Prince Harry & Meghan’s wedding reception won’t involve a sit-down lunch

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visit the Eikon Centre in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, to attend an event to mark the second year of youth-led peace-building initiative Amazing the Space

I’ve just embraced the fact that this week is all about building anticipation for the Royal Wedding. I’m obsessed, and I hope many of you are obsessed too. So, here are more details about EVERYTHING! First off, Harry and Meghan are not going to see each other for about 16 hours before the wedding. Per tradition, Meghan and Harry will sleep in separate locations on the eve of their wedding. Harry – and William – will spend Friday night in Coworth Park. Meghan and her mom will stay at Cliveden House Hotel. As for the wedding reception, apparently… it’s not going to be a sit-down lunch. At all.

It won’t be a big sit-down lunch for the 600 lucky guests attending the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday. Their friends and family will be served bowls of food and canapés — all prepared with classic seasonal produce, drawn largely from Queen Elizabeth’s royal estates. The sweet and savoury welcome nibbles are made to be consumed in two bites, while the bowl dishes are designed so they can be eaten standing up.

This will ensure that Harry, 33, and Meghan, 36 — who will arrive at the party after their carriage ride through Windsor — can get around to talk to as many of their guests as possible. The Queen is hosting the couple’s guests in the castle’s St. George’s Hall following the marriage service at St. George’s Chapel on May 19. The couple have already visited the kitchens at Windsor Castle, and tasted and selected the wedding reception menu.

Royal chef Mark Flanagan is leading the team who will put the finishing touches to the canapés and bowl dishes being served during the afternoon celebration. Flanagan told reporters, “The day of the wedding has fallen very kindly for us. All the British vegetables are just coming into season. That’s been a point of focus for us.”

[From People]

I’ll say it: I would be mad. I would be mad if I was a peasant invited to the wedding and wedding reception, and I had to buy a new suit and fascinator, go through complicated parking/second location logistics just to make it to the chapel three hours ahead of Meghan and Harry, and then the royals weren’t even going to give me a proper meal after all of that. According to the chef, the hors d’oeuvres (that’s what they are!!!) will probably just be local, seasonal dishes made from peas, tomatoes, etc. And to top it all off, they’re giving their guests slices of lemon cake (which is nice, but I bet there won’t be enough to go around).

Also: people are already thinking about when we’ll next see Meghan and Harry AFTER the wedding. They’ve scheduled an appearance at the 70th birthday garden-party for the Prince of Wales on May 22nd. There’s also some talk of Meghan and Harry putting in an appearance at the Chelsea Flower Show next Monday (May 21). Who knows?

Prince Harry and fiancee Meghan Markle during a visit to Cardiff Castle as part of their royal duties

Photos courtesy of PCN, Backgrid and WENN.

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74 Responses to “Prince Harry & Meghan’s wedding reception won’t involve a sit-down lunch”

  1. Lala says:

    It’s the Royal Family…there will be more than enough cake!!!!! And I personally don’t have an issue with this setup…especially due to the number of people and the fact that another reception is happening later on that night, which I’m sure will have a proper sit-down dinner….

    • Dee says:

      One can ABSOLUTELY give a full and delicious meal with only passed hors d’oeuvres. I’ve been to amazing parties with warm mini,-one-bite, Beef Wellingtons, lovely skewered shrimp, tiny potato latkes with horseradish cream, dill, and smoked salmon. Just thinking about it makes me hungry! I think this way of holding a circulating chatty cocktail party-style wedding lunch is WAY more fun and social than a sit-down meal.

    • Sabrine says:

      I’ve made a good meal out of this kind of food and the lemon cakes sounds divine. I see nothing wrong with this, more chance for mingling. Also, later on there will be a dinner so what’s the problem?

    • Morning Coffee says:

      Sounds very modern. I like it.

    • MostlyMegan says:

      Okay, there is a communication gap here across the pond. To clarify, the ‘wedding breakfast’ served directly after the wedding is NOT the main meal, although it can be a sit-down affair, the main sit down meal is always in the evening, complete with toasts etc. Normally there is a reception with bites and champagne directly after the ceremony (or a sit down ‘breakfast’ if you are being very formal – which is a light lunch) and then in the evening (outfit change for the bride in this case) a sit-down meal with a pared-down guest list, dancing etc. Will and Kate did a more formal reception wedding breakfast and a sit down meal (2 meals), whereas Meg and Harry are going to have one big meal and one reception with bites.

