Weddings are always a pop-cultural touchstone. Every summer movie studios slap together a female-targeted, wedding-related romantic comedy as counter-programming for all the superheroes and robot movies in multiplexes. (Usually, though, these movies are bad. Real bad.) This year, there are two: Something Borrowed and Bridesmaids. (Bridesmaids might actually have a shot at being funny, too.)

But that’s not enough. It seems that, each year, the culture-at-large has to anoint one real-life wedding as the One to Watch. (And by “watch,” we mean, “can’t avoid watching because it’s in the news for 16 hours out of every 24-hour cycle.”) The honor normally falls to people that don’t attract much notice outside of their weddings. This year, of course, it’s the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton. Though normally Americans have no interest in royal goings-on, ABC news estimates that 600,000 tourists will be traveling to England this week because of the wedding.

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Last year, it was Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky’s wedding in Rhinebeck, New York. So, how does the close-to-home wedding of 2011 compare to the across-the-pond royal extravaganza going down this Friday. We compare.

The Ring
Clinton wears an emerald-cut diamond engagement ring, while Middleton wears an oval sapphire surrounded by 14 diamonds. It might seem that Middleton is breaking from tradition with the sapphire, but the ring is actually the same as the one Diana, Princess of Wales wore in 1981.

The Place
Both the ceremony and reception for the Clinton/Mezvinsky wedding took place at Astor Courts, a Hudson-side Beaux Arts building designed by Stanford White and built between 1902 and 1094. The Prince William will marry Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey in front of 1,900 people—600 of whom will head to Buckingham Palace afterward for lunch, and only 300 of whom will stay for a later reception. Westminster Abbey has, oh, a couple centuries of history over on Astor Courts, being founded by Benedictine monks sometime in the tenth century.

The Dress
Clinton was decked head-to-hem in Vera Wang, with an ivory, strapless wedding dress, embellished belt, and tulle veil. Kate Middleton—after causing a run on sapphire-blue Issa dress she wore to announce her engagement—is keeping details of her wedding dress close to the chest. But rumor has it that Middleton worked with Sophie Cranston of the Libelula label to design her own dress, though Cranston has denied it.

The Flowers
Here, the two weddings may have some overlap. Clinton carried a bouquet of white gardenias designed by florist Jeff Leatham. Middleton is also said to be carrying an all-white bouquet, with roses and lilies being the top contenders.

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The Food
The Clinton/Mezvinsky wedding offered choices from Blue Ribbon Restaurants, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, and Olivier Cheng Catering and Events—but, going a little bit out of the box, offered a vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free menu. After Kate and Wills say “I Do,” the Queen will host a luncheon where 21 chefs will furiously work on nearly 10,000 two-bite canapés—10 or 12 savory varieties and five or six sweet ones. The menu will be traditionally British.

The Most Important Part
The cake. The Clinton/Mezvinskys proved they had exquisite taste when they got their (gluten-free) vanilla and dark chocolate mousse cake, embellished with 1,000 edible sugar flowers, from La Tulipe Desserts right here in Mount Kisco. The Prince and future princess are opting for a multi-tiered fruitcake. While every couple is different and no one wedding is better than another, vanilla and chocolate mousse is an obvious winner here.

Royal nuptials: glued to the TV, or couldn’t care less? Let me know in the comments.

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