San Francisco ready to celebrate our big fat British wedding

On Friday morning, British history will evolve once more with the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The ceremony, which will take place in Westminster Abbey, is slated to be as grand an affair as the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, with more than 1 billion people expected to watch around the world.

However, the eight-hour time difference between London and the Pacific Coast might pose a problem for those who want to follow the festivities live. Most major networks will begin coverage at 1 a.m., and the ceremony will occur at 3 a.m. Pacific Standard Time.

But for some dedicated royalists and the local British expatriate community, timing is no obstacle.

Sara Leask, a British transplant who has lived in the Bay Area for four years, will ring in the nuptials with a large party at her sister’s place in San Francisco.

“I’m not excited about getting up at 3 a.m.,” Leask said, “but there’s a whole load of British people coming together and we’re having a typical British dinner. The Royal Family are our history. I remember Prince Charles and Diana’s wedding, and for me the excitement is just the same — just a few years later.”

But not everyone is as enthusiastic.

“I think they should have waited for more time,” said Kevin Brown, a British visitor in San Francisco. “The time between the announcement and the wedding isn’t enough to build up the necessary excitement; it was very quick.”

Public celebrations in The City will be limited. While the British Consulate is hosting a sold-out ball at the Mark Hopkins hotel with 300 attendees, most local British-themed establishments have no formal plans for celebrating, although edited highlights certainly will be on TV at local pubs later in the day.

One exception is the Crown & Crumpet, a tea room in Ghirardelli Square that’s offering a special Royal Wedding Tea Party menu from 11 a.m. Friday through the weekend.

On the eve of the wedding, Middleton will stay in a suite at the luxurious Goring Hotel in London, while Prince William will spend his last night as a bachelor with his father at St. James’ Palace.

Fashionistas dying to see Kate’s wedding dress will have to wait till the actual day, as both the designer and the design have been kept a secret.

Middleton is the first commoner in almost 700 years to marry so close to the throne; her family was recently bestowed with its own coat of arms.

Guest list facts

  • Celebrities include David and Victoria Beckham, Elton John, Kanye West and Guy Ritchie
  • Women are discouraged from wearing head-to-toe white or cream clothing
  • Curtseying to the queen is required for British guests and encouraged for others
  • Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson is not attending

Royal statistics

$32 million: Cost of royal wedding
1,900: Guests invited
75: Percentage of “royal wedding” Yahoo searches from women
25: Percentage of “Kate Middleton dress” Yahoo searches from men
29: Kate’s age, representing the oldest British royal bride in history
6: Exes invited

Memorabilia madness

Marketers have gone wild over the royal wedding. Here are some of the crazier souvenirs offered:

Barf bag: Graphic artist Lydia Leith speaks to the cynic with her “Throne Up” sick bag.
Pez toys: These candy dispensers have improved Prince William’s hairline and turned Middleton into a tea-party mom.
Tea towel: The bold portrait on this unofficial tea towel puts the official monogrammed version to shame.
Royal plate: This cut-and-paste job transplanted the couple from St. James’ Palace to Windsor Castle, framing them with a pattern of the Princess Diana hand-me-down engagement ring.
Harry mug: Despite matching the wrong prince with the future princess, this mug is still for sale for about 10 pounds.
Toilet paper: Need we say more?

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