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The blonde bride, eldest granddaughter of the Queen, has spent her life shunning the typical royal existence, and as she hid behind the tinted windows of her Bentley limousine racing towards Edinburgh's 16th Century Canongate Kirk on Saturday it seemed the 30-year-old was going to maintain her reluctant public image.
However, as she arrived at the church just a few minutes late for her 3pm (local time) marriage to English rugby representative Mike Tindall, 32, the 13th in line to the throne emerged elegantly, casting a beautiful image as she smiled and waved to adoring onlookers.
"She may not be a princess, but she certainly looked like one today," said excited crowd member Kitty Milne who managed to secure a front row position outside the church, competing with a crowd of about 6000 people.
Zara wore an ivory silk faille and silk duchess satin gown with a chevron pleated bodice by designer Stewart Parvin, complemented by a fine silk tulle cathedral length bouffant-style veil and a Greek Key tiara, on loan from her mother, Princess Anne.
Also attracting plenty of attention at the wedding were a bevy of royal guests, including the Queen - dressed in an apricot outfit also by Parvin - and Prince Philip, Prince Harry and Prince William and Catherine, whose wedding three months ago in London saw about one million people swarm onto the streets, with another two billion global broadcast viewers.
The Duchess of Cambridge wore an embroidered dress coat described by some onlookers as champagne or butterscotch in colour, and reported by various media outlets to be the same outfit worn to the wedding of Laura Parker Bowles.
Catherine's outfit was accessorised with a wide-brimmed hat with floral detail.
"Perfectly fitting for the occasion, it was elegant, but not a headline-grabber," reported Hello! magazine.
Princess Beatrice, who made headlines at the April wedding of William and Catherine for her unusual headdress, on Saturday wore a double silk turquoise fitted jacket and dress by Angela Kelly, and a hat in double silk with crepe and lace details.
Beatrice arrived with her father Prince Andrew and sister Princess Eugenie, who also wore a Kelly design: an oyster satin fitted jacket with high collar and chocolate silk dress.
Prince Charles and wife Camilla wore beaming smiles and waved to the crowd through the open windows of their car on the way to and from the church. The Duchess of Cornwell wore a light-coloured outfit and elaborate floral headdress.
Mother-of-the-bride, the Princess Royal, wore a coral pleated skirt with a floral-printed cropped jacket.
Prince Edward and wife Sophie rounded out the royal guest list.
Following a ceremony of less than 50 minutes, the couple, who met in Sydney in 2003, were driven a short distance to the Palace of Holyroodhouse where the Queen was to host an evening reception, due to continue until 2am.
Coaches ferried the non-royal guests to the palace, where a pipe band played in the gardens.
For some of the crowd, held back by steel barriers, the wedding proved a little disappointing.
"I couldn't see her," said 78-year-old Shalea Fish-Marshall, on holiday from Sydney, of Zara the bride.
"It should have been an open-topped car so people could see her."
However, Ms Fish-Marshall wasn't really among the crowd on Saturday to see the bride, but rather Zara's grandmother.
Screen-printed on the underside of her skirt Ms Fish-Marshall had the Commonwealth of Australia with coat of arms and a stitched-on Australian flag.
"When she (the Queen) went by I lifted it (the skirt) up and waved it at her," she said.
While skirt-lifting may not be acceptable royal behaviour, there are sure to be a few stories to tell after Saturday night's reception, with Tindall having invited many of his rugby teammates, past and present.
Before events even began, best man Iain Balshaw was sporting a bruised and scabbed face following a moped accident in France.
It has been rumoured that Zara imposed a week-long training ban on Tindall - who has broken his nose eight times on field - in the lead up to the wedding, scared he may suffer an injury.
Equestrian champion Zara and Mike will forgo an immediate honeymoon, as both return to training this week.