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Local women celebrate royal wedding in style
Guests ate traditional cucumber sandwiches, scones with preserves, wedding cake
Evelyn Stafford, left, talks with Jan Hensley during a royal wedding watching luncheon Friday in Gainesville. Stafford hosted a watching party with several of her friends. Attendees were encouraged to wear their best hats. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

London may be 4,000 miles away but that didn't stop Jan Hensley and Evelyn Stafford from throwing their own party Friday alongside England's royal wedding ceremony.

Yesterday nearly 40 of Gainesville's most sophisticated ladies attended the Royal Tea Luncheon to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.

Hensley, also known as Lady Jan, Duchess of Lake Ranch Court, was quick to bestow titles upon all of her guests as they arrived in their best suits and hats.

"Everybody's got to have a title today," Hensley said.

The luncheon took place at the Gainesville home of Stafford, also known as Duchess of Nestledam, where the ladies watched a recorded broadcast of the royal wedding.

To make the event authentic, Hensley and Stafford searched the Internet for English recipes. Cucumber sandwiches, scones with preserves, wedding cake and other hors d'oeuvres were spread out under a large bouquet.

"It's the Southern way to celebrate," Stafford said, "any time you can have a party and have finger foods."

In the pleasantly crowded living room and parlor, ladies chatted away under hats in a dozen colors and styles.

Wearing a classy white hat with a feather and short lace veil, Gainesville resident Pamela Black critiqued Middleton's cream-colored lace dress as the recorded ceremony played on TV.

It's "elegant, yet tailored," Black said as the cathedral camera hovered above the royal couple at the altar of Westminster Abbey.

Studying the dress also, Betty Carpenter of Chestnut Mountain agreed with Black's opinion.

"I like that the train isn't unreasonable," she said.

Along with the dress, the ladies discussed the character of the new princess.

"She's beautiful," Black said, "and she's pretty much down-to-earth. She doesn't want to put on a big to-do and outshine (the late Princess) Diana."

But guests also had their eyes on the groom, who wore a red uniform with a blue sash. Hensley had noted the way the prince's lip trembled during the ceremony.

"You could tell he was very nervous," she said, "because he does something with his lip the way Diana does."

The fairytale wedding brought back memories of Jane Moore's own special day, which was much smaller, but filled with just as much love. Her hat, made of a ring of white down and lace, was the same one she wore on her wedding day, 50 years ago.

Moore was taken by the expression on the royal couple's faces during their ceremony.

"I think their love just seems to radiate," she said.

Dorris Dennard who was known as Lady Dorris, Duchess of Bradford at the luncheon, said she was glad to attend such a cheerful, lighthearted event.

It's "just real fun for older ladies," she said.

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