Continuation of “But Will and Kate Did It!”

by admin on May 9, 2011

I really wasn’t in the mood to read or comment on the dozens of comments people submitted in response to the prior “But Kate and Will Did It!” post of last week but will do so now.

Addendum:  I forgot to add that people really need to read the blog carefully.  Nowhere did my post say that the Middleton family was not invited to the evening reception.  It was Middleton *guests* that had been at the wedding earlier but not invited to the evening reception.

1. The difference between a glitch and a faux pas. A glitch is something that is unforeseen, a bump in the execution no one could have predicted. Ants marching up the legs of a buffet table to decorate a wedding cake is a glitch, a horse freaking out is a glitch. A faux pas is a choice one makes to pursue a particular action that ends up being the wrong decision. Choosing to exclude certain ceremony guests from a reception is a faux pas.

2. Many of you mention ” protocol” as if it were synonymous with “etiquette”.

pro·to·col –  The official procedure governing affairs of state or diplomatic occasions.

Protocol includes etiquette but etiquette may not include protocol.   Protocol is the specific guidelines for diplomatic and state occasions.   I have never claimed to be a protocol expert which is a completely different arena of etiquette.  Were I invited to a White House State Dinner, I would have to read up on the protocol before attending.

It has been said repeatedly in the US and UK press that the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton was NOT a state function given that William is not the next heir to the throne.   That it was not a state event was the reason given for why former Prime Ministers Blair and Brown and President Obama and his wife were not invited to the wedding.

This wedding, unlike that of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981, is not a state occasion because William is not first in line to the throne and “so there is no protocol reason to invite former Prime Ministers,” Nick Loughran, a spokesman for Prince William, said in a statement emailed to msnbc.com.

It cannot follow then that certain decisions with regards to excluding guests from ceremony and receptions and sending them etiquette guides is part and parcel of the whole state protocol wedding.  As the article cited above stated, “So it’s simply the marriage of two young people in love, in front of 1,900 family and friends.”

At least one blog commenter was inaccurate when she claimed that US presidents are only invited to royal state weddings.  Incorrect.  President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy were invited to the wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana, which was a state wedding, but also to the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson which was not a state wedding.

3.  Regarding the etiquette guide.   I’ve researched this as much as can be and I can say with certainty that this wedding was the first time etiquette guides were given to guests.  One can be assured that those who are royal or rub shoulders with royalty have no need of such a guide.  Heads of state have protocol and etiquette staff to advise them of the proper procedures and etiquette in different countries.   The etiquette guides were for the common folk who do not interact routinely with royalty and would not know the layers of formal etiquette needed to engage a personage of royal blood.  One blog commenter wrote:

Personally I would think it presumptuous of the royal family to expect me to know all the etiquette concerning royalty and a faux pas on their part if they didn’t send me a guide. After all a host should be accommodating to their guests and not expect them to have to research arcane protocol. Considering all the people who haven’t followed all the inane rules and who have felt embarrassed it is good manners to alleviate any potential distress, especially considering all the foreign guests who would have no idea.

This perception pretty much confirms what I wrote previously regarding the Old World’s stratification of society with etiquette being used as a means to place people in classes.  The upper classes have no expectation that the lower classes know or even care about high etiquette since the classes would rarely have occasion to intermingle.  But when they do, the lower classes must be brought up to speed lest they behave in a way that marks them as being the lower classes denizens that they are.   The blog commenter comtinues…

It is odd that you think it a breach of etiquette to guide people in etiquette yet at the same time have an entire website devoted to people and their etiquette faux pas.

The major difference is “PUSH” versus “Pull” guidance.  A blog on etiquette is “pull” guidance where readers search for it, choose to read it and “pull” information from it at their discretion.  A wedding guide sent to guests is “push” information that is foisted upon guests whether they needed it or not.   And I’ll repeat it here again…don’t any American brides even think of attempting this with your guests because I will roast you to BBQ crispness if you do.

4.  Yes, English etiquette maven Frances Trollope did publish the book, “Domestic manners of the Americans”, almost 180 years.   But those of you who commented appear to miss the point I was making that the UK and the US have very different etiquette and both of them are founded in principles dating back 200 hundred years.    Judith Martin aka Miss Manners goes into much greater detailed discussion of this topic in her book, “Star Spangled Manners – In Which Miss Manners Defends American Etiquette (For a Change)” .   Read at least the first chapter, “The Pitch – Equality and Dignity, Once and for All”, let me know you have and we can have a lively discussion on the subject in a later blog post.

