I’ve got royal fever! Do you? In honor of what’s being called The Wedding of the Century, this week it’s all about how you can bring a touch of royal style into your life. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a princess for a day – or would just prefer to live life more regally – do I have some ideas for you!
Given that I’ve done countless interviews and dispensed endless advice on Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptials, I thought I’d gather all my thoughts under CeciStyle’s chic little roof. For starters, I’ve designed a royal invitation to show what kind of style I’d imagine for the happy couple. Since I love creating crests for my clients, I wouldn’t dare leave one out for Will and Kate (find my take, below). As you can see, I chose a navy for the elegant script but highlighted the couple’s names and the monogram within the crest using gold foil; I matched the velvet gatefold that frames the suite of cards to the deep blue of the script. To add a romantic feel, I brought in lush, English-garden style flowers to the lining of the save-the-date envelope. Totally fit for a princess, don’t you think?
Since the whole lead-up to the royal wedding has gotten slightly out of hand (Will and Kate Pez dispensers anyone?), I thought I’d join the mayhem with tongue firmly in cheek. Below you’ll find me – dressed like a princess, naturally – getting the latest gossip as I sit in an old-fashioned London phone booth. Equally princessy, but in a more achievable way, is this week’s Get the Look, filled with ideas inspired by Kate Middleton’s spot-on British style. Plus, I asked my friends from across the pond Mark Niemierko, Britain’s leading wedding planner, and Peta Hunt, Fashion Director of You & Your Wedding magazine in the U.K., to share their insider tips on achieving enviable royal style – the right way. It’s time to let your inner princess shine!
View the Behind the Scenes now!
Ceci’s Favorite Royal Weddings
In anticipation of the big day, let’s take a stroll down memory lane and revisit a few of the most iconic British weddings in history. Here are some of my favorites!
1840 – Queen Victoria to Prince Albert
Up until the 19th century, a bride would wear her best dress on her wedding day. However, when Queen Victoria got married she had her dress made from a fine, white satin with white lace and a matching veil. The look soon became a trend with upper-class families and set the standard for the white wedding dress that brides wear today.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert wedding images courtesy of the Hulton archive at Getty images
1947 – Queen (then Princess) Elizabeth to Prince Philip
Taking place soon after the end of World War II, the royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth became a symbol for a new era of youth, prosperity, and hope for England and the world.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip wedding images courtesy of the Hulton archive at Getty images
1981 – Prince Charles to Lady Diana
Thought of as a fairy-tale wedding come to life, this marriage became a phenomenon and was seen by a global audience of over 750 million.
Charles and Diana wedding images courtesy of Dawngallick via flickr
And this week we celebrate the union of William and Catherine. Excited to see how their wedding will unfold on Friday!
Catherine and William photo courtesy of Mario Testino
HOW TO CREATE AN INVITATION WITH ROYAL STYLE
I know how overwhelming it can be to plan your wedding or special event. With so many decisions and choices out there, how do you know the right thing to do? And with all eyes on you, the last thing you want is to offend anyone or make a rookie mistake (since, after all, this IS the first time you’re doing this!).
First, let’s start with my take on the royal wedding invitations. I have to be honest and say I agree with the buzz that’s going around: William and Kate’s invitations were underwhelming. I realize they are a couple faced with traditional requirements. But since they are so young and stylish, I would have loved to see them send an invitation that was a more personal representation of their regal style – something tasteful, full of class, and unique that would set the couple apart and maybe even create a new trend for the royal family. Essentially, a modern twist on the traditional.
How would I approach it? Inspired by Kate’s sapphire engagement ring and her love of blue, I used the color for her save-the-dates and invitations. Then I paired it with the classic combination of gold and silver to give it the sophistication it needs. I also created a new royal crest for the couple that sits prominently at the top. Find my version, below.
If you’re dreaming of an invitation with regal style, here are the creative ingredients I would recommend when selecting yours. Ask about the possibility of incorporating these details into your invitation!
