Pippa Middleton marries in lavish, semi-royal wedding

Here comes the most famous bridesmaid in the world, now turned a happy bride.

Pippa Middleton, who nearly stole the spotlight at sister Kate Middleton's royal wedding in 2011, walked down the aisle herself Saturday, the undeniable star of her lavish nuptials despite the presence of her royal relatives — and a possible new royal duchess on the guest list.

Middleton, 33, wed her fiancee, millionaire financier James Matthews, 41, at an ancient English village church near the Bucklebury home of her wealthy parents, Carole and Michael Middleton, where Pippa grew up about 50 miles outside London.

Pippa wore a lace-encrusted creation from British designer Giles Deacon, who said in a statement issued by Middleton's publicist, Jo Milloy, that he was "thrilled" to work with Pippa on her wedding dress.

Present in the church, besides her parents and brother, James Middleton, were Duchess Kate of Cambridge, her husband, Prince William, and their children, Prince George, 3, and Princess Charlotte, 2, Pippa's nephew and niece, who served as page boy and bridesmaid respectively.

Duchess Kate wore a dusky pink dress by Alexander McQueen, according to British media reports, plus matching hat and shoes, and was seen shepherding the pageboys and bridesmaids, and also adjusting her sister's train at the entrance to the church.

The young royals were of keen interest to the world media, which quickly gobbled up pictures of George and Charlotte in their cute wedding finery, which included gold knee pants for George and a frilly dress with a huge dusky pink bow on the back for Charlotte. By all accounts, and despite some pre-wedding worries from mum about whether they'd behave, the two royal children apparently carried off their wedding duties with aplomb.

But the other major media target of interest was potential royal duchess-in-waiting Meghan Markle, Prince Harry's American actress girlfriend, a TV star (Suits), a divorcée and, at 35, three years older than Harry.

Markle, whose relationship with Harry has been chronicled with ever increasing intensity since they went public in November, is now considered a near-sure thing by the British media for a royal engagement announcement soon, even though Kensington Palace is officially zipped up on the topic.

Because Pippa became an unexpected star as a bridesmaid at Kate's royal wedding (thanks to her shapely behind), and since the obvious next wedding star is expected to be Markle, thus, the curiosity about her outfit for the Middleton/Matthews wedding. She was not in the church but is expected at the reception later.

After the wedding service in the 12th-century St.Mark's Church, Englefield, the wedding party, which included Matthews' best man, his brother Spencer, a rowdy reality TV star in Britain, and an estimated 350 guests, including celebrities, prepared to continue the celebrations at a cocktail reception at a nearby estate and a dinner-and-dancing knees-up affair on the ground of the Middleton mansion under huge marquees, including one of glass.

Middleton and Matthews announced their engagement in July. He gave her an Art Deco-style engagement ring with a 3-carat Asscher-cut center diamond in an eight-sided halo setting.

Pippa's wedding, lavish by British standards if not by royal standards (the 2011 nuptials in Westminster Abbey featured nearly 2,000 guests and cost millions), displayed the taste and attention to detail of both Pippa, a party planner, and her mother, Carole, who helped her family reach millionaire status through her online party supplies business.

Interest in Pippa's choices for flowers, food, even the luxury portable toilets (the "throne room"), has been intense. The wedding featured Scottish touches (bagpipes and haggis canapes) because Matthews' middle-class-but-rich family bought in 2008 a 10,000-acre Highlands estate near Loch Ness,  complete with castle and a Scottish courtesy title.

Officially, it was a private wedding, as Milloy, insisted in advance. But with the second, third, fourth and fifth-in-line to the throne present, the Middletons had to work hard to organize a non-royal private wedding in the glare of royal-level media attention.

For the most part, it seems they pulled it off.

© 2017 USA TODAY


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