Royal wedding fever takes over the Miami Valley
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik
In a land far, far away from Dayton, there is a royal wedding to be had.
Sure, there will be all of the typical wedding fodder: music, cake, dancing, food, photographs and more.
But for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29, the ante has been upped … just a little.
However, it’s nothing major – just an internationally-televised wedding, professional album recording of the music that will be played throughout the event, a new coat of arms designed in honor of the bride’s family, a YouTube channel highlighting up-to-the-minute details of the big day and a newly-released app for fans who would like to tour Westminster Abbey, the venue.
Oh, and there’s the postage stamps featuring the bride and groom’s likenesses, in addition to dinner plates, books, mugs, nail decals, scratch-off trivia cards and a refrigerator. Yes, a refrigerator.
And don’t forget the royal wedding PEZ dispenser featuring Prince William and Kate Middleton that sold on eBay for a whopping $13,360 donated to charity, and the 70,000 bottles of “Kiss Me Kate” beer that were created by England’s Castle Rock Brewery.
Yeah, they have that stuff, too.
But while all of the excitement surrounding the royal wedding might seem far off from the happenings in the Miami Valley, the truth is local people and businesses alike are looking forward to celebrating with the prince and his soon-to-be princess.
Take, for example, the Pub at the Greene in Beavercreek, known as “the spot” to watch early-morning World Cup coverage, will be celebrating the royal wedding London-style with their doors opening at 5:45 a.m. The English pub will be airing the ceremony and wedding day festivities. Guests will enjoy a complimentary champagne toast and wedding cake.
Also getting into the royal wedding spirit is Basically British Tea Room and Gifts, located in the Cannery at Webster Station. The tearoom, owned and operated by Terry Ronald and Vicki Morris, has been celebrating the upcoming nuptials for the entire month, designing their menu specifically around foods that are popular to the royal couple or reflect their tastes.
“Terry was initially skeptical about the idea of doing anything special in connection with the royal wedding, thinking that no one would have a particular interest in it over here in the U.S.,” Morris said.
But Morris was much more in tune with the excitement that seemed to be building in conjunction with the big day and insisted on carrying souvenirs in the shop. They also altered the menu to include wedding-specific items, such as an orange and vanilla Springerle cookie embossed with symbols associated with England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland – the same symbols that will be used on the wedding cake.
“[Vicki] was correct, and many of our tearoom customers are avidly following the planning details for the wedding,” Ronald said. “One recent customer indicated that she and a group of 60 or so are getting together at 4:30 a.m. on the day of the wedding to follow the whole event live!”
Ronald said that while they are “a house divided” on watching every last detail associated with the wedding – “Vicki will be up, tea cup in hand, watching from the beginning, [and I am] content to view random news clips at a more civilized hour” – their affection for Britain is agreed upon. The two originally opened Basically British as a retail shop in the Second Street Market in 2005, and moved to the Cannery in 2006. Ronald had recently retired from Wright-Patterson, where he spent a career as a materials scientist after moving to the U.S. from his home city of Liverpool in the 1960s. That history, combined with Morris’ “affinity for things British” gave the two a recipe for success, creating what is now a profitable venture.
In addition to Basically British’s classic English three-tier afternoon tea that consists of a top layer of scones and cream, a middle layer of savory items, and a bottom layer of sweet items, such as cakes and tarts, and is served with a freshly brewed four-cup pot of tea for each person (guests can choose from a list of more than eighty options), there is a retail shop carrying a variety of British goods, with an emphasis on tea and tea-related products.
“[But for the royal wedding] we will have a limited range of items available in the shop, including plates, mugs, paperweights and other memorabilia,” Ronald said.
Those very same items and more nearly sold out on the store’s online component (wisechoiceuk.com) before many of them could even hit the shelves, said Harry Caswell, President of Wise Choice British Foods, Gifts and Candies in Huber Heights. The commemorative items include ceramic plates, trinket boxes, paperweights, pens, collector spoons, key rings and tea towels.
Wise Choice’s site includes a designated “William and Kate Wedding Gifts section” some of the items can still be purchased. Caswell said the top sellers have been the wedding cups, cup and coaster sets and the commemorative plates.
Caswell, who was born and raised in Wales, and his late wife, Sheila, opened their store after purchasing it from a previous owner in 1997. Wise Choice is now an international retailing company, shipping products through its local storefront and website.
“Many of our customers, British and American born, have stated their intentions to be up at 4:00 a.m. on April 29 to see the wedding as it takes place in London,” Caswell said.
Lending truth, of course, to the idea that the royal wedding, no matter how seemingly removed from Dayton, really is this city’s cup of tea.
Reach DCP freelance writer Caroline Shannon-Karasik at firstname.lastname@example.org.