Royal Wedding: Sharing a wedding day with Will and Kate
- 24 November 2010
- From the section Magazine
Prince William and Kate Middleton are not the only ones tying the knot on 29 April 2011. So what's it like sharing a wedding day with such a famous couple?
Robert Ashby and Angela Smith, a happily-betrothed couple from Birmingham, are already referring to 29 April as "our day".
They've booked the venue (church and roomy conference centre), found the dress and the suit, bought the rings, asked bridesmaids and a best man, chosen flowers and organised a photographer.
By Rob's own admission they are "90% there" in their wedding planning.
What they didn't factor in was the UK's most famous engaged couple plumping for the same Friday in April 2011.
Indeed they thought they had avoided all the common pitfalls - no World Cup or FA Cup finals or any key clash for the best man's beloved, Aston Villa (also the prince's favourite team).
"We thought we were all right," says Rob. "Now our guests have a choice: Stay at home, line the streets or come to our wedding."
But, in engaged bliss, they couldn't be happier for the royal-couple-to-be and say that should Mr and Mrs Wales turn up on their island honeymoon as well, then "we'll buy them a drink".
So what of Friday 29 April, the inconspicuous date far from the popular summer months that Kate and William have chosen for their wedding?
Predictably, numerologists have gushed that it looks a "good day" to wed and there's "positive energy" for a "stable and secure marriage" in the numbers.
It is the feast day of Kate's namesake, St Catherine of Sienna, born in 1347. She was the youngest of 25 children who saw a life-changing vision of Christ at the tender age of six.
Perhaps less fittingly, she rejected the idea of marriage and took up a life of prayer and fasting.
In the royal calendar, 29 April 1986 was the day the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, was buried. And from showbiz, in 1989 Jon Bon Jovi married his high school love Dorothea Hurley in Vegas.
In a far bleaker association, it is also the day Eva Braun is thought to have married Adolf Hitler in the bunker in Berlin, before they committed suicide together.
That coincidence, and the question of whether Prince Harry might point it out to the royal couple, drew enough attention to make it one of the top trending topics on Twitter on Tuesday.
Like many more cash-strapped couples, Kate and William chose a Friday wedding, traditionally cheaper than the more popular Saturday.
Across the country, however, the wedding industry is ramping up its prices now the royal date has been set.
It took Dennis Batchelor, from Hampshire, more than 13 years to work up to his proposal to partner Nikki Cooke. When it came, it was in a "good luck" card to her just before she leapt off a tall building in a charity abseil. He knew she said yes because "she'd tied the rope on".
Some couples who want to time their nuptials to coincide with the royal splicing will face enhanced bank holiday rates, now that the government has decreed the 29th a holiday. But Dennis and Nikki booked theirs before the royal announcement, so that will not apply to them.
The royal wedding falls between the long Easter weekend and the first May bank holiday. That means UK workers will be able to take just three days' leave, or four days in Scotland, to enjoy an 11-day break from the office.
And by choosing April, if the couple give any weight to the ancient rhyme, they have managed to "Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man".
For the superstitious bride or groom, May is a month to avoid, historically popular for orgies and subsequently frowned upon by Victorians who declared: "Marry in the month of May, you'll live to rue the day".
That headache sidestepped, it is the UK's April weather that may pose the greatest problem for any couple marrying in the UK that day - what havoc the falling drip, drip, drop of a little April shower can wreak upon a bride's up-do.
Meteorologists say April is unpredictable. It has brought snow to London in 2008, but temperatures of almost 30C in 1949.
In Glasgow, bride-to-be Julie Miller and her fiance John are hoping for dry weather, as they plan to marry outside at a priory on the shores of Loch Lomond.
"We have our fingers crossed for some sunshine," says Julie.
Kate Middleton and her fellow London brides can expect an average low of 4-6C and a high of 13C. Less rain than in March, and about 190 hours of sunshine in the month.
Wedding commentators are in a knicker-twisting frenzy of speculation about a possible dress design - warm enough to keep out any spring chill, perhaps some shoulder cover for those balcony shots.
And florists predict the royal hands will clench a wealth of spring blooms and the return of the 1920s big bouquet.
What they don't know is which tune the DJ or band will play when Kate and William first hit the dancefloor.
But as 29 April 1967 was the day Aretha Franklin released Respect, will the happy couple look again to their wedding date for first dance, and life lesson, inspiration?