5.  Excluded wedding guests. The argument that the Queen could not accommodate all 1900 ceremony guests to a reception in Buckingham palace is not supported by the evidence.  Each year the Queen hosts the Queen’s Garden Parties for up to 8,000 invitees and each November the Queen entertains members of the foreign diplomatic corps which involves opening all the palace state rooms and the royals walking from one end of the state rooms to the other.   There was precedent and room to host all 1900 wedding ceremony guests to a reception.  As I think more on it, it appears that 1250 of the invited 1900 guests were actually Westminster Abbey “filler”.  With cameras showing every angle of the inside of the Abbey, it simply would not do to have over a thousand vacant seats as Kate processed down the aisle.   For the sake of a good photo opp, people were invited to be warm bodies filling a huge church but were not deemed suitable to be invited to the palace afterwards.   Think about it….wedding guests were not accorded the same courtesy and privilege as those 8,000 invited to a garden party or diplomatic corps.   It’s ungracious to treat wedding guests so.    Contrast this to the wedding of Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece to Marie-Chantal Miller in 1995.   The Millers hosted a champagne dinner dance followed by breakfast buffet for 1300 wedding guests at an estate in Kent.  The Millers are New York socialites (in other words, Americans with an egalitarian sense of etiquette).

And it bears repeating – US brides, don’t even think of inviting guests to the ceremony but not the reception.  I don’t care if William and Kate did it.

6.  As for those of you claiming that white bridesmaids dresses are typical in royal weddings, consider the following:

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson – Peach
Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier – Yellow silk organdy
Prince Joachim of Denmark and Marie Chevalier – Lavendar
Peter Phillips (son of Princess Anne) and Autumn Kelly (2008)  – sage green
Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark & Mary (2004)  – Pink and fuschia
Crown Prince Phillippe of Belgium and Princess Mathilde (1999)  – Burgundy
Viscount Linley (David Armstrong-Jones, son of 1st Earl of Snowdon and Princess Margaret) and Serena Stanhope (1993)   – Silver (doubtlessly the ugliest bridesmaids dresses in royal history)
Prince Maurits of Holland marries Marilene van der Broek  (1998) – Baby blue
Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece marries Marie-Chantal Miller (1995)  – Baby blue
Crown Prince Wilhelm Alexander of Holland (2002)  – Burgundy
Crown Prince Felipe of Spain (2004 – Light yellow

White bridesmaids dresses appear to be typical among Windsor weddings only.

{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Flora May 9, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I agree with you. Actually I’d take it one step further. I think the royal family (and I apologise, if my information is wrong, I don’t watch tv anymore and most of the royal wedding news I actually learned here.) deserves etiquette hell for hosting A and B receptions for the bride and grooms family. It’s 2011 for crying out loud! Put on your grown-up undies, set a positive example and include everyone!

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kelly May 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm

As for the bridesmaids dresses, in England white is the traditional colour. It is more trendy to see adult bridesmaids wearing a non-white dress, but nearly all child bridsmaids wear white. Saying that white is making a huge comeback for adult bridesmaids (and white is beginning to decrease as the colour of choice for brides). What I thought was odd about the adult bridesmaid was the style of the dress, it seemed too casual and “sexy” for such a big wedding, it looked more suitable for a beach wedding (but that is just my personal taste).

I agree that the whole set up was just rude and obnoxious. I think it is more improtant to be nice and welcoming to guests than worry about if they use the wrong fork, or say pardon instead of what, or toilet instead of loo.
In fact the rumours that people were being told not to use the word pardon highlights that this was a class issue not a manners one. In England the use of the word pardon is a lower-middle class indicator simply because it is considered more polite! The upper classes use the word what, and this stems from the fact that they are above such manners. So if it is true the guide was giving out linguistic pointers like this, it shows they were more worried about trying to get people to pretend they were upper class than actual good manners.
The fact is that rudeness is rudeness, and good manners are important regardless of who the host is. assuming that people have bad manners becuase they are not royalty (the same royalty who were recently accused of shady dealings with sex offenders) is just wrong. No good hostess should put people on edge like this, but should ensure their guests are comfortable, and if someone makes an ettiquette faux pas (as opposed to plain bad manners), then you ignore it and do the same so as to not have them singled out.

The seperate parties thing was just beyond rude (apparently the other parties were referred to as the N.F.I parties as in Not F@@@@@@ invited). There was enough room to hold it in the grounds as admin points out they do with other events, and if there was not enough space, then they could have held it in a chapel.