How to Create an Invitation with Royal Style:
Get Noticed: A traditional flat envelope simply won’t do when you’re trying to make a royal statement. You must try sending your invites in a box. You want your guests to know that yours is a special event not to be missed! What’s more, they’ll feel extra special when they receive it – always a plus!
Tip: If boxed invitations are over your budget, opt for my 3D gusseted envelopes. They are essentially “boxed” envelopes that weigh a fraction of what boxes do – saving you a lot on postage.
Go Beyond Paper: Opulence is key. And what better way to communicate lavishness than by using different materials like velvet and lace? Try wrapping your invitation in layers of purple velvet and glittering gold lace for an imperial color palette (see pictures above and below).
Tip: If these types of materials are out of your price range, try having a lace design printed onto your paper. You’ll still get the lacy details without the hefty price tag.
Typography Matters: When selecting the typeface for your invitation, it’s important to remember that different font styles send different messages. Elegant scripts are the most formal and traditional. The more elaborate they are, the more regal they will seem.
Tip: If an all-script invitation is too busy for you and seems hard to read, opt for mixed fonts. Make sure your names get the most elaborate treatment since they should be what really stands out.
Printing Style: The most traditional, refined route would be to go for engraving. But for a modern twist, I like to do foil stamping. Foil adds an extra-glamorous touch without being cheesy. It gives your invitation the perfect amount of shine to make it really stand out and look its best.
Tip: If printing the entire invite in foil is too much for you, try printing just your names on the invitation card in foil.
Finishing Touches: Details matter. When all eyes are on you, make sure you shine. Don’t skimp on finishing touches like hand calligraphy and custom stamps. Go all out – your guests will notice!
Tip: If hand calligraphy is too costly, it’s perfectly fine to opt for machine or digital calligraphy. Just choose a quality source and a beautiful script so you’re sending the proper message.
Make Your Mark: Treat yourself to a royal-looking family crest designed exclusively for you. Load it with tons of symbolism and personal details so it’s a completely new symbol of you as a couple. Think of it as something that you can pass on to future generations. Be inspired by the one we created for William and Kate and now apply it to your own world!
The essential components of a royal crest:
- Crown: Adorn your crest with a crown. Even though you may not be descended from royals, I say go for it! If a crown is too much for you, that’s OK. Try a sun or a fleur-de-lis, for example.
- Supporters: Every crest needs shield supporters. Think about your favorite animal or astrological symbol – or just go for gorgeous flourishes.
- Blazon: This is typically where your initials go. Create a gorgeous monogram that combines your first letters, which will go in the center shield.
- Details: Little details make it personal. Add your event date or the date you first met.
- Ribbon: A flowing ribbon makes a great frame for your first names or family name. Or try a message – possibly a favorite word like strength or love in Latin.
- Decorative Mantling: No crest is complete without decorative mantling. This can be in the form of flourishes or any beautiful filigree that balances out the design of your crest.
Mark Niemierko is Britain’s leading wedding planner. His namesake company, Niemierko Ltd, has previously arranged the weddings of Russian oligarchs, Premiership football players and high-society couples from London, New York and Paris. Niemierko specializes in weddings, civil partnerships and other social events such as baby showers, bar mitzvahs, birthdays and anniversary parties for a sophisticated, savvy and stylish clientele. Niemierko’s offerings include a full range of wedding services tailored to each couple’s requirements.
“When I met Mark I knew he and I were on the same page in terms of style, business ethics and standards. Plus, he isn’t afraid to have fun and let his unique personality shine, which I always love. He is a man who knows what’s right and what he wants. His taste is spot-on, which translates into work that’s truly beautiful. I have always been an admirer of people with one-of-a-kind style and Mark embodies that every day. If you are lucky enough to work with him, your event will really shine with stand-out style!” - CECI JOHNSON
Top 5 Tips on Creating a Royal Wedding by Mark Niemierko:
Royal crest: Go a little further than having a personalized monogram. Perhaps create your own royal crest designed exclusively for you by Ceci New York. It’s the ultimate treat.
