Two weddings a world apart

By Katherine Irvine

Anna Pilkington and her partner Sean Conte will marry on the same day as Prince William and Kate Middleton. Photo / Richard Robinson
Anna Pilkington and her partner Sean Conte will marry on the same day as Prince William and Kate Middleton. Photo / Richard Robinson

Bride-to-be Anna Pilkington jokes that Kate Middleton and Prince William have copied her.

The royal wedding date - April 29 next year - was announced this week to the surprise and amusement of Anna, who has chosen the same date to marry her boyfriend of three years, Sean Conte.

The relaxed 23-year-old is not particularly worried about having her wedding on the now-famous date.

Finding a reception venue six months before peak wedding season proved challenging, so Anna was ecstatic when she managed to book the early-autumn date at Cornwall Park.

She imagines finding an available date was not as much of an issue for the royal couple.

"I'm sure they didn't have to deal with any clashes."

However, the two brides will not be walking down the aisle at exactly the same time. The future King and Queen of England will be fast asleep when Anna and Sean make their vows in front of friends and family.

The two weddings are on opposite ends of the budget scale - conservative estimates for the royal nuptials are around $21 million.

Anna is not sure what the cost of her and Sean getting married will be but insists she is not over-the-top.

She says the average Auckland wedding costs about $30,000 but she is aiming for something a little more modest.

The similarities between the two couples are not confined to the wedding date.

Anna was on a student-exchange, finishing a commerce degree in marketing at the University of Seattle when she met her future husband.

Likewise, the St Andrews University campus in Scotland provided the backdrop for the beginnings of the romance between Kate and Wills.

"At least I didn't have to wait eight years for the opportunity."

The UK media dubbed Middleton "waity-Katy" after the unusually long courtship by royal standards. Prince Charles and Diana married a year after they began dating.

Anna, like many others, is not sure Prince William should have proposed with the 18-carat sapphire and diamond ring that belonged to his mother.

"Giving someone Princess Diana's ring is like giving something of Mother Teresa's."

She much prefers her sizeable princess-cut diamond ring her fiance picked out before he proposed in the sea while they were on holiday in Rarotonga.

British designers are jumping at the chance to design Kate Middleton's wedding dress, because the sapphire-blue Isis dress she wore to announce her engagement sold out immediately.

London bookmaker Ladbrokes, which is taking bets on who will be the lucky designer, favours Phillipa Lepley, whose couture wedding gowns start at $10,300.

Anna is yet to find her perfect dress but insists it is on her to-do list. "I have my mum's dress that I would like to use - either rip it to shreds or use parts of it."

But Anna does not have wedding envy. She is looking forward to spending the day with friends and family and is not too worried about the particulars.

Anna and Sean will have one thing the royals won't - two weddings.

After the first bash in Auckland, the groom is planning on a less-formal second wedding in his home city of Davis in California.

Weighing up the wedding plans

Cost

Kate: $21 million estimate.
Anna: Estimates $15,000.

Venue

Kate: Westminster Abbey can seat 2200; reception in Buckingham Palace ballroom.
Anna: Cornwall Park, with 110 guests.

Rings

Kate: Her 18-carat sapphire and diamond ring belonged to Princess Diana.
Anna: Doesn't know how much her platinum ring with a princess-cut diamond cost fiance Sean.

Dress

Kate: English designer Phillipa Lepley is tipped as the likely wedding dress designer. Couture dresses start at £5000 ($10,300).

Anna: Doesn't have a dress yet, but hopes to modify her mother's wedding gown.

Honeymoon

Kate: Kenya is the bookmakers' tip.
Anna: Southeast Asia.

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