Here we go.
It was a long morning of anticipation, nervousness and expectation. Weddings are always fraught, even if they are not your own, and especially when they are as public and imbued with metaphor and meaning as this one.
Ms. Markle, who in a span of an hour was transformed from a Ms. to Duchess, successfully made her way down the aisle to meet her very-soon-to-be husband, Prince Harry.
They both looked so happy, and so relaxed. They were beaming as they said their vows, and luckily, no one came forward to provide any reason that they might not be married. (This is always an exciting moment in a ceremony.)
It was an extraordinary mix of tradition and modernity, of centuries of history and up-to-the moment flourishes. Oprah was here, and so was Meghan’s mother, an African-American social worker who wore a conventional mother-of-the-bride outfit and also a nose stud.
It somehow looked charming and just right.
The entire royal family was here, along with a complement of English aristocrats and important personages. The music was stately and beautiful. The setting was awe-inspiring.
There was a flotilla of clergyman, an extraordinary mélange including the archbishop of Canterbury and — in a striking inclusion in this most ancient of places — the head of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Curry.
Chosen to the give the address to the congregations, Bishop Curry, who is African-American, quoted Martin Luther King. His voice rising and falling with emotion, he made a big, generous, impassioned case for love as the most important thing there is, in religion and in life.
His address came after a reading by Lady Jane Fellowes, Harry’s aunt (her sister was Diana, Princess of Wales) that was both full of joy and a signal, it seemed, that the sadness in Harry’s life since his mother’s death has finally lifted.
It was a passage from the Song of Solomon: “Arise my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.”
The dress was a success: simple, pure and sculptural.
Our fashion critic, Vanessa Friedman, is also watching, and she has a quick take for us on Meghan Markle’s dress.
It was absolutely simple: pure, sculptural, in double bonded silk cady with a wide boatneck, long sleeves and sweeping train.
It was Meghan Markle’s wedding dress. It was by Clare Waight Keller, a British woman and the first female designer of Givenchy, And it was everything people had hoped.
This was not a Cinderella choice, not one that spoke of fantasy or old-fashioned fairy tales. Instead, it placed the woman proudly front and center and underscored Ms. Markle’s own independence.
At the same time, it celebrated female strength, promoted a local designer and reached a hand across to Europe (where Ms. Waight Keller has a day job).
The five-meter veil was of silk tulle, with a trim of hand-embroidered flowers in silk threads and organza, and contained embroidery representing the flora of all 53 Commonwealth nations.
And it was entirely a surprise. In all the rumors that had swirled around The Dress, from Ralph & Russo to Stella McCartney, Ms. Waight Keller’s name had never come up. In the end, Ms. Markle out-thought us all. As this starts, long may it continue.
A good time was had by all (even before the cocktails).
Unlike a lot of weddings — and certainly unlike Kate and William’s wedding, just seven years ago — the guests inside were hanging out in the aisles, air-kissing and gossiping. It’s a great royal-and-celebrity cocktail party! (Sadly without cocktails, at least not yet.)
Kate and William’s wedding was solemn, stately, stuffy, full of dignitaries, politicians, and the sort of boring personages known here as the great and the good.
But this looks totally fun for the guests — even more fun than, say, the Academy Awards — because no one is competing for anything and no one is being forced to talk about their outfits to television reporters.
Part of the change in tone is due to the passage of time and to how much Britain, or perhaps the royal family, has changed in the last few years.
Part of the reason, of course, is that Harry, being the second son and not a future king, has the freedom to be more relaxed, less constrained by tradition, and less conventional than his brother. This wedding has nothing to do with dynasty, or ensuring the security of the royal line. (We hope they have kids! But only because it’s fun to have kids, not because it would be some sort of international crisis if they did not.)
This wedding has everything to do with two people who are totally into each other and want to have a great big happy celebration.
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Oprah is there. So are her sunglasses.
One of the great excitements about any wedding, of course, is the moment you learn who has been invited and who has not. Meghan and Harry kept their list secret, but now dozens of these mysterious figures are starting to enter St. George’s Chapel.
Who are they? We don’t know! We’re trying to figure it out, and so are the television commentators.
But wait. This is exciting. Here is none other than Oprah Winfrey, in a snug pink dress, a pair of very cool sunglasses and a massive broad-brimmed hat spectacularly festooned with flowers. If anyone qualifies as American royalty, it is surely Oprah, with her ability to transcend race and background, and her great gift for openness and emotional candor.