    • RoseMary says:

      According to Google, Will & Kate did the same thing. No sit down breakfast. I was shocked.

    • imqrious2 says:

      LOL Sounds like a Jewish wedding, only we do the hors d’oeuvres (and cocktails, for an evening affair) *before* the ceremony (plates and drinks are brought in to the bride and attendents), so the guests come and schmooze, relax have a bite so no one faints before the ceremony lol. Then, the ceremony, then off to a big, sit down dinner. No one EVER goes hungry… it’s against our religion! 😊

    • milky says:

      Will and Kate had canapes, champagne and 2 cakes for their afternoon reception at BP. They also mingled with all of their guests, the same thing H&M will be doing. But I’m guessing there were tables and seating too lol. So that’s a slight difference.

  2. minx says:

    I believe you give your wedding guests a meal. If there are too many guests to accomplish that then you cut down on the number of people.

  3. JA says:

    I’d be so pissed! When you’re a guest at a wedding one of the things you look forward to is the food and cake!! I went to one persons wedding and it was champagne and dry ass cake,ugh! I’m Hispanic so even the families that had very little still had meals for their guests at weddings, brisket, beans, bread, nachos …SOMETHING!!! Sorry not sorry, makes the royals look cheap AF!

    • Lara says:

      If been to weddings with sit down meals and with canapé style food, in my experience, the amount of food per person (and the amount eaten by each person is much lager with canapés.
      There are better chances everybody finds something fitting for there nutritional requirements (600 people, how many are lactose or gluten intolerant, have allergys or are vegetrarians or vegans?) and you can eat for hours.
      The only problem, from planing my own wedding at the moment, it is far more expensive than a sit down meal.

  4. OriginalLala says:

    is this for the actual invited guests? or for the not-really guests who sit outside? There are so many “tiers’ of guests at these royal wedding I am confused.

    I’m Italian Canadian, our weddings involve enough food to feed small countries. Canapes and appetizers as the wedding meal would be unacceptable, invite fewer people and feed them properly lol.

  5. Digital Unicorn says:

    I’ve been to a few weddings where there was more of a ‘help yourself’ buffet type setup – the bride did it that way as it was easier to cater for those with differing dietary needs (vegetarians, food intolerances etc..). There was a lovely wide selection of foods that people could choose from – i thought it was a great idea.

  6. mkyarwood says:

    Isn’t there usually a wedding breakfast for society type do’s? And perhaps the seated reception isn’t part of the public noise.

  7. Darla says:

    Reading this all I can think of is what would happen to my sciatica if I sat in a church for 3 hours and then another, what? hour or more once they arrive. Forget about it, would never happen. I turn down invitations all the time because of this. If I have to sit for more than two hours the answer is gonna be no. I often wonder if any of these people have any physical issues? I guess they are all perfect. I dunno. Not me.

    • minx says:

      I have the opposite problem, standing for any length of time. I would hate trying to eat standing up while my knees ached lol.

      • Chaine says:

        Me too! I have been to multiple events the past few years where there was a buffet line and a bar, but nowhere to sit down to eat–just lots of those standing-only tables. I assumed the idea was to force people to take smaller amounts of food and get done more quickly. I absolutely can’t stand it–I’m short and the tables are always too tall for eating standing for me, and there are never enough of them, so many people end up standing in groups awkwardly trying to balance a plate and fork and drink, it’s hideous and always makes me feel as if the host is treating me cheaply.

    • Maria says:

      I don’t know if it means people will have to stand the whole time. It just means it won’t be a formal lunch. Sitting is a killer for sciatica. The TENS unit is great for that and standing for hours I’d have to wear running shoes.

    • Meggles says:

      The problem is, someone with medical problems sitting can more or less always chose to stand instead, but a person with medical issues standing (which is far, far more common) does not have the option to sit at a standing event. Unless they want to leave and go find a random chair somewhere on the outskirts of the room or maybe even outside, assuming there are chairs at all.