Dressing like royalty: Think English Rose when choosing your wedding dress and other attire. Look for inspiration from Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley or Carey Mulligan. Boleros with lace beading are also very regal and in style. And of course a tiara is a must. Andrew Prince makes the best.
Location: If you can’t book an abbey, book a church. But make it feel grander. Hire a professional choir, install a red carpet runner and arrange large urns of flowers.
Wedding Party: Two or four bridesmaids just aren’t enough. You need at least twelve bridesmaids, flower girls and page boys.
Best of British: During your drinks reception have a best-of-British canapés theme: mini shepherd’s pies, fish & chips, and Yorkshire puddings with roast beef and horseradish.
Discover more on Niemierko Ltd
PETA HUNT OF YOU & YOUR WEDDING MAGAZINE
Before life as Fashion Director at You & Your Wedding, where I have been working for over 12 years, I was a freelance stylist for approximately 20 years – or was it 200? I was very lucky to have worked with some of the world’s leading photographers and on world-wide ad campaigns, such as DeBeers, Versace, Jaeger, to name a few. I love my role on Y&YWedding. I get to travel and I can see the best and most creative dresses head from catwalk to aisle.
“I love Peta’s sense of humor and her sharp eye for style. Peta has a dream job – to be surrounded by the world’s most beautiful fashion while traveling around the world, being inspired. Then bringing it to our fingertips through You & Your Wedding magazine. Thanks to her, we are all putting our best foot forward.” - CECI JOHNSON
How to Dress for the Royal Wedding by Peta Hunt of You & Your Wedding Magazine:
FOR THE LADIES
- It’s going to be a long day, and our climate can be slightly chilly (the Abbey will be breezy for those who have to arrive first!), so take the weather into consideration. No one except the couple should enter the Abbey after the Queen.
- Best rule of thumb for a royal wedding outfit: imagine you are a royal or the First Lady. Therefore, don’t dress like a stripper. Wear a good shift dress, chic coat or jacket. Bring out your inner Jackie O and you can’t go wrong.
- Remember, as a guest your job is not to attract too much attention. This isn’t a parade, nor are you out to bag a prince, so no cleavage exposure and keep your thighs covered. Keep in mind that you are going to have to wait around for quite some time, so make sure the Choo’s are comfy (cushioned innersoles can be sooo useful).
- Steer clear of crease-y fabrics. Linen may look good standing up, but when you sit up and down a few times you might start to look like a concertina and that can be a crisis in the making!
- Do not wear an oversize hat (never one wider than your shoulders). Otherwise, how are you all going to fit in the pews? Still, make sure that you do have something on your head. No one wants to be known as the woman who took out Princess Anne’s eye with a large feather.
- Also remember that your hat must fit properly. When you take it off for dinner you do not want to have “hat hair” or a band imprinted on your forehead.
- Fascinators are acceptable, but again not too many feathers. They can look like a swarm of mosquitoes over your head, plus everyone wears them now, so they are becoming a tad over-worn.
- Keep jewelry simple. Statement necklaces, family pearls and, of course, diamonds are acceptable – the larger the better! But avoid jingling jewelry. Nobody wants to hear your every movement when you reach for your handbag.
- Do bear in mind that the world’s press will be watching and commenting on anything outrageous, wild or not quite right! There will be a lot of downtime in between seeing the royal couple, so news crews will be looking for something to talk about.
- Best of all, enjoy your time at the Wedding of the Year.
FOR THE MEN
- Get yourself in a morning suit. It shouldn’t look too new – old money is best! Stick to gray or black tails (no satin or mohair-silk mix). Go to a good tailor or excellent hire shop and listen to the advice you are given. Then be sure to take it.
- Keep it classic: no bright ties, no joke ties, or cravats tied into fat knots.
- No loud waistcoats.
- Never button the bottom button on your waistcoat. This goes back to the days when we had a fat prince, and in order for him to feel comfy, his stylist du jour (Beau Brummel) said no one should do their button up. The fat prince was happy and a tradition was born.
