LONDON – The wedding of Wills and Kate is the only one that matters next year. Unless, of course, you're having one yourself.
Britain is captivated by speculation over where and when their prince will wed — but few are keeping their eyes peeled as much as British brides-to-be. Planning the biggest day of your life is stressful enough without having to compete with a multimillion-pound (dollar) affair that will be the biggest British wedding — perhaps the biggest wedding, period — in decades.
Fear and horror are spreading through British bridal circles — and a whole new batch of young women are ready to pitch a royal hissy fit.
"If their wedding was on my wedding day, I don't know what I would do!" said Anna Whitcomb, 28, trying on wedding dresses at a London department store. "I know all my family members and guests would want to watch the celebration and would be distracted."
"I'm supposed to be the princess, and now I have a real princess to compete with," she added.
Chelsea Slipko, also looking for a wedding gown at the store, said she couldn't deal with sharing a date with the royals.
"It's like having your birthday on New Year's or your anniversary on Valentine's day," she said. "It's not just your day anymore."
Prince William and Kate Middleton are widely speculated to marry at Westminster Abbey in central London this spring or summer — giving other London brides panic attacks at the prospect of transport nightmares, fully booked hotels and blanket security checks throughout the sprawling city.
"It would be quite the unfortunate coincidence if they got married when all our guests would be traveling in from the airports and out of central London," said 23-year-old Siobhan Gibney, whose nuptials are planned for August in Greenwich in suburban London.
"I just want our guests and the flowers and cake to make it to Greenwich on time," she added.
Brides with expensive tastes and elite social connections have futher worries. Will their orders for hand-engraved invitations from royal stationers Smythson be delayed? Can they still get that 1,950 pound ($3,116)-wedding cake from the queen's grocery supplier Fortnum & Mason? Will the guest lists overlap?
One mother of the bride went so far as to beg William's father Prince Charles to pick a date that won't clash with her daughters' when she bumped into him during a London appearance.
"My daughter said, 'please keep June 18 free, no one will come to mine," Nila Gosrani told the heir to the British throne as he was touring a museum. Charles said he would pass the message along.
And it's not just ordinary commoners who could be upstaged. No matter what the date, William and Middleton's wedding is likely to overshadow the July 2 and 3 nuptials of Prince Albert II of Monaco and former Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock.
In the online wedding community, a booming virtual sisterhood where future brides bond and share every detail from centerpieces to bridesmaids' shoes, the question rages: Should you change your wedding date to avoid the royals — or, in wedding parlance, become their "date twin?"
Kim Rix, a London wedding planner, had this advice: Avoid the day purely for logistical reasons.
But many brides-to-be said there is little they can do about clashing. Venues, caterers and photographers are usually booked months, if not years, in advance, and couples must put down hefty deposits on everything, making it difficult to cancel or change plans.
"I don't think there's anything you can do about it. It's impossible to compete with the royal wedding," said Thea Darricotte, 30. "You just have to adapt to it."
Rix said couples who do find themselves sharing the prince's big day could record the royal wedding and play highlights for guests who don't want to miss out on the national celebrations.
That could be fraught with awkward moments, though, and less confident brides may not fancy having their dresses or nuptials compared to a much more glamorous, wealthy bride like Middleton.
"It really depends on the couple — if they are royalists, for example — and whether the bride is the kind of person to take it personally," Rix said.
Deborah Joseph, the editor of Brides magazine, suggested couples marrying next year take the royal wedding in stride, incorporating a Union Jack or royal theme "as a cheeky nod."
Brides-to-be have acquired a reputation as being unreasonable, intolerable perfectionists — so-called "Bridezillas" — partly thanks to such movies as "Bride Wars," in which two best friends try to outdo each other with vicious dirty tricks after both booked the same venue on the same day.
Luckily, no one is likely to be fighting with William and Middleton if they pick the hallowed venue of Westminster Abbey, since only the royal family, abbey staff and those given the "Order of the Bath" — an order of chivalry — are allowed to marry there.
But what happens if you are stuck? Well, there could be other perks.
When Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip celebrated their 50th anniversary in 1997, they invited 50 couples who had been married on the same day to a special tea at Buckingham Palace.
So a royal garden party could await 50 years down the road — providing both marriages last the distance.
Associated Press writer Sylvia Hui is planning to be married next year — no matter what date the royals select. Gilliam Smith contributed to this report from London.