How early in the morning are you prepared to awaken in order to vicariously celebrate the upcoming Royal Wedding? If you have the passion and the ready cash, there are several luxurious and festive viewing parties planned for the May 19 nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. They’re not sold out (yet) but you might want to get in gear now – if your invitation to the wedding hasn’t arrived yet, it’s probably safe to assume that you need to make alternate plans. The happy news is that there are some really fun alternatives to attending in person.
Of course you could watch the festivities from the comfort of your own home in your pajamas. The Dress will look the same no matter what you’re wearing. But Royal Weddings don’t roll around every day. So why not join the glamorous fun? If you’re prepared to sacrifice some zzz’s, there are plenty of posh ways to toast the bride and groom.
We’ve grouped our picks of the best luxurious viewing parties into four broad time zones, with the start time of the ceremony noted, so that those who are truly hardcore (we’re looking at you, San Francisco), will know what they’re signing up for. True Anglophiles should probably just stay up all night in the US, and watch the wedding before toddling off to bed.
1. British Summer Time (BST): 12 p.m. If you happen to be in the UK on May 19th, there are lots of luxurious options for a viewing party in grand British style not far from the actual nuptials.
The Ham Yard Hotel will be hosting a Royal Wedding Garden Party ($60 per person) on their terrace. Guests will be served a specially created Afternoon Tea, which will be “a marriage of British and American classic savories and cakes alongside a glass of American Domaine Carneros, Sparkling Brut, California NV or English Hoffman and Rathbone Classic Cuvée, Sussex, England 2013.” Nibbles will include British smoked salmon, cream cheese and lemon, cucumber and watercress crème fraiche, honey roast ham and English mustard, as well as American mini corn dogs with yellow mustard, mini doughnuts with pulled pork and BBQ sauce and Maryland crab cakes. And of course, there will be wedding cake for dessert.
The Hotel Café Royal will host a special edition of their award-winning afternoon tea in the Oscar Wilde Lounge with a Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea ($100 per person). In addition to a menu of sandwiches, scones and 30 tea blends, the afternoon will also feature live music, a glass of Champagne and a twin gift set of commemorative bone china Royal Wedding mugs by William Edwards.
If the countryside is more appealing to you than cosmopolitan London, head for Cliveden House in Berkshire, a centuries-old country house hotel on a 376-acre estate. It’s the perfect setting for the “Royal Garden Party,” an outdoor BBQ with bubbly and a jazz band (you can watch the wedding unfold on TV). £95 ($131) per person.
2. Atlantic (AT): 8 a.m. and Eastern Time (ET): 7 a.m. It’ll be a bit of an early morning, but it’s totally doable if you’re going to be somewhere on the East Coast or in the Caribbean. Here are our top picks in select locations:
New York City
Don your best version of traditional British wedding attire and visit the iconic Plaza Hotel for the Royal Wedding Breakfast ($150 per person) at the hotel’s Palm Court. Here guests will sip champagne and dine on an English inspired menu that includes scones with clotted cream, black pudding, jolly boys and strawberry bruschetta as they watch a live stream of the ceremony. For dessert Executive Pastry Chef Matthew Lambie will be preparing a traditional English Fruit Cake. If that’s not enough, the hotel is also offering a Big Screen to Crown (starting at $795 per night until May 31) special where guests can stay overnight, partake in a VIP tour of the historical hotel, enjoy “Royal Cocktails” in the Rose Room, receive copies of iconic Plaza Wedding movies (including The Way We Were, Bride Wars and Barefoot in the Park) and of course enjoy the Royal Wedding Breakfast too.
The Whitby Hotel (one of our absolute favorite new spots in Manhattan) will host a live viewing of The Royal Wedding ($49) in their state-of-the-art cinema. Upon arrival, guests will receive a glass of champagne and will be able to sip tea and snack on scones with clotted cream and preserves during the event. Following the wedding, head around the corner for the Downtown Abbey Exhibition for a further dose of British high society.
Guests are encouraged to arrive fascinator ready in traditional wedding attire at the Fairmont Copley Plaza’s Royal Wedding Viewing Party & Breakfast ($75-750). Here, guests will be able to indulge in a full English (and American) breakfast, plenty of tea and scones and even wedding cake to commemorate the occasion. The champagne bar will open at 8 a.m. to toast the happy couple as they embark on a horse-drawn carriage procession through the streets of Windsor, offering Bollinger champagne and traditional British cocktails such as Pimm’s Cup and Bramble. The breakfast also includes a raffle for a two night stay in a Junior Suite at The Savoy in London.
