Royal Wedding: The Ceremony
The Location and History
Kate and Prince William will get married at Westminster Abbey, in the heart of London. Steeped in more than a thousand years of history, the abbey is the burial place of many of the kings and queens of England. As an active church, Westminster still holds daily prayer and worship services -- but the church may be closing a few days before the ceremony so all necessary security measures can be in place.
Since it's a morning ceremony, starting at 11 a.m., men will probably wear business suits and "smart day dress," while women will likely wear suits or dresses with a festive springtime hat. For many of the foreign dignitaries, military uniforms or even their national dress may also be an option.
Or course, there's plenty of speculation about what Kate might wear, but we're guessing that her dress, along with the attire of her bridesmaids and the groomsmen, will be fairly formal and conservative. Think: long dresses, possibly with their shoulders covered, and black-tie or dress military uniforms for the men.
Unlike Diana, who traveled to the ceremony in a carriage, Kate will ride to Westminster along the same processional route she'll take with Prince William after the ceremony concludes (see below for route details). She will take a car, which means that her dress will not be revealed until the very last moment, when she steps out to start her walk down the aisle at the church.
The bridegroom, queen, and the rest of the royal family are expected to follow suit, traveling to Westminster by car.
Keeping with tradition, Prince William will wait at the altar for Kate to approach and is not permitted to watch her come down the aisle (as many grooms do here). Instead, the first time he sees Kate will be as she stands next to him at the altar.
The ceremony will be conducted by the Dean of Westminster, the Very Rev. Dr. John Hall, but the couple will be married by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams. An address at the ceremony will also be given by the Bishop of London, the Rt. Rev. Richard Chartres. Even though that sounds like a lot, the whole thing isn't expected to last more than an hour, at which point the newlyweds will begin their grand processional and travel back to Buckingham Palace.
Get your cameras ready: this is the moment we've all been waiting for. The newlyweds will travel in a carriage through Parliament Square, Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade, through The Mall, and finally end up at Buckingham Palace. This will be the chance for everyone to line the streets and wave flags, throw roses and give their congratulations.
After they arrive at Buckingham Palace, the two are expected to appear at the palace balcony, where they will likely kiss (as Diana and Charles did), and there will be an accompanying fly-past by William's colleagues in the RAF. In the evening, Prince Charles will host a celebration that will be scaled down to include close friends and family (sorry, that means no TV cameras allowed).