- Wear a top hat but never wear it indoors or at a jaunty angle. You should be able to balance a pint of beer on it because it is so flat! But do not try this at the event. It’s better saved for the races – Ascot in particular on Ladies Day.
- No flashy socks. We don’t want the Queen to faint or Prince Phillip to kick off over a SpongeBob cartoon poking out from the bottom of your pants. And keep your shoes (Oxford style) black. No suede, gray or patent.
- Do not take your jacket off even if you are going to faint in the Abbey (unlikely, due to our heating and climate).
- A dress uniform is more than welcome. Do not adapt this look by adding a few more medals to liven it up. Some general will have a fit if you are 25 and wearing medals from WWII.
- Lounge suits are also allowed for the big day, but DO NOT WEAR A VERY SHINY SUIT or a colored one. Stick to black, navy, gray or brown (unless you are Elton John or a friend of).
- No loud shirts, ties, fun waistcoats, and steer clear of frilly shirts.
- Keep jewelry to a minimum. Your hosts are royal and can outbling you. This is not the occasion to have a bling-off.
- Don’t wear hats with lounge suits – that’s a no.
- Wear in your shoes before so that they are comfy and don’t squeak.
- Turn off your mobile phone.
- Do not load your pockets with stuff (car keys, phones, iPads, etc). Plus, do not try to palm them off on your other half for her to put in her handbag.
- Do not take a hip flask for a crafty swig. People will be watching.
- DO NOT WEAR WHITE. We are in England, not the tropics.
Apart from the above, do not have a fake tan or use blush. You are there as a guest, not as a male model. Enjoy yourself. It’s a huge event and you want to take part in the big day. Count yourself lucky you have a ringside seat.
Discover more on youandyourwedding.co.uk
Rosemary Howe, chef/owner of Barraud Caterers Limited, a full service catering company based in New York City, has been a professional chef since 1978, founding her catering company in 1980. Howe has appeared as a guest on chef and TV personality Sara Moulton’s show “Cooking Live” on the Food Network. Zagat recommends Barraud Caterers for those “who appreciate quality,” offering “sophisticated custom-tailored menus,” “beautiful presentation, excellent service adding to a fine experience.”
“What I love about Ro is not only her happy, friendly energy and enviable British accent, but her enthusiastic passion for the art of cooking. With a love for presentation and attention to detail, Ro is at the top of my list. Her work is so impeccable that every morsel on your plate is there for a reason: to delight your senses down to the very last bite. Anything she makes will have you craving more.” - CECI JOHNSON
When it comes to dining and hosting a party, whether it’s an intimate dinner or a grand fete, my dear friend Ro Howe of Barraud Caterers knows a thing or two about how to get it right. Coincidentally, she’s also from London, so I asked her to advise us on how to host a wedding a la Will and Kate – while avoiding the pitfalls.
The Dos and Don’ts of Royal Hospitality by Rosemary Howe of Barraud Caterers:
DON’T make your wedding a public event. Although technically anyone can attend William and Kate’s wedding ceremony in Westminster Abbey, only 120 guests were invited to the royal reception at Buckingham Palace.
DO keep your affair intimate. This guarantees that you’ll be surrounding yourself with the friends and family that have made a difference in your life. And it will make your wedding all the more special.
DON’T choose the grandest venue with the fanciest flowers just because they are in style at the moment. Nothing says “pretentious” as much as an exercise that is alien to how you live your life.
DO try to base your event’s style on who you really are. A wedding is about hospitality, and in turn, a reflection of your inner values. Make sure your wedding’s style matches those beliefs.
DON’T forget that you are also the host of the party. Whether you are aware of it or not, whenever someone comes to your wedding, they are treading on your “territory.”
DO make sure to welcome your guests and make them feel comfortable. You can be assured that William and Kate will be conversing with every single guest at their reception.
DON’T forget that service is key. You should think of your servers and day-of wedding assistants as an extension of yourself.
DO make sure that you find vendors who are genuinely interested in helping with your event. A vendor who is as concerned about your guest’s experience as much as you are will make all the difference in the world.
