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While the tremendous worldwide buzz regarding the Royal Wedding may have died down, it certainly has inspired many N.J. brides to start dreaming of and planning their own royal event. So, here’s how to create your own regal moment and walk down the aisle as a princess, even if it’s just for a day.
The Ceremony: There’s no replacing London’s Westminster Abbey, but New Jersey has its own bit of religious grandeur. The Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark (973-484-4600; cathedralbasilica.org), the fifth largest cathedral in North America, dates back to 1899 and covers some 45,000 square feet, comparable to Westminster Abbey. Its heavy use of stained glass, vaulted ceilings, wood paneling, marble, and crystal, silver and bronze chandeliers can surely set the royal tone. The Kirkpatrick Chapel (732-932-7808), located at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, is another ceremony option. This all-faiths chapel was built in 1873, and is complete with stained-glass Tiffany windows and a hundred-year-old Aeolian-Skinner organ.
Be sure to add royal ceremony touches. “My favorite detail was the red runner that Kate walked on,” says JoAnn Gregoli of Elegant Occasions, who plans celebrity weddings in New Jersey and New York. “It helped to offset her amazing gown. I also loved the simplicity of the trees in the church, bringing in the countryside.”
Tina LaMorte of Oh So Fabulous in Maywood agrees. “From a designer standpoint, the trees were genius. Nothing less than 20 to 30 feet high would even register under the vast ceilings, so this made perfect sense.”
And don’t forget a children’s choir. “I am a huge fan of choirs to add that grand touch,” Gregoli adds.
The Reception: Natirar in Peapack-Gladstone is one of our top picks for a royal location. And there’s good reason why: this mansion, situated on a 500-acre estate, was built in 1912 and is the former residence of the King of Morocco. “The drive up to the mansion alone provides the guests such elegant anticipation that continues as they enter the mansion, take in the views and are treated like royalty,” says Joan Glenn of 6 Degrees of Separation in Westfield.
Other royal venues include Jasna Polana Club in Princeton, the Castle at Skylands Manor in Ringwood and the Pleasantdale Chateau in West Orange..
“The Pleasantdale is unlike any other,” says Marie Danielle Vil-Young of A Votre Service Events in Franklin Park. “The grounds are not only beautiful, but also rich in history. A lot of royal accoutrements can be traced back to different kings and queens.”
As for décor, “there are a lot of ways to bring a little ‘royal’ into your event,” says LaMorte. “Choose a monochromatic color palette; so warm and classic. Another way is to spend money on rentals—gold flatware or gold-beaded chargers—to make the table special. Spring for hand-written calligraphy, and take that extra step and do escort cards for each guest.”
Gregoli suggests a morning event: “You can host a morning wedding followed by a luncheon—not only a royal trend but money-saving as well.”
The Fashion: Sarah Burton of British fashion house Alexander McQueen had the honor of creating the gown of the century, but if having lace hand-made for your wedding is simply not in the budget, you’re in luck. Many bridal designers have created their own vision of the royal gown.
JS Collections created the gown pictured above for Nordstrom for just $698, which is available for pre-order at nordstrom.com. A version of Pippa’s gown can be pre-ordered for $220 from dillards.com. Both gowns will ship in September. And a gown similar to Kate’s evening reception dress is available from Theia for $1,995, through Nordstrom.
The Bouquet: We loved the significance of the flowers that Kate carried: Lily-of-the-valley represents trustworthiness. Sweet William stands for gallantry, and, of course, the prince’s name. Hyacinth represents the constancy of love. Ivy symbolizes marriage, fidelity, friendship and affection. And it’s royal tradition to carry a sprig of myrtle in the bouquet. You can do the same, and choose flowers that are meaningful to your wedding and relationship. Just don’t forget that myrtle!
The Ring: While no one can replicate the history and provenance of Princess Diana’s engagement ring, which Kate now proudly wears, you can certainly come close. Braunschweiger Jewelers in Morristown (973-538-2189; braunschweiger.com) created an 18-carat sapphire-and-diamond engagement ring in the same style that retails for $19,000, far less than the royal price tag of $500,000. They’ll work with you to create your own custom ring within your budget.
Image via dappledgrey.com
The Ride: Horse-drawn carriage or cool sports car? The decision is up to you—or pick both as Kate and Will did. “The getaway was terrific, unanticipated, fun and romantic,” says Glenn. “So many couples do not have that as part of their plans anymore.”
The Prince: Unfortunately, you’re on your own in this category. But follow your heart, and you’ll wind up with your own Prince Charming.