Whilst this was not a state wedding, guests like the prime minister, and foreign ambassadors and dignitories (including the Syrian ones until a politician stepped in and disinvited him) were invited, so it was a giant snub not to invite the Blairs (although I cannot stand them) or the American head of state (not that I imagine he would have wanted to go).

On another snobby point, when Princess Anne’s son married a canadian there were a lot of very nasty comments about her use of adult bridesmaids, and the fact they wore green. Funny when an English public school educated daughter of a multi-millionaire has an adult bridesmaid it is ok and the height of style. Hypocrites!

I agree with the admin. on her thoughts about the wedding, I just disagree with the fact it was used to tar everyone in Britain with the same brush and to seemingly place America higher up on the moral scale. This wedding was considered ill-mannered by many in Britain, and America does not have a monopoly on equality.

Can I also point out that Greece does not have a royal family anymore and has made titles illegal, so it is incorrect to refer to their former royal family by their former titles (not really an issue with your article but this keeps happening in the media and is really getting up my nose – they are not Greece’s royal family anymore, and have no right to go around referring to themselves as such and Britain should not have enabled this behaviour by inviting them as Greeks representitives especially as they are in exile in Britain).

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SJ May 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I don’t know how it all played out for this particular, but assuming the bride chose the wedding party dresses, white is fine, right? As a guest, however, it would be a major faux pas.

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Leslie Holman-Anderson May 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm

‘Ugliest bridesmaid dresses ever’ doesn’t even cover it. Other than being made of expensive fabric, they look like the uniforms doled out in 19th-Century orphanages! Maybe she was just trying to make sure the inherent cuteness of little kids didn’t detract from her? (And by the way, what’s with the dreadful wrinkly slacks of her escort?)

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Steve May 9, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I have to object to Willem Alexander of Holland… he is mine…it’s The Netherlands.

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Miss Miaw May 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm

It was a royal wedding, however much that jars with American readers, it means the normal rules of ettiquette do not apply. I’m told it’s still customary to stand when the president enters a room, that doesn’t make it ‘rude’ if you don’t also stand when your next door neighbour pops round, it means that different rules apply for people of differing social standing, even in the US.

We can probably all agree that it’s not proper to stand in someones personal space, but I know that if I’m in Japan, what they will consider ‘personal space’ is considerably shorter than what I will. Would I then start complaining that they were breaching ettiquette standing too close to me? or would I accept that in this country things are different and this is just how they do things? Clearly the latter, If I were to whip out my own flag and start waving it frantically pointing out how rude these Japanese people are and how it’s not how it’s done at home, it would be me that was remiss in my actions. By all means US brides should not use the etiquette at a UK royal wedding as a standard for thier own, no more than they should start insisting people stand when they enter a room, or start standing three inches away from people in normal conversation. The original post veered away from that warning and into a general ‘look down the nose’ at ettiquette on display, to me that was just in poor taste.

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Powers May 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Just because it’s not a state wedding doesn’t mean there aren’t matters of protocol involved that go beyond everyday etiquette. There are also issues of practicality, security, and tradition that are all different in either nature or scale than for non-royal weddings.

You’re certainly correct that no one should be using this particular wedding as a guide to etiquette! But likewise, one should not expect this particular wedding not to be different in many ways, for many reasons.

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Floridian May 9, 2011 at 3:38 pm

Thank you, thank you! Your comments are right on the nailhead!

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Enna May 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm

If it’s not a state event then why was it televised? Why all the publicity? It was differently a formal public event. Like you said about the incosistantcy between the guests attending the wedding and the reception that was a really bad considering the number of guests the Queen has to garden parties. It may not be a state wedding but there would be some people whether they are royals, nobles, politicans, diplomats etc who William and Kate will know: to a point it might be diplomatic to invite them. The Syrian ambassdor had has invitaiton revoked (is that the right word?) so there is a political/diplomatic feel to it.

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Enna May 9, 2011 at 4:12 pm

P.S in other weddings what about people who are not invited to the wedding but the reception? That sounds a bit contradictionary.

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jen a. May 9, 2011 at 4:51 pm

You have really good points on this, but somehow I just can’t get upset… I really enjoyed watching the wedding, and so far this is the third post on the etiquette violations on this one day. I know it’s probably because of the large response and the need to clarify and respond, but I kind of miss the etiquette violations of good old regular people:) The one thing I took away from this was how respectful and polite everyone was. This was an exciting day for many people, and there were many opportunities for some rowdy behaviour. This is probably partly due to the vast amount of security surrounding the event, but I don’t think that’s all of it. I’ve heard multiple accounts on the news (and one account from a friend of a friend who was actually there) about how calm and relaxed the crowds were. I know there were protests, and I’m sure there were rude people there, but overall things seemed to be very well-run. Not only that, can we talk about how punctual everyone was? That can be a lesson to people everywhere.

