When two sisters (or best friends) marry in the same year, or only a few short years apart, an inherent insecurity can arise—how will the latter live up to the pomp and circumstance, the elegance or the cool-factor of the former? Will the celebrations demand or require the same budget? Can the family or groups of friends muster the energy to do it all over again, as well if not better than before? Who will look better in their gown? Will guests approve of your choice of menu? Your signature cocktails? Will they be as wowed by the flowers? The consistent weight of comparisons are natural—albeit terrifying. Indeed, since Pippa Middleton’s engagement to James Matthews, and with their wedding only a week away, the conversation continues to turn to the last time Pippa walked down an aisle in ivory—at her sister’s royal wedding-of-the-century.
Understandably, the pressure is high. After all, it’s foolish to assume one could ever live up to a royal, historic landmark at Westminster Abbey. However, can the younger Middleton escape the constant references to her sister’s stellar nuptials? Or, will the comparison between the two continue long after she’s walked down the aisle herself? Pippa, as one would expect, is not alone. How will the sisters of Mary Kate Olsen, Kim Kardashian West and Poppy Delevigne measure up, for example? Mary Kate Olsenmarried Olivier Sarkozy in secret, but emerged into married life sporting the most astounding engagement ring. Kim Kardashian West has had not one, but two, jaw-dropping over-the-top ceremonies and receptions. Poppy Delevigne also had two ceremonies, one in England and the other in Morocco, and donned Couture for both occasions. Then there’s Nicky Hilton, who married into high society in a custom Valentino in a private ceremony in London…and the list goes on. Whether or not they want them, insensitive comparisons are often made—by the media, by fans, by whispering friends,—depriving each sister of her ability to be a bride in her own right. Here, the lessons to be learned about sharing the spotlight and handling the challenge of living up to your sister’s wedding, without losing sight of yourself.
1. Stick to your style, even if there is some inherent overlap between yours and hers.
Given the Duchess of Cambridge’s future-queen status, it’s almost impossible for Pippa to escape the references to April 29, 2011. But, in the little we already know about her wedding plans, she’s hoping to try. Rather than an over-the-top, televised vow exchange and reception in the heart of London, Pippa and James opted for a more sentimental ceremony, in the bride’s home village of Bucklebury, and at her family church, St. Marks in Englefield, Berkshire. A reception will soon follow at the Middleton home. Last week, a source close to Giles Deacon, the designer rumored to be designing Pippa’s wedding gown, revealed that the dress is “very simple, elegant, and it’s all handmade,” and that “very few people have seen the finished thing.” While the secrecy, hand-crafting and elegance ring a bell in comparison to Kate’s Alexander McQueen gown, the decision on designer and simplicity of the look feel uniquely Pippa.
2. Embrace your differences, and take advantage of them.
While Pippa may appear to be at a disadvantage given the level of attention placed on her sister’s nuptials, we beg to differ. Marrying with high stakes–be it into the society set, a political family, a celebrity or otherwise–comes with high expectations and endless pressure. Kate was expected to be properly attired for the Abbey (that means classically elegant, covered shoulders and a modest neckline) and abide by every nuptial tradition set in the decades and centuries before her (like standing on a balcony to wave and kiss her husband for the world to see). Pippa, on the other hand, is has a tremendous level of freedom in her venue, celebration, fashion and more. Her non-royal status doesn’t require her to abide by anything but family traditions (should she opt to), and she can enjoy some, albeit not much, privacy by avoiding a televised procession and service. While the now Duchess of Cambridge appeared to have the world at her fingertips for her wedding to Prince William, much was expected of her when it came to each and every detail of the day—while Pippa seems to have much more freedom in the planning process.
3. Eliminate the pressure.
The comparisons and contrasts are only at the forefront if you allow them to be. Alleviating the pressures one feels when constantly compared to a friend or loved one is step one to enjoying your own wedding. Your sister doesn’t have to be maid of honor, for example. In fact, Kate has opted out of serving as Pippa’s matron of honor, determined not to detract attention from the bride to be, according to royal experts. Instead, Prince George and Princess Charlotte will represent Kate and William in the wedding party as page boy and bridesmaid, allowing Kate and William to blend into the crowd (as much as possible), rather than standing out as members of the bridal party. Kate will undoubtedly still be there for her sister throughout the day, without taking too much attention off the bride herself. When in doubt, elegantly and maturely make the mutual decision to avoid the challenge altogether.
4. It’s not a Tit-for-Tat.
This is where things stop feeling flowery and reality sits in. You’re both adults, and one does not necessarily always get what the other one does, despite being best friends, sisters or of equal footing. Everyone is different, and marriages and other occasions celebrated amongst families and close-knit groups of friends are best viewed individually, rather than compared and contrasted. One sister’s dream wedding might include horse and carriages, while the other prefers a quainter affair in the country. One best friend might dream of a beach ceremony in the sand, while another looks forward to a city affair, dancing all night on a rooftop clad in a mini dress. In short–choose what you want, despite what others have done in the past or plan to do in the future.