Her confessional approach, with its emphasis on recovery and redemption, is nearly the polar opposite of the traditional British impulse to keep your feelings to yourself and carry on without complaint. In its quiet way, we’re witnessing a titanic clash of national mentalities.
Oprah has kept her sunglasses on, even though she is inside, which is pretty cool. She’s chatting to some people — I am sure we will eventually find out who they are — and looking movie-starry and also rather regal. (Hello, British royals! We’ll see you and raise you one.)
Middletons, Beckhams and Clooneys, oh my!
Now we’re playing Spot the Guest as more people throng into the chapel and mill around inside. Kate Middleton’s parents, Carole and Michael, are here. They have always done such a good job of wearing appropriate outfits, smiling tastefully and saying nothing.
Here is Charles Spencer, the Earl of Althorp, Diana’s brother, perhaps known best for his active love life and his impassioned attack on the British media after his sister’s death.
It’s turning into Celebrity Central here. George and Amal Clooney are making their stately, Hollywood-y entrance (She’s in yellow with some kind of interesting train).
David and Victoria Beckham, a.k.a. Posh and Becks, have come in and are gracing some people in the crowd with their conversation.
You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.
You probably have a few questions about the royal wedding, having never married into royalty yourself.
Do the bride and groom get to bring their corgis (do they have any corgis)? Why is the royal family so fixated on corgis, anyway? Will the guests be subjected to that perverse and baffling British tradition, the serving of wedding fruitcake?
Which of many possible military uniforms will Harry wear to the ceremony, and how did he decide? What’s the deal with all these hats that are actually called fascinators and are not, strictly speaking, hats at all?
We’ve answered over 100 questions to help you understand these and many more of the day’s pressing issues. (It’s a pretty exhaustive list and contains even things you didn’t realize you wanted to know.)
And, for anyone who remembers the electrifying moment that Pippa Middleton sashayed into the church in a slinkily form-fitting bridesmaid’s dress at her sister Kate’s marriage to Prince William in 2011, there is another matter.
Who will be this year’s Pippa? And what aspect of her (or his) outfit and physique will seize the public imagination this time? Is it possible to improve on the nickname instantly awarded to Pippa: “Her Royal Hotness”?
‘I never thought it would happen.’
We’ve got reporters all over the place this morning — in Windsor, in London, in Essex and at viewing parties in the United States — so we’ll be getting updates throughout the day.
Stephen Castle, who usually writes about Brexit and other serious matters but today has been promoted to matrimonial correspondent, based in Windsor, met two San Franciscans, Aaron Endre and Alex Conlon, dressed in wigs and white dresses.
“I have had a crush on Harry my entire life, and this is my last-ditch effort to get him,” declared Mr. Endre, who described himself as a gay activist and performer. He was almost entirely kidding.
“Harry, what does it take?” he asked.
Different people had different reasons for coming.
Denise Crawford, who was raised in Jamaica, traveled from her home in Brooklyn to attend a wedding she considered a historic event.
“One of the children of slaves is marrying a royal whose forerunners sanctioned slavery,” she said. “The lion is lying down with the lamb.”
Alexa Koppenberg had come from Germany because she didn’t trust her web browser. It crashed when she watched the 2011 wedding of William and Kate.
“I think it’s great that she’s half African-American,” she said of Meghan Markle. “I never thought it would happen, as Harry always dated blondes before.”
A TV takeaway: Get off the red carpet.
Margaret Lyons, one of our television critics, checks in from New York with a sense of how things played out on the air.
Red carpet coverage for awards shows, particularly the Oscars, is strained, frequently sexist and often cringe-worthy — yet it persists. But if the varied and even decent live coverage of the royal wedding has anything to teach us, it’s that moving off the red carpet is the way to go.
Three hours of breathless coverage before anevent even starts is … a lot.
Starting at 4 a.m. Eastern, every major outlet and several minor ones began broadcasting, but because no one was interviewing the actual high-profile guests, there was a lot less fawning.
Instead, the BBC broadcast had a brief discussion of the value of poetry with George the Poet (who, yes, is a poet). There were explanations of heraldic iconography, and interviews with people who run charities supported by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The American networks were also largely genial, discussing floral design, Princess Diana, naves and what defines a “morning suit.” Everyone gushed about celebrity guests and Oprah’s early arrival.
Talking about fashion is fun and interesting when the people talking about it are fashion experts, not just celebrities. If there’s a lesson here, it’s this: The shift to a color commentary model from a locker-room interview something is all red-carpet coverage should embrace.