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ellen May 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm

who cares if it’s a “state event” or not, after having a rubbish and depressing year, it was nice for us to celebrate something together.

Besides, they don’t get married everyday, so yeah, I guess it was publisised. If wouldn’t have been if no one was interested. I can say for sure, having Canadian-scottish relatives, they were interested because they left a lot of their heritage behind when they emigrated, it was nice for them celebrate with us.

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kelly May 9, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Flora,
As far as I am aware the royals did not host two parties. They hosted one, and those they did not invite went to other parties including the one hosted by the bride’s parents. I think that is even worse.

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lisa May 9, 2011 at 5:39 pm

‘Ugliest bridesmaid dresses ever’

Surely.

Unless it was a space-themed wedding.

Was it a space themed wedding? You never know, those dresses could be the height of fashion in 2783.

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Kathryn Dickinson May 9, 2011 at 6:23 pm

I was wondering why the Queen with her vast resources and huge Party space did not invite all the wedding guests to the palace. I have to tell you I was a little put off by it. As for the etiquette guide , a lot of etiquette is pure common sense and politeness. If in my own life I am unsure, politeness is my guide along with watching the eldest member of the party for reference. It is my belief that if you were invited to the wedding it was up to you to do some self study. Sending a guide is rude.
When I got married 25 years ago the style was black brides maid dresses , even for day ceremonies. I think as long as the attendants are dressed for the occasion any color of the brides choosing is correct.
That said a guest wearing white, off white , ivory, lacy white over a light color is incorrect.
My suggestion to brides comes from my dear Grandmother, living in Etiquette heaven, Just because your friend jumps off a bridge does that mean you should do so?
Just a thought

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Kimberly May 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm

@Enna

I think there is an “exception” for when the religious venue is restricted to believers. We also have the opposite in a way in family. There are members of my family that don’t attend the wedding ceremonies, but attend the reception. Their religion forbids them from stepping foot in another religion’s sanctuary.

I know there are some that think that is rude. We are just thankful that they come to the receptions and other events off church grounds. (Long Long back story about their Mom and her attempts to poison relationships they had with their Father’s family)

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Mrs Jones May 9, 2011 at 7:37 pm

The international interest in the wedding was on account of who was getting married, however, because something is televised does not automatically make it a ‘state’ occasion.

If you have a look at the seating plan that I attached on the previous blog, you will see a breakdown of the different guests e.g. friends of the couple, people invited by his father etc.

Traditionally weddings in the UK are very different from weddings in the USA and we should embrace our differences. Having said that, I’ve noticed that some of the American traditions are creping into the planning of those who watch a lot of American television or frequent your bridal sites, it might make me cringe, but to each his own.

I’m not a practising Christian but seeing the royal wedding brought back memories of just how moving a beautiful a church wedding could be. I really enjoyed the music, sermon and reading and thought the beautifully choreographed.

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ann May 9, 2011 at 8:14 pm

“Us brides”–you know better than that! :)

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hitcher May 9, 2011 at 9:26 pm

What irked me most, actually, was not the valid points made regarding the breaches of etiquette, but the rather blatant attempt, as one poster above has commented, to place American manners higher up on the moral scale. The tone was frankly a little arrogant and finger wagging. As a daughter of a British mother, I find it a little offensive to have it implied that British manners are somehow inferior to those of Americans, just because a royal wedding did not accord with American etiquette. As many, many posters have pointed out, this was a royal wedding – not something that should be taken as indicative of the attitude of the ordinary British person towards manners and etiquette. To me, the statement:

“We uphold the values of dignity, respect, and an etiquette rule of law for everyone, regardless of power, money, age, sex, religion, breeding, or one’s “connections”

strongly carries with it the implication that British manners do hold uphold such values. That possibly may be true for certain parts of British society, but it is not fair to tar all British people with the same brush.

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Amber May 9, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Perhaps I am too much of the egalitarian American, but I agree with you completely. NOT that I think Brits aren’t just as egalitarian. But many do seem to turn a blind eye on the royals simply because they were blessed enough to be born blue-blooded.

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SJ May 9, 2011 at 10:45 pm

I don’t think the point is to say how “bad” the etiquette was at this wedding, simply that one shouldn’t take a royal wedding in England and try to apply the same rules to a “regular” wedding in the US.

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admin May 10, 2011 at 12:28 am

SJ,

*Ding! Ding! Ding!* You win! That is exactly what the post is conveying.