      • Boudica says:

        I have osteoarthritis in both knees, and have turned down many events over the past five years because standing for any length of time is out of the question for me now. I am constantly surprised at how people with this sort of problem are not taken into account with a lot of event planning.

  8. Tina says:

    This isn’t the evening reception, which Charles is throwing at Frogmore House and is for about 200 people. This is the wedding breakfast. It’s perfectly fine to give people substantial canapés and bowl food. (That said, I hate bowl food, because I have to put my drink down somewhere and there’s never anywhere to put it).

    And I wouldn’t be surprised if they turned up at Chelsea Flower Show – I saw Harry there once, the year he had his Sentebale garden. I think he likes gardens (which is endearing).

    • OriginalLala says:

      I am a bit confused about bowl food, like soup? or like a burrito bowl? or is it a very specific British dish?

      • Olivia says:

        Bowl food is served in small bowls. The idea is you hold your drink and the bowl in one hand and use a small fork or spoon to eat the food out of the bowl. It’s usually very small portions of main courses. Like risotto, paella or vegetable stew. It’s very trendy and not particularly practical. It’s become popular for wedding receptions because people get “real” food but you’re not giving full portions. So some people do it for savings. Some people do it just because it’s trendy. I expect it’s the latter in this case. I’m not fond of bowl food. You can never have a bowl and a drink at the same time. The last time my husband and I went to a reception that served bowl food, we had to take turns eating. He held my drink while I ate and vice versa. It was a pain in the butt.

      • Veronica T says:

        Olivia, that bowl food thing sounds like the dumbest thing I have ever heard!! Are you in the US? At our cocktail hours, we have a drink in one hand, and the food is generally finger foods. You can grab it with a toothpick, you put it on a napkin, and eat it in one bite, usually. Little quiches, fried shrimp, scallops wrapped in bacon, little weiners!! HAHAH!! Love those weiners!!

      • emerald eyes says:

        There is simply no way to hold a bowl, fork and drink and feed yourself.

    • Deedee says:

      little bowls with two bite appetizers

  9. Beth says:

    That really sucks. Guests have been served a sit-down meal at every wedding I’ve been to, and none of them were rich and royal. Are the RF being cheap with food as a way to not waste taxpayers money ?

    • Deedee says:

      Because of all the prep work involved, fancy hors d’oeuvres can be much more expensive than a sit-down meal.

    • minx says:

      IMO they’re the British Royal family, they can seat a huge number of people. It’s not like they don’t have the china and silverware 😂

      • Argonaut says:

        yeah this is clearly harry and meghan’s choice, this is not an issue of a lack of funds or space or china for a full sit-down meal like any other couple you know who did this at their wedding. this is a deliberate choice and what the couple wants.

    • Olivia says:

      I suspect they’re doing it to get people in and out as quickly as possible. Sit down meals can last hours. This is more along the lines of “get people in, give them a snack, greet as many as possible and get them out the door.” Then the evening reception lasts longer.

      • emerald eyes says:

        It’s all about efficiency, to be sure.

      • milky says:

        I’ve been to quite a few weddings where the reception is held the next evening. Much better for cultural weddings where the ceremonies are sometimes longer. The wedding breakfast is after the ceremony and the reception follows the next evening/night. Nobody has to rush, especially the bride! Usually, the wedding ceremony and breakfast have fewer guests than the reception – or receptions if there’s going to be 2. That’s why I don’t understand the fuss with Pippa’s wedding last year! It’s normal to have intimate family/friends at the ceremony and invite more people to the reception.

  10. Oliver's mom says:

    My wedding didn’t have a “sit down” dinner. Which did not in anyway mean that there wasn’t more than enough food. We just didn’t force everyone to sit in assigned seats and eat a plate of food from a menu. We had cafe style tables and chairs, which people could sit at, or move around, couches and comfy chairs. Tons of passed hors d’eouvres and then “stations” set up with additional food. Meatballs, roast beef, pizza, pasta, you name it. It was considered more of a “cocktail” style wedding reception. Frankly, everyone was stuffed, and everyone got cake (plus additional desserts).

    It’s a little less formal, but the food was way better, and we avoided the stuffy assigned seating tables. Sit down dinners are not the best, they are boring and formal and “sit down” does not equate “good food”.

    Until I hear otherwise, I’ll give the royals the benefit of the doubt that there will be plenty of delicious food served.

