The party to celebrate the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was a distinctly unstuffy af…

The party to celebrate the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge was a distinctly unstuffy affair.

The couple invited 300 of their closest family and friends to the black-tie evening reception at Buckingham Palace, which was hosted by the Prince of Wales. Guests were still on the dancefloor at 3am in what was hailed as the party of the decade.

Prince William and Princess Catherine made their entrance at 7.15pm, with the bride wearing another white satin gown by Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen. Earlier, they had attended a lunchtime reception for 600 at the Palace before retiring to Clarence House for a well-deserved rest.

On arrival, guests were served champagne, peach bellinis and elderflowers cocktails. At 8pm, they sat down to a dinner of crab, followed by lamb "done three ways" from the Castle of Mey, Queen Elizabeth's Scottish residence. A trio of mini-puddings rounded off the meal, which was accompanied by a white Meursault Burgundy and a Pomerol claret.

The table names referenced places that were special to the couple, including "St Andrews", the university where they met, and "Lewa" after Lewa Downs, the family home of Jecca Craig, Prince William's former girlfriend. The prince and Miss Middleton holidayed at the lodge near Meru in Kenya days before he proposed.

After dinner, it was on to the speeches. Prince Harry reportedly donned a fez, as worn by Tommy Cooper, to deliver his best man's speech. He referred to his brother as "the dude" and could not resist making jokes about his receding hairline in a speech that had guests crying with laughter.

Michael Middleton, the bride's father, gave a well-received speech in which he joked: "I knew things were getting serious when I found a helicopter in my garden." In a well-documented visit in 2008, Prince William landed his Chinook helicopter in a field behind the Middleton's home in Bucklebury, Berks.

It was then the turn of the groom, who paid an emotional tribute to his late mother, the Princess of Wales, saying "how much she would have liked to have been here". He also paid tribute to his "beautiful" bride, drawing cheers from the room.

Two of Prince William's childhood friends, Thomas van Straubenzee and James Meade, also made a speech in which they formed a "double act" to deliver a stream of gags about the groom.

Pippa Middleton, the bride's sister and maid of honour, drew on her job as a professional party planner to transform the Palace into a party venue.

One guest said: "The huge chandelier in the Throne Room had been cleverly covered with a kind of curtain and cylinder which had laser and strobe lights on it for the dance floor. There was a huge bar in the middle of the room, lots of sofas for everyone to lounge on when they weren't on the dance floor, and a stage for the band."

Ellie Goulding, the pop singer, performed at the reception. The couple chose her rendition of Your Song, originally a hit for Sir Elton John, as their first dance.

The rest of her setlist was chosen by the newlyweds, including cover versions of Superstition by Stevie Wonder and Summer of '69 by Bryan Adams. Goudling, 24, described it as "a night I will never forget," Goulding, 24, said yesterday.

The newlyweds danced together "non-stop" until 3am and were joined by other members of the Royal family. "Everyone joined in, including Charles and Camilla. Hardly anyone was sitting down," said one guest. The Queen absented herself in favour of a private weekend at Sandringham in Norfolk.

According to one report, the Prince and Princess entertained their guests by performing a comic dance routine to You're The One That I Want, from the soundtrack to Grease.

The party wrapped up at 3am, but the festivities continued with an unofficial "after-party" at the Goring hotel.

Prince Harry led the charge and was joined by a group that included James Middleton, brother of the bride, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. They departed Buckingham Palace in a minibus, with Prince Harry jokily wielding a microphone in the style of a holiday tour guide.

The hours of dancing had clearly taken their toll. Princess Beatrice was spotted leaving the Palace in a pair of comfortable plimsolls in place of her Valentino heels.