How Prince Harry and Meghan Markle could personalize their royal wedding
Meghan Markle wears her engagement ring as she poses with Britain's Prince Harry for the media in the grounds of Kensington Palace in London, on Nov. 27, 2017. (Dominic Lipinski/PA via AP)
As the royal wedding countdown brings us closer to the big day, there is intense speculation about each and every element of the ceremony.
Of course, the nuptials are grounded in royal precedent and centuries-old traditions, and the wedding will be broadcast for the entire world to see with masses of people crowding St. George's Chapel to get a glimpse of the royal newlyweds. Even so, the ceremony is expected to be made personal, intimate and reflective of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Here are some personal touches that you can look out for on May 19.
The floral arrangements
There will be much more to the bouquet than a beautiful arrangement of flowers. Anne Chertoff is the Royal Wedding and Wedding Trends Expert at WeddingWire, and she explains how the colour and type of each flower chosen brings its own significance and meaning.
We already know that the soon-to-be-married couple selected London floral designer Philippa Craddock for the big day. Peonies, which are one of Markle's favorite flowers, as well as foxgloves and white garden roses all made the cut. The latter choice is considered particularly significant. Chertoff points out that white roses were Princess Diana's favourite flower, suggesting a possible tribute to Prince Harry's late mother.
Royal historian Marlene Koenig says that we can also look out for a sprig of myrtle in Markle's bouquet. The flowering plant has been included in every royal bouquet since Queen Victoria, and is thought to be an emblem of love and marriage.
The bouquet is expected to be completely unique, right down to its size. While Kate Middleton carried a very small bouquet of hyacinth, Sweet William, ivy and Lily of the valley, Princess Diana's iconic bouquet was large and cascading, filled with gardenias, stephanotis and orchids.
The choice of tiara
Historically, most royal brides have chosen a tiara from the royal family's collection. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a piece from this collection, the Cartier Halo tiara, when she married Prince William in 2011.
Diana, Princess of Wales, veered away from this tradition, wearing the Spencer Tiara that belonged to her family. While there has been some speculation that Markle could wear that tiara as an homage to her late mother-in-law, royal commentator Christopher Warwick says it's "highly unlikely".
Chertoff agrees, citing the grand and extravagant nature of the Spencer Tiara as potentially in conflict with Markle's own personal style, and the more intimate nature of the ceremony. She suggests that Markle could decide to not wear a tiara at all, perhaps opting for a floral crown that reflects her Californian roots.
"Her personality and style will come through," says Chertoff.
It would not be without precedent for a royal bride to forego the tiara altogether. Most recently, Camilla Parker Bowles wore a large gold feather headdress in place of the traditional tiara for her marriage to Prince Charles in 2005.
The engagement ring
One glance at Meghan Markle's ring finger introduces another element of personal significance for the royal couple.
Her engagement ring was designed by Prince Harry himself. It features a diamond from Botswana, a location that carries a special meaning for the couple who took a trip there just weeks after they began dating in 2016. The ring is also embellished with two diamonds from Princess Diana's personal jewelry collection.
In the couple's first joint interview after their engagement, with BBC's Mishal Hussein, Prince Harry revealed that he made this personal decision "to make sure [Princess Diana] is with [them] on this crazy journey together".
The wedding bands
While Markle's sentimental ring is sure to make an appearance at the wedding, you may or may not see a two-way exchange of rings at the ceremony.
Tradition does not require that royal men wear wedding rings. Prince Philip and Prince William both chose to not wear one, and Harry could follow suit. According to Koenig, this decision can be attributed to pure personal preference.
There is, however, a strong traditional precedent for royal brides to wear Welsh gold wedding bands. The tradition dates back to 1923, and Chertoff says it's an example of the ceremony's intention to include and represent elements from all the different parts of the United Kingdom.
Experts and royalists have an ever-growing list of ways that Princess Diana might be honoured at the ceremony. Some predict the flowers chosen or jewelry worn will serve as a tribute to Prince Harry's late mother, while Koenig predicts it could be the music selection.
Princess Diana's favourite hymn was "I Vow to Thee My Country", and Koenig posits that the hymn could very well be part of the couple's song selection.
Prince Harry is said to have invited the Spencer side of the family to the wedding, so Princess Diana will certainly be remembered in more ways than one.
Warwick says that, on the whole, we should expect to see a traditional wedding on May 19, but we should not expect the ceremony to revolve around the late Princess Diana.
"I think what we have to remember and bear in mind above everything else is that this is Harry and Meghan's day."