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Calgary’s own royal wedding PDF Print E-mail
Written by RACHEL KANE   
Friday, 15 April 2011 14:13

Local retirement residence prepares original imperial creation

Everything is ready for the big day: the invitations have been sent out, the outfits are planned and the cake and decorations have been decided on.

But although it won’t be taking place at Westminster Abbey, this is Calgary’s own version of the royal wedding nuptials, which is timed just two days before William and Kate’s big day.

The event which they have called a “royal wedding rehearsal” will take place at the Fountains of Mission Retirement Residence in Calgary, where the staff and residents will be role-playing various members of the royal family as well as guests in a mock version of Kate and William’s wedding rehearsal.

Kathleen O’Halloran, general manager of Fountains of Mission, said that they have been planning this event since November of last year.

Nancy Williams posing in costume with Kathleen O'Halloran, left. She said she is proud to have been asked to play the Queen for the Fountains of Mission's mock royal wedding.
Rachel Kane/Calgary Journal

“Originally a group of us were having dinner and of course I knew the wedding was coming up," said O’Halloran. "So I thought right away, 'What can we do to be a part of it?'”

After this dinner discussion, it wasn’t long until what started out as a joke turned into something more.

“We thought we would have our kind of version of what a rehearsal might be like if you were part of the royal wedding,” O’Halloran said.

Rosemary Howard, the receptionist at the residence said, “We thought it would be a fun thing and something that the residents and the staff could get involved in.“

O’Halloran added that they received an overwhelming response from both residents and staff when casting the various roles, including Prince William, Kate Middleton, the Queen, Prince Charles and even Sarah Ferguson.

Resident Nancy Williams, an English native who will be playing the Queen, has expressed great excitement and is looking forward to the lavish event.

“I’m really quite proud to be asked to be the Queen. It’s sort of the head of the whole kit and kaboodle and it makes you feel special,” she said. “I can’t describe it -- it sort of gives you a funny feeling inside; it was a nice feeling.”

Costumes will also be playing a large part in the feel and presentation of the wedding and will be relied on in many situations to depict the character, rather than age and appearance, since even the flower girl is 92 years old.

Williams said she is very excited to dress up in her beautiful red-and-black-embroidered outfit.

O’Halloran said they have spent a lot of time looking in thrift stores and asking for donations to find the perfect costumes.

“We wanted the costumes to be over the top, since it’s going to be a royal wedding., she said. "So we’ve tried to find things that would really stand out and be flamboyant.”

But it is the hats that are to be the main feature of all the costumes for this event.

“We’re really going to spend a lot of time on the hats because nobody goes to a British wedding without wearing a hat,” O’Halloran said.

In fact, all of the staff and residents will be spending a day getting ready for the mock wedding by decorating and enhancing a selection of hats which they have collected.

“We’ve bought feathers and butterflies, so we are going to spend a day making some wild and crazy hats.”

The staff have also spent a lot of time researching historical and more recent royal events to add a sense of accuracy to their production.

O’Halloran said, “We’ve looked into what Prince Charles wore when he got married and they tend to wear their military uniforms… So we’re trying to follow that as much as possible.“

It has also been leaked that William and Kate will have a best man and maid of honour, so both of these special guests will be included in the production.

In fact Fountains of Mission have actually contacted the royal couple to tell them about their ventures and invited them to visit as part of their Canadian tour this summer.

O’Halloran said, “They’re still looking at what the schedule will be."

They did comment in the letter that they wished us all the best in our event and hoped that everyone enjoyed themselves,” O’Halloran said. “That whole side of it has been very exciting.”

Jack Haston, another resident who is playing Prince William, said, “It’s not quite a comedy sketch, but a nice, light presentation of what might go right and what might go wrong.”

However, while humour will be widely incorporated, all those involved want to make it clear that they will be keeping it all very respectful and that the event is just their way of celebrating.

Lesley Pugh, Fountains of Mission administrative technician, who role-plays as a BBC radio announcer for the event, added, “We want to have fun and have some silly situations, but nobody wants to belittle the event because it could so easily slip to bad taste.”

But it is not perfection that Fountains of Mission wants; they just want it to be about fun.

O’Halloran said: “I think it’s going to let people know that we can do anything we want and there’s no limitation. Don’t be afraid to try something and participate is the message we want to get across.”

In total the event will consist of 15 staff and residents and is expected to last around one hour, which will be followed by wedding cake, tea and crumpets in the dining room.

It takes place on April 27 at 2 p.m.

Members of the public are welcome to attend but are asked to phone Fountains of Mission first at 403-244-0322.