May 18, 2018

Standing on Ceremony

Standing on Ceremony

In a social-media-crazed world, it’s hard for most of us to keep our private celebrations private. Imagine being Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as they get ready for their wedding this weekend at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Who can blame them for saying no to cameras and mobile phones at their nuptials?

Accustomed to being stalked by paparazzi at every turn and expected to uphold royal traditions and decorum, they reportedly issued a seven-page list of rules for guests at the wedding. Here are just a few of the ones that captured the popular imagination:

No phones. Imagine attending the social event of the century without being able to take a single selfie! To protect everyone’s privacy, phones are prohibited at the church and at the private reception afterwards. No doubt the most enterprising paparazzi will figure out a way around the rules, but this couple isn’t going to make it easy for them to turn the royal wedding into a media circus. The guests’ friends will have to find out the details the old-fashioned way – by talking to them!

Stick with your assigned seat. The organizers for this shindig are making sure their advance plans don’t go out the church doors when the guests arrive. The royal family will sit on the right, and Meghan’s family on the left – and the rest of the 600 guests will follow a detailed seating plan that requires them to arrive at the chapel hours before the nuptials start. Maybe we should start assigning seats at Marcum events around the country – it might speed things up at the registration desk.

No gifts at the ceremony or reception. The bride and groom have requested that guests avoid bringing gifts to St. George’s Chapel or the Windsor Castle celebration afterward. Instead, they’re asking guests to donate to one of seven suggested charities – ranging from the Children’s HIV Association, which supports children growing up with HIV and their families, to Surfers against Sewage, a marine conservation campaign. Since Harry and Meghan will likely want for nothing, this is a great expression of their values. Wouldn’t it be great if this became a trend, even for those who aren’t royalty?

Ditch the sword. Guests will have to leave their rapiers at home. They’ve been nixed from the list of accessories, because you can’t be too careful these days. And the down-to-earth royal couple have also asked guests not to wear medals, perhaps to spare them from potential faux pas (David Beckham sparked a media frenzy when he wore his Order of the British Empire medal on the wrong lapel at William and Kate’s royal wedding in 2011). We haven’t had to ban either of these accessories at Marcum events yet, but perhaps it’s a good time for me to take a fresh look at our dress code.

Of course, you know what they say about the best laid plans. Even with elaborate rules in place, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have to be prepared for the unexpected. I remember when one media outlet surreptitiously Periscoped the keynote at our MicroCap Conference one year. And I daresay, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are a tad more enticing to the press than any Wall Streeter.

Broadcasters at Sky News are going to be using facial recognition technology (is this a Jason Bourne movie?) – which is far from perfect – to identify notables during their live-stream of the event, so there could be some unforeseen developments on that front. And ABC News is using an “augmented reality” feature that lets users snapshot themselves next to the royal carriage and the Queen’s Guard.

Life was a lot simpler back in the days of the Polaroids and Kodak Instamatic (remember those?) before people had to worry about their online privacy – but as this very modern and media-savvy royal couple understands, there’s no going back. But just in case, play it safe and leave your sword at home.

P.S. Sunday afternoon starts the annual Marcum partners’ meeting in South Florida, which goes until mid-day Wednesday. So, if you don’t find your usual Marcum partner as responsive as you might expect, rest assured we will get back to you. These are the several days where we figure out and plan the direction and future of the Firm. We appreciate your support and ask for your understanding until we get back to business as usual.