Behind the Big Day

updated 05/16/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/16/2011 AT 01:00 AM EDT

A Perfect Fit

In February Will was appointed an honorary colonel in the Irish Guards, so the regiment looked to the nuptials with pride. Its Master Tailor, Lance Sgt. Matthew Else (left), wanted to make sure the soldiers would look sharp when they assembled in front of Buckingham Palace to oversee the royal family's departures for Westminster Abbey.

Top Brass

Trooper Blair Newton of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment polishes a metal breastplate to a high sheen. About 150 cavalry soldiers were chosen to accompany Will and Kate to Buckingham Palace.

A Storybook Ride

Buffed to perfection by carriage restorers (like Dave Evans), an open-top 1902 State Landau was selected to convey Kate and Will-weather permitting! Given the stakes, said head coachman Mark Hargreaves, "you don't really enjoy it until you get back and everything's gone well."

Canape Chief

Tasked with creating an unforgettable menu for the 600 reception guests at Buckingham Palace, the Queen's chef, Mark Flanagan, said the culinary element most essential at any royal event is to "concentrate on showing off the best of British produce."

The Cake Lady

As much a work of art as a tasty treat, the multitiered, traditional fruitcake was to feature sugar-paste flowers-each handpicked, so to speak, by Kate. "She guided us right from the beginning and has quite strong ideas," says Leicestershire baker Fiona Cairns. Among the blooms: the Sweet William. The brandy-flavored cake was selected as the platform to debut the newlyweds' monogram.

Not the Glee Gang

The Choir of Westminster Abbey and two military bands were among the five ensembles tapped to set the joyous tone of the wedding ceremony. Christopher Warren-Green, music director of the London Chamber Orchestra, also on the bill, tips his baton to the Abbey's acoustics. "Musically speaking, it's perfect," he says. "Very magical indeed."

Heartstrings

Knowing that her music would greet Will and Kate as they stepped from public view into Buckingham Palace-their first moments alone as a married couple-Welsh harpist Claire Jones said she felt "incredible responsibility" to create a relaxing atmosphere for their "private part of the day."

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