Royal Wedding Will Be Celebrated Here

Cocktails and cake start the day next Friday.

Mimosas at 6 a.m.?

That's when the party starts on Friday, April 29, at the van Buitenen household in Darien.

Cocktails will be followed by a wedding cake, albeit a miniature one, in front of a widescreen TV.

It's going to be one of the more memorable celebrations happening in Fairfield County to mark the historic nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton at 11 o'clock London time in Westminster Abbey.

According to her daughters, as Jeannie van Buitenen and her friends spend the early hours watching the events unfold live, they'll  be "reliving their youth through Kate."

As for the van Buitenan daughters, Molly, 23, and Kyle, 21, do not share the same enthusiasm.

"We have to work," shrugged Molly.

"I'm a student," explained Kyle.

Sentiment about the royal wedding varies across Fairfield County. Some are going to set their alarm clocks to watch the event live.

"My husband will be," said Darien resident Angela Harwood, whose husband Bobby is a "lifetime Anglophile."

Molly Sargent and her daughter Honor, 14, are also planning to watch the royal wedding.

"We're probably getting dressed up in something fun, and we're definitely wearing hats," Sargent said. "When the royals are on the cover, I always pick up People magazine."

Barbara Ryan of Stamford and her daughter Kelly will watch the proceedings, but a taped version.

"Kate's so cute," Kelly said. "She has great looks and personality and I think she'll fit in just right in that family."

"She's very down-to-earth — and I hope she stays that way," added Barbara.

"I love Kate Middleton but I'll probably watch newsreels," said Lauren Casey of Westport. "There hasn't been a princess in a long time. I also think Prince William is a good guy."

While some residents form opinions on the prince, others are more focused on the princess.

"I used to love Prince William back in high school, and I read all the fan magazines," confided Jude Dalessio, 29, of Clinton. "But I haven't been reading up on it. I don't have the time."

As for Kate?

"Kate is definitely classy," said Julie Hargreaves, 25, who grew up in England amidst relics of the Charles and Diane wedding, including mugs and a brush that her royalty-besotted parents kept.

"They're going to be world figures so it's an important event," she said.

"I just might watch it live," pondered Suzanne Griffin who, as manager of Helen Ainson boutique in Darien, has helped dress clients for royal affairs. "I have such respect for the traditions, including what the gentlemen are wearing."

"In their morning coats and elegant manners, looking one in the eye when spoken to, having things in a proper way, maybe the wedding will call attention again to some of these traditions," she said rather wistfully.

Kamal Dhaliwal of Norwalk and her daughter, Khush, 14, share a fascination with both Princess Diana and Kate Middleton.

"My friends and I find the royal wedding exciting," Khush said. "Because Kate is a commoner, she's relatable. She's every girl's fairytale princess."

Kamal remembers growing up in northern India when the wedding of Princess Diana to Prince Charles occurred, and the story was carried by television, magazines and newspapers.

"As women we related to her innocent beauty and tragic life," she said. In some ways she sees the wedding of Diana's son William as a step forward in the continuity of Diana's story.

"It goes on," she said. "All kinds of people around the world wish for their happiness."

While all wished the young couple well, some expressed impatience with all the hoopla associated with the event.

Stephanie Shocki, 24, of Cheshire did not hesitate when asked if she was planning to watch the wedding live.

"No I'm not," said the second grade teacher. Though, she said, some of her friends and peers are overcome with an obsessive interest and will probably be up early to watch.

Shirley Nichols, executive director of the Darien Land Trust and a British expatriate, had other things on her mind.

"Quite frankly I'm too busy with DLT stuff," she said in an email. "I thought the wedding was this week!"

The Westport, Wilton and Fairfield libraries are sponsoring receptions on Friday for commoners not invited to the wedding of the decade. Tea, scones and clotted cream will be served at the Westport Library at 11 a.m. in the McManus Room as taped coverage of the wedding is planned.

At the Wilton Library, all are invited to raise a glass of champagne to toast the newlyweds between noon and 2 p.m. on the 29th and enjoy a wedding cake donated by the Cake Boutique. The event is free and formal attire is optional.

At the Fairfield Library, speakers and tea will mark the occasion from noon to 2 p.m.

At Julie Allen's bridal boutique in Newtown, a customer came in recently to purchase a pair of white gloves to wear to a wedding-related reception, according to Allen.

"Our society has become so loose in its customs," Allen observed. "If people come away from this wedding paying more attention to details of etiquette, I think that would be wonderful."

Allen was 24 and unmarried when she rose early to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana, but she'll watch a taped version this time.

The wedding will likely have fashion repercussions as the royal bride makes a fashion statement in her gown, the details of which remain a well-kept secret.

At Royal Weddings in Danbury (its name inspired by the Charles and Diana nuptials and started up a year later), the William and Kate wedding will be marked with a shopwide sale of wedding gowns to be followed shortly, no doubt, there and elsewhere, by gowns with a startling resemblance to Princess Kate's.


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