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Kirsten May 10, 2011 at 2:04 am

But that’s completely not how it comes across. None of the posts about this wedding read as “this is what happened at the royal wedding, this is what would normally happen at an American wedding.” It reads as “look at the terrible etiquette crimes committed at this wedding, that should never happen in America.”

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keloe May 10, 2011 at 4:19 am

There is another potential issue – in case of the event in which so many heads of state/royals/important personages participate, there are usually also strict security guidelines. That might also limit the number of people who can participate, even if the space allows for more. I have helped to organise a visit by our president to a particular place and the security issues were a nightmare – not made any easier by the fact, that the event was not in our original country and was during a state visit but on “private time”. They are also not negotiable.
Apart from that there was also a strict scenario defining who is allowed to go where, speak to whom, shake hands with whom, in what order, etc.

I also remember the security when the US President was visiting and “meeting” the locals – it was on a huge public square, but the people who wished to participate had to go through metal detectors and wait for hours before the event, and the area was swarming with security man, uniformed and plainclothes.

Incidentally, in Poland it is perfectly normal for people to be invited to the ceremony but not the reception. Especially if people are having a church wedding – and most do. A Catholic wedding is open to anyone (at least here it is – I don’t know if it’s a Polish thing or a Catholic thing) and it is perfectly common for people to just send a wedding announcement to all their friends, or post one on a noticeboard at work or school, so that anyone can come and see the ceremony if they like. Sometimes old school friends or acquaintances just show up if they hear about it. In such cases no one expects to be invited to a party (the couples plan those according to their budgets and send separate invitations) and no gifts are given. It is usual, however – another specifically local custom, I believe – to bring a bouquet of flowers and give it to the bride after the ceremony. The couples later share them with their family, or donate them to hospitals and other such places.

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Mrs Jones May 10, 2011 at 6:26 am

It’s nothing at all to do with turning a blind eye to the royals. In the UK rules regarding wedding etiquette are not as rigid as they appear to be in the States, its as simple as that.

With reference to bridesmaids, there are not set rules with regard to colour. White, is not just a ‘Windsor’ thing as someone mentioned earlier. I could equally reel of a number of non-Windsor royal weddings where the Bridesmaids wore white e.g Princess Victoria of Sweden, Christina of Spain….
There is no debate, people choose whatever colour they like and for whatever reason. At formal weddings, women are expected to wear hats and the men morning dress, but not everyone has a formal wedding.

In my mother’s day wedding receptions were very short and only very light refreshments offered e.g. afternoon tea and Champaign for toasting the couple.

By their very nature, Royal Weddings will have their own traditions and etiquette surrounding them, some of which are particular only to them, but others of which used to be part of our tradition – still maintained by them, but no longer followed by most of the population.

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Mrs Jones May 10, 2011 at 6:33 am

Forgot to add, the celebration of weddings as we now know it is a relatively recent phenomena. Prior to mid 19th century, in the UK weddings were very much held in private with very few people in attendance.

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Gyburc May 10, 2011 at 6:53 am

I just thought I’d add one point to clarify why the former Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were not invited to the wedding (when fellow ex-PMs John Major and Margaret Thatcher were). Mr. Major and Lady Thatcher are Knights of the Garter, and so are automatically invited to Royal Weddings, but neither Mr. Blair nor Mr. Brown have applied to be given that rank.

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anonymous May 10, 2011 at 11:38 am

I honestly don’t care if white is a color used in England for bridesmaids’ dresses or for royal wedding bridesmaids. I really don’t.

It’s simply important to note that if the couple approved Pippa’s dress, then Pippa’s dress was by definition not a faux pas.

It absolutely does not matter if it’s tradition, and there is no etiquette rule that says that bridesmaids can’t wear white **if the bride tells them they can/should**.

So regardless of “tradition” (which, when it comes to colors worn at weddings I’ve never really cared for), Pippa did not do wrong. I cannot imagine she’d wear a white dress without Kate’s approval.

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Elizabeth May 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm

I don’t think the white bridesmaid dress is a big deal unless I knew the bride was not ok with it. Generally the bride chooses her attendants’ attire, so I would have assumed that it was what the bride wanted.

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Kitty_ev May 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Gyburc- I think you’ve probably hit the nail on the head regarding the invitation of Baroness Thatcher and Sir Major- they’re both of the Order of the Garter so almost certainly merit an invitation on that basis, particularly given that Prince William is also of the Order. One small detail that’s incorrect though regarding the Order of the Garter- one cannot “apply” to be a member. The Order has been in existence since somewhere between 1344-1348 and is invitation-only from the monarch. There is also a limit to how many people can be in the Order at any given time- the core group of knights and ladies is limited to 24 people. It was founded by King Edward III and was intended to be a way of honouring and keeping close his most trusted and valued friends and advisers. It’s actually a very interesting period of European history.

