How Prince Harry and Meghan's big day broke royal wedding mold

Nontraditional couple make nontraditional moves

By Brianna Volz - Web producer
Gareth Fuller - Pool/Getty Images

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex leave Windsor Castle in the Ascot Landau carriage during a procession after getting married at St Georges Chapel on May 19, 2018.

For a couple who are anything but traditional, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding day was very much that -- nontraditional.

Some referred to the royal couple's wedding as a "day of firsts" after many finishing touches revealed their desire to make the wedding their own.

Here's some of the nontraditional moves that made the now-Duke and Duchess of Sussex's big day so unique:

Markle's walk down the aisle
The bride's walk was unique in more ways than one, beginning with the fact that she confidently escorted herself down half the aisle after it was announced that her father would not be attending. After rumors that her father would not be there began circulating days before the wedding, many were left wondering who might do the honor. On Friday, Markle announced in a statement that Harry's father, Prince Charles, would accompany her. Charles met Markle after her solo climb up the steps of St. George's Chapel, linked arms with her and proudly escort her down the rest of the aisle.

Andrew Matthews - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Meghan Markle arrives for her wedding to Prince Harry at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle on May 19, 2018.

 

It's not unheard of for brides in royal weddings to be escorted to the altar by someone other than their fathers, as Princess Margaret was accompanied by her brother-in-law in 1960 and Queen Victoria reportedly gave her daughters away in their 19th century weddings, according to Harper's Bazaar. Recent royal brides Kate Middleton and Harry's late mother Princess Diana were both given away by their fathers, the publication reported.

In another unusual aisle event, Prince Harry watched his royal bride as she made her way to the altar, much like the grooms, wedding party members and guests do in traditional U.S. weddings. According to Good Housekeeping, grooms in traditional British weddings tend to face the altar until the bride is beside them, when he will then turn and take his first look at her.

Harry stays hairy
The prince has become known lately for his fuzzy red hair and scrappy beard, which many were unsure would make an appearance at the couple's wedding, since it's not traditional to keep the scruff in while wearing his military uniform. But Harry broke tradition and arrived at the chapel in uniform with his whiskers still in tact, according to CBS News.

Not only did his move run the risk of ruffling traditional feathers, it also cost co-host of "CBS This Morning" Norah O'Donnell $500 in a losing bet to Gayle King, the network joked. CBS officials said the money is going to charity.

Ringing in originality
According to People magazine, wedding rings in the royal family are traditionally made out of Welsh gold. While Markle was given a gold band to wear, the prince again chose to take the path of originality in selected a platinum band.

His choice not only differs from royal tradition, but from recent family tradition. It was not known whether he would choose to wear a ring at all, as his grandfather, Prince Philip and his brother, Prince William, chose not bear wedding bands.

Americanizing royalty
While royal weddings are always a big deal across the globe, Prince Harry and Markle's marriage did something no other royal wedding had: told the story of a modern American woman, who embodies diverse characteristics and qualities, being welcomed into the royal family with open arms.

Markle is not only an American actress who has little to no royal training, she's also a biracial woman who has already been divorced. Those characteristics, which caused controversy when the news of her engagement to Prince Harry first broke, make up a list of qualities that may have kept someone from receiving the queen's approval to marry into the royal family in past years. Since then, Markle has left more of a mark on the monarchy with every move.

As experts featured in ITV's 2017 documentary "Prince Harry and Meghan: Truly, Madly, Deeply" explained, Markle's addition to the royal family is making the monarchy more relevant to people in this day and age. Divorces have become more common and Britain's population continues to grow in diversity, making Markle's characteristics easier for common folk to relate to.

Locals outside the chapel when the wedding took place told News 6 that they can't want to see how her blending of backgrounds will serve her in her royal role, and that they can see the difference she's made already. Others in the crowd said their proud that they're country is moving forward with the times as they continue to bring social changes.

Other nontraditional moves
From their choices in speakers and songs to their flavor of cake, the couple's idea of embracing change could be seen in other places throughout their big day.

One of most noticeable nontraditional moments of the ceremony, likely because of how much energy it brought to the room and crowds filling the streets of Windsor, was the address by Most Rev. Michael Curry, America's first African-American leader of the Episcopal Church and an advocate for social justice and racial equality, CNN wrote.

In his passionate speech given before the couple's exchanging of vows, Curry quoted the late Martin Luther King Jr. when speaking about the power of love.

Many headlines said Curry's speech "stole the show." He said it was "a real joyful thing" to bring diversity to the ceremony, The Telegraph reported.

He also said some of the music chosen for the wedding, including the song "This Little Light of Mine," which played as the couple exited the chapel, brought people of different worlds and with different perspectives together in different ways.

Finally, their choice to ditch the traditional fruit cake served at royal weddings may have ended up being a sweet surprise by those who attended the reception. Though they may have abandoned the tradition, the lemon elderflower cake served in its place was special for its own reasons, Kensington Palace officials wrote in a tweet.

The newlyweds have managed to rock the royal world several times in their just more than 24 hours of marriage. There's no telling what surprises they'll bring in the future.

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