In the midst of this the groom Mike Tindall arrived with his best man, the rugby player Iain Balshaw.
Looking extremely relaxed for a man about to join "The Firm", as the Royal family style themselves, he breezily waved to the crowd and gave a big grin.
Some time passed before a fleet of limousines started carrying the bride's family to the church.
They travelled at a fair pace up the Royal Mile, the crowd just catching sight of a waving Duchess of Cornwall.
There was a huge amount of interest in possibly the world's most famous couple - William and Kate.
They had a special security escort and received an extra big cheer when they arrived at the kirk, along with Prince Harry.
Five minutes before the service began the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh glided to a halt outside the church in a Rolls Royce - not the usual State Bentley which affords a better view of Her Majesty.
This was mean to be a low-key, family affair but there has been a huge amount of media interest.
The woman who everyone wanted to see exercised the bride's prerogative and was a few minutes' late for her journey to the church. Wearing her Stewart Parvin ivory silk dress, she and her father Mark Phillips climbed into another Rolls Royce.
Zara was six minutes late for the 3pm ceremony and arrived looking dazzling in a gown designed by the Queen’s couturier Stewart Parvin, a Greek key tiara loaned by her mother and clutching a bouquet of white calla lilies.
In typical no-nonsense style, the 13th-in-line to the throne slammed the door of the wedding car herself and strode into the church ahead of her father.
She chose to omit “obey” from her wedding vows and is breaking royal protocol by keeping the surname she used to compete in a successful equestrian career.
The low-key, private ceremony was witnessed by 400 guests who were taken to the church by bus, including England rugby coach Martin Johnson, his predecessor Sir Clive Woodward and former motor-racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart, who is Zara’s godfather.
Also present were Coronation Street’s Katherine Kelly, who went to grammar school with the groom in Wakefield, and popstar Una Healy from The Saturdays, who is dating rugby player Ben Foden.
They were welcomed by the Rev Neil Gardner to the sound of the Queen’s piper Derek Potter playing the bagpipes.
Harry, William and Kate’s arrival drew a roar of approval from the crowds.
Zara’s five bridesmaids – maid of honour and best friend Dolly Maude, Zara’s half-sister Stephanie Phillips, Dolly’s daughter Nell, family friend Jaz Jocelyn and Hope Balshaw, daughter of best man Iain – wore dove grey dresses made by local designer Sue Palmer. Pageboy Ted Maude, Zara’s godson, wore a kilt of Balmoral tartan.
The doors of the church opened after the private ceremony as the grinning couple stepped outside for an official photograph and to share a kiss.
Their parents - the Princess Royal, Mr Phillips, social worker Linda and Phil Tindall, a finance worker, emerged arm-in-arm behind them.
The couple will delay their honeymoon as both are back to work this week.
Mike proposed to Zara at their £800,000 townhouse in Cheltenham, Glos, in December. The couple have been together for seven years after being introduced by Prince Harry.
Edinburgh couple Cherith Harrison and Gregg Walter, both 27, were “quite happy” to move their wedding from Canongate Kirk – the official royal chapel – after being told July 30 was the only date Zara and Mike could fit in their sporting schedules.
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