I also echo several of the comments made regarding the bridesmaids in the royal wedding wearing white. White is the traditional colour for bridesmaids here in the UK- adults as well as children. It’s not considered to be “upstaging” the bride for the bridesmaids to wear white here, though if a wedding guest were to wear a completely white outfit it would cause raised eyebrows.

As for the etiquette guide sent to guests, I actually think it was a thoughtful gesture. Etiquette and protocol surrounding the royal family is correct and steeped in over a thousand years of tradition. It’s difficult to get clear, correct and definitive guidance regarding correct behaviour- who better to provide it than the office of the Royal Chamberlain? I’m polite, articulate and well-spoken, but I would certainly be on-edge attending a party with the royal family as I know that we do not speak the same sociolect and I would not want to be misunderstood or appear rude. I’d imagine many people would feel the same way if they were to meet the US president and would be grateful for some guidance beforehand so as not to commit an unintentional faux-pas. I don’t think it’s a sign of class snobbery in the UK- I’m happy to speak to people who are from a higher socio-economic group than myself and I’ve never encountered any negativity coming towards me, but the royal family are set apart and above usual rules due to aforementioned traditions and protocol. As a significant part of the guest list included MPs (who are not automatically upper-class individuals), military personnel, sports personalities and family and friends of the couple, none of whom are used to rubbing shoulders with royals, I think the inclusion of the etiquette guide would probably have allayed anxieties rather than insulted people.

I also find this sentence “this perception pretty much confirms what I wrote previously regarding the Old World’s stratification of society with etiquette being used as a means to place people in classes” a little offensive. I’ve lived in the UK my entire life, as have my family and my husband’s family and we’ve discussed this point. I don’t think that “stratification” exists in the UK any more than anywhere else in the West. One might make assumptions about a person’s background and circumstances based on their behaviour and dialect, but that happens all the world over. These assumptions are just as likely to be inaccurate in the UK as they are anywhere else- great efforts have been made by successive governments to get rid of the “stratification” of UK society that still existed 30 years ago and improve social mobility- and it’s slowly working. The lines blur more with every year and I really don’t think that the strata referenced in the aforementioned statement really exist any more. I don’t think that the “stratification” that exists in the UK is so different to class divisions that seem to me to exist in the USA e.g “new money”, “old money”, people from “the ghetto”, “hillbillies”, “blue-collar workers” etc. My apologies if I have missed the point that the original writer was making here, but I really had to defend the society I live in- it’s really not archaic and segregated as this statement seems to me to imply.

Having said that, I agree entirely that there were aspects of the wedding that certainly raised eyebrows over here. I would have expected all guests to be invited to an official reception held by The Queen. Unless there was some pressing security reason that meant that this was not possible, it does seem rather odd. It’s true that in certain communities it’s acceptable to invite people to only the ceremony, but that’s usually local custom and certainly doesn’t translate to a national event. In addition, seeing as guests were starting to take their seats for the wedding at 8.30 am it seems rather poor show to not provide any sort of hospitality for them. The wedding cost so much to begin with that I can’t believe the cost of feeding a few hundred more guests would have broken the national or royal budget.

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anonymous May 10, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Exactly…but such a big deal is being made of it, and it’s been mentioned on here twice as though Pippa violated some great cosmic law.

I didn’t choose my attendants’ attire, but nobody would have denied that I had the right to if I so chose! :) As for attendant (and guest) attire, if the couple says it’s OK, then it’s OK.

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anonymous May 10, 2011 at 6:49 pm

@Kelly – funny how personal taste works. I thought her dress was just fine for such a formal occasion – my idea of a beach wedding dress would be a soft cotton sundress, maybe in a bright color (white is not required of a bride)…I’d never get married on a beach in a dress with as much lace or as big a skirt as Kate’s.

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Elizabeth Bunting May 10, 2011 at 8:38 pm

This might come as a surprise to Americans, especially those who are contributing to thise website, but Queen Elizabeth, because of her position, has to exhaustively go through everything with a fine tooth comb to make sure that etiquette and kindness are being respected. It might be a good idea to write to the Queen’s staff to ask what the protocol was and what were the reasons for inviting so and so and not inviting so and so. Some of it has to do with William and Catherine. Had they not planned a great deal of the wedding and MANY of the guests were THEIR personal friends and not people with titles, I could see the controversy. The idea that people were invited to the Abbey as “fillers” is ridiculous. William and Catherine were very adamant about their personal friends being invited.

