Best Royal Weddings of All Time: 10 Regal Sites

The Great West Door and Towers of Westminster Abbey, as seen in fisheye view from Tothill Street, London. Rene Ehrhardt
By Charis Atlas Heelan

The whole world witnessed the international event that was Prince William's wedding to Catherine Middleton at Westminster Abbey in the spring of 2011, but what about royal weddings before Will and Kate? Let's throw back to a few favorite royal weddings in some of the world's most beautiful cathedrals, churches, châteaux, and palaces.

Plus, we reveal how to experience some royal nuptial nostalgia on your next trip to England, Egypt, France, India, Russia, and more destinations.

Photo Caption: The Great West Door and Towers of Westminster Abbey, as seen in fisheye view from Tothill Street, London. Photo by Rene Ehrhardt/Flickr.com.
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St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Olivier Bruchez
The Couple: HRH Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer

Although the marriage was doomed and Diana's life came to an untimely end, their wedding caused a royal family frenzy around the world. Their wedding created a paparazzi explosion and was the most viewed television program in history. Today, Diana's legacy is still felt throughout England.

Date: July 29, 1981

Location: St. Paul's Cathedral, London

Pedigree: She was Lady Diana Frances Spencer, the shy 20-year-old born to an aristocratic British family with centuries-old connections to the royal family. He, the much older first-born son of the reigning Queen Elizabeth II of England and Prince Philip, became the Prince of Wales and is still the heir apparent to the British throne.

How to Relive the Romance Today: Visit St. Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace, where Charles and Diana emerged on the balcony for their first "official" kiss. Cap off your visit with the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain and the Peter Pan-inspired Diana Memorial Playground in Kensington Gardens, next to Kensington Palace, where the couple lived.

Photo Caption: St. Paul's Cathedral, London. Photo by Olivier Bruchez/Flickr.com.
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A quiet day at the Palace at Versailles. Frommers.com Community
The Couple: Marie Antoinette and the future King Louis XVI of France

Their marriage was intended to cement the alliance between France and Austria, but the French public did not support that union. As a couple, they became synonymous with the excesses of the French court. Their reign culminated in the French Revolution, and they both met their end by guillotine after being found guilty of treason.

Date: May 16, 1770

Location: Palace of Versailles, France

Pedigree: She (Archduchess Maria Antonia of Austria) was the 14-year-old child bride, a Hapsburg, and the youngest daughter of Francis I and Maria Theresa. He was 15-year-old Louis-Auguste de France, the Duc de Berry who became Dauphin of France and later King. They were second cousins.

How to Relive the Romance Today: Visit the Château de Versailles, which was the site of Louis' birth and their wedding. In Paris, walk through Place de la Concorde -- now a lovely square but also the site of Marie's execution. Both their remains are housed in the royal crypt at the Basilica of St. Denis.

Photo Caption: A quiet day at the Palace at Versailles. Photo by Lexacat/Frommers.com Community.
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The Taj Mahal in Agra, Uttar Pradesh. Frommers.com Community
The Couple: Shah Jahan and Arjumand Banu Begum (Mumtaz Mahal)

Though she was officially his third wife, she was unquestionably his favorite. Their union produced 14 children and an eternal tribute to love in the form of the Taj Mahal.

Date: May 10, 1612

Location: Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Pedigree: She was the granddaughter of a Persian nobleman; he was Prince Shihab-ud-din Muhammad Khurram, the third son of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. He was responsible for the founding the city of Delhi and for constructing some of India's most beloved buildings and monuments.

How to Relive the Romance Today: The Taj Mahal is the ultimate homage to love and loss. Shah Jahan spent 22 years building this UNESCO World Heritage-listed mausoleum and funerary garden in Agra, the city of his wife's birth.

Photo Caption: The Taj Mahal in Agra, Rajasthan. Photo by lagolq/Frommers.com Community.
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The Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Frommers.com Community
The Couple: Tsar Nicholas II and Princess Alix of Hesse (Alexandra Fyodorovna)

The wedding and marriage aren't as infamous as their fateful demise at the hands of the Bolsheviks, but the last Tsar and Tsarina of Russia were the celebrated couple of their day, complete with scandals of infidelity and the notorious Rasputin.

