Prince William and Kate can be expected to dutifully follow suit on Friday. The young couple will not only bear the weight of traditions going back centuries, but also reflect the ethos of modern times.
For centuries, royal weddings were private events that took place in palaces and castles like Windsor.
But the weddings of Queen Elizabeth's children Princess Anne (1973), Prince Charles (1981), Prince Andrew (1986) and Prince Edward (1999) reflected the changing face of Britain.
The most recent royal wedding was that of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, on April 9, 2005.
Unlike his first marriage to Lady Diana, this was a low key event at the Windsor castle, a civil ceremony followed by religious blessing.
There was none of the pomp and pageantry that the world witnessed on July 29, 1981.
This time there were no horse driven carriages; the couple arrived in a glass car, while Princes William and Harry arrived in a mini-bus.
If Prince Charles' second marriage was an understated event, sensitive to public mood, his youngest brother Prince Edward had a similar low key event in Windsor when he married Sophie Rhys-Jones on June 19, 1999.
According to Fiona Macdonald, author of ''Royal weddings: A very peculiar history,'' modern royal weddings in the past 90-odd years marked a significant break with the past.
"Until the 19th Century and early in the 1900s, the pattern had been largely the same for the past 1,000 years.
Royal weddings were usually arranged for political, dynastic and empire-building reasons, and the bride and groom were always of mutually royal rank," she says.
Marrying a commoner was exceptionally rare, but on April 26, 1923, Prince Albert married Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, mother of the present Queen Elizabeth.
Some royal weddings were held during difficult times. King George ensured that the 1923 wedding of Prince Albert became a public event to endear the monarchy to the nation. The First World War had then just ended. That marriage set the style for every royal wedding to follow.