The Royal Wedding at Trinity Church

The Royal Wedding of 2011
Photo by Leah Reddy

Manhattan was as quiet as it ever gets at 5am on Friday, April 29 – except at Trinity Church, where royal wedding enthusiasts gathered to watch the wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton on a movie screen in the front of the church.

"Good morning, bright and early here at Trinity Church," the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, Rector of Trinity Wall Street, said in a video greeting for the occasion. "What a beautiful place to be gathered to witness the vows of William and Catherine at Westminster Abbey in London."

Visitors and came from all over – Brooklyn, England, and Japan, to name a few – to watch the wedding together in the pews of Trinity Church.

"It's great to be in this church, so closely linked with England," said Ian Mchajlovic, who was visiting from London.

Trinity's connection to England dates back to the 17th century, first with the 1697 Royal Charter from King William III that enabled the parish's founding, to the grant of the "Queen's Farm" by Queen Anne a few years later. Trinity, like Westminster Abbey where the wedding took place this morning, is also part of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

"Right now, the world needs a royal wedding," said Elissa, a New York resident who came dressed for the occasion, complete with the kind of small black fascinator, or hat, that is popular at British weddings. "It's something to celebrate and be happy about."

Those gathered in the church were definitely in an enthusiastic and celebratory mood, gasping audibly when the live broadcast feed froze momentarily before the start of the service and waiting for the first glance of Catherine Middleton's much-anticipated wedding dress. They also followed along with the wedding program, listening intently as the Archbishop of Canterbury married the couple.

"It was a little bit as though I was at the service," said Peter Pavlacka, a visitor from Queens.

Charlotte Bell, a young professional who works on Wall Street, came with two of her coworkers. They said that they see the church every day, but had never come in before. The royal wedding seemed like the right occasion to venture inside.

"It seemed to be the most authentic place to watch it," Bell said following the service. "I'm excited to tell my mom about it."

Bell and her friends also said that they hoped to come back soon for Compline at St. Paul's Chapel, help every Sunday at 8pm.

As the morning progressed, more people came in to the church to watch the wedding celebration.

"I came by to light a candle and stayed to watch the service," said Kim Mainente, who was on her way to work.

"It's just one of those events you have to be at," said Kevin, a British expatriate who has lived in New York for 26 years. "We came because we felt like it would almost be like Westminster Abbey. Watching it on the big screen, it felt like we were there."

Nicole Seiferth is assistant editor for website and parish publications at Trinity Wall Street.