Any bride or groom knows that the engagement is the easy part: choose a ring, say yes, jump up and down, tell EVERYONE. Done! But then come the endless decisions: finding a location, choosing a dress, keeping the guest list below Coachella-esque numbers . . . Now that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are engaged, they have many of the usual concerns as they plan their big day, but given their unusual circumstances, there are plenty of other areas they need to address too.
Firstly, Meghan's security detail will likely be stepped up. Following her first official appearance with Harry at the recent Invictus Games, Meghan was drafted a security detail for the first time, but it is currently paid for by her Suits bosses. It's likely that now that she's betrothed to a member of the royal family, they will start picking up the bill.
The usual early decisions about wedding venue and date will apply to Harry and Meghan. They have a number of churches, abbeys, and cathedrals at their disposal, and each would need to be assessed according to the couple's personal preference, the size of their guest list, and their security issues. The date would need to not clash with any big royal events such as Ascot, Trooping the Colour, or any scheduled state visits.
Royal engagements are always brief — usually no longer than six months — so personal decisions about dress and theme would need to be made pretty quickly. The honeymoon would also need to be decided on in the early stages so that security could be arranged. An advance team of personal protection officers would need to make an planning trip to flag up and address any areas of concern.
Overseas bachelor and bachelorette parties are increasingly popular, so if Harry or Meghan wants to follow in the footsteps of Pippa Middleton (who celebrated her bachelorette in Courchevel, France), this would also need to be agreed upon early on so that the necessary security trips could be put into place.
It's likely Meghan was already being prepped for life in the royal family long before their engagement news, and had access to assorted advisers, but now that the engagement has been announced, her involvement will really ramp up. Soon after they are married, she will take on a set of patronages, and in order to do this, she would need to do research, take meetings, and make visits in order to choose the charities she would most like to be involved in.
In order to ease Meghan into royal life and introduce her to the people of the UK, she will likely go on a handful of official engagements alongside Prince Harry before their wedding. Between William and Kate's engagement and wedding, they made sure to undertake visits to Scotland (to their former university St. Andrews), Northern Ireland (for pancake flipping during a charity visit on Shrove Tuesday), Wales (where they launched a lifeboat in Anglesey), and England (where they attended a charity gala).
Plans for their first royal tour would probably spring into action also. When William and Kate married, they went on their first tour to Canada just three months later, and it's likely Harry and Meghan will hit the road soon after their big day, too.
Meghan has already met Harry's father, Prince Charles, and grandmother Queen Elizabeth as well as William, Kate, George, and Charlotte, and Harry has met Meghan's mother; but a meeting that could well be set up between engagement and wedding will be between all the parents. So it's likely that Charles and Camilla will meet Meghan's mother, Doria, and father, Tom, ahead of the wedding so they aren't meeting for the first time on the big day.
The guest list will take a long time to thrash out. Harry's wedding will not be a state occasion, but diplomacy will still be required when it comes to who gets an invite. Royal wedding invitations are always sent out incredibly close to the day — William and Kate's were posted just two months before their wedding. In the run-up to the big day, it's likely that keen royal fans would start camping out around where the wedding was to be held, so barriers would be erected and additional security measures undertaken.
According to tradition, the couple would spend the night before their wedding apart. Harry could either stay at his home in Kensington Palace or follow in his brother's footsteps and stay the night at his father's home, Clarence House. If he is with his father, then Meghan could stay at Kensington Palace, or she could take her lead from Kate and stay in a nearby London hotel.