Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images(LONDON) — It was the party of the year when the world’s most famous bridesmaid, Pippa Middleton, finally became the bride. Middleton, who became famous for the figure-hugging dress she wore at the 2011 wedding of her sister, Princess Kate, to Prince William, tied the knot Saturday.
The wedding reception Saturday celebrating the marriage of Middleton, 33, and her husband, hedge fund millionaire James Matthews, was planned with military-like precision and executed under heavy security and secrecy.
The reception venue, a glass-enclosed structure estimated to have cost more than $100,000 erected in the backyard of Carole and Michael Middleton’s Bucklebury home, was draped with curtains to shield the prying eyes of the paparazzi and public.
Inside the structure, which resembled a crystal palace, the estimated 350 guests partook in one of the most glamorous and high-profile events of the London social season.
Prior to the evening reception, an intimate circle of the couple’s friends and family enjoyed a champagne brunch featuring langoustines, steak and chips, and foie gras. The brunch took place on the same Englefield Estate as St. Mark’s Church, where Middleton, in a Giles Deacon gown, wed Matthews earlier Saturday in front of around 100 guests. The lavish wedding had an estimated price tag between $500,000 and $1 million.
Guests who received invitations for all three parts of Middleton’s wedding day — the church service, champagne brunch and reception — were asked to bring a change of clothes. Middleton, who wrote a book titled “Celebrate” about party planning, wore a second gown for the black-tie evening reception at her parents’ $8 million home.
The Middletons’ mansion, dubbed “Bucklebury Manor,” boasts seven bedrooms and sits on 18 acres of property with stunning gardens, fish ponds and a tennis court and pool. Before guests could enter the Bucklebury grounds, they reportedly had to pass through an extensive security check that included a special password matched with their passport.
The guest list for the reception was a who’s who of society, including pro tennis stars Tim Herman and Roger Federer. Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Prince Andrew, also joined her cousins, Prince William and Prince Harry, for the day’s activities.
Middleton’s niece, Princess Charlotte, 2, and nephew, Prince George, 3, served in her bridal party, while Kate, 35, reportedly drew the illustration of St. Mark’s Church that graced the wedding ceremony programs.
British tabloids reported one of the highlights of the night was a ping pong match that pitted Prince Harry and William against seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer.
Harry, 32, brought his girlfriend, Meghan Markle, 35, to the evening reception. Markle was missing from both the ceremony and the reception at Englefield House.
Markle and Harry, who began dating last year, were reportedly seated apart from each other at the sit-down dinner, following standard etiquette for high-profile events. At night, a spitfire display took place in the sky while a spectacular light show flashing slides of Middleton’s and Matthews’ love story was projected against the Middletons’ home.
Middleton and Matthews were spotted early Monday morning at Los Angeles International Airport on the way to their honeymoon destination in the South Pacific.
The couple will reportedly visit the exclusive Brando resort on Tetiaroa island, just north of Tahiti. The eco-tourism hot spot, which caters to the world’s most elite and has a price tag of $3,500 a night, recently hosted Barack and Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Bruce Springsteen.
The eco-resort boasts just 35 deluxe cottages on pristine white beaches and private plunge pools. The resort features cuisine designed by a Michelin star chef, and most important of all, privacy.
Marlon Brando was said to have fallen in love with the island while filming the 1962 action film “Mutiny on the Bounty” and purchased the entire Pacific atoll for the less than the price it now costs its exclusive clientele for a week’s stay.
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