A New York City church with centuries-old ties to the Church of England is bringing the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton right up to its altar.
The Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan is throwing open its doors at 5 a.m. Friday — 10 a.m. London time — to anyone who wants to sit in one of its 680 pews and watch the pomp and circumstance on a jumbo screen in front of the altar and be greeted by Beefeaters, those charming royal bodyguards who dress in scarlet and gold tunics, knee-breeches and stockings (two Trinity staffers in costumes, in this case).
The live feed will begin with the couple's departure for Westminster Abbey and end with the newlyweds' first public kiss on the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
While Trinity is smaller and newer, its rector said the Episcopal church's neo-Gothic interior is "reflective of Westminster Abbey."
"People will get a feel for it being in that setting," said the Rev. James Cooper.
Both churches are part of the Anglican Communion. Trinity was founded by the Royal Charter of England in 1697, and to this day, the church continues a tradition of paying the British Crown one peppercorn a year on a large parcel of land granted by Queen Anne in 1705.
"We would hope that people will enjoy seeing the ceremony but might find their personal relationships strengthened, and those who have made vows to reaffirm their vows," Cooper said.
Trinity's other connections to the monarchy are apt to enrich the experience further.
Rector James Cooper said Queens Elizabeth — William's grandmother — visited Trinity in 1976 for the U.S. bicentennial celebrations. And Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who's presiding at the royal nuptials, has visited and preached at Trinity many times.
Following the screening, visitors will be invited to a small reception of tea, coffee and cookies — but, alas, no crumpets — "for a change to have a conversation about the events of the day," said Cooper, who has presided over about 500 weddings during a 42-year ministerial career.
Trinity was also the site of large screen viewing for President Barack Obama's inauguration when it had a full house.
On Friday evening, six of Trinity's two dozen bell ringers who hail from England are coming together to ring six of its 12 bells for about 45 minutes by pulling the sturdy ropes in the bell tower in celebration of the historic occasion.
Duncan Larger, who will conduct the band of ringers, said the expat ringers all thought it would "be a nice way to be able to connect to the excitement that's going on back at home."
Master ring master Tim Barnes agreed, but both men said they would be watching the festivities from the comfort of their homes.
Die-hard royal watchers looking for a more earthy experience could head out to Times Square or under the Manhattan Bridge, where giant screens also are set up.
Elsewhere, the Paley Center for Media in mid-Manhattan is streaming the ceremony live on a theater screen and urging ladies to get into the spirit of the day by donning bridesmaid dresses while being treated to tea, scones and wedding trivia.
For more sumptuous surroundings, the Waldorf-Astoria offered its recently renovated Royal Suite — the former residence of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor — for a British-style cocktail party for up to 40 guests on the eve of the wedding.
And for those looking for some pampering while watching the early morning live broadcast, The London NYC is offering guests a traditional English breakfast in the privacy of their suites.
If a fancy hotel is not your cup of tea, "Little Britain" in the West Village can offer an authentic experience — and an all-day street party with bunting and balloons organized by the Tea & Sympathy restaurant and shop.
The nearby Lulu Guinness, a boutique featuring British-designed accessories, will be selling royalty-inspired trinkets and offering wedding cake and refreshments all day.
Lulu's salesperson Fiona Bradley said all the British establishments were "incredibly excited" about the day.
"There's something about a national event in England ... that electricity when everyone comes together for one cause," she said.
For naughtier fare, the hip British clothing store Ted Baker farther uptown is selling a royal boxer shorts and socks set. It sports a three-tiered wedding cake and British flag motif. Champagne and cake will be served all day.
"I'm beside myself," Tea & Sympathy owner Nicky Perry said of the royal nuptials. "I think it's brilliant. We want a fairy tale for real this time."