Ring in the royal wedding like nobility at the Mandarin Oriental’s Royal Wedding Tea and Viewing Party ($88-960). The festivities kick off with a half-hour rosé reception in honor of Meghan Markle’s favorite libation, followed by a traditional afternoon tea service, including a choice of five loose leaf tea blends as well as finger sandwiches and sweet confections. In line with the bride and groom’s wishes for donations in lieu of gifts, part of the event’s proceeds will go to the Franciscan Children’s foundation. Tea hats and spring party attire are recommended.
Philadelphia: Head to Center City where The Rittenhouse will be hosting A Royal Wedding View Party ($100) complete with live coverage. Starting at 7:30am, guests will enjoy a delightful tea service, including a sweetly romantic wedding cake and endless Pimm’s Cups and sparkling wine.
The Ritz-Carlton Washington, D.C. is planning a Royal Wedding Viewing Party ($75) from 6am onwards. Partygoers will enjoy a decadent breakfast with a modern take on British fare, such as freshly baked scones and crumpets, bangers and traditional British gammon. Prizes will be awarded to guests wearing the ascot, crowns, fascinator or bonnet that best exudes the classic British style of the Royal Family. For folks seeking their own wedding extravaganza, the Ritz-Carlton has put together the Crown Jewel Royal Wedding Experience, a package starting at a cool $1 million.
The Fairmont Washington D.C., Georgetown has created a two-night Royal Wedding Guest Package, including round trip airfare from anywhere in the United States for two guests and two canine companions, with accommodation in the hotel’s Royal Suite with a personal chef and an invitation to the exclusive Royal Garden Party, which will last from 10:00 am to 12:00 noon and feature photo ops with royal look-alikes, Royal Guards, Pimm’s cups and tea fare. Prizes will be awarded for the best hats and fascinators.
The Caribbean: In Cobà, the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Anguilla is hosting a Royal Wedding Watch Party beginning at 7:00 am. The menu will include traditional breakfast favorites, plus English scones, clotted cream, homemade jam and traditional English finger sandwiches. Large screen televisions will air the festivities live. Anguilla is a British Overseas Territory under the jurisdiction and sovereignty of the United Kingdom, so they know how to do this properly: guests are encouraged to wear hats in honor of the British tradition, and there will also be a royal trivia game.
3. Central (CT): 6 a.m. and Mountain Time (MT): 5 a.m.
Chicago: In 1996, Princess Diana visited The Windy City and stayed at the Drake Hotel – passionate royal enthusiasts can even try booking the same room that she stayed in. The hotel has ongoing events throughout the month to celebrate the royal wedding, but on the big day itself there will be a Royal Luncheon ($80) in the Grand Ballroom. The event will feature a pre-recorded screening of the wedding, and will serve the exact same menu it served to Princess Diana 21 years ago. There will also be a Royal Wedding Reception Gala ($100) in the evening that will feature a full musical set by Chicago’s very own “Queen” of Cabaret, Denise Tomasello and her 17 piece orchestra.
4. Pacific Time (PT): 4 a.m.
San Francisco: The grand dame hotel Fairmont San Francisco is offering guests an exclusive Prince & Princess Penthouse Package, featuring a luxurious one-night stay in the opulent 6,000 square foot Penthouse suite. The hotel is partnering with its sister property, The Savoy, to provide its esteemed butler service straight from London.
Finally, just to dream a little dream, if you happened to be aboard one of the “Three Queens” of luxury cruise line Cunard – the Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth – on the big day at sea, there will be special viewing parties and celebrations. It begins with Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea with specially created cakes including the Union Jack Butterfly, Chocolate Crown, and Victoria Wedding Cake. Celebration cocktails will include the Princess Bride, The King’s Steed, Midnight Over the Atlantic and P.S. I Love You. The party continues with a champagne dinner and a dessert of celebration cake, modelled after the royal couple’s actual cake and made of lemon and elderflower.
Actually, if you aren’t attending the wedding, these sound like pretty fine luxurious alternatives for a splendid and celebratory day. Enjoy!