Brides and grooms sharing a wedding on the same day as the royal couple were faced with challenge that only comes around a few times every generation. And since Meghan and Harry were getting married on Saturday, rather than on a Friday as Prince William and Kate Middleton did in 2011, there were a lot more non-royal couples who would be saying “I do” alongside them.
PEOPLE spoke to four couples who tied the knot on Saturday about how Meghan and Harry’s wedding impacted their own, from the planning to the day itself.
For many of these couples, they had selected their wedding date long before Harry and Meghan announced their royal wedding date just five months ago.
Chicago-based couple Stephanie Shaw Czupryn and Erik Czupryn got engaged in November 2016, a few days after the Cubs won the World Series. They started planning their wedding just a few weeks after they got engaged, and decided on May 19 by January, when they found the right venue.
Nearly a year later, in December 2017, Stephanie’s mother-in-law-to-be alerted her that another couple — Harry and Meghan — had chosen the same date.
“We were excited, but we sort of felt like we picked it first,” she admits. “Sort of like, ‘Hey, don’t steal our moment here, Meghan!’ “
Tommy Tressler-Gelok, who married Kevin Tressler-Gelok in a Broadway-themed wedding on Staten Island on Saturday, had a similar reaction. They got engaged in October 2016, and picked their venue and date before the end of the year. When Harry and Meghan announced their date, he initially felt as if the royals were stealing his thunder.
“They just kind of took it. But we took it already!” he says. “There was a piece of me that was like, I know when I wake up on Saturday, that’s going to be all over the television. There was a half-selfish moment where I thought, ‘I hate this!’ “
Kevin, however, helped calm his groom down. “I figured it would long over by the time we suit up and take vows,” he says. “If you’re going to have a wedding date, it might as well be a famous wedding date.”
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Despite the shared date, couples say that the impending royal wedding didn’t impact their own nuptial planning. Harry and Meghan’s engagement was not even six months long — and their wedding was arranged on a much quicker timeline than the average couple. So for a non-royal couple, most of the pieces for a May 19 wedding were already put in place by the time harry and Meghan announced their engagement at the end of November.
“We booked everything so far in advance,” Taylor Evans, who married husband Eric Evans in New Jersey on Saturday, says. “No vendors tried to upcharge us [because of the date].”
Tommy and Kevin had a discussion about their royal wedding connection, and debated if they should have nods to Harry and Meghan’s nuptials in their ceremony. “We decided to not go that route, because we thought it could get a little campy,” Tommy says.
But some couples did a few last minute tie-ins: Kevin and Anne Kitchen, who married in Minneapolis on Saturday, had a royal wedding-themed Snapchat filter for their wedding. Erik took an online countdown for the royal wedding featuring a photo of Meghan and Harry, and cropped his and Stephanie’s faces over theirs to share on social media. And Tommy’s co-workers did threw him a royal wedding-inspired shower complete with tea, scones and Union Jack flags ahead of his big day.
The Big Day
On the big day, the royal wedding was hard to ignore. Brides and a few grooms put the wedding on in the background as they got ready in the morning, and said it added a sentimental touch to an already emotional day.
“Watching Meghan walk in, with all the girls and boys behind her, it gave me goosebumps,” Anne says. “I don’t typically get into that sort of thing, so I think it was because I was imagining myself as well.”
And for other brides, it offered inspiration for their own walk down the aisle a few hours later. “I even took notes to place my hands similarly to Meghan’s while Harry was putting the ring on her finger,” Taylor says.
For Tommy, watching Harry and Meghan’s wedding helped relax down any pre-ceremony jitters, too. “I found it so calming,” he says. “My nerves were just subsided for some weird reason.”
Each couple said that throughout their wedding, the royal wedding was a undeniable presence. Guests couldn’t stop mentioning it, whether it was comparing the brides’ gowns, or talking about their own early wakeup calls to watch Harry and Meghan’s nuptials before celebrating their friends. Stephanie, who shares much more with Meghan than just her wedding date — they were both born and raised in Southern California and were theater majors at Northwestern University — says it was mentioned in every speech.
“We have a lot in common,” she says. “That definitely came up. Erik’s best man made sure to point out those similarities in his speech.”
In the end, sharing the wedding day spotlight with Harry and Meghan wasn’t a burden. In fact, couples said it made their big day feel even more memorable.
“It made it a bit more magical and special,” Stephanie says. “That we got married on this date that would go down in history as something people would remember.”
Taylor agrees: “It’ll be fun to share an anniversary with the royal couple. And hopefully easy for Eric to remember our anniversary date — or at least easy for him to Google to figure it out!”