    • Darla says:

      Your wedding sounds great, and right up my alley. I wish more were like this.

    • BrandyAlexander says:

      I really like the idea of that. The food sounds great. My experience makes me dread weddings without assigned seating though. My husband and I travelled for the wedding of his cousin recently, and they didn’t do assigned seating. We tried to sit with his family, only to be told there was no room for us at every family table there. Also, there were not 2 seats available at any table for us to sit together. When we took our food to a hightop table in the bar area (10 feet from the tables under the tent), some people at a nearby table asked us to take their seats because they were already finished eating. We ended up at a table of strangers to us, but they were all family or friends of each other, so it was kind of awkward.

  11. Lucky Charm says:

    A Duggar wedding reception, royal style, lol!

  12. Beluga says:

    What about the evening meal? A lighter lunch would make sense if there’s a larger dinner later on before the partying into the night.

  13. Kyliegirl says:

    This is following the same format at William and Kate’s wedding. At their afternoon reception they had heavy hors d’oeuvres or finger food and mingled with the guests. The dinner was the more formal affair.
    https://www.thespruceeats.com/royal-wedding-menu-1665885

  14. Lizabeth says:

    I think the kind of food is fine. I am sure that it will be easy to “fill up” with the quantity & variety of food offered. It doesn’t sound like “chips and dip” subbing for lunch to me. What I have a quarrel with at receptions I’ve attended is that if there isn’t a “sit down” meal offered, it’s often impossible to sit down! There may be a few tables reserved for the bridal party and elderly relatives but that’s it. The idea that everyone else will mingle sounds good (albeit maybe a bit naive— guests have a connection to the bride and/or groom but not necessarily to each other and if guests aren’t hoping to meet potential future dates….) But after a few hours standing in heels my feet get tired. And at family weddings in far away towns I usually don’t know alot of people (except members of my family) nor am I likely to ever see most of the non-family guests ever again so there is a limit to the amount of mingling I want to do. (Yeah, I’m a bit introverted) I’d rather be able to sit down and visit with people I do know & rarely see. But a “mingling” reception can be preferable to me to a formal sit-down meal where I have to make conversation for many hours with the groom’s mother’s next door neighbor who lives 500 miles away from me!

  15. Bridget says:

    People keep trying to look at this like a normal person’s wedding, which it’s not. It may not be a state wedding, but it’s still far more in line with the royal events than it is is normal folks. Big wedding ceremony followed by cake and canapés, where the bride and groom can mingle and thank their guests for coming. Then later that evening a more traditional dinner & dancing reception for the close friends and family.

    • Olivia says:

      It’s following with William and Kate did but all previous royal weddings had proper sit down wedding breakfasts/luncheons. The canapes followed by a later reception is a new phenomenon that William and Kate ushered in. Charles and Di had a proper wedding luncheon. So did Andrew and Fergie. And Edward and Sophie. Then after the wedding luncheons, the various couples left on their honeymoon. William and Kate wanted a more intimate party for their friends so that’s how they planned their wedding. So it’s not necessarily a royal thing. It’s just the way the couples want it.

      • Bridget says:

        The nearest comparison is still at least 20 years previous. Times change – what people do with weddings, especially. But again, the way that people are reading it is as though it’s the same as a normal wedding, and not feeding guests at all. There is a normal reception and dinner. It’s just later.

      • emerald eyes says:

        Yes, the real reception is later. The event after the ceremony is more like an elaborate work meet and greet.

      • Lizabeth says:

        While I agree it hasn’t been traditional for the BRF before W&K, I think not having a meal at the reception is fine. But to those saying they are having a dinner, it’s just later that day….well yes, but that dinner is for only 200 of the 600 guests invited to the ceremony and reception. The media has reported some of the people “left out” of the dinner invite like Harry’s old girlfriends, Fergie, Pippa, and so on. Those particular reports may not be true but it does sound like 400 people invited to the ceremony and to the canape reception are not invited to the dinner.

  16. Cerys says:

    I hate stand-around functions with no seats. I’m glad I’m not going. Lol

  17. Oliver's mom says:

    Why does everyone equate “no sit down lunch” with “no seats available at all”. No where does it state that there won’t be any seating. Think garden party or cocktail hour – there will likely be some seats available for those who want/need to sit. Just not formally set tables for a sit down lunch.

