I’ve been holding off on this post for a while. In the wake of our very own Charlene Wittstock’s wedding to Prince Albert of Monaco there were so many ugly rumours and questions and theories on whether or not she really wanted to be there, and whether her tears were tears of joy or regret. But when you come down to it, like all other couples, you can’t judge a relationship from the outside and since I don’t know the lovely Charlene, I won’t be judging her or her marriage either. But what I do here is talk about weddings, and since this was South Africa’s very own royal wedding, I can’t go without posting about it! Charlene and I are exactly the same age, so I felt like I understood many of her style choices – in many ways, her wedding was a modern realisation of the weddings we would have been dreaming of as little girls. It felt a little bit ’90s, but in a classic way, and I loved that. And of course, it was full of all the glitz and glam that you’d expect from the Monagasque, combined with some proudly South African touches. Here are my Top 10 steal-worthy details from Princess Charlene’s big day.
1. Two ceremonies
I know this was a legal requirement rather than a trend to be set, and one which was also carried out by Princess Grace and Prince Rainier on their wedding day, but I wanted to say something about the two ceremonies because I’ve had personal experience of two couples who were already legally married before their full scale wedding. For one of my friends, her first wedding happened months before her ‘real’ wedding, when the groom’s mum became very ill. For another, their at-home location meant they had to get the legalities out of the way the day before. Very different, but they were two of the most moving weddings I’ve attended. In both cases, they were conducted by friends (since a legal officiant wasn’t needed) and were written by the couples with personal vows that had emotions running high. And as well as having the flexibility to really personalise the ceremonies (and have them in any location they chose), in both cases the bride and groom were totally relaxed and ready to pledge their love in front of their family and friends, knowing the scary legal part was out of the way. It’s not for everyone, but definitely something to consider, especially if you have an unusual location or ceremony time. And if you do, take style notes from Charlene, who looked radiant in her aqua trouser suit instead of a white dress.
2. A wedding at home
Sure, the Grimaldi family home is hardly a suburban semi. But I really liked Charlene and Albert’s choice to have their big ceremony in the courtyard of the palace instead of the more restricted St Nicholas Cathedral. The open air was lovely (although pretty warm for the guests!) and there’s something special about celebrating in a place that means something to you. I recently attended an awesome wedding at a friend’s parents’ home, and they couldn’t have asked for a nicer or more unique location. Check out some lovely home weddings we’ve featured here, here, here and here.
3. The dress
Okay, I haven’t liked off the shoulder/boat neck dresses since Jack married Jennifer on Days of Our Lives circa 1992 (?), but I think Charlene and Armani have converted me again. And surely this must be the final nail in the coffin of the universal strapless gown? Now we can all go back to choosing whatever we like, and this style suited the Princess’ stunning swimmer’s physique perfectly. I’m sure we’ll be seeing more like this in future.
4. Charlene’s hair
It must be difficult being in the shadow of your groom’s elegant mother, especially when that mother is wedding style icon Grace Kelly, but the gorgeous Charlene held her own and looked absolutely beautiful I thought. For me, a key part of her sophisticated look was her understated demi-chignon, accented by the most beautiful blingy hairpiece under her veil. Perfection for a princess bride.
5. The bouquet
Like Kate before her, Charlene opted for an understated bouquet, designed by Armani to go with her beautiful dress. It had three kinds of flowers: freesias, dendrobium orchids and lily-of-the-valley, a favourite of the bride (and a nod to Princess Grace’s own bouquet no doubt). Much as I love funkier and more colourful bouquets, I wonder if more brides will choose to go back to a more classic, understated style in the coming year.
6. Straw hats
Okay, so this was always going to be a style fest. But I think my favourite wedding look was the surprisingly informal choice of straw hats for both Princess Charlotte and her mother Princess Caroline for the civil ceremony. In theory, I would have thought these would be too casual, but on the day I really thought they worked and are the most accessible style statement for those of us normal people who will be attending weddings this summer. Special mention also has to be made of Charlotte’s wedding day look – just gorgeous.
7. A flock of flowergirls
So cute in their traditional outfits, weren’t they? This is another ’80s/’90s trend that I think has been having a bit of a revival with Kates Middleton and Moss also supported by a gaggle of girls. And while it does mean extra responsibilities for the bridal party, the thrill that being in a wedding gives little girls is totally worth it. You’ll make their year.
8. The mix of music
I loved that Charlene and Albert had a range of music at their ceremony, from the classic (Ave Maria being my favourite) to the traditional South African (the Click Song sung by our own Pumela Matshikiza – and didn’t she look stunning?) to the modern classical, with an arrangement of Paul McCartney’s Standing Stone. And while the old standards are wonderful, I love it when couples take charge of their playlist and put together something meaningful to them, even if it’s a little unexpected. Quite often music can add the most special and emotional moments to a ceremony, as at my friend Heidi’s wedding last December, when the local choir she had singing a traditional Zulu wedding song brought the guests to happy tears during the signing of the register. Or the way my friend Nikki walked triumphantly down the aisle to Nessun Dorma. Both moments I’ll never forget!
9. The evening dress
Just like Kate, Charlene decided to change into a second white dress for the evening festivities, and I adored her Armani Prive choice, combined with a diamond spray tiara. With wedding dresses being so expensive, this trend won’t suit every bride’s budget, but I do love the idea of a day ceremony and a formal evening reception, where you and your guests get to wear something glitzy! And just like Kate, I’m sure we’ll see copies of Charlene’s second, tiered dress, turning up as a wedding dress choice for future brides. I loved that it was slinky and floaty at the same time – and very flattering indeed.
10. Proudly South African
Our Benoni broads, Charlene and Charlize, have conquered the worlds of Hollywood and royalty, but my favourite thing about both of them is that they’re still South African meisies at heart. It really moved me to see so many South African flags amongst the crowd, and Charlene made sure her home nation was well represented. As well as the click song, South African cuisine was served and the ornate wedding cake was surrounded by proteas, our national flower. Plus, Charlene and Albert followed their big day up with a glamorous visit to South Africa, where they celebrated with a second reception at the Oyster Box Hotel (check out our featured Oyster Box wedding here). She may be European royalty now, but it’s clear that our princess will never forget where she came from.
What did you think? What were your favourite bits of our very own royal wedding?