In case you haven’t heard, there’s a wedding happening today. A royal one. When I took to the streets last week to ask east Londoners how they felt about the upcoming nuptials of Wills and Kate, it was clear a lot of people seemed – how shall I put this – indifferent to the union (see video). But come the big day, I’m hoping a shimmery veil of royal wedding excitement will descend on the East London Line, with parties spilling from our living rooms – where we’ll watch the vows on TV – to the bunting-lined streets. If you’re not one of the 1900 invited to the Royal Wedding, don’t worry; here’s how to make the most of your day off with the ELL guide to hosting a royal wedding party.
Most of the 1900 guests at the royal wedding will be served canapés after the Westminster Abbey service, with only a select 300 making it through to the sit-down dinner in Buckingham Palace that evening. Your party numbers are likely to be more modest, so you have lots of options to choose from. If you’re having people over to watch the 11am service on television then cakes and sandwiches should suffice. Raynors, the sandwich supplier to Buckingham Palace and winner of the British Sandwich Association award 2011, suggest salmon (supposedly Miss Middleton’s favourite). A few cucumber sandwiches should set a suitably regal tone, but they are incredibly dull and will invariably end up being left to one side.
You can really have fun with the cakes. The Union Jack is the motif of the day, so incorporate that into your designs. Make a pavlova, top with cream and add blueberries and strawberries in the Union flag’s pattern. Or head to Party Party in Dalston, a warehouse-sized shop that has a whole floor devoted to cake supplies. The shelves heave with raw materials – coloured icing paste, bags and bags of flour, all manner of sprinkles – as well as every size and shape of tin and mould. They can print any image you want onto icing which you can then lay on top of your cake – just think, you could have the royal couple’s faces looking up at you from your sponge. Or ask them to print Union Jacks, which you can cut out and place on Percy Ingle jam tarts and cherry bakewells. It’s a cheat’s way to serve customised cakes without doing so much as cracking an egg.
If even that seems like too much hard work then head to Maiden on Shoreditch High Street on April 28 where Cakehead Loves Evil will be selling cupcakes and miniature wedding cakes to commemorate the big day. They’ll be copying the recipe the royal confectioners are using for the real wedding cake so expect them to be delicious.
If you think your guests will be staying for the afternoon, you’ll need to serve up something slightly more substantial. An updated version of coronation chicken – the dish created for the Queen’s coronation in 1953 – is perfect. Nowadays you usually only find it in soggy shop-bought sarnies, but follow my recipe below to make something fresh and 2011-appropriate.
In a bowl, mix a tub of crème fraiche (half-fat is fine), a few dollops of mayonnaise, half a diced red onion, a crushed garlic clove, a few teaspoons of curry powder, a small grating of ginger, a handful of chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime juice. Now add cooked chicken – some you have leftover from a roast will suffice – and mix before seasoning with salt and pepper. Put a few mounds on top of a bed of lettuce and sprinkle with sliced red chilli and more coriander. Serve with lime wedges.
Pimm’s is the obvious choice of drink for the royal wedding day. It’s fresh and summery, and – importantly considering you may be starting at 11am – quite low in alcohol if you add plenty of lemonade and ginger ale. Make up big pitchers with ice, strawberries, lemons and apples.
Alternatively opt for tea, which you absolutely must you must serve in commemorative cups. Maiden has a selection from the last big Royal Wedding – that of Charles and Diana – but you might decide that’s not in keeping with the happy day.
The Union Jack is your friend here. It’s far easier to draw than the royal couple’s faces so pick up some red and blue markers at art suppliers Cowling and Wilcox and get decorating. You can draw onto blank little flags from Party Party and stick them in your sandwiches.
And as for crockery, well there are plenty of options in Hackney. KK Outlet, the advertising agency and gallery on Hoxton Square, has created a range of plates with irreverent slogans, such as ‘Thanks for the free day off’ and ‘It should have been me’. They’ve proved so popular that even John Lewis – that bastion of British respectability – has started stocking them. At £75 you may however find that they’re out of your price range. Maiden – a Shoreditch shop with a whole exhibition planned for the Royal Wedding (see video) – is stocking paper plates that are similarly tongue-in-cheek but significantly cheaper. One has a picture of William with the other Kate (Moss, that is) and another shows Prince Harry in his ill-judged Nazi costume. Or you can pick up Union Jack tableware in Brewode’s Cornucopia on Broadway Market.
Bunting is a must, and if you are handy with a sewing machine you can run up your own, buying your fabric at Ridley Road market. If not, Party Party on Ridley Road stocks the less impressive readymade stuff.
A Union Jack manicure is a simple way of incorporating the theme into your everyday look. Pop into one of Hackney’s many nail salons and wait patiently as your fingers become more patriotic by the minute. I recommend Nails 4 U on Dalston Lane, where a Union Jack manicure costs £13.
Maiden is also stocking royal masks so you can pretend you’re second in line to the throne by donning a Prince William one.
If the sight of your guests masquerading as royalty isn’t quite enough to sate your entertainment demands, then you’ll have to resort to gambling, speculating and blindfolded party games.
Before the ceremony you can place bets on a variety of possibilities. Will Kate confuse the order of William’s many names? Will Kate’s train be longer than 5 metres? And will she include ‘obey’ in her vows? After the I dos, it’s time for analysis: What did we think of the dress? And what about Carole’s mother-of-the-bride ensemble? Did the couple seem suitably moved and in love? Is this a royal marriage that’s going to last?
A homemade game, such as pin the tail on the corgi, is easily made using card and paint from Cowling & Wilcox. If you’re anything like me at drawing your corgi will resemble something from the Middle Ages: a flat, one-dimensional, Medieval dog that could only have been painted before the notion of perspective in art was fully grasped. But your guests should still get the message. And they’ll be wearing a blindfold at this point anyway.
Or get knitting. Not just any old scarf, obviously, but a scene from the wedding. Fiona Goble has put together a beautiful book (available at Maiden and pictured below) that is full of pictures and patterns so that you can create your own Wills-and-Kate-at-the-altar moment.
Take a look at ELL’s Google map to see all the royal wedding party stockists mentioned.