DON’T go for quantity over quality when it comes to food. Yes, your wedding is a celebration and that calls for a feast, but that doesn’t mean you should skimp on how the food is prepared and served.
DO serve a plated dinner that will provide your guests with a well-timed social atmosphere where they can sit and enjoy the festivities. The meal itself should be carefully planned with a fine sense of taste progression that will enhance your guests’ memory of the experience.
Discover more on Barraud Caterers
CECI’S FAVORITE BRITISH FASHION DESIGNERS
In keeping with this week’s theme, I thought I would highlight my favorite British fashion designers. Lucky for all you stylish brides-to-be, everyone on my list has expanded his or her talents to the world of bridal and has created gorgeous, fashion-forward wedding gowns. I love seeing the technique and incredible detailing that make each of these designers’ dresses so special. Select a gown from any of them and you will be walking down the aisle in major, stand-out style.
Use this palette as a stepping stone toward creating your own dream event.
Click on the color swatches to see how the colors come to life at a real event or discover more inspiring color stories now.
Babington House, Somerset, England
Babington House is a private members’ club, hotel and spa set in 18 acres of Somerset country parkland. The Hotel has 32 bedrooms, 23 in the Main House and Coach House and five family holiday rooms in the Stable Block. The Lodge is located at the top of the driveway and has three bedrooms. There are also three bedrooms adjacent to Cowshed Relax spa with views over the Walled Garden. The Main House has the Kitchen, Log Room, Orangery, Bar, Library, Pool Room and Study. The Little House is open daily offering creche facilities for members and guests. Grounds & Facilities at Babington House Boutique Hotel include Cowshed Active with indoor and outdoor pools, gym, steam room, sauna, aroma rooms and cinema. There is also Cowshed Relax offering a range of face and body treatments, a shop and three bedrooms. In the grounds there are four grass tennis courts, a hard tennis court, cricket pitch, croquet lawn, lake and walled garden.
Discover more on Babington House, Somerset, England
English Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding
The French colloquially still call the English “Rosbiffs” and the royal guards who protect the Tower of London “Beefeaters,” so clearly beef is at the heart of the English table. Roast beef is served rare in England. It’s also traditionally eaten with Yorkshire pudding, which is recognizably the elder cousin to popovers.
4 – 6 servings
Large roasting pan, two large mixing bowls, wire whisk, large muffin mould pan, wooden spoon, fine wire mesh strainer for sifting, measuring cups and spoons, large meat platter.
4 pounds rib roast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard or melted beef fat
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ cups hot beef stock or water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
¾ cup all purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon water
2 large eggs lightly whipped
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Rub the roast with oil, lard or beef fat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place the roast with the fatty side up in a roasting pan. Baste the meat every 15 minutes or so for a good finish. For ‘rare’ roast the beef until the meat registers 120 – 125 degrees on an instant read thermometer, after about one and a quarter hours of roasting. Remove to a warmed platter and cover loosely with tinfoil and rest for between 15 – 20 minutes before carving and serving.
- While the beef is resting and the Yorkshire pud is baking prepare the jus. Spoon out much but not all the fat from the pan and leave the dark brown meat juices. Place roasting pan over moderate stove top burner. Pour in hot beef stock or water. Using a wooden spoon scrape all the delicious bits from the bottom of the pan and incorporate into a light sauce or jus. Bring to a boil to reduce if desired. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired.
- For the Yorkshire pudding, butter and flour large muffin moulds. Sift the flour and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until well combined. Let sit for 30 minutes. Stir again and pour into prepared moulds. Place into the hot oven and bake for 15 -20 minutes until golden brown. Serve immediately. The centre should still be custardy and not dry.
- Serve with roasted vegetables, roasted potatoes and horseradish sauce, passed separately.
Classic English Trifle
Cakes of any kind were a favorite of aristocratic and upper-class English homes in the Victorian era, and Trifle has become a classic. The Italians even call it “Zuppa Inglese,” an ancestor of their Tiramisu.
