Tommy Gelok and Kevin Tressler had been looking forward to their theater-themed wedding for more than a year, when they woke up on a recent weekday morning to emails and texts from friends and relatives informing them that they might have to share the spotlight.
The royal family had announced that the undoubtedly most-watched wedding of 2018 — Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s nuptials — will be taking place the same day as Gelok and Tressler’s own ceremony: May 19. “We had this date for 18 months and they just sort of waltzed in and took it,” Gelok said in a recent phone interview.
Tressler said he’d been keeping an eye on royal news since last month when Kensington Palace first announced that Markle and Prince Harry would marry in May, to see if the royals would pick their date. The two said they’ll probably look back fondly on the date coincidence in a few years, particularly given that their friends and family are joking that their own wedding is a bit over the top — they’re getting married on a stage in an old theater. But their reaction wasn’t quite as reasonable when they first heard the news.
“My initial reaction was I’m completely annoyed by that because of course I want all of the attention that day,” Tressler, 36, joked.
Still, the two plan to incorporate a nod to the royal nuptials, perhaps in their favors, but they’re going to make sure their wedding is prioritized — including by reminding their wedding party there’s no need to discuss anyone else’s wedding during their celebration. “The only person whose dress really matters on that day, is my mother’s dress,” Gelok, 28, quipped.
The couple is one of thousands likely looking for creative ways to share their own special day with a global wedding television event. So far, more than 14,000 couples are scheduled to get married on May 19, according to wedding industry website The Knot. That number is likely to grow as the date gets closer, given that the third weekend in May is historically the most popular weekend of the month to wed, according to the company — last year 20,716 couples married on May 20th.
Whether the royal wedding will affect other couples sharing the wedding date depends on a variety of factors, including the timing of Markle and Prince Harry’s nuptials, the location of other couples’ weddings and the attitude of the couple and their guests toward the event, said Meghan Ely, the owner of OFD consulting, a wedding industry consulting firm.
If Markle and Prince Harry get married in the morning — as is typical for royal weddings — it likely won’t interfere with the timing of most weddings in the U.S., which is several hours behind. In the U.K., couples typically hold their ceremonies in the afternoon, which will likely be after the royal wedding. Still, coverage of Markle and Prince Harry’s nuptials will likely be hard for brides and grooms to avoid while they’re getting ready for their own big day. Guests also may be tuned into the royal festivities in the morning, which could invite comparisons.
But hopefully guests will be respectful, said Sarah Haywood, a U.K.-based wedding planner. “I would like to think that everyone would understand and acknowledge that your wedding day is special to you and that anything else that might be going on is irrelevant,” she said.
Nonetheless, couples may want to think about hosting some kind of informal gathering to watch the proceedings in the morning, perhaps while they’re getting ready, as a way to incorporate what may be an elephant in the room, while not distracting from the main event of the day for the couple — their own wedding, Ely said.
“Every couple wants to be the center of attention and doesn’t really want to be upstaged on their wedding day,” said Dee McMeeking, a U.K.-based wedding planner. In fact, so-called exclusive venues, which hold one wedding at a time and often allow a couple and their guests to take over an entire property for multiple days, are becoming increasingly popular across the pond, she said.
Of course some couples are particularly concerned about being the “prince or princess, king or queen,” of their day, McMeeking said, and if that’s the case, they should simply ask their guests not to bring up the royal wedding.
Though U.K. bride Prabhgat Sekhon said she didn’t have a “bridezilla moment” when she heard the royals would be marrying the same day she and her fiancé had planned, she was still “pretty much shocked” and a bit worried about how the royal nuptials would affect the logistics of her event. Sekhon is from North America and so many of her guests will be flying in and staying at hotels; she said she’s concerned that prices may rise as more tourists decide they want to be in the U.K on the wedding day.
It’s too early to tell how much the royal wedding has impacted travel prices, according to Expedia, but so far, average daily hotel rates for Windsor, where the royals will be getting married, are up 45% compared with the same time last year, the company found. Hotel rates in greater London aren’t any pricier than average so far, according to the company. Windsor is about 25 miles from London.
For now, Sekhon said she and her fiancé are working with hotels to lock in group rates in case prices do rise. But when it comes time for her wedding celebration, she doesn’t anticipate the royal wedding an hour away will impact her day, Sekhon said. She said she and her fiancé are joking to their guests that they’re inviting them to their own royal wedding.
“The excitement of my friends and family being around me — I don’t think it’s going to be a big deal,” she said. “Just as long as no one pulls up their phone and starts watching it — because then I will definitely have a problem,” she joked.
There may also be some benefits to getting married the same day as the royals, McMeeking said. “The nice thing about it is that everyone will be talking about weddings that week,” she said. “When you have that around, that’s great for a couple that are getting married on the same day.”
Deanna Kugler said she’s happy guests will have something to discuss while they’re mingling at her May 19 wedding on Long Island. “It will lighten the mood a little bit,” the 28-year-old said.
Couples who get married on the same day as Markle and Prince Harry may actually have an easier time than those who tie the knot in the weeks and months after the event, Ely said. That’s because whatever choices the two make will dictate wedding industry trends. The last royal wedding in 2011 helped fuel a return to glamour and luxury among American weddings following a phase of DIY trends during the recession, Ely said. Brides also started turning away from strapless dresses, in favor of some sort of sleeve, like Kate Middleton’s, Ely said.
“She’s got the Midas touch, everything is going to sell out,” she said of Markle. “Couples will need to act fast.”