PORTLAND – Wearing a top hat and ascot that he bought online, Bob Beaumont stood among friends at the Cumberland Club discussing favorite aspects of Friday’s royal wedding.

He was among 40 people who were invited to the private social club Friday night for a dressed-up, royal-themed party in celebration of Prince William’s marriage to Kate Middleton.

Women wore jeweled coronets, or feathered hats. British music played in the background. Guests sipped English cocktails called Pimm’s Cups, featuring a slice of fresh cucumber floating in the gin and vermouth.

Though the guests clearly enjoyed getting dressed up and playing the parts of royal guests, they also saw a lot of genuinely good things in the wedding spectacle that had been broadcast around the globe 12 hours earlier.

“My favorite part was when the Bishop of London began by saying every wedding is a royal wedding,” said Beaumont, a retired American Baptist minister from Brunswick who watched the wedding on TV at 6 a.m. “It really says something about the importance of all weddings.”

Some guests speculated that the bishop might have gotten the idea for his opening line from Linda Cronkhite Johnson of Brunswick, the organizer of Friday’s party.

Johnson had asked her guests to bring pictures from their own weddings, to make the party a celebration of marriage in general.

But Johnson, a former vice president at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, said she mostly wanted to celebrate something after a long Maine winter. So she figured she could celebrate her friends, the royal wedding, marriage in general, as well as America’s fascination with the British monarchy.

All in one place.

“Watching that wedding was like watching the story of Cinderella, it’s fairy tales for grown-ups,” said Jonathan Lee, one of the guests.

“Watching it, we got to see elegance, and unity and tradition. It was really beautiful,” said Frank Reilly of Portland, another guest. “It wasn’t really just about them getting married; it was what they represented.”

Reilly and his wife, Sharon, brought a picture from their wedding in 1970. The black-and-white photograph shows the young couple sitting nervously in a waiting area of the church in San Francisco where they got married, in front of just four guests. “We were late, so the priest told us we had to wait because there was another couple getting married,” Reilly said.

At Friday’s party, Sharon Reilly wore a ring that’s a replica of Middleton’s. Frank Reilly had gotten his sister to buy it at a one-day sale at Macy’s in New York.

Johnson and her husband, Ashton, rented out the room at the Cumberland Club, complete with cocktails and appetizers. There was a wedding cake, with little boxes so people could take pieces home.

Johnson even made up invitations that were copies of the invitations to the royal wedding, with gold lettering and a stipulation that dress should be: “Military uniform, black tie, or lounge suit. Ladies: Hats or Coronets required.”

Johnson has served on many boards over the years and has been part of many fundraising events, as have many of her guests. But she decided that this party would not be a fundraiser or benefit, simply a celebration.

“We just needed a reason to celebrate something,” she said.

And a big fancy wedding — attached to hundreds of years of world history, the charm of fairy tales and the institution of marriage — seemed like as good a reason as any.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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