    • Lizabeth says:

      Many of us have wondered about seating for several reasons Oliver’s Mom. It’s been my own  experience at too many “canape” wedding receptions that seats are in short supply perhaps in part because one *can* eat finger foods standing up. In my experience those planning receptions often vastly under-estimate how many guests would like to sit down. There may be (a limited number) of high pub tables to allow a place to put a drink down but that’s not the same as having a seat! Those who do snag unreserved seats at real tables tend to hold onto their seats the entire time by leaving wraps handbags etc if they do get up for any reason. Plus, a reception immediately following the ceremony differs in important ways from a cocktail or garden party. For one thing, the guests all arrive at pretty much the same time. And where I live it’s considered rude to leave a reception before the wedding cake is cut and often guests are expected to stay until the bride and groom depart. That means many guests may be left standing for a 2+ hour stretch. Cocktail and garden parties are typically “drop in” affairs so there is often a natural rotation of guests (and places to sit!)

      • Oliver's mom says:

        I think that you’re making a lot of assumptions about a lack of seating.

      • Lizabeth says:

        Well sure, I’m making assumptions Oliver’s Mom. Everyone here is making assumptions about alot of things about this wedding as none of us are “in the know.” But I do stand by my contention that a reception for 600 immediately following the ceremony with all guests arriving at the same time and most guests likely leaving at the same time differs greatly from a US-style cocktail party with staggered arrival and departure times. And I do believe based on my experience as a guest at weddings (esp in the last 10-15 yrs) that many brides and grooms over-estimate the degree of “mingling” among guests that will occur if finger foods are served and people aren’t seated. Sure, guests know the bride and/or groom but they don’t necessarily know each other. And people usually aren’t in a “cocktail party” frame of mind at a mid-day reception.

      • emerald eyes says:

        Yes, I find it’s much easier to make the rounds of people seated at tables, rather than trying to thread your way through people standing around chatting and scarfing down finger food.

  18. Nancypants says:

    I make entire meals of appetizers all the time but that all veggie thing doesn’t have me salivating. Could I get a grilled shrimp or something?

    Peas? Peas are vile. I’m a grown-up! I don’t have to eat peas if I don’t want to! (smirk)

    I do love appetizers done well. Southerners and Greeks know how to do it and I’d need a chair or bench or ROCK or something to sit on after awhile or I might butt-plant the lawn with my fancy dress up over my head.

    A low tea or high tea would be nice.

  19. Patty says:

    I’ve been to plenty of early morning and late evening weddings that simply have a cake reception. Which means cake, drinks, and usually small appetizer. You don’t have to have a big sit down dinner at your wedding reception; it’s not required. Sure lots of people do it but it doesn’t mean there aren’t other other options. The key is just making sure your guest know what type of reception you’re having and it looks like Harry and Meghan have done just that.

  20. Molly says:

    As one who is planning a wedding (on a much smaller budget!), I feel vindicated in my choice to go with heavy hors d’oevres instead of a sit-down – for exactly the same reason. It’s a party and people should be moving around the room. Good enough for Meg and Harry, good enough for my guests!

  21. MaryRose says:

    Will & Kate did the same thing. Passed canapés and no sit down meal. Apparently, the max the kitchen can handle is 150 quests for a sit down meal. H&M are having 600, and W&K had 650.

  22. TheOriginalMia says:

    My cousin had canapés and drinks after her wedding before the sit down dinner. We mingled with family and friends. We sat when we could. The world didn’t end between the after wedding social hour and the reception dinner. Much ballyhoo about nothing. Just something else to bash Harry & Meghan about.

  23. Becks1 says:

    I agree with another poster that this doesn’t mean there won’t be seating available. And two hours of standing and mingling is fine (it sounds to me like almost an American cocktail hour, where there is usually limited seating for the first hour or so of the reception.) It also doesn’t mean they aren’t going to feed their guests. I’m sure there is going to be more food than a bowl of salad and one canapé.

    Keep in mind that this isn’t the equivalent of the average bride planning her reception and providing one chair for every 20 guests. the people doing the heavy lifting here, planning wise, are palace professionals who know what they are doing.

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