It’s a fairy tale that couldn’t have been better scripted by Hollywood if it tried: American actress (and Northwestern alum) Meghan Markle will marry her British prince, Henry Charles Albert David, aka Harry, on May 19.
Whether you’re an Anglophile or just looking for an excuse to get your party on, here’s how to celebrate the royal wedding Chicago-style.
Where to Watch
Meghan is set to start her walk down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel at noon London time, which is 6 a.m. in Chicago. “Pre-game” coverage on TV and the web will actually kick off hours earlier, so it’s a safe bet that most Chicagoans tuning in live will do so from the comfort of their living room couch.
To help pass the time, our friendly neighbors to the north at the Canadian Broadcast Corp. have created a downloadable royal wedding bingo card. Check off squares like “Kate wears beige pumps,” which, trust us, is a hilarious joke to royal watchers.
A number of viewing parties, including a shindig at the Drake, have already sold out, but for folks capable of socializing pre-dawn, R Public House in Rogers Park is opening its doors at 5:45 a.m. The bar, 1508 W. Jarvis, will be serving tea and scones.
Fathom Events is hosting “The Big Day on the Big Screen” at theaters across the country, including a handful in the Chicago area. This “encore performance” will feature commercial-free coverage provided by UK network ITV and will run at a more palatable 10 a.m. Tickets are $10. AMC River East and Century 12 Evanston/CineArts 6 are among the participating Chicago theaters.
What to Wear
The dress code for Meghan and Harry’s 600 invited guests is “day dress and hats” for women and “uniforms, morning coats or lounge suits [translation: suit]” for men.
No judgment against those who watch while wearing their PJs but if you want to play along at home, a wackadoodle hat is an absolute must for the ladies. (See: the “toilet seat” hat Princess Beatrice wore to Will and Kate’s wedding in 2011.)
Neiman-Marcus has a terrific selection of toppers by some of the Royal Family’s go-to milliners — Jane Taylor, Rachel Trevor Morgan and Philip Treacy — with price tags fit for a queen.
Crafty commoners will want to check out budget friendly DIY fascinator options. Don’t know your way around a hot glue gun? Shop Susan Hat, 7231 N. Sheridan. We’re partial to the goth sun hat, perfect for a spring wedding.
Guys get off easy, per usual. We think a top hat or bowler, like the ones sold at Goorin in Wicker Park, would look brilliant, but according to etiquette experts, the Queen would not be amused. Just be sure to polish your shoes, fellas.
Have a spot of tea
Once the “I dos” are over, the newlyweds will take a carriage ride to Windsor Castle for a nuptial luncheon.
To keep the party going stateside, treat yourself (after a much-needed power nap) to that most British of traditions, afternoon tea, which is offered at a surprising number of places in Chicago.
Our top picks include the Virgin Hotel Chicago’s Upside Down Tea Party in the Commons Club, 1-4 p.m., 203 N. Wabash. On Saturday, the menu will include a mini version of Meghan and Harry’s much ballyhooed elderflower-lemon wedding cake.
The next best thing to being in London is tea at LondonHouse Chicago, 85 E. Wacker, served daily 1-4 p.m. in the Bridges Lounge. Reservations are recommended.
Cafe Coralie, with locations at 600 Davis Street and 633 Howard Street, serves tea near Meghan’s old Northwestern stomping grounds, noon to 4 p.m. daily. As a royal wedding special, the cafe is taking orders through Thursday for a lemon-elderflower-blackberry cake, $24. .
To host a tea at home, pick up scones at Wicker Park’s Scone City, 1632 W. Division. A dozen mini scones cost $20, with gluten-free and vegan options available.
For home bakers, recipes abound online for lemon-elderflower repli-cakes, most of which are insanely complicated. That’s why Meghan and Harry are leaving the job to American expat Claire Ptak, who trained under Alice Waters. We recommend, instead, this simple loaf cake recipe we found at The Kitchn. Style it with peonies, Meghan’s favorite flower, for an added royal touch.
Toast the happy couple
No rest for the weary: Meghan and Harry will party the night away at an evening reception and you can too at The Drake’s royal wedding gala, complete with 17-piece orchestra, 140 E. Walton Place. Seating begins at 7 p.m. and reservations are required.
If pub grub is more your style, head to the Red Lion Lincoln Square, 4749 N. Rockwell St., where you can enjoy fish ‘n’ chips and pints of British beer surrounded by photos of Queen Victoria and QEII bobbleheads.
To toast the couple at home, skip the champagne and pour your guests glasses of Meghan’s favorite wine, Antinori Tignanello. She named her lifestyle blog Tig after this Tuscan red, stocked at Binny’s Beverage Depot locations across the city, $94.99 per bottle. (For those who don’t have a princess budget or the budget of an actress on a mid-tier basic cable TV show, a chianti from the same winery will only set you back $20.)
The after party
C’mon, this is Prince Harry. There will totally be an after party.
During a 2014 promotional stop in Chicago for her show “Suits,” Meghan confessed to frequenting Evanston’s 24-hour Burger King as an undergrad. To treat yourself to a late-night meal fit for a princess, we’re guessing she meant the BK at 1740 Orrington Road.
Bonus: Recreate the royal romance
Meghan and Harry reportedly first met for drinks at the members-only Soho House London. The Soho House Chicago outpost, 113-125 N. Green St., is less snooty, with designated areas open to the public, conveniently including a bar.
Soho House’s Chicken Shop is equipped with a rotisserie for chicken just in case you want to mirror Meghan and Harry’s proposal story, in which the prince allegedly popped the question while the two were roasting a chicken. Bring your own ring.
Patty Wetli is a local freelance writer.