Date: Nov. 26, 1894

Location: The Grand Church of the Winter Palace, St. Petersburg (now part of the Hermitage Museum)

Pedigree: Alix, who became Alexandra, was a German princess, the granddaughter of Britain's Queen Victoria and the daughter of Louis IV, the Grand Duke of Hesse and by Rhine. He was Nicholas II, also known as Nikolay Alexandrovich Romanov, the last in the line of Russian Emperors and considered a saint by the Russian Orthodox Church.

How to Relive the Romance Today: The remains of the couple and their children are interred in the St. Catherine Chapel of the St. Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg. The collection at the Winter Palace of the Hermitage Museum includes several portraits of the couple and their family.

Photo Caption: The Winter Palace and Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Photo by feseabra/Frommers.com Community.
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Château de Candé near Tours, France Gilbertus/Wikimedia Commons
The Couple: HRH the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Warfield (better known as Wallis Simpson)

It was a royal wedding like no other -- no pomp or ceremony, and only 16 guests (no members of the royal family) in attendance. It was the scandal that almost brought down the house of Windsor, but ultimately it was a love story that has stood the test of time.

Date: June 3, 1937

Location: Château de Candé near Tours, France

Pedigree: Not only was Wallis an American, but she was also a commoner and even more scandalous, twice divorced. He was Edward VIII, the former king of England, who abdicated in order to marry the love of his life. She just called him David.

How to Relive the Romance Today: You can visit the 16th-century Château de Candé (www.chateau-cande.fr), which is just outside Tours. The château is usually open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday and on public holidays with free tours of the impressive property and its substantial gardens. The couple honeymooned at Schloss Wasserleonburg (www.wasserleonburg.at) in the Carinthia region of Austria, where you can stay for moderate rates.

Photo Caption: Château de Candé near Tours, France. Photo by Gilbertus/Wikimedia Commons.
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Unhyeongung Palace is the former Korean royal residence of Prince Regent Daewon-gun, ruler of Korea in the 19th century and father of Emperor Gojong. The site dates from the 14th century. In 1993 Unhyeon Palace underwent 3 years of renovations to restore its earlier appearance. Steve46814/Wikimedia Commons
The Couple: King Gojong and Queen Min

In the 19th century, a royal wedding in South Korea was full of pomp and circumstance, color, and pageantry. The most celebrated union in Korean history was held at Unhyeongung Palace. Sadly, it was also here that the bride, Queen Min, later met her end at the hands of Japanese assassins during a time of political turmoil.

Date: March 21, 1866

Location: Unhyeongung Palace, Seoul, South Korea

Pedigree: She was a 16-year-old born into the aristocratic Min family who became Empress Myeongseong, or Queen Min. He was Emperor Gwangmu, the 26th king of the Joseon Dynasty and the first emperor of the Korean Empire.

How to Relive the Romance Today: Twice a year (in the spring and the fall), the Seoul Metropolitan Government hosts a two-hour-long re-enactment of the royal wedding ceremony of King Gojong and Queen Min, complete with a royal procession. At other times of the year, you can still visit the Palace.

Photo Caption: Unhyeongung Palace in Seoul, Korea. Photo by Steve46914/Wikimedia Commons.
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The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, situated beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile River . Frommers.com Community
The Couple: Pharaoh Tutankhamun -- King Tut -- and Ankhesenpaaten

He became the most famous Pharaoh of all time when his tomb was discovered intact in the early 20th century. Although their marriage was brief (he died while still in his teens), it was known as a happy one and the couple moved their home back from Amarna to the traditional capital of Thebes.

Date: 1334 B.C.

Location: Amarna, Egypt

Pedigree: She was an 18th Dynasty Egyptian princess, the daughter of the famed heretic king, Pharaoh Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti. He ascended the Egyptian throne at the age of nine and was also the son of Akhenaten with another wife, Kiya -- making this couple half brother and sister, quite a common practise in Ancient Egypt.