So, I will personally take on the task of writing to the Palace and asking for an explanation as to why the wedding guests and receptions were invited and why certain people were NOT invited and why certain people WERE. That, in itself, is probably a breach of etiquette. The Queen, BTW, has had 60 years of entertaining people and her entertaining is done to the minutest detail. She can not afford to offend anyone, so would not deliberately do something against protocol. Bearing in mind that the Queen has had a great deal of criticism levelled at her over the Princess Diana fiasco and how that marriage played out. It was ALL the Queen’s fault, of couirse. I don’t see why she would allow herself to do something that would be considered a gaffe in the United States. Of course, everybody is so terrified of the United States that they can’t even choose their own bridesmaids frocks. I just know this will NEVER get published.

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Elizabeth Bunting May 10, 2011 at 10:08 pm

Next, Admin, you are wrong that white flower girl dresses are only a Windsor custom. They are very popular in England. They are very popular here in Canada. At my son’s wedding in 1999, my granddaughter, Marissa, 4 years old wore a white dress. The Italian community here in Canada always has their flower girls in white.

In my day, flower girls were dressed in a similar colour to the bridesmaids, which were usually pastel coloured. Styles change with the years.

The only thing I have NOT seen is an MOH in a white dress with no bouquet. She was taking the flower girls by the hands. I thought it was sweet. But, of course, you Americans won’t like it because it is not a custom of yours.

If you would like me to send you the photo, I will be glad to do so.

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Vrinda October 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Elizabeth, since other posters on here are talking about how it is wrong to paint everyone with the same brush, as the OP was doing in criticizing the royal wedding, you are doing the very same thing. I’m an American, and it doesn’t bother me that your granddaughter wore a white dress. I’m also a Hindu , and Hindu brides don’t wear white at all. White is worn at funerals, but I know enough to know that white is worn by people in different cultures for different reasons. I can’t speak for everyone on here, but just because the OP is an American who didn’t like the fact that Pippa wore white, it doesn’t mean we all think that way.

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kelly May 11, 2011 at 3:35 am

Anonymous,
Sorry I meant Pippa’s dress. It was just my taste, but I hated her dress – I thought it was messy looking, particulary around the neck (I know that is the style, but it is one I think is difficult to look nice), was too tight and just looked odd and ill fitted (here I am vindicated as the dress gave rise to an arse appreciation facebook page- which rather indicates it was unsuitable for a Church). However, I am in the minority as it has become The Dress everyone wants and no-one is bothered about Kate’s dress. I actually thought Kate’s dress was lovely, although you see similar dresses in magazines so it whilst it was not a common type of dress it was certainly not iconic which lets face it normally means ugly. (Although both of kate’s dresses did look a bit pointy around the chest) It is a complete mystery to me why people would prefer Pippa’s dress.

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Mechtilde May 11, 2011 at 5:01 am

A lists and B lists are acceptable, according to Debretts.

I disagree with Debretts.

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kelly May 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

anonymous – sorry I meant Pippa’s dress.

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Cady May 11, 2011 at 11:27 am

I don’t think the silver dresses are THAT bad. At least the sleeves aren’t too puffy :)

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ashley May 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I wonder how William and Catherine would react if they read this post xD I think they’d be mortified at how the happiest day of their lives has been picked to pieces this way. I do agree with the admin though about the whole reception fiasco; it just seems really unfair to their guests and no matter how hard I thought about it I could not come up with a single reason why they would host seperate receptions.

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Mrs Jones May 11, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Hi Kelly, don’t mean to be pedantic, but the royal family did host two parties. The afternoon reception at Buckingham Palace, for around 650 people, was hosted by the Queen.

The evening dinner and dance was hosted by the Prince of Wales, his mother and father did not attend.

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anonymous May 11, 2011 at 7:19 pm

@kelly – got it!

I liked Pippa’s dress. I mean generally speaking I don’t go for white or any shade of white (my own wedding dress was a deep fuchsia/red) but for someone who is not me, I thought it was lovely and I liked the cowl collar and tiny sleeve/straps. I also liked Kate’s dress (for her – NOT me – I’d never, ever wear it).

If I had the body to pull it off – I sadly do not – I would wear Pippa’s dress in a different color (I’m thinking a deep, striking cobalt or royal purple/blue or a bright emerald) in an instant – possibly as a wedding dress.

