Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Kate and William's challenge? To make their special day personal

By Sarah Haywood for CNN
  • It's challenging for William and Kate to make their marriage ceremony special and intimate.
  • Exchanging vows can be emotional and nerve-wracking for any couple
  • We're unlikely to see tears -- the royals are pretty good at keeping their emotions in check

Editor's note: Sarah Haywood is an internationally renowned, luxury wedding designer and coordinator and author of the UK's top-selling "Wedding Bible" bridal books. An award-winning businesswoman, Sarah is a former TV news presenter turned entrepreneur who regularly appears in the international media as the "Wedding Doctor."

London (CNN) -- As Kate Middleton steps out of her royal Rolls Royce on her wedding day and walks up Westminster Abbey's long and imposing aisle, she'll spend the last moments of her single life in public view, watched by a billion people around the world.

With her father by her side, she'll pass by the lines of the great and the good, turned out in their finery to see her marry her university sweetheart. The pressure of the global interest in the occasion could cause even her calm head to spin.

So what can the decade's most famous bride do to make sure she is not overwhelmed on the day?

The most public part of the forthcoming Royal Wedding celebration is the marriage ceremony. We'll be able to see all of it from multiple cameras and hear every word from dozens of microphones. A challenge for those officiating the ceremony and the couple themselves, is how to make this very public occasion one that is meaningful and personal to the bride and groom.

Inside the Abbey: Who's sitting where?

How costly is a royal wedding?
Royal wedding music preview
What makes a great wedding?

When a couple exchange their wedding vows I believe they should be present in the moment. It is a huge and solemn undertaking: a wedding celebration is a joyous occasion, but this is the crucial bit.

At the moment you make that commitment you need to mean it and with every fiber of your being. But as you exchange your vows, you are also relating to one another very publicly in a way you generally do only in private. It can be emotional and nerve-wracking for any couple.

And most especially if a billion-plus people are watching and listening live on television and radio. Prince William's mother was so nervous at her wedding, she could not even repeat the names of the Prince of Wales in the right order. It did not look very meaningful: It looked like she just wanted to get through it.

Wedding guests: Who's invited?

The atmosphere at any wedding ceremony is likely to be charged and full of expectation: there's been the big build up, everyone is there -- family, close friends and people you didn't realize until today were this important to you. There's been music and readings, you were up early and here you are all scrubbed up.

Then, for the first time that day, silence falls. All eyes are upon you. It's time to declare your love and commitment to one another for life, out loud. For some it's just too much: the lump rises in the throat, the words won't come out and tears well in the eyes. Panic ensues (especially in grooms).

We rehearse and give a pep talk to our clients so it does not come as a surprise when they feel a tad emotional. Those who listen, therefore, expect something of the above -- which in itself is helpful and sometimes all that's needed to avoid it. They know (1) it does not matter and (2) how to move through it.

They're the nearest we've seen to a "normal" couple in the history of the British monarchy
--Sarah Haywood, bridal author

We're unlikely to see tears from William and Kate. The Royals are pretty good at keeping their emotions in check: that British "stiff upper lip" routine is drilled into them from an early age.

William: A future king who's a "regular guy"

But William and Kate's is a genuine love match, not a marriage of convenience or an attempt to produce "an heir and a spare." They're the nearest we've seen to a "normal" couple in the entire history of the British monarchy.

Somehow, despite the pomp and the pageantry, the Abbey filled with 2,000 people, the trumpets and a TV congregation of over a billion, this service needs to be personalized. It must be an occasion full of joy and meaning for the couple and their families.

Although vast, the area within the Abbey where the ceremony will take place (the quire) does afford a degree of intimacy. If William and Kate properly rehearse together at home they will be able to remember what it is they've to say, why they are saying it and what it means. It's unlikely this couple will be able to shut the world out of their minds when their moment arrives, but it is worth a try.

Kate Middleton: Friends open up about the future queen

So whether you are marrying a prince or a pauper anytime soon, here are my top tips to get the most out of what should be the most meaningful part of your wedding day:

1. Practice
Get used to hearing yourself saying your own names out loud. Speak, sing and whisper the vows.

2. Breathe
Keep your breathing under control.

3. Take time to look around
Win your congregation over by making eye contact with as many people as you can as you walk SLOWLY down the aisle.

4. Stand where you can be seen
Before exchanging your vows, turn sideways on to your guests so they can see you.

5. Focus
On your partner.

6. Smile!

7. Breathe -- again!
Take a full deep breath and form the words with the outgoing breath.

8. Listen
Listen to the words as you speak them.

9. Take your time
If you're overcome with emotion do not panic: pause and breath deeply for as long as you need.

10. Enjoy it!
Savor the moment!

Part of complete coverage on
'Not the royal wedding' street party
A lot has changed since the 15th century, when Oliver Cromwell overthrew the monarchy. Today, British republicans fight with ... street parties.
The best moments of the royal wedding
From the walk down the aisle to the vows and kiss on the balcony, we show you the best moments from the royal wedding.
The big day in big pictures
From camping out in Hyde Park to highlights of the wedding ceremony, take a look at the day in photos
Hats off to royal wedding guests
The biggest fashion show on earth, the royal wedding, got underway in a riot of bright colors, flamboyant fascinators and larger-than-life hats
Wedding dress mystery solved
At last, it's revealed! Kate walks down the aisle in a timeless dress designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.
Unveiled blog
Crazy memorabilia, the skinny on the dress and more! Your spot for all things royal wedding right now.
Across the pond, a reason to party
Americans woke up at dawn to attend royal wedding parties complete with tea, scones and in some cases, clipped British accents
Join CNN's wedding party!
Share your photos and video and be a part of the royal wedding with CNN and iReport!
Featured Deal |