Pippa Middleton Wedding: 5 Ways Pippa’s Wedding Signals a Return to Tradition

Kate’s younger sister wed a whole six years after her. However, somebody must have told Pippa that all eyes would be on her. She could not embarrass Kate with a sub-par wedding. Well, instead she shined. We know that you’ve seen at least one photo of Pippa’s wedding by now.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know about her dress, her flowers, how cute Princess Charlotte looked in her bridesmaid’s dress, and how prohibitively expensive the whole thing was.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Matthews leaving St. Mark's Church, Englefield, after tying the knot on 20th May.

Indeed, it seems no expense was spared when Pippa married hedge fund manager, James Matthews, near her family home in Bucklebury, Berkshire. The total bill supposedly surpassed £300,000.

Certainly, the younger Middleton sister’s nuptials paid homage to the traditional English country wedding. And perhaps, we hope, they signalled a return.

St Mark’s Church in Englefield, Berkshire, where Pippa Middleton married James Matthews

Far from setting any new trends, Pippa instead ticked all the boxes of a truly classic English summer wedding.

So, for brides inspired by Pippa’s style, we found five ways she brought back tradition. And, tips for how you can recreate it without the massive price tag.

1) The Dress

The moment photos of Pippa and James outside Englefield Parish Church surfaced everyone started talking about her dress. And who can blame them?

Pippa’s wedding dress was an absolutely stunning top-to-toe lace A-line number, custom-made by British designer, Giles Deacon.

Its high neckline is heavily reminiscent of Grace Kelly’s wedding dress when she married Prince Ranier of Monaco in 1956. Its cap sleeves and keyhole back detail, meanwhile, are more modern nods to current fashion trends.

The new Mrs Matthews' dress featured top-to-toe lace, a high neckline and cap sleeves

Emma Meek, of Miss Bush bridal boutique in Ripley, Surrey, believes that Pippa’s dress is in keeping with current fashion.

“Her wedding dress channels a lot of trends we’ve seen emerging for an increasingly modest British look,” Emma says.

“The great thing about the Middletons is that they’re not fashion game-changers, they just remind us that it can actually be cool to have a classic British wedding… A lot of the brides who come to our shop are already looking for similar dresses to Pippa’s.”

Emma also agrees that images circulating online promoting edgier wedding trends are misleading. The good old traditional English wedding is still alive and well and is here to stay.

Clockwise from top left: "7069" by Jesus Peiro; "Nikol" by Atelier Pronovias; "Elvira" by Atelier Pronovias; "Castelao" by Yolan Cris

Of course, you cannot recreate Pippa’s dress. Costing a reported £40,000, the Giles Deacon creation was a one-off. But that doesn’t mean that brides inspired by Pippa’s style can’t find their own version.

Emma recommends looking to designers such as Atelier Pronovias, Yolan Cris, and Jesus Peiro. Their current collections feature similarly modest, yet undeniably fashionable and timeless gowns.

2) The Flowers

You might not even have noticed Pippa’s bouquet at first glance. The dainty posy she chose to carry was so small and almost entirely white.

While it was perhaps not awe-inspiring, the flowers in Pippa’s understated bouquet were almost entirely locally-grown British varieties. They were also in keeping with traditional wedding flowers

So, what did Pippa’s bouquet consist of? According to Tarnia Williams, an independent florist in Pippa’s home county of Berkshire, the bouquet included ivory peonies, sweet peas, freesias, wax flower, and pale pink astilbe with touches of thlaspi green bell.

A similar bouquet to Pippa's containing peonies and David Austin roses created by Tarnia Williams. Photo courtesy of Hannah McClune Photography.

Tarnia says the bouquet and flower crowns were “delicately wired”, which would naturally increase the cost. “To create this wired design is very time consuming, although wonderfully light to carry,” she says. “The wires are necessary due to most of the flowers being so small and delicate.”

Recreating this bouquet doesn’t have to be costly, however, if you’re hoping to take your floral cues from Pippa. Tarnia suggests using oasis instead of wiring, and to use David Austin Patience roses if peonies are out of season. This would avoid hiking up costs by importing your flowers.

Some of the flowers included in Pippa's bouquet: Sweet Pea; Pink Astilbe; Freesia; Peony

When it comes to the bouquet’s size, however, Tarnia says she wouldn’t change a thing. “I often tell my brides to be conscious of the size of their bouquets. I recommend keeping them within their frame… otherwise an oversize bouquet could compromise the beautiful dress and silhouette,” she says.

Recreating this bouquet on a larger scale would only drive up the cost and would lose the delicate effect. Pippa did it perfectly.

