After months of elaborate preparations and mounting excitement, London Thursday put the finishing touches to the royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton – which will be an event mixing pomp and tradition with youth and modernity.

Middleton, a middle-class girl who met her prince at university some eight years ago, will emerge from the marriage service at Westminster Abbey as a princess – and a potential future queen.

On Thursday, the 29-year-old bride-to-be made her final trip to the Abbey as Miss Middleton, when she guided a team of bridesmaids and pageboys through the wedding drill.

Late Wednesday, William and Kate spent nearly two hours for a full rehearsal at the Abbey,.

“The affection shown to us by so many people during our engagement has been incredibly moving, and has touched us both deeply, they said in a message accompanying the release of the official wedding program.

Some 2,000 guests, including many foreign royals, heads of states, politicians, diplomats and celebrities, will attend the service, which will be followed by a balcony appearance – and public kiss – at Buckingham Palace, a reception and a buffet dinner.

While on Thursday the sun was still shining on the growing number of royal fans camping at the Abbey, the palace and along the route of the wedding procession, forecasters have predicted showers and strong winds for today.

In line with her modern image, Middleton – as Princess Diana before her – has chosen to drop the word “obey” from her wedding vows, instead promising to “love, comfort and honor” her prince.

After the exchange of vows, Middleton will automatically become Her Royal Highness, Princess William of Wales. She could, either today or at a later date, become Princess Catherine – using her full Christian name.

Just as she has waited patiently for years for her man -and kept a discreet silence on her private life – Middleton has managed to keep the secret of her bridal gown. William is expected to marry in his Royal Air Force uniform.

Most people will get a glimpse of the wedding dress when the bride leaves a five-star hotel in central London with her father, Michael Middleton, in an official Rolls-Royce for the service at 11 a.m. (6 a.m. EDT).

She will be on full view at arrival at the Abbey, where William will have had a nervous 45-minute wait inside. His younger brother, Prince Harry, will be best man, and Pippa, Middleton’s younger sister, will be maid of honor.

After the service, the newlyweds will travel by royal carriage to Buckingham Palace, amid a colorful display of military pomp and pageantry, and tens of thousands of spectators.

Depending on the weather, an open or closed carriage will be chosen. The wedding will be beamed around the world to an audience of an estimated 2.2 billion.

Around the Abbey and along the route, police surveillance units could be seen taking position in parks and on rooftops Thursday, as Scotland Yard pledged it would deal “robustly” with any attempts to disrupt the day.

More than 5,000 police will be on duty in a major security operation that will include a “complete lockdown” of the area surrounding the wedding venues.