LONDON — Newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton sealed their wedding with a pair of kisses on a balcony at Buckingham Palace, delighting thousands of spectators.
There was a roar of approval from the crowd as William and his bride exchanged a peck on the lips Friday. It was quickly followed by another, then a flyby of vintage and modern Royal Air Force planes.
The couple will now attend a lunch reception for 650 guests, followed by an evening party for 300 friends and family.
With a smile that lit up TV screens around the world, Kate Middleton swept down the aisle to marry Prince William in a union expected to revitalize the British monarchy. Hundreds of thousands cheered as the royal couple rode an open carriage to Buckingham Palace.
With an estimated 2 billion people watching around the world, the couple managed to appear at times in their own private world Friday at Westminster Abbey. William whispered to Kate, who radiated contentment and joy, as they pledged their lives to one another with the simple words "I will."
The biggest secret of the day — Middleton's wedding gown — prompted swoons of admiration as she stepped out of a Rolls-Royce with her father. Against all odds, the sun broke through steely gray skies at that exact moment.
The ivory and white satin dress — with its low neckline, high lace collar, long lacy sleeves and a train over 2-meters (yards) long — was designed by Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen. Middleton's hair was half-up, half-down and decorated with dramatic veil and a tiara on loan from Queen Elizabeth II.
"It's a dream," said Jennie Bond, a leading British monarchy expert and royal wedding consultant for The Associated Press. "It is a beautiful laced soft look which is extremely elegant. She looked stunning."
William, second-in-line to the throne after his father, Prince Charles, wore the scarlet tunic of an Irish Guards officer, sending a strong signal of support for the armed forces and reinforcing his new image as a dedicated military man. The couple's first royal wedding present came from the queen: the titles of duke and duchess of Cambridge.
Floods of well-wishers — as well as some protesters — packed central London, around Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and other landmarks beginning at dawn, despite cool temperatures and the threat of rain. Cheers erupted as huge television screens began broadcasting at Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park.
"Will, it's not too late!" read one sign held aloft by an admirer dressed as a bride.
Maid of honor Pippa Middleton wore a simple column dress and naturally styled hair, while best man Prince Harry was dressed in formal military attire. The flower girls, in cream dresses with full skirts and flowers in their hair, walked down hand-in-hand with Pippa.
The iconic abbey was airy and calm, the long aisle leading to the altar lined with maple and hornbeam trees as light streamed in through the high arched windows. The soft green trees framed the couple against the red carpet as they walked down the aisle, having recited their vows without stumbling before Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
The royal-couple smiled broadly as they were driven to Buckingham Palace in the open-topped State Laundau, a carriage built in 1902, escorted by four white horses and followed by scarlet-clad troops on horseback. The palace was holding two parties, one hosted by the queen for 650 guests, and an evening dinner dance for 300 close friends.
The queen and her husband have promised to go away for the evening, leaving the younger royals free to party the night away— and Harry to make his best man's speech away from his octogenarian grandparents' ears.
Plumage of Amazonian variety filled the cavernous abbey as some 1,900 guests filed in, the vast majority of women in hats, some a full two feet (half a meter) across or high. Some looked like dinner plates, and one woman wore a bright red fascinator that resembled a flame licking her cheek. A BBC commentator noted there were some "very odd (fashion) choices" walking through the abbey door.