Toby Melville/Landov; Inset: Splash News Online
Monique Jessen
April 28, 2012 04:00 PM

The world watched with bated breath as Kate Middleton took her first steps out of the car and into Westminster Abbey on her wedding day, one year ago Sunday.

As hundreds of thousands of people in the crowd greeted her arrival with cheers and gasps, hairdresser Richard Ward also found himself speechless – despite having spent the whole morning with the bride-to-be, creating that famous and much-emulated demi-chignon with his colleague James Pryce.

“When she got out of the car and I saw her properly in the dress, the whole thing. I couldn’t even speak, she looked so unbelievable,” Ward tells PEOPLE.

After months of preparation, the atmosphere at the Goring Hotel that morning – where seven stylists arrived at 5.30am to get started on the wedding party – was surprisingly calm despite the frenzy outside.

“The window was open and we could just hear the crowds outside, it was bizarre and surreal,” says Ward fondly reminiscing.

What many people don’t know is that Kate’s new husband, Prince William, was on hand later that day to help out, much to the surprise of her humbled hairdressers.

“I wanted to show Kate the back of her hair [getting ready at Clarence House for the evening party] and I was struggling to walk with this 500-year-old mirror, and he just said, ‘Let me give you a hand,’ and I said, ‘No, no, honestly,’ but he took one end and I’ve got the other and we’re shuffling along with this mirror – he’s great, he really is.”

And you know, what they say – the couple who laugh together, stay together.

“She has such a wicked sense of humor,” Ward says of Kate, who still frequents his Chelsea salon. (Pryce has since left). “It’s quite dry, there’s no airs and graces – you can have a good joke with her.”

As for William, his talents are endless. “The first time I went round to their house, it was actually William that made me a cup of tea! That was very nice.”

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