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Royal Wedding: Dispatches from the Ritz-Carlton Watch Party

April 29, 2011 - 05:56 AM
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Dogs. In. Wedding. Dresses.14 Photos
Dogs. In. Wedding. Dresses. (Photo: Maura Judkis/TBD | Date: Apr. 29, 2011)

It is 5 a.m., and everyone is wearing hats. Feathered hats. Straw hats. Flowered hats. Tiny hats. As Kate Middleton prefers, fascinators. I'm at the Ritz Carlton's Royal Watch Party with approximately 250 other women who are dressed to the nines before the sun has even come up, all to eat scones with clotted cream and gasp over ohmigod, the wedding of the century. A report:

5:36: I arrive at the Ritz and am greeted by a harp player. And camera crews. The decorations in this room, for the enjoyment of those watching someone else's wedding, are nicer than the decorations that most of the people in this room will enjoy for their own weddings.

5:52: There is a glimpse of Kate Middleton's sleeve in the car. The entire room gasps.

6:01: Dress designer revealed: Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. Curiosity sated, a longer line forms at the breakfast buffet.

6:08: A woman at my table remarks that she has a crush on Prince Harry. A spoilsport, I inquire about that whole Nazi costume thing.

6:18: Prince William has difficulty fitting Kate's ring on her finger. A chill falls over the room. Wedding ruined! Oh, no, there it goes.

6:33: "This is as every wedding day should be." Expensive? "A day of hope." Ok, that too. You have probably ascertained by now that this is not the same breathless coverage you can expect from other liveblogs, like our sister site WJLA's.

6:37: Royal Wedding Watch brunch menu: Bangers, scones with clotted cream, bagel with lox. They are all delicious. They're temporarily out of the black pudding. Is Prince William's bald spot looking bigger?

6:42: People I hope to talk to here as soon as everyone's done eating: The women who have brought bride-and-groom-dressed pugs, the woman who stapled bags of British tea to her hat (she can probably reuse that for another occasion!), the dudes wearing kilts who have undoubtedly figured out that this is an excellent place to pick up girls.

7:00: Richard Olson is at a royal wedding party before sunrise, and is wearing a kilt. That means one of two things: He is either here with his girlfriend, or he's here to meet women, right? "I'm here with a friend, and she's a girl," he says. He and Jason Baletsa decided to dress for the occasion, with the former in a kilt, and the latter in a plastic crown. Because he has borrowed the kilt, he says he knows nothing about its lineage – something he's since learned you cannot be ignorant of when wearing a kilt. The wedding, so far, is "Impressive," he says. "As much of a spectacle as it is, it's good to see that it's classic, not overwrought with details." As for the estrogen level of the room, Olson says that this may be the most women he's ever been around at one time in his life. "I've never been to a bridal shower, but this must be what it's like." We're averaging about one man per every two tables.

7:15: They're officially married. The crowd here at the Ritz goes wild. Also, this:

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7:33: There is another Wedding of the Century, and it's happening here in this ballroom. It's between two dogs: One is a terrier named Prince William, and the other is a pug named Lady Lucy. Rambo, another pug, is the best man and ring bearer. There are actual rings. Rambo's owner Jan Boswell tells me that she is thrilled by the royal wedding so far: "Seeing it here, on the big screens, is fantastic. It makes you feel like you are there. They're such a handsome couple, It's so wonderful that Diana raised such wonderful boys." Boswell is wearing a brown straw hat with pearl detail. "I'd like to say I got it at a fancy shop, but I got it at Macy's." She's here with her two friends of ten years, the mothers of the lucky bride and groom. The dogs are really enjoying the royal wedding so far, says Mame Reilley, owner of little Lucy, who was sleeping on the floor. "She wouldn't get married anywhere other than the Ritz," says Reilley. I asked why Lady Lucy wasn't spending much time with her groom, who was sitting in someone else's lap, and panting. "She has a wandering eye," says Reilley.

7:45: Real, out-of-context quote from BBC announcer: "This is what we do in Hyde Park: We take a blanket, and we fill it with children."

7:54: My friend Nikki Schwab, of the Yeas and Nays column for the Examiner, has done an unofficial survey of hats. She reports that most women plan to reuse them for Kentucky Derby parties, Gold Cup, etc. Preakness was not included in that list, unsurprisingly, but I bet man-stallion Kegasus would love to be in this room full of women.

8:00: Time to announce the winners of the hat competition. A hush falls over the room. The women's winner, Sharon Larimer, is wearing a gigantic white hat. Men's winner is Richard Olson, the kilt dude. Says the announcer: "I know the tradition of the kilt, so please keep it down, sir." Hat correspondent Schwab talks to Larimer, and learns that her son, who is a designer for Anthropologie, made it for her.


8:21: No doubt one of the runners-up in the hat competition, Laura Anderson has attached bags of British tea to her chapeau. Tetleys is the predominant brand. Anderson says she is an avid tea drinker, and she brought them all back from London. She, too, is enamored with the wedding: "I was saying that it's really nice to see a global event with a happy ending." True! Anderson says that she considered that people would confuse her for a tea partier with all that tea on her hat, but since today is all about England, and not America, she's not too concerned. However, she has a different concern: "I don't think I'll be able to drink the tea after it's been on the hat."

8:27: THE KISS. Women everywhere cheer. CNN: "I would say it was longer and more passionate than Charles and Diana's."

8:33: Well, now that they've kissed, everyone seems to have lost interest. Dozens of hats leaving the room. CNN went to commercial, and the Ritz is playing some kind of elevator music to drown it out. Princess party is over!

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