The distance is short between The Goring Hotel and Westminster Abbey, but on April 29, 2011 it was a journey between two worlds for Catherine Middleton as she transformed from private citizen into a princess.
A burgundy and black Rolls Royce bore the bride to the ancient abbey, where her much-anticipated wedding dress was finally unveiled to the world. An Alexander McQueen creation by Sarah Burton, the gown’s design was a harmonious marriage of refinement and romance composed of lace applique hand-made at Hampton Court Palace by the Royal School of Needlework, ivory silk tulle and ivory and white satin gazar.
Adding an element of ethereal drama, a veil of diaphanous ivory silk tulle lined with hand-embroidered flowers draped over the bride’s face as she stood at the entrance of the abbey, her eyes scanning seats filled with 1,900 guests including Elton John and David Furnish, David and Victoria Beckham and Rowan Atkinson.
Clutching a dainty bouquet composed of lily-of-the-valley, Sweet William, hyacinth and, in a nod to royal tradition, a sprig of myrtle, the bride was escorted down the aisle by her father to the reverential refrain of Hubert Parry’s “I was Glad.” Walking to the altar in Alexander McQueen ivory duchesse satin shoes embellished with hand-embroidery by the Royal School of Needlework, the bride was followed by her attendants. Holding the hand of two cherubic children– each wearing Nicki Macfarlane designs created from the same fabric as the bride and accented with a light gold sash– was the bride’s sister Pippa, who donned a figure-flattering ivory satin-based crepe gown from Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton.
A love story which began almost a decade ago came to fruition as Kate Middleton received a wedding band of Welsh gold during a 75-minute ceremony which included such hymns as “Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer,” ” Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, “Jerusalem” and “Blest Pair of Sirens.”
Taking their first walk together as husband and wife to the accompaniment of William Walton’s ‘Crown Imperial March ” and Wider’s “Toccata,” the smile on the face of the newly dubbed Duchess of Cambridge beamed as brightly as the play of light on her “something borrowed” for the occasion– the Cartier ‘halo’ tiara, which was first presented to The Queen Mother by King George VI in 1936 before it was passed on to then-Princess Elizabeth to mark her 18th birthday.
Looking dashing in his crimson Irish Guards uniform, Prince William and his bride waved to well-wishers from the 1902 State Landau which carried the newlyweds to Buckingham Palace, where– in true fairy tale fashion– the couple kissed not one, but twice on the balcony.
Relive the royal romance of William and Kate’s exchange of vows in the following clip from ABC News: