Simon Perry has been covering the British royal family for PEOPLE for more than 20 years, so to say he's made their happenings his life's work isn't an overstatement. In fact, Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle will be the fourth he's covered in his tenure—he reported on the unions of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, Prince William and Duchess Kate, and Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones. "The royal family is old, and it grows. People get married and have babies and all those fun moments in life we like to celebrate and capture," Perry says of covering the happenings at Kensington Palace. "People have been interested in that from the start."
With two decades of royal reporting under his belt, Perry is in a unique position to comment on Harry and Meghan's upcoming wedding. Here, his predictions for the couple's May 19th ceremony and reception.
Don't expect the same level of pomp and ceremony as you saw at Prince William and Duchess Kate's wedding.
Namely, don't wait around for a long carriage ride. "You saw William and Kate driving from the hotel and the palace, and then again leaving the Abbey. It was a good, substantial carriage ride, and it was a long route that gave everyone a chance to see her," Perry explains. But that doesn't mean there won't be one at all. Perry expects that there will be three carriages at most, and that there will be a small procession from the church to the castle for the afternoon reception.
The wedding won't closely resemble Will and Kate's, but it will look like a royal wedding of the past.
In terms of structure, Perry says to revisit Prince Edward's wedding to Sophie Rhys-Jones, as he thinks Meghan and Harry's ceremony will most closely mimic theirs in terms of structure. In fact, it's in the exact same setting—St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
You can't rule out the presence of fruitcake just yet.
It's been announced that Violet Bakery will be creating a lemon elderflower wedding cake for the reception, but that doesn't mean the standard royal wedding cake flavor—fruitcake—won't be present. "Every royal couple has the fruitcake," Perry says. "It would be unusual for them not to have a tiered fruitcake covered in frosting. I would be surprised if it wasn't there, but you're catering for a lot of people, so there will be choices." Don't forget, William served a chocolate biscuit cake at his reception, too.
Keep your eyes out for two wedding dresses.
Just like Kate Middleton wore two dresses, Perry believes Meghan will trade in a more formal ceremony gown or a fun party dress for the reception. As for the designer, he'd be surprised if she chose Alexander McQueen ("I don't think she'll choose the same person as her future sister-in-law did," he says), and has a feeling it could be a label that no one has yet considered. One thing he does think is a sure bet? That the bride will choose one British designer and one from the United States or Canada.
Harry will wear something special, too.
William walked down the aisle in full military dress, and Perry is certain that Harry will follow suit. "It'll be ceremonial dress for the ceremony, then he'll change for the reception," he explains. "That'll probably be black-tie."
They'll have the most adorable attendants.
If you've been holding out hope that Prince George and Princess Charlotte will play a role in the ceremony, Perry says you can breathe easy. "George and Charlotte will be page boy and flower girl, I'm sure," he says. "Harry will choose a similar number of attendants to what Kate and Will did."
Look for Meghan's bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior after the ceremony.
There'll be no bouquet toss at this couple's reception. Like every royal bride past, Meghan will place her bouquet (which will definitely include a sprig of myrtle, as this "has been done by every other royal bride," Perry points out) on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior following the ceremony.
Expect plenty of surprises.
If there's one thing Perry is sure about, it's this: "They're imaginative, fun people who will, within reason, add some interesting elements to their wedding," he says. "There are boundaries, of course. They're not going to get silly with the Queen there." William and Kate surprised fans by leaving the reception in a vintage sports car, which is something Perry could see this happy couple doing, too. He also expects that Meghan will bring in one or two American traditions, like potentially having her mother walk her down the aisle or walking down on her own.