How to Relive the Romance Today: The ancient city of Amarna (Tel-el-Amarna) is located some 190 miles south of Cairo and although off the main tourist track with parts still under excavation, its remains including 25 tombs, are definitely worth a detour, especially to escape the crowds. For the glitz and glamour of Tutankhamun's life (and death), the Egyptian Museum in Cairo is a must, as is the royal city of Luxor (ancient Thebes) and the Valley of the Kings, the site of Tutankhamun's tomb.

Photo Caption: The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, situated beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile River near the Valley of the Kings, Egypt. Photo by mindylepooh/Frommers.com Community.
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St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Newport, RI. reynolds.james.e
The Couple: John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier

With more than 800 guests in attendance, and a reception for over 1,200 people, this was as close as America was going to get to a royal wedding.

Date: Sept. 12, 1953

Location: St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Newport, Rhode Island

Pedigree: She, the daughter of a Wall Street broker and the stepdaughter of an oil tycoon, grew up in the high society of New York and Newport. He was a Harvard graduate, a decorated World War II hero, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer -- and a Senator for the state of Massachusetts at the time of their marriage. He went on to become the 35th President of the United States.

How to Relive the Romance Today: Though the 19th-century Gothic-style church (www.stmarynewport.org) is open to the public, you'll have to settle for driving by the Victorian mansion of Hammersmith Farm. The mansion was the location of the reception, but unfortunately it is closed to the public. Splurge on a night in Montecito, California, at the San Ysidro Ranch (www.sanysidroranch.com), where the newlyweds honeymooned, or just pop in for a meal at The Stonehouse restaurant. Visit their grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

Photo Caption: St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Newport, RI. Photo by reynolds.james.e/Flickr.com.
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St. Nicholas Cathedral, also known as Monaco Cathedral, in Monte Carlo. Berthold Werner/Wikimedia Commons
The Couple: Prince Rainier III and Grace Kelly

Fairy tales really do come true -- or so it seemed for Hollywood screen siren Grace Kelly and her Prince Charming. Alas, the love story ultimately came to a tragic end with Princess Grace's fatal car accident.

Date: April 19, 1956

Location: St. Nicholas Cathedral, in Monte Carlo, in the tiny principality of Monaco

Pedigree: She was Hollywood royalty and he was real royalty -- Rainier Louis Henri Maxence Bertrand Grimaldi, who reigned over Monaco for more than 50 years.

How to Relive the Romance Today: Visiting the Cathedral today is a bit of a pilgrimage as both Princess Grace and her husband were interred there. From April to October, you can also tour the state rooms and gardens of the Palace, where the couple celebrated their wedding reception.

Photo Caption: St. Nicholas Cathedral, also known as Monaco Cathedral, in Monte Carlo. Photo by Berthold Werner/Wikimedia Commons.
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View from Rundetårn, toward the Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen. Thue/Wikimedia Commons
The Couple: Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson

Next time you are sitting in a bar thinking you'll never meet the man of your dreams in a place like this, just remember that a regular girl can meet her prince in a pub and live happily ever after.

Date: May 14, 2004

Location: Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen, Denmark

Pedigree: He was Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark, Count of Monpezat, and heir to the Danish throne. She was a girl from Tasmania, who worked in advertising and had no royal pedigree until she became Princess Mary.

How to Relive the Romance Today: Walk down the aisle and follow in Mary's royal footsteps at the Church of Our Lady in central Copenhagen. Tour the gardens at Fredensborg Palace, just north of Copenhagen on Lake Esrum, where the couple had their wedding reception. The couple and their four children reside at Copenhagen's Frederik VIII Palace (part of Amalienborg Castle) but still spend spring and autumn in Fredensborg.

Photo Caption: View from Rundetårn, toward the Church of Our Lady, Copenhagen. Photo by Thue/Wikimedia Commons.
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