Royal Wedding: Where to watch, what to eat, what to wear
Dust off your favorite fascinator and put on a pot of tea — it's nearly time for the Royal Wedding.
The most anticipated social event of the year will take place on May 19, when American actress Meghan Markle will marry HRH Prince Henry of Wales, better known as Prince Harry, in St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, England, taking him off the “most eligible royal bachelor” list.
Royal watchers in western Pennsylvania will be among more than two billion people worldwide expected to watch the wedding live on television and social media platforms. On April 29, 2011, an estimated 23 million viewers in the U.S. alone tuned in to TV coverage of the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Duchess Kate Middleton, according to TV Guide.
Several places around town are planning watch parties, giving guests an opportunity to don their wedding finery and toast Harry and Meghan as they say “I do.”
Keeping in mind that the five-hour difference between eastern U.S. and UK time zones will call for early risers on this side of the pond, wedding viewers might opt to plan their own home watch parties — there's still time — or take in the morning festivities alone while sipping tea in their pajamas.
Who's watching where
The first two places in Pittsburgh to announce watch parties — at Carnegie Science Center on the North Shore and Mansions on Fifth in Shadyside — sold out quickly, according to organizers.
Wedding guests at the Science Center are paying $40 to have the largest screen in town to view the nuptials — 70 feet wide by 38 feet tall — at the Rangos Giant Cinema from 6 to 11 a.m. Before the ceremony, guests will walk a royal red carpet, be greeted by a “Queen's Guard” and enjoy some tea or bubbly and British delicacies at a mimosa bar.
Megan McKenzie, events marketing manager, says the on-site caterer will be creating British delicacies, including assorted breakfast pastries, mini fresh fruit kabobs and sweet/savory scones with clotted cream, lemon curd and orange marmalade.
The Royal Wedding Watch Party at Mansions on Fifth hosted by Burgh Brides and Jessica Garda Events from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. also is a sellout. A $30 ticket will get guests a light breakfast, mimosa toast, a make-your-own flower fascinator/hat station, wedding favors, prizes and giveaways.
Britsburgh, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting British-American culture, history, education, tradition and trade in Pittsburgh, still has tickets available for “A Right Royal Wedding Party” from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on May 19 at Sewickley Heights History Center.
Spokesman Roger Cranville says the late-start viewing party will give partygoers a chance to watch a recorded version of the Royal Wedding and enjoy “tea served in proper cups” and a buffet lunch featuring assorted sandwiches, quiches, scones, Victoria sponge, hob-knobs (British cookies) and shortbread.
“There will be bunting and merry making,” he says. “Gen up (study) on your Royals as there will be a quiz too. Royal Wedding wear — a great opportunity to wear your hat — is preferable but not mandatory.” Admission is $30; register at britsburgh.com.
Millvale Community Library and Tupelo Honey Teas will co-host a Royal Wedding viewing from 7 to 10 p.m. at the tea room at 211 Grant Ave., Millvale. For details: facebook.com/pg/TupeloHoneyTeasPittsburgh/events
Harris Grill in Shadyside is inviting royal watchers to “roll out of bed early in your PJs and come watch the Royal Wedding festivities with us” at a viewing party from 6:30 to 9:30 a.m. There will be multiple screens for viewing and a British selfie photo booth, as well as tea sandwiches, scones, cupcakes, mimosas and English Breakfast tea. Admission is $25; register at eventbrite.com/e/royal-wedding-watch-party-tickets-45695074197
Rivers Casino, North Shore, is hosting an exclusive watch party in its riverfront ballroom for 50 winners of its recent social media contest, in which, in 100 words or less, contestants had to convince judges why they were “worthy” of attending the party.
Do-it-yourself watch party
Jessica Garda, an event planner from Washington, Pa., says planning a home watch party isn't that difficult if the host or hostess follows a few guidelines.
“Make it more casual,” she says. “Don't take it too seriously because it's so early in the morning – and keep it simple. Do whatever you can do ahead of time.”
Toni Hoffman, event coordinator at Hartwood Acres Mansion in Indiana Township, is in charge of several teas held at the Tudor country estate, including popular Downton Abbey teas that feature British-inspired foods.
She suggests preparing some traditional “two-bite” tea sandwiches on white bread with the crusts removed and simple fillings such as lean cooked ham and butter, which is “very English,” cucumber and cream cheese or chicken salad.