3) The Marquee

There’s nothing more quintessentially British than a garden marquee wedding. However, Pippa and her new husband took that concept to the extreme. They spent an estimated £100,000 on this aspect of their day alone! They had a glass marquee erected in the garden of Pippa’s parents’ home in Bucklebury.

A gorgeous example of a clearspan marquee, to create an inexpensive version of Pippa's reception space, provided by Somerset's Abbas Marquees

The massive structure was large enough to fit their estimated 300 guests and was reportedly serviced by “ultra-luxury portaloos”.

Although marquee weddings are heavily traditional, Pippa and James certainly went the extra mile by having theirs constructed from glass. This is a costly thing to do, but one that made their reception venue stand out and which doubtless would have been impressive inside and out.

Top: Part clear and part lined marquee
Bottom: Clearspan Frame marquee
Both by Abbas Marquees, Somerset

But giving your own wedding celebrations a similar setting doesn’t have to cost the earth. Abbas Marquees of Somerset is just one marquee company already offering alternatives, such as Clear Span Frame marquees, which their representative, Hayley Beard, says are already a popular choice.

“These are made from clear plastic rather than glass but still look stunning,” she assures. “You can also have a clear roof and windows over the dance floor leaving the dining section lined with chandeliers and fairy lights,” Hayley advises, “[And] pea lights or festoon lights can be placed along the framework to add some lighting at night.”

A gorgeous example of a clearspan marquee, to create an inexpensive version of Pippa's reception space, provided by Somerset's Abbas Marquees

Marquees are ever-popular due to their size and versatility, and endless options to decorate them both inside and out.

Pippa and James’ choice to host their reception in a glass marquee, while not exactly trend-setting, could still see the ushering in of increased enthusiasm for this wedding tradition and put a new twist on an old classic.

4) The Bridesmaids and Pageboys

It’s not often anymore that you see bridal parties almost entirely comprised of children, as opposed to close friends of the bride and groom. Yes, the American tradition of a (sometimes absurdly large) group of the bride’s best friends has more or less become the norm here in the UK.

But Pippa and James chose to firmly return to the British tradition of only having the young children of close family and friends play the roles of bridesmaids and pageboys. Prince George and Princess Charlotte predictably took centre stage, while James’ Best Man served as the only adult featured in the bridal party.

Page Boy photographed by Judith Parkyn

Despite requiring a good deal of herding from dutiful older sister, Kate in order to keep the children in line before the procession, there is nonetheless a simplicity and beauty in this tradition that has been lost in recent years. Pippa’s wedding, however, may well encourage a return to it.

Bridesmaid photographed by Judith Parkyn

Yes, entrusting any duties during a wedding to children can be a bit risky, but you can also guarantee that cute kids in cute outfits will be crowd-pleasers. (Their complaints over what you make them wear will likely be stifled by their parents).

It would also save you the occasionally awkward process of having to choose your bridesmaids from your group of friends, thereby avoiding inadvertently insulting anyone, and potentially saving you quite a few headaches.

5) The Suits

Although the morning suit is still very much present at weddings, if you believe wedding inspiration sites like Pinterest, its popularity is waning. Instead of donning the traditional tails and double-breasted waistcoats characteristic of a morning suit, modern grooms seem to be increasingly in favour of less formal, more relaxed suits. They can even occasionally wear jeans with button-down shirts and waistcoats.

Of course, this trend wouldn’t be appropriate for the likes of James Matthews or Pippa’s royal brothers-in-law, and so it was strictly back to tradition for the men in attendance at the Matthews wedding.

Examples of wedding suits from Suits Newbury

It is interesting noting, however, that all the gentlemen present at Pippa and James’ nuptials wore more typical button-down shirts and ties underneath their waistcoats. This is opposed to cravats and wing collared shirts which are often more common at weddings. The same was true at Kate and William’s wedding in 2011.

So, why a normal tie as opposed to the presumably more formal cravat? We spoke to Mark Fish of Suits Newbury in Berkshire just after the wedding.

“[Normal ties] are a hang through from royal occasions such as Ascot, where the dress code is strictly ties. It’s a change from the Edwardian period when cravats were more popular.”

Examples of wedding suits from Suits Newbury

As for the other details of the gents’ suits, “They all follow the classic underlying feature of a double-breasted waistcoat, with really classic and understated colours such as light blues and yellows,” Mark points out.

He is also quick to admit that this more formal style has fallen out of favour recently, but anticipates the wedding of the new Mr. and Mrs. Matthews may bring it back into style .“And if theirs doesn’t,” he speculated, “Harry’s wedding probably will.”

What do you think? Will weddings return to their traditional roots? Talk to us below!

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