As someone who is actively not religious, As for whether her dress was appropriate for a church wedding, but it seemed fine to me. I did not get married in a church, so I didn’t have to think of these things. My family is religious and I don’t imagine they’d have any qualms about seeing that dress in a church.

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anonymous May 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Wow that last paragraph was poorly edited. It should read: As someone who is actively not religious, I don’t have much comment about whether her dress was appropriate for a church wedding, but it seemed fine to me.

All this to say: different strokes for different folks!

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Jen May 12, 2011 at 9:48 am

Interesting considering how often the UK press pick apart heads of state for all their faux pas when it comes to meeting the queen.

Regardless I’m not sure if you missed it but many of the guests were not invited by either the Queen or the Middleton family? For example the foreign office invited many of the foreign dignitaries and afterwards they went to receptions hosted by the foreign office. Those attending the reception hosted by the Queen were guests of the Queen and those attending the evening party were guests of Prince Charles but were basically all the people that Kate and William would have invited to their own personal wedding, so there were more Middleton family and friends than actual state dignitaries at the evening reception, this was the small wedding that they wanted, where Prince Harry could give the supposedly “cheeky” speech he gave without offending any state dignitaries. Basically it was a wedding hosted by many different people/departments and the guests went to different receptions according to who they were hosted by, there was no such thing as a “B” list or “A” list.

Reading the UK papers it was very clear the evening reception was the most casual of all receptions and the dress code was black tie, Kate changed into a more casual gown for the evening reception. So while it wasn’t a state wedding it still was quite different from a personal wedding.

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slythwolf May 13, 2011 at 1:24 am

@Elizabeth Bunting, white flower girl dresses (often with a colored sash) are very popular in the US as well. However, the blog post mentions white *bridesmaid* dresses.

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purplefroglet May 13, 2011 at 8:06 am

I don’t understand this whole thing about the white bridesmaids dress, I haven’t even heard it mentioned in the British press. It just isn’t considered a problem over here, I only realised people were commenting on it from reading American blogs.

For traditional weddings occurring within a small community (i.e. church congregations) in the UK people will often invite everyone to the wedding ceremony, but obviously only their closest friends and family come to the evening reception. I’ve attended a number of ceremonies where I like the couple or know them enough to chat to after church, but wouldn’t expect to go on to any celebration from that, I just wanted to share in their happiness and support their marriage. Again I don’t understand the problem and suspect that it is mainly cultural. Anyway, it was a British ceremony which a large proportion of the population wasn’t hugely bothered about, why did Americans care so much?

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anonymous May 13, 2011 at 10:06 am

slythwolf – true, but I still fail to see what’s wrong with white bridesmaid dresses if they’re approved by the couple.

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Louise May 13, 2011 at 10:14 am

The main issue with the wedding preparations was that in a time of recession and government cuts there was a need to cut back on the scale of the wedding.
To be seen to feed almost 2000 people champagne and canapés was thought to be unsympathetic to the current public mood. Which is why the reception was scaled back.

The wedding was not a state occasion, but there are still some dignitaries who it is essential to invite as the groom is grandson of the queen, and future leader of the commonwealth. Therefore leaders of the appropriate nation of course had to be invited.

As for the evening reception, it was a separate event, with fresh clothes, and open to those the families were closest too, rather than those protocol dictated must be invited. The fact the Middleton’s hosted a second party is irrelevant.

As for the etiquette guides. The queen is known to attempt to put people at ease by helping them with their etiquette when in her company. And I think some of the rumours in the press were over exaggerated as to what they contained

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Elle May 13, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Kelly, I imagine that the former Greek royal family were invited because they are relatives of Prince Philip, not as representatives of Greece.

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Louise May 17, 2011 at 10:38 am

@Elle – Williams God father is the former King of Greece if I remember correctly. The Greek royal family are also close personal friends of the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip

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Elizabeth Bunting May 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm

I would like to thank everyone here for their comments. None of the comments were rude or disrespectful, only observations. As I am an avid watcher of “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Four Weddings” I see many, many different kinds of weddings and they all include the faith or cultural traditions of both bride and groom. It is lovely to see the brides and grooms incorporating all these into their marriages. In my day, weddings were somewhat boring. They were arranged by the MOB with zero input from the couple. My own wedding was somewhat negatively affected by my mother and her friends. If one of my mother’s friends didn’t like something about my arrangements, my mother was very reproachful and expected me to change them. As I was paying for most of my wedding and it was mostly HER friends who were invited and not MINE, I tried to ignore it as best I could.

I am gratified to see that in this day and age things have changed for the better in that the bride AND the groom get to choose what they would like on their wedding day, as these will be THEIR remembrances of their wedding.

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