05/16/2011 at 01:00 AM EDT
Tim & Sheila Hirst, MIDDLETON FAMILY FRIENDS
The neighbors never expected to score Abbey seats for the wedding. "We thought, 'Of course we won't be invited,'" says Tim, 51, a former banker. "I shrieked when he said, 'I've got a letter from Buckingham Palace!'" says Sheila, 49. The college administrator bought Jimmy Choos to match her Paule Ka dress and Vivien Sheriff fascinator, and though Tim wore a waist-coat from his closet, he's just as thrilled: "We'll be at the [Old Boot Inn in Bucklebury] around 11 p.m. in our wedding clothes to say, 'We were there!'"
Prince Seeiso of Lesotho, FRIEND OF PRINCE HARRY
His title alone may make his presence seem like a no-brainer. But the prince, 45, cofounded Harry's Sentebale charity for HIV-affected orphans in Lesotho. "William and Kate didn't buckle under the strain," says Seeiso. "When she got into the carriage outside the Abbey, her smile said it all."
Alex & Claire Van Straubenzee, LONGTIME FAMILY FRIENDS
"It was the most beautiful service, just magic," says Alex, 60. "Inside the Abbey was so colorful. My perfect moment was when she and Prince William
came out from signing the registry. Just lovely." The founders of the Henry van Straubenzee Memorial Fund, one of Wills's charities, were joined at the wedding by sons Tom, 28, and Charlie, 22. "Lots of their friends were there, and we all had a lovely natter," says Alex. As for the reception, he says, "Kate was in such good form, laughing and joking. They're a very, very happy couple. And Prince Charles and Prince William
gave wonderful speeches that showed how close they are."
Claudia Bradby, JEWELRY DESIGNER
"I'm a real romantic; the idea of building their life together is overwhelming," says Bradby, 42 (in a Jane Marcantonio headpiece and her own pearl bracelets). To help Will and Kate keep a cozy kitchen, she'll give them her three favorite cookbooks. Says Bradby: "They love each other. I get goosebumps just thinking about it."