Hoffman says Hartwood teas typically feature scones served with clotted cream and jam, including one of her favorites, made with macadamia nuts, white chocolate and apricot filling. And of course, hot tea served at the table in china tea pots and a variety of cookies for dessert – including French macarons, shortbread thumbprints and chocolate dipped cream puffs – are must-haves.
No time for baking the sweet treats that make a Royal Wedding watch party extra special? No worries, order some in advance from the pros.
Oakmont Bakery is celebrating in a big way, offering several desserts that are fit for a princess, according to owner Marc Serrao.
“We think it's exciting that an American (Claire Ptak, a pastry chef originally from California who runs Violet Bakery in London) will be baking the royal couple's cake, which is a big switch from forever,” he says. Typically royal wedding cakes are made from heavy fruitcake batter with fondant or marzipan, but Prince Harry and Meghan's cake will consist of summery elderflower flavors with lemon filling and buttercream frosting.
Oakmont Bakery's mini-version will be a lemon filled, yellow/vanilla bean batter cake lightly frosted in elderflower-flavored buttercream frosting with piped elderflowers on top and daintily cascading down the side. It will serve two and will sell for $7.25.
Also available May 17-20 at the bakery will be a “Royal Groom's Cake” ($2.50 per serving), a banana batter bar-cake topped with brown sugar buttercream frosting and drizzled with caramel. Serrao says the cake is a “spinoff” of Prince Harry and Price William's favorite dessert as young boys, a caramel banana cake.
“We will also feature royal elderberry scones, trifle cups in white/almond and strawberry or fudge and milk chocolate and heart-shaped sugar cookies,” he adds.
At Serendipity Tea Room and Café in Belle Vernon, owner Connie Sewchek hosts tea parties and does all the cooking and baking, creating homemade soups, salads and scones in a variety of flavors, with apricot pecan, lemon cranberry and raspberry white chocolate the most popular.
She also sells vintage teapots and teas and recommends an English Breakfast or her Ashby Apricot black tea to serve at a royal wedding watch party. Sewcheck is a former food service teacher at Connellsville and Mon Valley Vo-Tech schools.
Virginia Christman, owner of Crumpets Tea Shop in Ligonier, makes and sells sweet and savory scones and crumpets. She says the main difference between the British desserts is that crumpets are made from raised dough and cooked on a griddle, while scones are “basically slightly sweetened biscuits.” Customers should call ahead with dessert orders.
Don't forget the decorations
Make your Royal Wedding watch party festive with British-themed decorations from Party City, Amazon, Oriental Trading and other online stores. Available items range from Union Jack paper plates, napkins and centerpieces to banners, balloons and even cardboard cutouts of Harry and Meghan.
A family tradition
Matthew and Bethany Widick and daughters Vivian, 11, and Gennie, 6, are former residents of Ford City, Armstrong County, currently living in London. They will be among the scores of Americans catching all the live festivities on the “telly” in the UK.
Bethany, who grew up in Richland and attended Pine Richland High School, says, “We're going to watch the wedding; it's our tradition. My mom and I watched Princess Diana's wedding, Vivian and I watched William and Kate's. We won't miss this one – and we don't have to get up so early!”
Where to watch
U.S. television networks are scrambling to provide the most comprehensive coverage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Royal Wedding. A few of the highlights:
PBS has a five-part “Royal Wedding Watch” series premiering 10-11 p.m. May 14-17 and 10:30-11:30 p.m. May 18, culminating with a live broadcast of the wedding beginning at 4:15 a.m. May 19. Produced by BBC Studios, the show will be hosted by Meredith Vieira and British television presenter Matt Baker.
ABC's Good Morning America Special Edition starting at 5 a.m. May 19 will feature five hours of coverage with GMA co-anchor Robin Roberts and “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir live from Windsor, England.
NBC will broadcast “Inside the Royal Wedding: Harry and Meghan” at 10 p.m. May 16 with “Today” hosts Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb taking viewers to London. The hour-long special will feature interviews with close friends of the couple and experts from fashion, sports and entertainment.
HBO will look at the funny side of “The Royal Wedding Live with Cord and Tish!” at 7:30 a.m. May 19 with comedic duo Will Ferrell and Molly Shannon as their alter egos Cord Hosenbeck and Tish Cattigan. A prime-time replay will run later at 9:45 p.m.
BritBox streaming service will air the wedding May 19 live from Windsor. Through a partnership with Fathom Events, Britbox will extend its coverage to 200 movie theaters across the U.S., marking the first time a royal wedding will be shown in cinemas. The showings at 10 a.m. local time will be presented commercial-free, according to variety.com.