion house.
The gown with train, made from pure white silk, boasted a 5-m silk-tulle veil that featured a trim of hand-embroidered flowers from 53 Commonwealth countries (a protea represented South Africa).
Meghan apparently expressed a desire to have the countries of the Commonwealth with her on her journey through the ceremony. She also added her own personal favourites – wintersweet, which grows in the grounds of Kensington Palace, and the Californian poppy, the state flower of California where she was born.
Meghan chose Clare because she was said to be impressed by her “timeless and elegant aesthetic, impeccable tailoring and relaxed demeanour”. The designer did extensive research at fabric mills throughout Europe to develop an exclusive double-bonded silk “perfect for the round sculptural look required”, the palace says.
The veil also included “crops of wheat delicately embroidered and blended into the flora, to symbolise love and charity”. The silk and organza wedding veil took hundreds of hours of sewing, and workers had to wash their hands every 30 minutes to keep the tulle and threads pristine.
The dress is estimated to have cost around £200 000 (R3,4 million), which was paid for by the royal family. Meghan paired the dress with a set of Givenchy heels made of silk duchess satin.
The bride wore a tiara loaned to her by the queen. The tiara is named the Queen Mary Diamond Bandeau, after the queen’s grandmother Queen Mary.
It was made in 1931 and features a centre brooch of 10 diamonds dating back to 1893 and a band of 11 sections of diamonds and platinum.
Meghan kept the rest of her accessories simple, opting for simple diamond stud earrings by French jeweller Cartier, as well as one simple diamond and gold bracelet, also by Cartier.
As per royal tradition Meghan’s wedding ring was fashioned from a piece of Welsh gold, gifted to her by the queen. Welsh gold – considered more valuable than other types of gold – has been included in the wedding bands of the royals for decades.
While few men in the monarchy including his brother, William, choose to wear wedding bands, Harry has opted to wear one and is sporting a platinum band with a textured finish.
“There’s no real reason most royal men don’t wear rings,” an insider says. “It’s just a matter of preference.”
Both Meghan and Harry’s rings were made by Cleave and Company – the official royal jewellers based at Buckingham Palace. They also designed Meghan’s engagement ring, which features a diamond from Botswana where the couple holidayed early in their courtship, and two others from Princess Diana’s collection.
HAIR & MAKEUP
Meghan kept things low-key with natural, glowing make-up and a chic but slightly undone chignon. New York-based celebrity hairstylist Serge Normant, who counts Hollywood actress Sarah Jessica Parker and model Kate Moss among his clients, was responsible for her hair.
“It’s a messy bun, we call it. Messy in a controlled way.” He says it took him “just 45 minutes to do” and he used hair grips you can pick up in the supermarket. UK hairdresser Richard Ward, who's worked on the Duchess of Cambridge's locks, explains an up-do is essential when wearing a tiara.
“The tiara could've been sewn into the veil, using invisible thread. You can put a tiny cornrow plait just behind the tiara and attach the tiara to it.”
Her make-up was done by long-time friend and professional make-up artist Daniel Martin. He stayed true to her signature look, which included defined brows, a smoky eye, a light base that let her freckles shine through and a nude lip.
Philippa Craddock, the preferred florist for Kensington Palace, was tasked with doing the floral arrangements. The London-based florist, who counts fashion houses Alexander McQueen and Christian Dior among her clients, said she was honoured to be chosen. She described working with Meghan and Harry as “an absolute pleasure”.
“The process was highly collaborative, free-flowing, creative and fun,” she said. “The final designs will represent them as a couple, which I always aim to achieve in my work, with local sourcing, seasonality and sustainability being at the forefront.”
According to the Palace, the floral displays used foliage that’s in season and naturally blooming in May with most of it taken from the gardens and parkland of the Crown Estate and Windsor Great Park.
After the wedding, the flowers were given to charitable organisations. The arrangements featured white garden roses, foxgloves and peonies – a favourite of Meghan, who’s an ardent flower fan – as well as branches of beech.
THE WEDDING BOUQUET
Philippa also designed the bouquet with a little help from the groom.
According to Kensington Palace, “Harry handpicked several flowers from their private garden at Kensington Palace to add to the bouquet.”
The couple also requested the inclusion of forget-me-nots, Princess Diana’s favourite flower.
The bouquet, smaller than those of previous royal brides, also included scented sweet pea, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine and astrantia, as well as sprigs of myrtle all bound with a naturally dyed, raw silk ribbon.
Myrtle is a symbol of love, with Queen Victoria first planting myrtle in her garden at Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight in 1845.
The sprigs in Meghan’s bouquet were from a plant grown from the same myrtle used in Queen Elizabeth’s wedding bouquet in 1947.