23-Sep, 11:07

13:42, May 16 215 0

2017-05-16 13:42:03
The Not-Quite-Royal Wedding: A Guide to Pippa Middleton’s Big Day

LONDON — This Saturday, the closest thing to a British royal wedding for 2017 (unless, of course, Prince Harry suddenly pops the question to his new girlfriend) will take place in Berkshire, England, when Pippa Middleton — younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, Britain’s future queen — marries James Matthews.

Ever since her star turn as bridesmaid at the royal wedding in 2011, where her charming manners and sheathed derrière propelled her into the spotlight, the private life and matrimonial prospects for Ms. Middleton, 33, a budding nutritionist and one-time Vanity Fair columnist, have been a subject of intense fascination by the global news media. Here is a primer of what and who to expect on the big day:

Mr. Matthews, 41, is a multimillionaire hedge fund manager who is as low-key as his bombastic younger brother, Spencer Matthews, star of the British reality TV show “Made in Chelsea,” is conspicuous.

James Matthews is the chief executive of Eden Rock Capital Management Group in London, which he named after his parents’ lavish Caribbean resort, Eden Rock, in St. Barts. His father, the Yorkshireman David Matthews, started out as a racing driver before becoming a self-made multimillionaire in a series of car dealership deals and in property development. His mother is the artist Jane Parker, a Zimbabwe-born artist and onetime receptionist for Christian Dior.

Alongside Spencer, James had another brother, Michael. He died in 1999 at 22 after becoming the youngest Briton to reach the summit of Mount Everest. He disappeared on the way done, and his body was never recovered. In his memory, the family created the Michael Matthews Foundation, which builds schools to provide education for children in remote places.

James Matthews was educated at Uppingham School but did not go to college, instead initially following his father into motor sports. He then entered a finance career as a trader in London, before setting up Eden Rock in 2001.

Outside his day job, Mr. Matthews is a keen skier (so is Ms. Middleton), an avid tennis fan (Ms. Middleton is regularly spotted courtside at Wimbledon) and cyclist (the betrothed couple have competed together in a charity bike ride from London to Brighton). He owns a palatial house in Chelsea and a private jet.

Ms. Middleton has some history with her modern-day Prince Charming. After meeting and becoming friends when the Middleton family went on vacation to Eden Rock more than a decade ago, the couple reportedly dated for a short period in 2012 before Ms. Middleton embarked on a three-year relationship with another financier, the stockbroker Nico Jackson. Ms. Middleton has also dated the banking heir J J Jardine Paterson and the former cricketer Alex Loudon, but a rumored romance with her sister’s brother-in-law, Prince Harry, seems largely fictional — wishful thinking by the British tabloids.

In 2015, Mr. Matthews was back on the scene. Last June, less than a year after rekindling their romance, the two announced their engagement after a minibreak to the Lake District. Ms. Middleton received a gigantic octagonal ring featuring a three-carat Asscher-cut diamond, understood to have been bought from the London jewelers Robinson Pelham and valued around 200,000 pounds.

It will be held at St. Mark’s, a 12th-century church on the private estate in Englefield, Berkshire, just six miles from the quaint village of Bucklebury, where the bride grew up with her older sister, Catherine, now the Duchess of Cambridge, and younger brother, James. A full revamp of the sprawling estate on which the church sits has been underway for the past week, with stone walls being repaired and gates being painted in a regal gold leaf hue.

After the service, the newlyweds and their expected 150 guests will then travel to Ms. Middleton’s parents’ Bucklebury home for a marquee reception. Carole and Michael Middleton bought the Georgian Grade II-listed manor house, which has an 18-acre garden, in 2012.

Details around the event remain strictly under wraps, although the wedding planning app Bridebook has broken down the estimated cost of the event, considering a range of items such as a wet weatherproof marquee, drinks and floristry, catering, security, portaloos and entertainment: an eye-popping £246,000 (or roughly $318,000), which is said to be about 15 times the average cost of a British wedding. Given that guests have been instructed to bring a second outfit for the evening reception, expect the events after dark to dazzle. And given that the Middleton family made its multimillion-pound fortune with Party Pieces, an online retailer for party ware, one imagines they also know how to drive a hard bargain when it comes to putting on a show.

Speculation surrounding the designer of her wedding dress has hardly reached the level that swirled around the Duchess of Cambridge before her big day (she ultimately chose Sarah Burton of the Alexander McQueen design house). Still the tabloid news media was keen to reveal it early, sending an army of paparazzi to trail Ms. Middleton and her every move in the months ahead of her marriage. A leading contender is the British designer Giles Deacon, known for his theatrical couturelike creations, who was seen visiting Ms. Middleton and her mother at home last year with several bulky dress bags. Other British names in the ring include Amanda Wakeley and Jenny Packham. The milliner and veil specialist Stephen Jones was also spotted leaving the property last month.

Ms. Middleton and the duchess have a similar approach to style, favoring elegant, conservative pieces by British labels that still show off their athletic physiques. In the final run-up to her moment in the spotlight, Ms. Middleton has reportedly been on an intensive three-month bridal boot camp, which includes yoga, Pilates, spinning, cardio training, dance and meditation classes, as well as specially prepared meals.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will, of course, be there, overseeing the starring roles of Prince George, 3, as page boy, and Princess Charlotte, 2, as bridesmaid, as announced by Kensington Palace. Ms. Middleton’s brother, James, will attend with his girlfriend, the TV presenter Donna Air, as will Prince Harry and his other half, the American actress Meghan Markle, despite rumors of a “no ring, no bring” guest list policy. The groom’s brother will be best man. Queen Elizabeth II is not expected to attend.

There has been no further official comment on guests, though one can expect a loyal gaggle of Ms. Middleton’s friends from the University of Edinburgh, the cream of high society, and perhaps even some uninvited faces at the ceremony itself; guidance from the Church of England on “celebrity weddings” published last month said that ordinary members of the public had the right to attend if they were parishioners, sending the British news media into a frenzy.

Despite the family’s best efforts, tens of thousands of headlines have been generated in anticipation of one of the most sought after invitations of the year (the news media’s words, not theirs). As ever with Ms. Middleton, press commentary has ranged from politely curious to downright nasty.

Still, the Middleton sisters apparently generate millions of clicks, and papers need to be sold. And everyone wants a happy ending. Maybe, after the soon-to-be Mrs. Matthews drifts off into the sunset on her honeymoon this weekend, the feverish interest will die down for a while. Until she starts trying for a baby, when the whole circus will begin again. Bottoms up!