“Dearly beloved,” the bishop began.
The crowd in the living room of the in Buckhead fell silent. All eyes were watching the screen, a looking glass into the British world miles away where a wedding ceremony had just begun. The bride wore a tiara under her veil and a gown with full lace sleeves. She had just processed along 300 feet of red carpet to meet her awaiting groom, William Prince of Wales.
At Westminster Abbey in England, former commoner Catherine Middleton became the Duchess of Cambridge.
“She’s the [Princess] Diana for our generation,” Atlanta resident Sharita Boseman said.
Boseman came to the W with a friend at 5 am to watch the wedding procedures. She was one of about 50 people (mostly women) who gathered in the hotel lobby Friday morning to watch the ABC Good Morning America live coverage of the royal wedding. Millions across the world were watching, too.
Karen Donatelli of the W said, “This is a bigger deal than London hosting the Olympics.”
Throughout the broadcast, the groom’s recent mother, Princess Diana, was kept in special memory.
Lisa Foster, also known on B 98.5 FM as Cracker Barrel Lisa, arrived with friends at the hotel at 4:45 am, “for the memories.” She said she remembers when Prince William was born, as well as Princess Diana’s funeral, which makes Prince William’s wedding quite emotional. “To see him in such a happy state,” she said. “It’s like he’s our child.”
Foster came with friends including Harriett Kropff, who is in the Red Hat Society. Kropff lent her friends hats to match those traditionally worn by guests to a royal wedding.
Other spectators also wore hats, as well as dresses, suits and feathered fascinators, to celebrate the nuptials, despite the early hour. Jodi Faucett said, “It’s totally silly to drive to Buckhead to watch a wedding… Now we’re just waiting for the bar to open so we can have mimosas.”
Susan Alterman, who wore a purple hat, said, “Nothing else but going out of town would get me up this early… It’s too early to shop!”
The crowd took pictures with life-size posters of Prince William and Kate and toasted to the royal couple with custom-designed champagne glasses. The Vikki & Kelly Morning Show on B 98.5 FM hosted the event.
Some hotel guests wandered into the W Living Room rolling suitcases, hardly aware of the celebration. Alex Klose from Switzerland was staying at the W in Atlanta on business. Pouring coffee on his way out at 6:45 am, he said was totally surprised to see so many people, but was sure many Swiss were also watching the British wedding.
David-Michael Searcy, concierge of the W, is also an ordained minister. He was available last night at the hotel’s Whiskey Blue Hen & Stag Night party to perform weddings for any hotel guests who wanted to beat Prince William and Kate to the alter. One couple renewed their vows. He called the royal wedding touching, and very real. “They actually really seem to care about each other,” Searcy said.
Foster said the public is excited about the wedding because they get to watch the commoner become the princess. Boseman said, “It’s like a real fairy tale.”
Megan Linn brought her daughter Rosemary to watch the wedding at the W. Linn said, “The whole Disney princess thing drives me crazy, so I brought her here to see the real thing.”
After the ceremony, the newlyweds took a carriage ride to Buckingham Palace, where ABC reported that 28,000 tulips were planted and scheduled to bloom on the wedding day. The new Duke and Duchess kissed twice in front of the crowd at Buckingham Palace, and the Royal Air Force performed a flyover in honor of the bride.
The W representatives and marketing team declared the sunrise viewing party a success, and guests trickled out at 9 am.