ALMOST 18million people across the UK switched on the television on May 19, 2018, to watch live as American actress Meghan Markle sealed the deal with the former party prince (who can forget those Las Vegas photographs?).
With the gospel choir singing Stand By Me, Meghan’s gorgeous white Givenchy dress and Harry’s glorious ginger beard, it was a fairy-tale wedding.
But how would you feel if the royal couple stole the show on your special day?
Three couples reveal what it was really like to share their wedding day with the Sussexes.
‘People joked we must have had the same wedding planner!’
Kate Blessington, 36, works in real estate, and lives with her husband Andy, 40, a pilot, in Oxfordshire.
“My husband and I were introduced by a mutual friend, just like Meghan and Harry.
“However, we were together for three years before Andy proposed in August 2017, while we were on holiday in Kyoto, Japan.
“People warned me that planning a wedding would be stressful, but I enjoyed every minute.
“We both love spring, so picking the date was easy, and we quickly decided to have the ceremony in the local church where I grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon.
“Then, in December 2017, we were inundated with messages from friends and family about how Meghan and Harry were marrying on our day.
“Andy was a pilot in the military and had been stationed at the same base as Prince William a couple of times, but thankfully we didn’t have any crossover with guests being invited to both weddings and no one pulled out.
“As the date crept closer, I decided to embrace it and enjoy the build-up to both our days. While all of my guests gathered at the local pub to watch Meghan and Harry’s service, which began at noon, I watched it at home with my bridesmaid while I got ready. It was great fun and it felt like the warm-up act for our ceremony a few hours later. Just before I arrived at the church, Andy’s nine-year-old niece told me that I was the more beautiful bride, which melted my heart.
“Similar to Harry and Meghan, Andy’s military career was a huge part of our day. After the pub, he and six of his military colleagues marched to the church, with our guests behind. I swelled with pride seeing Andy in his military uniform – he was my very own Prince Charming.
“We also had a gospel choir and people joked we must have had the same wedding planner! Outside the church, Andy’s colleagues held up their swords for a guard of honour, and we went through holding hands.
“In his speech, Andy’s best man said that he had married well, just like Harry, and we all burst out laughing.
“The next day, we threw our own Buckingham-Palace-style garden party at my parents’ house, with drinks, ice cream and games, before jetting off to Alaska for our honeymoon. Since then, we’ve bought a house together and hope to have a family one day, though we’re not in quite as much of a rush as Harry and Meghan.”
‘I wanted the focus to be on our ceremony – not Harry and Meghan’s’
Prabh Singal, 27, a paralegal, lives with her husband Rahul, 31, a pharmacist, in London.
“As Rahul got down on one knee in Venice in June 2016, I thought I might burst with happiness. We’d been together for two years, after meeting while I was studying at university in Canterbury, and after just a few dates I knew I’d found The One.
“With our families dotted all over the globe, we debated between marrying in Mexico, India and Canada – where I grew up – but settled on Braxted Park in Essex, near Rahul’s mum, dad and two sisters. We loved the venue when we viewed it in September 2017, so we booked it for the next available Saturday, which was May 19 the following year.
“By November, I was knee-deep in wedding arrangements when Harry and Meghan announced that they were also planning a spring wedding. We joked that it would be a funny coincidence if they picked the same date, because there were so many other similarities in our lives already: I’m an American paralegal like Meghan’s character in Suits, am just as obsessed with yoga as the duchess herself, and I was marrying an Englishman just like Meghan.
“But I crossed my fingers that the dates wouldn’t clash, as the influx of tourists would increase flight prices for our relatives. Just days later, however, Rahul called me to deliver the news. My heart sank. I knew I was being silly, but I couldn’t help being concerned.
“I checked the flight and hotel prices in London and Essex, which had immediately shot up by around £200. Luckily my mum Amrit, 56, and brother Harbaksh, 30, had already booked their flights from Canada, but the remaining 70 extended family and friends had to shell out the extra money. I was devastated when two of my close friends could no longer afford to fly over.
“There was nothing we could have done, but it was frustrating that we had been so unlucky. Even so, leading up to the day, we were full of excitement and still had 300 guests at our reception.
“Of course, everyone made jokes about the fact that we were sharing our day with Harry and Meghan. However, I made it clear that the royal wedding wasn’t being screened at our venue. I wanted the focus to be on us, especially because our ceremony was also at noon.
“Even now, I’ve never watched Meghan’s wedding, but I’ve seen photos and she looked stunning. When I heard her dad didn’t come, I felt real sympathy. My dad wasn’t part of my day because we became estranged when I was younger. My brothers gave me away.
“Unlike the Sussexes, we’re not planning on having a baby any time soon, as we’re focusing on looking for a house first. We may not have the budget for Frogmore Cottage, but at least we’ll always have our wedding in common.”
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‘It made our wedding even more special’
Roxanne Thomas, 29, a chemist, lives in Kent with her husband Eddie, 33, a scientist.
“Sharing my big day with Meghan and Harry was great fun – I felt like the whole country was celebrating with us. Like them, we got engaged on November 27 – albeit a year earlier in 2016.
“We were on holiday in Bruges, enjoying the Christmas markets, when Eddie popped the question with his late mum’s engagement ring. It took me completely off guard, but I said yes straight away.
“We quickly decided on a gorgeous converted barn in Kent for our venue and I spent the next 12 months trawling Pinterest for ideas. On our engagement anniversary, we were sitting on the sofa when we saw the news that Harry had proposed to Meghan. We thought it was a sweet coincidence and joked that we could all spend our engagement anniversary together the following year.
“Less than a month later, when we found out that we were also sharing the same wedding date, I screamed with excitement. People kept calling to ask if I was upset, but I’m a huge royal fan and thought it would make our wedding even more special.
“On the day, my bridesmaids and I watched Harry and Meghan marry as we had our hair and make-up done.
“I didn’t mind that everyone was saying how amazing Meghan looked because it took the attention away from me for a moment. In any case, my dress was much fancier, with a fitted lace top, cap sleeves and a long flowing train.
“Watching the royal newlyweds emerge from St George’s Chapel, I felt so excited as I knew my turn was just an hour away. Before leaving for the ceremony, my mum Wendy, 53, gave me a limited-edition Harry and Meghan mug, which I loved, and still have in my cabinet.
“Walking down the aisle to see Eddie waiting for me, I could feel such a sense of celebration in the air. I was nervous and excited as I stood in front of our 60 guests and recited my vows – I can’t imagine how Meghan must have felt being watched by millions. We stayed up dancing, drinking and chatting until finally hitting the hay at 1am, and it was one of the best days of my life.
Thankfully, I never felt like I was in competition with Meghan and Harry, though I wouldn’t have minded David Beckham and George Clooney at my wedding!
“Instead of jetting off to a top-secret location for our honeymoon, we had a gorgeous staycation in the Peak District with our babies, greyhounds Nelly and Noodle (we don’t have plans for actual kids yet!).
“On our anniversary, we’re going to our wedding venue for a picnic, with memories of the day we shared with the royals.”