Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are one of the most modern royal couples to date, so fans assumed that the pair would do things their own way when it came to their wedding. And they were right. While their ceremony definitely included some traditional elements—like classic vows and specific attire—it also went against protocol in a number of ways.
First, Meghan Markle wasn't the typical royal bride: she's American. She further differentiated herself from her predecessors by choosing to walk down a portion of the aisle alone. In another unconventional move, Prince Charles escorted Meghan only part of the way. News of this ceremony arrangement came after her father announced he'd be missing the event.
While Meghan's wedding dress was overarchingly traditional, several modern details made it stand out in royal history. Her choice in designer was both an homage to her new country (it was created by the British designer Clare Waight Keller) and a small revolution (Givenchy is a French fashion house). As for her gown's fashion-forward details, her subtle bateau neckline was definitely unprecedented. Royal brides typically keep that area covered.
The ceremony itself was full of modern moments, with the couple incorporating African-American church traditions to celebrate Meghan's heritage. Bishop Michael Bruce Curry became the first African-American clergy member to preside over the Episcopal Church (with which the Royal Family is affiliated). His impassioned speech on the power of love was enaging, powerful, and moving. Also noteworthy? The music. Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir sung the classic song "Stand By Me" by Ben E. King. The gospel choir's performance was followed by another unique musical addition: 19-year-old Sheku Kanneh-Mason, winner of 2016's BBC Young Musician competition and the first black muscian to win the award, filled the ceremony space with music while Prince Harry and Meghan Markle disappeared to sign their wedding contract. The couple personally invited the award-winning cellist to perform after the groom heard him play in London.
Smaller wedding day details also reflected Harry and Meghan's efforts to redefine the traditional royal wedding—something they decided to do months ago when they choose their date. While common for most brides and grooms stateside, the royal couple's selection of a Saturday ceremony was quite nontraditional. Usually, royals wed during the week (Prince William and Duchess Kate tied the knot on a Friday, for example). Another thing they modernized was their wedding cake. Throughout history, royals have chosen fruit cakes for their reception dessert. Though the couple has a fruit-flavored confection (lemon elderflower), it wasn't a "fruit cake" in the traditional sense.
As previously reported, the couple's reception will be modern in a different way, too. Markle has chosen to address her guests with a speech, alongside her husband—something past royal brides haven't done. It's likely that her dad's absence influenced her decision, considering fathers of the bride are the ones that normally deliver this toast.