6 – 8 servings
Measuring cups and spoons, medium sized (2 quart), heavy bottomed sauce pan, standing mixer or electric hand mixer with large bowl, wooden spoon, fine mesh conical strainer, small ladle, large clear glass serving bowl.
1 leftover light sponge or pound cake left to dry for a day
1 cup good quality raspberry jam
1 cup Amontillado sherry, dark rum, Marsala, Sauternes or other sweet wine
2 cups fresh raspberries crushed a bit
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, lightly toasted
6 large egg yolks
½ cup sugar
A mini pinch of kosher salt
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract
½ cup heavy cream
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup beautiful raspberries for garnish
I tablespoon slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- Prepare the crème Anglaise. Whisk the egg yolks well in a standing mixer or in a bowl with an electric hand mixer. Sprinkle in the sugar in thirds, mixing between each batch. The eggs should be a pale lemon colour. Heat the milk and heavy cream in a thick bottomed pan until just bubbling around the edges. Add the scalded cream to the egg yolks two tablespoons at a time with the mixer on slow to prevent splashing. When two thirds of the cream has been added to the yolks return the mixture to the pan.
- Place a conical wire mesh strainer on top of a cold container, ready to receive the cooked custard. Place the pan over very gentle heat and stir slowly with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom, sides and ‘corners’ of the pan to ensure the custard on the pan’s surface will not curdle. When you see light whiffs of steam rising from the custard and it coats the back of a spoon and leaves a line when you trace a finger across it pour it directly through the strainer into a cold container. Cool then chill in the refrigerator to thicken.
- Slice or break the cake into one inch thick pieces. Brush with raspberry preserves. Place a few in the bottom of a large glass bowl. Sprinkle with a little sweet wine. Sprinkle with a few crushed berries. Pour over some cold custard to cover. Cover with another layer of jam spread cake and keep layering until all the ingredients have been used.
Refrigerate for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.
- Combine the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla and whip to medium soft peaks. Dollop the whipped cream decoratively over the top of the trifle. Just before serving, sprinkle with the toasted almonds and place raspberries on top.
CECI NEW YORK WINS THE FIBERMARK SPECIFIER AWARD
This is such an exciting announcement: I just found out that Ceci New York was awarded the 18th Annual Specifier Award from FiberMark for our outstanding use of their papers in Ashleigh and Ryan’s couture save-the-dates! Inspired by a vintage Italian artist’s journal, I incorporated FiberMark’s leather papers for the journal cover, giving it the authentic look I envisioned. Thank you FiberMark for this wonderful recognition!
CECI NEW YORK READY-TO-ORDER TRUNK SHOW
Don’t miss the Ceci Ready-To-Order Trunk Show on May 10th. For one night only, receive 15% savings on your Ceci Ready-To-Order Invitation, Save The Date, and/or Accessory suite!
Ceci Ready-To-Order is a fusion of elegance, personalization, and effortless style. Featuring original designs and artwork, these collections provide the luxury of customization combined with the ease of ready-to-order. Designed to take your event from ordinary to tastefully extraordinary, Ceci Ready-to-Order boasts an impressive range of color, paper, design, and printing possibilities that can be mixed and matched to reflect your aisle style and the tone of your event.
CAN’T MAKE THE TRUNK SHOW? Call your order in! Everyone can take advantage of this one-time offer no matter where you are in the world! Details below.
LA FLEUR WEDDINGS & EVENTS 1-DAY PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOP
Ceci Johnson will be speaking on May 3, 2011 at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in California alongside other great trendsetters: La Fleur Weddings, Jose Villa Photography, Pacific Weddings Magazine, Style Me Pretty and more! Ceci will be giving advice on branding, her marketing success, and the importance of capturing the details. Spaces are limited, reserve your spot now.
In next week’s issue: Fiesta Mexicana
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, Founder and Creative Director of Ceci New York
, is the authority on style and invitation design. She is also the author of her highly coveted weekly style magazine, CeciStyle
. Loaded with gorgeous tips and takes on invitations, fashion, parties, weddings, décor, gifts and more, CeciStyle
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