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Who will be the first to cry? Britons place their bets on the royal wedding Add to ...

Did the groom cry as his bride walked down the aisle? Just how long was the sermon? What was the first song?

At most weddings, these details are the stuff of idle chatter after the ceremony. At the royal wedding, they will be money-makers - or losers.

An entire category of betting has sprung up, speculating on everything from the minutiae of the vows to the shade of bikini Kate Middleton will wear on her honeymoon.

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The United Kingdom is already considered the global centre of bookmaking. Pair that with the spectacle of the royal wedding and you have a gambling phenomenon.

"It's developed to the stage now where people can basically bet on anything," says Leighton Vaughan Williams, a professor of finance and economics at the Nottingham Business School. While sports betting accounts for tens of billions of pounds a year, he says, royal wedding bets will only rack up about £5-million (almost $8-million) of activity. Most bets will be small, just a pound or two. Anyone who walks into a bookmakers' and tries to bet £20,000 on the colour of the Queen's hat, for instance, will be rejected because they likely have insider information, says Prof. Vaughan Williams. So, special-occasion betting is mostly a marketing tool.

"For most people it's a bit of fun," he says. "Not everyone enjoys the royal wedding, but it's much more fun if you have a list of 10 things you've put bets on."

Here is a selection of wager options from 22 U.K. betting companies listed on oddschecker.com:

Colour of Kate's Dress

Ivory 8/15 (BetFred) White 3/1 (BetFred)Union Jack 500/1 (SportingBet)

Aside from who will design Ms. Middleton's fairy-tale frock, the question of colour is paramount. Of course this category reads like a thesaurus entry for white. White, ivory, champagne or ecru? That's just the start. Don't forget delectable shades like vanilla or almond - all bet-worthy. To keep it lively, bookies are offering up a few wild-card options with long odds, including red, at 100/1 and a Baby-Spice-style Union Jack wedding dress at 500/1.

Colour of the Queen's Hat

Yellow 2/1 (StanJames)

Blue 4/1 (Bet365)Purple 3/1 (StanJames)

Yes, Britons are busy voting on what colour of topper their monarch will choose for her grandson's wedding. Current odds are in favour of Easter-y shades of yellow, blue and purple. Less likely are sexy shades of red and grey. If you want to add to bookies' profits on Friday go for black, the current last-place choice. And one bookie is offering 14/1 odds that the Queen will follow her granddaughter-in-law-to-be's lead and wear a dainty fascinator.

First dance

Something About the Way You Look Tonight, Elton John 9/2 (BetFred)

You're Beautiful, James Blunt 6/1 (BetFred)

Everything I Do, Bryan Adams 8/1 (BetFred) You're Still The One, Shania Twain (8/1 WilliamHill)

Will the newlyweds go classic or cheesy? More importantly, will they choose a Canadian crooner for their first spin on the dance floor? Elton John may be a sentimental favourite because of his friendship with Princess Diana. Then again, Bryan Adams is rumoured to have had a fling with her after her marriage to Prince Charles broke down. We don't know exactly where that where that leaves the rocker's chances.

Will Kate "obey"?

Yes 5/1 (PaddyPower)

No 1/10 (PaddyPower)

Here's a reason to pay attention to the vows on Friday: whether Ms. Middleton will go modern and drop the vow to obey her husband. Betting types will also be listening as to whether Ms. Middleton recites William's middle names in the correct order, the first cliché of the sermon and the total length of the sermon. And just in case you suspect the officiant is a betting man, you can also place a bet with PaddyPower that their company name will be mentioned, at 1000/1 odds.

Will David Beckham be the first to cry?

Yes 50/1 (PaddyPower)

Okay, so the odds aren't great. Elton John is more likely to be the first celebrity to cry, according to the current odds. Mr. Beckham is actually neck and neck with Sir Paul McCartney. Among family members, Ms. Middleton's mother, Carole, is sitting at the top, at 2/1. One curious development, in light of her rumoured disapproval of Kate: Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall is considered the most likely royal to first shed a tear, at 5/1.

Editor's note: Leighton Vaughan Williams is a professor of finance and economics at the Nottingham Business School. Incorrect information appeared in the original version of this article.

 

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